WWI was a war rich with fear and fatalities. You’d think that once the soldiers found out they could stop fighting, they’d kick back with a beer and breathe a sigh of relief. However, not everyone was fine just letting their enemies fly after the damage they’d caused…and one proud American had nothing to lose.
A crummy twist of luck
In 1918, banker Henry Gunther was living the sweet Boston life with a fiance by his side…until he got drafted into WWI. The draft flipped Gunther’s world upside down, but he still represented his country with as much honor as he could. He joined a company referred to as “Baltimore’s Own,” eventually climbing in the ranks to supply sergeant. However, Gunther hated his new career (because who wouldn’t?) and his commanding officers took it pretty personally.
Unfortunately, one intercepted letter home proved that Gunther despised the trenches and thought people should steer clear of fighting at all costs. Not too unreasonable, right? Well, the Army sure thought it was, and they hastily demoted him. Even worse, his jerk of a fiance ditched him while at war. So, how did Gunther plan to bounce back?
And the chaos gets worse
Gunther got his idea for redemption at the worst time: the final six hours of WWI. When the armistice was created by Germans, French, and British officials, they all decided to push ceasefire off until 11 in the morning…despite signing it earlier that day at 5 A.M. What could possibly go wrong? They didn’t seem to consider the fact that the troops had lost so much to enemy soldiers, and they would likely fight until the very last moment.
The majority of “Baltimore’s Own” continued to fight against the Germans until the sound of the ceasefire reached their ears. But when they got word of the armistice, just 16 minutes before 11, Gunther seemed to realize it would be his final opportunity to regain some of the faith his country had lost in him.
You know the war is over…right?
Gunther, in a last-ditch effort for honor, ran straight towards a group of machine-gun-toting German soldiers with his itty-bitty bayonet. Both his company and the Germans were extremely puzzled by Gunther’s seeming suicide mission. Still, despite cries from both sides, Gunther continued to charge at the Germans with his bayonet in tow.
Unfortunately, the Germans were forced to shoot the persistent American soldier. He went down at exactly 10:59 a.m, a minute before the official end of the war. Going out in battle seemed to be Gunther’s ultimate plan to prove his American loyalty. His obscure death was charted as the final casualty of WWI, and historians haven’t forgotten the legacy of poor, proud Henry Gunther.