P is for Alf Price

I am again focusing on the famous, the forgotten and the misbegotten for Round 21 of the popular ABC Wednesday meme. But finding suitable characters is getting harder, so apologies in advance if there are repeats of previous posts.

Alf PriceThe gates 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 in World War One?

The year is 1878 and a nineteen-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
  • Hildred Finch 25th October 2017

    Well, there you go, – the truth will always out…

  • zongrik 25th October 2017

    revenge auses all sorts of problems

  • abcwednesday21 25th October 2017

    …I believe that everything happens for a reason, even though not obvious, reasons are always there…
    It does not matter, if we see the reasons, if we understand them… things happen because they are supposed to.

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-WEDNES-day / – week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  • Trevor Rowley 25th October 2017

    I had thought that Alf Price was a grand old English name but then I discovered that the Price surname might have come from the Welsh origin as in Ap Rhys (ie. son of Rhys) or the French origin as in Pris (price). However, we must assume that his forename was from Alfred, and you can’t get more English than the “cake burner” himself. Regardless of his origins, our Alf certainly gave that sausage eater something to think about, and no mistake.

  • Roger O Green 26th October 2017

    Isn’t that a kick in the head… well, not literally…



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