Monday, November 10, 2008

An Eyewitness Account

The events surrounding the death of Private George Lawrence Price are recorded in the transcripts of the interviews published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in thier production "Flanders' Fields: Canadian Voices from Vimy". The original 1965 production was aired on the radio and released in a series of vinyl LPs, some of which we have been able to secure at the CEFSG. The original production was narrated, directed and produced by J. Frank Willis, with planning and research by A. E. Powley, and consultation from Colonel G. W. L. Nicholson who authored the "Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War".

In episode 16 "Victory" the following eye witness account is given: (Art Goodmurphy #105410, 28th Battalion)

Major Ross, the one of our officer’s there, told us that we were to halt on the bank of this river, or canal, to await for further orders. Well just about this time, this Price, he came over to me and said “What do you think of those houses across the road there?”. Well there were brick houses, facing us, with bricks knocked out, that looked like a wonderful spot to stick a machine gun out of you know, or a rifle or any thing like that. So I said “I don’t like the look of it. All of us on this road here, we’re just sitting ducks.”.He said “You know, I think we should go across that road and see what is in those houses.”. So I said “fine.” So he said “Let’s get a couple of guys and go across there.” So we got three other machine gunners, and uh, we went across. Well when we got to the bridge, on a little knoll or hill off to our right we could see Germans mounting machine guns. No doubt about that they were mounting machine guns there. How many we didn’t know, but we walked across this steel bridge and all we found in these houses were old Belgium people. And then the machine guns opened up. Oh boy! They knocked bricks this house and knocked shingles off and hit this bridge we had come across. It looked like an emery wheel the way the bullets were ricocheting off that steel, you know. But these were brick houses you know, they never ????, you know. There was a brick fence, ran around this first house, so Price said “Let’s go outside and see what’s going on outside there”. So the two of us went outside. All of a sudden – Bang! One shot came from way up the end of the street there. Got him right through the back, and through the heart, and he fell dead right in my arms there. It was not an accidental shot, it was a sniper like you know. If there was two there they’d have got both of us. And I leaned down behind the fence there and went in and got the other boys and told them that he was killed, you know. What’s the matter, there was not a sound, there’s suppose to be machine guns firing, everything is quiet. One said “Wait ‘til we start across that bridge they’ll get us then.” But we walked the bridge, no firing, nothing ever fired. And I went right up to Major Ross and told him that Price was killed. Oh Jees did he blow a fuse. “The War is over” he said, “The war is over”. I said “Well I can’t help that”. He said “What the hell did you go across there for? We had no orders to go across there.” I said “We went across to look what was in those brick houses over there. They looked like good spots for someone to pick us off there.” “Hell of a ? to think that would happen right when the war is over.” We never even thought about the war being over then, you know. And poor old Price he never even knew that it was over, you know. He was just doing his job. We didn’t always get orders to do everything that we did.

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