|Private Harold Brown Layton|
When the 64th was disbanded shortly after its overseas arrival, Harold was transferred to the 40th Battalion (Halifax Rifles) on July 7. Before summer’s end, the 40th was designated a reserve battalion. As a result, on September 26, Harold was assigned to the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia) and joined his new unit in France in mid-October.
Throughout the winter of 1916-17, Harold served with the 25th in sectors near Vimy Ridge. In late January 1917, he was treated for “myalgia” at a field ambulance and spent 10 days at a nearby rest camp. While he resumed his regular duties shortly afterward, Harold was re-admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station on March 11 and subsequently transferred to No. 10 Canadian General Hospital, Camiers, for treatment of the same ailment.
Invalided to England in early April, Harold was admitted to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Bromley, Kent, suffering from pains in his right hip, thigh and neck. Following a transfer to the Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Buxton, in late April, his condition appeared to improve. While medical staff continued to diagnose the source of his symptoms as “myalgia,” his circumstances worsened after a second transfer to Moore Barracks Hospital, Shorncliffe, on June 7. Harold’s back, neck and leg pain now extended to his right knee and ankle, and was particularly severe after walking.
When a surgical team punctured a small abscess that had developed over Harold’s right sacroiliac joint, the extracted fluid tested positive for tubercle bacilli. Medical authorities concluded that he was no longer fit for service, and Harold was transferred to Kirkdale Canadian Hospital, Liverpool, for “invalidation” to Canada. A second series of tests at Kirkdale verified the presence of tubercle bacilli, prompting doctors to change his diagnosis to “tuberculosis of the sacroiliac joint.”
On September 14, 1917, Harold departed for Canada and arrived at Quebec after an 11-day passage. He returned by train to Halifax and was admitted to Military District No. 6’s Convalescent Home. By this time, Harold had developed a swelling “larger than a hen’s egg” above his right buttock, a condition that made walking painful. In mid-November, he was transferred to a medical facility at Pine Hill.
Over time, Harold’s situation worsened. Medical records describe his appearance as “pale and emaciated.” A late January 1918 Medical Board concluded that, while not seriously ill at the time, his condition was “probably tubercular in origin and will be gradually progressive.” On February 2, Harold was transferred to Camp Hill Hospital, where staff reported that he was in “almost constant pain.”
As the weeks passed, Harold’s condition deteriorated, as the Medical Board had predicted. By late May 1918, he was very weak and confined to bed. Both lungs were affected with “probably T. B.,” and his right lung showed signs of pleurisy. A test of his sputum also revealed the presence of tubercle bacilli. Private Harold Brown Layton lingered for another month, finally passing away at Camp Hill Hospital, Halifax, on June 30, 1918. His remains were transported to Truro, where he was laid to rest in Robie St. Cemetery.
|Pte. Layton's headstone, Robie St., Cemetery, Truro, NS|