Michael travels to the battlefields of France and Belgium as he counts down the last hours of World War 1, raising questions about the estimated 11,000 casualties which occurred that day, many in the hours after the armistice was signed.
Telling the stories of the last soldiers of each nationality to be killed in the final minutes leading up to the 11 o clock cease-fire, Michael finds newly discovered photographs and original research never before seen on television as he discovers the terrible truth that in those final 6 hours, on the last morning of the War, the killing continued.
Michael recalls, ‘In the course of making this documentary I came across the name of my Great-Uncle, Harry Palin, inscribed on the wall of a memorial in northern France. He was not in a grave as his body was never found. I did some research and found that Harry met his death on the 27th September 1916 in an attack on Gird Trench. He was with the New Zealand forces and thanks to theiur excellent records I have an account of the moment of his death. It was described by a colleague in his report :
“L/Cpl Palin was just getting up to fire when he was shot through the head – I was next to him and am sure he was killed outright”
Great-Uncle Harry was an interesting man. He came from a comfortable home, his father a country vicar, and yet he could never seem to settle anywhere. He worked for Indian railways and then as a tea-planter in Assam, before leaving for New Zealand to work on a farm. Within a year of his arrival in Christchirch the First World War broke out and he joined up and was soon back in Europe with the ANZAC forces. He survived Gallipoli and his death came in one of the very last offensives of the Battle of the Somme.
Would love to know more about Harry Palin. He sounds like the black sheep of the family, but the only one who died in battle.’
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