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First Name: Henry

Last Name: Gunther

Birthplace: Baltimore, MD, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Nicholas

Date of Birth: 05 June 1895

Date of Death: 11 November 1918

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
Henry Nicholas Gunther

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Henry Nicholas Gunther
Sergeant, U.S. Army

Henry Nicholas Gunther, believed to be the last man killed in World War I, was born on 5 June 1895 in Baltimore, MD, into a family of German descent.

Gunther was employed at a local bank when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. Five months later he was inducted into the U.S. Army and appointed a supply Sergeant in Company A, 313th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces.

His closest friend, Sergeant Ernest Powell, recalled that Gunther was miserable in the service and harbored resentment over anti-German prejudice leveled at him by his neighbors back home because of the war. Also, supply sergeants weren't exactly popular among the rank and file.

Soon after arriving in France in July 1918, he was demoted to Private after Army censors intercepted a letter he had written to a friend urging him not to enlist. Around mid-morning on 11 November 1918, the 313th was ordered to advance towards Metz, although official word was spreading that the Armistice would go into effect at 11:00 a.m. Gunther's platoon, led by Powell, encountered two German machine-gun squads blocking a road near the village of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers and were forced to take cover. With the end of the fighting so near, the Germans apparently fired some warning shots over their heads and then stopped.

During the lull an enraged Gunther got on his feet, and despite Powell's order to stop, he charged one of the machine-gun nests with fixed bayonet. The Germans tried to wave him back and did not fire until he was within a few yards of their position. He was killed instantly. "Almost as he fell," noted his divisional record, "the gunfire died away and an appalling silence prevailed."

What prompted his fatal action is not known, but he may have suspected an enemy double-cross. According to most sources, Gunther died at 10:59 a.m., one minute before the Armistice, and General Pershing recorded him as the last American combat fatality in the conflict. It was subsequently established that the final French and UK Commonwealth deaths occurred minutes before Gunther's. (Central Powers casualties are unconfirmed).

Gunther was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart.


A French memorial for Gunther, placed near the spot where he died, was dedicated in 2008.

On Veterans Day 2010, the 92nd anniversary of Gunther's death, a memorial plaque was unveiled at his gravesite in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Henry Nicholas Gunther died on 11 November 1918 in Meuse, France. Originally buried in France, in 1923 his remains were returned to his native Baltimore and buried at the

Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Baltimore, MD.

Honoree ID: 2580   Created by: MHOH




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