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Title As It Happened: The Last Day Of World War One / Director: Fisher, John Hayes
Published Australia : SBS ONE, 2010
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Description 1 online resource (streaming video file) (48 min. 43 sec.) ; 293040821 bytes
Summary On the morning of 11 November 1918, people poured onto the streets of America to celebrate the end of World War One. But the war would officially end six hours later at 11am (Europe time). Tragically, hundreds of soldiers would die in those last few hours of World War One.In The Last Day of World War One Michael Palin tells the tragic tales of the Commonwealth, French, Canadian and American soldiers who died in unnecessary military actions on that day.Germany surrendered unconditionally to Field Marshall Foch in a rail carriage in Compiegne at 5am on 11 November. But they agreed to officially end the war six hours later, at 11am. This would allow enough time for the message that the war was ending at 11am to be spread to all soldiers on the frontlines.Some American and Canadian Generals were determined to send their men to their deaths that morning, fighting for territory they knew they would be able to take peacefully in just a few hours time. But other Generals were prepared to let their men stand easy for the next six hours.General John Pershing was one US leader who, prophetically, believed that the Germans would not believe they were beaten if the war was stopped then. He feared 'we'll have to do all of this again,' if the Germans were not driven back to Berlin on their knees, not on their feet.Michael visits a town cemetery on the outskirts of the Belgium city of Mons where there are nine war graves that tell remarkable stories. Four of the graves contain the bodies of soldiers who died on the last day of WW1 and the other five who died in the first year of the war.Travelling to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headquarters in Maidenhead in the UK, Michael uncovers the meticulously recorded stories of the 863 Commonwealth servicemen and women who died on the momentous day, including those in the cemetery at Mons. He uncovers information about a soldier killed in action an hour and a half before the war officially ended at 11am. Michael takes that soldier's grandchildren for an emotional visit to his grave on the outskirts of Mons.Meanwhile, the last Frenchman died at 10.50am. He was carrying a message to front line troops advising them that war would end in ten minutes.The last American soldier died at 10.59am. Private Henry Gunther (an American of German origin) and other US troops were advancing on a German machine gun post. Knowing the war was about to end, the German machine gunner was waving desperately at them to turn back and save their lives. But Private Gunther and the others kept advancing until he was shot in the head at 10.59am. Almost as soon as he fell, the fighting stopped and the Great War had ended. (From the UK, in English) (Documentary) PG CC WS (60 mins)
Notes Closed captioning in English
Event Broadcast 2010-11-12 at 20:30:00
Notes Classification: PG
Subject Armistice Day.
War casualties.
Western Front (World War (1914-1918))
World War (1914-1918) -- Armistices.
Americas.
Belgium.
Europe.
Form Streaming video
Author Fisher, John Hayes, director
Francis, Peter, contributor
Palin, Michael, cast
Pershing, John, contributor
Persico, Joseph E, contributor