P is for Alf Price

This is my contribution to Round Fourteen of ABC Wednesday. For the fifth time I am focusing on people – some famous, some infamous and some half-forgotten, but all with a tale to tell.

Alf PriceThe gate of history turns on small hinges, at least if you believe that great events have their roots in trivial incidents. So did a punch on the nose lead to the massacre of a generation on World War One?

The year is 1878 and a 19 year old Prince Wilhelm was misbehaving himself by throwing stones at beach huts on Rapparee Beach in Ilfracombe, Devon.

Sixteen-year-old Alf Price was working as a beach attendant told the future Kaiser to behave himself, but the arrogant Wilhelm called Price a peasant and ordered him to back down.

Price would have none of it. ‘I don’t care a dash who you are – stop chucking stones or it will be the worse for you,’ he said, then punched the prince on the nose before the royal minders intervened to break up the scuffle.

Price was paid thirty shillings to keep quiet about the incident, about £150 in today’s money, but it was a significant event in shaping Wilhelm’s character.

As one historian put it: ‘He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them’. And that resentment was reinforced by a bloody nose on a Devon beach.

Price continued the family business in Ilfracombe, renting out beach huts as his parents did before him, but until his death in 1923, he always claimed that the humbling of the future Kaiser was his greatest achievement.

What Happened at RappareeThe story of what happened that day resurfaced in 1916 at the height of the war when W H Coates penned the poem ‘Why the Kaiser Hates England. Or, What Happened at Rapparee’ which was circulated among British troops to boost morale.

You can read the poem by clicking the image on the right, but it says of Price that:

He knocked the Kaiser on the nose. And tapped the r’yal blid,

‘And then he bashed ’n in his eye, upon me word he did.’

The poem describes how Wilhelm vowed revenge saying: ‘Mine friend! You’ll rue this day / For what you’ve done t’mine poor nose.’

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

5 comments… Add yours
  • Alf Pudding 3rd May 2014

    Nowadays there are several other toffee-nosed nobheads who need their hooters squashing with a fist. I wonder if they’d let me punch them for charity?
    My hit list would include:-
    Chris Evans
    George Osborne
    Nick Clegg
    Gary Barlow
    Roger Green
    Boris Johnson
    (PS What happened to the post about Eugene Polley?)

    • Mr Parrot 4th May 2014

      I must be honest and say that I’d expected a much longer list from you of people deserving of a punch on the hooter, but I’ll put your forgiving mood down to Hull City’s excellent season!

      As for Eugene Polley, he was to be my subject this week and my change of mind came when I read about Alf Price. My blogging has been very patchy of late for all sorts of reasons, but I have tried to keep up with my ABC Wednesday contributions and forgot that I had him down as the scheduled post. Expect to read about him next time round!

  • Carver 3rd May 2014

    That’s a great story. I hadn’t heard about it before.

    Carver, ABC Wed. Team

  • Roger Green 4th May 2014

    Yes, what DID happen to the Polley post?
    And Alf, I do so discourage violence, especially when planned to be perpetrated on MY person.

    • Alf Pudding 4th May 2014

      I meant a different Roger Green. There’s a Roger Green who goes in our local pub. His personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired and when he drinks his beer he slavers. After four or five beers he starts expostulating in a perverted sexual manner and is regularly asked to leave. Surely that’s not you….is it?


Your email will not be published on this site, but note that this and any other personal data you choose to share is stored here. Please see the Privacy Policy for more information.

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: