The last soldiers to die in World War I





Just after 5 o'clock on the morning of 11 November, 1918, British, French and German officials gathered in a railway carriage to the north of Paris and signed a document which would in effect bring to an end World War I.

Within minutes, news of the Armistice - the cease fire - had been flashed around the world that the war, which was meant to "end all wars", was finally over.

And yet it wasn't, because the cease-fire would not come into effect for a further six hours - at 11am - so troops on the frontline would be sure of getting the news that the fighting had stopped.

That day many hundreds died, and thousands more injured.

The respected American author Joseph E Persico has calculated a shocking figure that the final day of WWI would produce nearly 11,000 casualties, more than those killed, wounded or missing on D-Day, when Allied forces landed en masse on the shores of occupied France almost 27 years later.

What is worse is that hundreds of these soldiers would lose their lives thrown into action by generals who knew that the Armistice had already been signed.

The recklessness of General Wright, of the 89th American Division, is a case in point.

Seeing his troops were exhausted and dirty, and hearing there were bathing facilities available in the nearby town of Stenay, he decided to take the town so his men could refresh themselves.

"That lunatic decision cost something like 300 casualties, many of them battle deaths, for an inconceivable reason," says Mr Persico.

Final fallen

So who were the last to die?

New research by the BBC's Timewatch tells the story of some of the last to fall in WWI.




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