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The Last Fallen Soldier of WW1 | Henry Gunther

On the eleventh of November nineteen-eighteen
the most deadly conflict the world has seen up until that point was coming to an end. Over nine-million combatants had died, and
the total death toll exceeded sixteen million. The armistice would be signed at eleven A.M.,
which would put a halt to the senseless bloodshed of the past four years. But, at 10:59 A.M., one minute before the
armistice would be signed, an American soldier threw himself at two German machine guns and
was subsequently shot. He would be the last soldier killed in the
First World War. -intro- Early life & Early war Born in eighteen-ninety-five, Henry Gunther
was born into a German-American family. Both his parents, George Gunther and Lena
Roth, were born to German immigrants. He grew up in Highlandtown, which was populated
by many German immigrants. The family practised the Roman Catholic faith,
and Henry worked as a clerk at the National Bank of Baltimore. His Roman Catholic faith was prominently featured
in his life, in nineteen fifteen he became a member of the Knights of Columbus. He didn’t volunteer for military service
but was drafted in September nineteen-seventeen, and assigned to the 313th Regiment, nicknamed
Baltimore’s Own. Henry’s regiment was part of the 57th Brigade
of the 79th Infantry Division, and he was promoted to supply sergeant shortly after
being drafted. He arrived in France in July nineteen eighteen,
four months before the war would end. The fact that he was only at the front for
four months, did not withhold him from writing a critical letter to a friend in August that
year. In the letter, he wrote that the conditions
at the front were horrible and that said friend should do everything he could to avoid being
drafted. The Army postal censor intercepted the letter,
after which disciplinary action was taken – Gunther was demoted from sergeant to private. Gunther’s Demise As for the war, on the eleventh of November
at 5 o’clock in the morning, the ceasefire of compiègne had been signed. Because it was difficult to notify all troops
at the Western Front, the ceasefire would not come into force until eleven. The unit Gunther was a part of, Company A,
was still on the battle field during the morning of the eleventh. However, the company was informed at 10:30
that the armistice was signed, moving on regardless. A German machine-gun nest blocked the road
near Chaumont-devant Mavillers, and while the entire company remained at a halt, Gunther
got up. His platoon-sergeant and friend, Ernest Powell,
ordered him to stand down but Gunther got up, charged towards the Germans with his bayonet
and started firing shots. Nor the shouts of Powell or the Germans, who
were aware of the truce, deterred him and Gunther was shot in a short burst of automatic
fire, killing him instantly. Henry Gunther’s time of death was noted
down as ten-fifty-nine, one minute before the truce would come into effect. So, why did Gunther go through with an attack
that obviously was suicide, shortly before the war ended? Powell, the platoon commander, suspected that
Gunther wanted to be rehabilitated due to his demotion – he wanted to prove his bravery
and saw this as his last chance to do so. General John Pershing’s Day Order of the following
day mentions him as the last American casualty of the war. Posthumously, his demotion was reversed, and
he received the Distinguished Service Cross. At the instigation of his now widowed mother,
his remains were transferred to Baltimore in 1921 and buried at the Redemptorist Most
Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Aside from Henry Gunther, later investigations
revealed that on the last day of the First World War, between the signing of the ceasefire
and its entry into force, about 11,000 men were injured or killed – far more than usual
in one day. And.. on that grisly note, I will leave you
for now. Thank you for watching this video. What is an event or a person in the First
World War that you would like to know more about, and perhaps see a video of? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. If you enjoyed the video, consider subscribing
to this channel. See you next time!

Tony wyaad



  1. Alec Avdakov Posted on January 15, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Another extremely interesting video as usual. I really enjoyed it! Maybe you could do a video about my favorite World War One figure, August von Mackenson.

  2. This is Barris! - French History Posted on January 15, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Well that sucks for him… Always wondered if it would be the first or the last to die in the war. The writing at 2:20 is wayyyyyy too small to read man.

    Also, rocking the turtle neck 😉

  3. OseiTutu Posted on March 6, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Augustin Trébuchon was the last, or not?

  4. Jack Darko Posted on March 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I was looking for a video exposé on Henry Gunther, but I think I just found the audio book version of his Wikipedia page. Thanks for the effort nevertheless.

    And yeah, the turtleneck is killer.

  5. cfah plushvidz Posted on October 11, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    He was born on June sixth

    Coincidence I think not

  6. ozdorothyfan Posted on October 23, 2019 at 2:15 am

    With all due respect this guy could have a been a prime candidate for a Darwin award if it existed at that time. A description of the Darwin awards then an excerpt from the wiki entry about this incident.

    "In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival."

    Wiki entry

    "Gunther's squad approached a roadblock of two German machine guns in the village of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers near Meuse, in Lorraine. Gunther got up, against the orders of his close friend and sergeant, Ernest Powell, and charged with his bayonet.

    The German soldiers, already aware of the Armistice that would take effect in one minute, tried to wave Gunther away. He kept going and fired "a shot or two". When he got too close to the machine guns, he was shot in a short burst of automatic fire and killed instantly"

  7. magnvsmarcvs Posted on October 25, 2019 at 2:07 am

    What a fool….