Sergeant Henry Gunther charged a German machine gun nest exactly one minute before the war ended
For the millions of soldiers and civilians who had suffered through the brutality and deprivation of World War II, they eagerly awaited Armstice to come into effect.
Armstice – the official end of the war – was due to come into effect on November 11th, 11 AM, 1918.
The day of Armstice, Sergeant Gunther had been demoted in rank to a private for his criticisms of the war in a letter he sent home, which were deemed unpatriotic.
Gunther’s unit came across a German position on November 11th, and took cover from the flurry of machine gun fire emanating from the German side. They then received word that the war would end in less than an hour.
For reasons unknown, Sgt. Gunther charged the Germans with a fixed bayonet, heeding neither the warnings of his fellow soldiers or the Germans, who began shouting in English for him to stop.
Speculation is that Gunther was ordered to run into the machine gun fire by his superiors, perhaps assuming the news of coming Armstice was too good to be true.
Although thousands died at around the same time, Gunther is recognised as the war’s “last casualty”
It is estimated roughly 3,000 men died on Armstice day at around the same time, mere minutes from when Armstice official came into effect.
However, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing, stated that Sgt. Gunther would be known as the war’s last American casualty.
Sgt. Gunther’s death was recorded at precisely 10:59 AM, November 11th 1918 – exactly one minute from Armstice.
Sgt. Gunther’s remains were moved to the United States in 1923.