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Old November 6th, 2010, 01:47 PM   #1

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The last day of World War One

This disturbing UK documentary, sympathetically presented by Michael Palin, researched into the numbers of troops who were slain on the very last day of WWI, as the title suggests, but also how many officers sought fame and/or promotion in the last hours of the war by sending men to their doom.

The last Briton was killed an hour and a half from the armistice (noted poet Wilfred Owen died a week before), and an American- ironically of German descent- died in the very last 10 seconds of the war- the very last allied soldier to die in the conflict.

The British Govt amended it's records to show that the 800 British & Commonwealth troops died on 10th Nov 1918, not the 11th, as the public would be outragred that it's Generals were still ordering troops to die within hours of the end of the war!

It is estimated that, on the last day of WWI alone, the allies lost over 10,000 men. This even excludes any who died of wounds etc incurred days before.

US General Pershing, defying a Senate enquiry into the shocking 1,100 American deaths on the last day of WWI alone (in the Argonne in 1918 in just 4hrs the US lost more men than in all of D-day), was unrepentent and would have pushed the allies on to Berlin, he prophetically said that the Germans would otherwise say they were never beaten, and that...

"We will have to do this all over again"!
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Old November 6th, 2010, 03:58 PM   #2

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Re: The last day of World War One

hmm...its very sad that those men lasted through all the mud, killings and shells etc to be killed on the very last day.....
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Old November 6th, 2010, 04:29 PM   #3

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Re: The last day of World War One

Yes, a very sad outcome for thousands of men merely for the aggrandisement of a few officers.

There ain't no justice!
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Old November 6th, 2010, 10:06 PM   #4

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Re: The last day of World War One

The most disturbing of all was the AMerican general who ordered the capture of a town at the cost of 100's of lives so his men could have a bath.
My understanding of the last days is that the British, French and Commonwelth generals for the most part did nothing in the last few days being exhausted by 4 years of war fare whilst some of the American commanders seeing their chances for glory evaporating before their eyes ordered piontless and often suicidal attacks in order to gain a reputation back home.

The German machine gunners were frantically trying to wave them back, as they knew the war was over and didn't want to kill anyone else.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 01:38 AM   #5

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Re: The last day of World War One

Pershing seems to have been a bit of a thick headed general and his refusal to learn from the experiences of the French and Commonwealth armies in four years of trench war certainly added enormously to the US casulty figures in WW1 before and up to the armstice. He wasn't alone, however, and nor was it just officers who were wanting to launch fresh attacks. It seems that a lot of the infantry had come to the conclusion that they were all marked to die during the conflict and had real psychological difficulties in adjusting to the idea that they weren't and that they were not going to be able to get more revenge for their fallen comrades. I just read a short German account about how an allied shelling wiped out a couple of hundred of their soldiers just seconds before the Armstice and it seems that there was a lot of hatred and confusion among the rank and file on both sides.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 01:44 AM   #6

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Re: The last day of World War One

I remember a documentary on HC that dealt with this subject. The incident Lawnmowerman describes was in it. According to the doc, there were several unilateral decisions of American commanders at the lower levels ordering attacks. Many decorations and promotions resulted from these wasteful actions, almost none to the doughboys who were hazarded. In several instances the advances were ordered back to their original positions. So,wtf was the point?
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Old November 8th, 2010, 12:20 AM   #7

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Re: The last day of World War One

Yes, it was very sad how many junior commanders (especially the recently-arrived Americans) seemed to see chances of 'glory', which had been sapped from all other nations?

The last town someone referred to US troops being slain by reluctant Germans was Stenay
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Old November 8th, 2010, 01:42 AM   #8
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Re: The last day of World War One

To put it in a nutshell: The entire war was insane, with the first encounters involving men ordered to march upright in cadence against fortified machine gun-nests, only in later occasions actually charging/ducking/trench-fighting. I heard the British also got the khaki-colored uniforms after being spotted miles away due to bright uniforms.

I suppose 4-5 years of that sort of hell and then going home with nothing to show but millions of dead would eat at any commanding officer. Not that it makes things any better to have even more killed after peacemaking.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 06:05 AM   #9

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Re: The last day of World War One

people are willing to accept being amoung the first to die in a war but no one wants to be the last, it just shouts bad luck
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Old November 8th, 2010, 06:13 AM   #10

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Re: The last day of World War One

Did the field generals who ordered these assaults on the last day know for a fact that it was indeed the last day of the war?
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