The unproven story of the
Crucified Canadian

Crucified Canadian, from a British propaganda movie

The Crucified Canadian

From a British propaganda film titled The Prussian Cur which included scenes of an Allied soldier's crucifixion


The story of the Canadian soldier pinioned to a barn door with bayonets by German soldiers is one of the most enduring mysteries of the Great War. Proof for this accusition has never been found.

crucified canadian posterThe allied countries used the story for propaganda: see this poster on the right.

During and after the war three witnesses have come forward, but there are discrepancies in their stories, such as the place where it happened.

Pte. George Barrie told: "On the 24th day of April at St. Julien I saw a small party of Germans about 50 yards away. I was horrified to see that a man in a British uniform was literally crucified, being fastened to the post by eight bayonets. He was suspended about 18 inches from the ground, the bayonets being driven through his legs, shoulders, throat and testicles."

British historian Ian Overton discovered that the victim was Sgt. Harry Band of the Canadian First Division and that he was murdered on April 24, 1915 — two days after the first German chlorine gas attack. He believes Sgt. Band was tortured to death in retaliation. Canadian soldiers had been horrified by the German use of poison gas on April 22, and showed little mercy to German soldiers they captured the next day, on April 23.

But Canadian historians think the story is pure propaganda. Peter Buitenhuis, a Vancouver academic who has written about First World War propaganda: "All we really have is second-hand reportage. Unless I see rather conclusive evidence, I still think it was a myth thought up by British propaganda."