Heartbreaking Stories Of The Lost Soldiers From WWI

WW1 100 Year Anniversary The act of remembering those who fought and died in every war, as well as those who have been made victims of war through no...

WW1 100 Year Anniversary

The act of remembering those who fought and died in every war, as well as those who have been made victims of war through no fault of their own, is as important today as it ever has been. This year in particular marks 100 years to the day since the end of the First World War. World War I changed the world forever, and today it is worth remembering every death caused by war.

American Henry Nicholas John Gunther – the son of a German immigrant – was moments away from the end of the war when he was killed. He wasn’t even supposed to be on the battlefield that day.

The 23-year-old was drafted in to fight just over a year earlier but, according to historians, was soon disgraced after military censors found out he’d been criticising the war in letters home to his family. He was demoted from sergeant to private.

Ashamed, he spent the last few weeks of the war volunteering to go on the most dangerous missions possible in order to claw back the honour he had lost. But it was this streak of bravery which led to the Baltimore native’s death, just seconds before the end of the war.

At 10.59am, near the town of Meuse in north east France, bayonet in hand and peace in sight, Private Gunther made a final charge at the German position. Ignoring their calls for him to stop, he continued his charge and left with no choice, they turned their machine gun and killed him.

James M. Cain, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun spoke to Gunther’s fellow soldiers after his death, who said: “Gunther brooded a great deal over his reduction in rank and became obsessed with a determination to make good before his officers and fellow soldiers.

“The regiment went into action a few days after he was reduced, and from the start he displayed the most unusual willingness to expose himself to all sorts of risks.” Following his death, the Army restored Gunther to the rank of sergeant and awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross.

He is buried at Baltimore’s Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, with a bronze plaque that reads: “Highly Decorated for Exceptional Bravery and Heroic Action that Resulted in His Death One Minute Before the Armistice.”

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