No. 18638, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, transferred to
No. 17765, 108th Machine Gun Company (Infantry), 36th (Ulster) Division
Killed in action on Saturday 10 June 1916 (aged 22)
Hamel Military Cemetery, France (Grave I. F. 15)
Comber and District War Memorial
First Comber Presbyterian Church
Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church
John Price was born on 27 March 1894 in the townland of Ballymartin, Killinchy and he was the eldest son of William James and Sarah Price (nee McKee) who were married on 28 April 1893 in Killinchy Presbyterian Church.
The Price family lived at Ashview, Lisbarnett, Comber.
William James Price was a farmer and he and Sarah had at least nine children:
John (born 27 March 1894 in the townland of Ballymartin, Killinchy)
Samuel (born 2 August 1895 in Lisbarnett)
Mary Elizabeth (born 6 November 1896 in Lisbarnett)
Hugh McKee (born 16 December 1899 in Lisbarnett)
William James (born 7 August 1901 in Lisbarnett)
Sarah Agnes Winifred McKee (born 17 August 1903 in Lisbarnett)
Emily Flora Minnis (born 21 March 1906 in Lisbarnett)
Mabel Isabella (born 23 November 1910 in Lisbarnett)
Maggie (born 4 August 1912 in Lisbarnett)
After leaving school, John Price worked on the family farm.
John Price was a signatory of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and, prior to enlisting in Comber in September 1914, he was a member of the North Down (Comber) Battalion of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
During the Great War John Price served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 18638) before being transferred to the Machine Gun Company in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division (No. 17765). Private John Price was 22 when he was killed in action on 10 June 1916 when an enemy shell exploded close to him. After he died his companions penned a tribute. They remembered John’s ‘gentle, brave and straightforward character together with his readiness to help the weak or timid.’ They noted that he was not only ‘a soldier of the King but a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ and they extended sympathy to his parents, brothers and sisters.
A year later John’s companions placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
No mother’s care did him attend,
Nor o’er him did a father bend;
No sister by to shed a tear
No brother by his words to hear.
May the heavenly winds blow softly
O’er that sweet and hallowed spot;
Though the sea divides us from your grave,
You will never be forgot.
Captain James Samuel Davidson who commanded 108th Brigade Machine Gun Company wrote a letter of condolence to John’s mother. In the letter, Captain Davidson paid glowing tribute to Private Price whom he said he had known since the early days of the war when they were at Clandeboye. A week before he was killed John had shown great bravery and coolness by going back across a most dangerous area and, under intense fire, bringing up a fresh supply of ammunition. John’s death was said to be ‘instantaneous’ and he was laid to rest in a little cemetery behind the trenches. The Rev Paton, Presbyterian Chaplain, took the service. Captain Davidson said that all of John’s personal belongings would be sent on to her as soon as possible.
Captain Davidson also wrote a letter to his own mother in Bangor in which he expressed his profound sadness and he said that John’s death was like ‘parting from a brother’. He asked his mother to visit John Price’s mother and to convey to her verbally what a personal loss Captain Davidson felt.
Less than three weeks after writing the letter to John Price’s mother, Captain James Samuel Davidson was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
At the time of the explosion on 16 June 1916 Sergeant Samuel George Miskimmin was standing close to John Price and was protected from the full force of the blast by John’s body. Samuel suffered shell shock but survived the explosion and he wrote a letter of condolence to John’s mother.
Sergeant Samuel George Miskimmin died of wounds some 17 months later, on 25 November 1917.
Private John Price was buried in Hamel Military Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Comber and District War Memorial; in First Comber Presbyterian Church and in Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church.
John Price’s brother Hugh served as Hugh Blackwood Price during the Second World War and was murdered in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on 18 August 1945.