|Pte. Abram Arthur Munro's headstone, Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto, ON|
Following a summer of training at Camp Aldershot, near Kentville, NS, Abram departed Halifax aboard SS Olympic on October 12, 1916. On board the vessel were the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade’s four infantry units—the 85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders), 185th (Cape Breton Highlanders), 193rd and 219th Battalions.
Shortly after the Brigade arrived in England, two of its units—the 193rd and 219th Battalions—were dissolved and their members assigned to other units. On January 23, 1917, Abram was assigned to the 17th Reserve Battalion, the unit responsible for reinforcing Nova Scotian units at the front. Three months later, he was assigned to the 85th Battalion and crossed the English Channel to France.
Abram joined the 85th in the forward area on April 26, 1917. Throughout the spring and early summer, he served a regular rotation with his new unit. While slightly wounded in the trenches on June 17, Abram remained at duty. A second incident that occurred two months later, however, proved to be much more serious.
On August 5, 1917, Abram was admitted to No. 5 Field Ambulance, having been “hit by [a] fragment of high explosive shell.” The following day, he was transported to No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station with serious wounds to his lower left arm and thigh. Damage to Abram’s arm was so severe that surgeons amputated the limb two inches below his left elbow. A subsequent x-ray revealed a “shrapnel fracture” at the upper end of his femur, with “multiple fine shrapnel about the site of injury.”
Abram was evacuated by ambulance train to No. 4 General Hospital, Camiers, on August 10 and remained a patient at the facility for almost two and a half months. On October 28, he was invalided to England and admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham. “Foreign bodies” and a bone fragment still remained at the tip of Abram’s left femur, reducing his ability to place weight on the leg.
Throughout the winter of 1917-18, Abram gradually achieved limited use of his injured leg and made sufficient progress to warrant a transfer to Granville Special Hospital, Buxton, on May 30, 1918. While “ambulatory with crutches,” Abram had limited joint movement at the hip, knee and ankle, and only slight toe movement. On July 8, he was transferred to No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, Kirkdale, Liverpool, in anticipation of a return voyage to Canada, but did not depart for home until September 20, 1918.
Upon arriving at Halifax 11 days later, Abram travelled by train to Toronto, where he was admitted to Whitby Military Hospital on October 5. In subsequent weeks, staff focused on fitting Abram with an artificial arm. As a result of his fractured femur, his left leg was three inches shorter than the right, necessitating the use of a “cork lift” in his left boot.
On December 4, 1918, Abram was transferred to Base Hospital, Toronto. One month later—January 2, 1919—he married Gladys Evelyn (Leach) Jackson, a 23-year-old widow and native of Leamington, ON. Abram’s marriage license listed his occupation at the time as “tailor (retired soldier).”
By early June 1919, the Toronto facility felt it had done all it could for Abram and he returned to Halifax, where he was admitted to Camp Hill Hospital. While his artificial arm was deemed “of little value,” the use of his left leg had improved sufficiently to permit walking with “the aid of a stick.”
Abram remained under medical care throughout the summer and autumn months, during which time he underwent surgery in mid-October to remove an abscess from the top of his left femur. By early December, Abram had recovered sufficiently to be assigned to the local Casualty Company. On December 27, 1919, he was formally discharged from military service and returned to Ontario, where he and his wife established residence at Pickering.
For more than a decade, Abram’s health was stable. During the spring of 1931, however, he began to experience problems with his left leg wound. By October 1934, Abram had developed osteomyelitis—a bone infection—in his left femur, “with widespread cellulitis and marked toxaemia.” Abram was admitted to Christie Street Hospital, Toronto, where surgeons drained a large abscess. Before year’s end, he underwent three additional procedures and received two blood transfusions.
Despite the medical interventions, Abram’s health continued to decline. Within 24 hours of developing “nephritis with anuria [non-passage of urine],” Abram Munro passed away on January 30, 1935 and was laid to rest in Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto. Military authorities agreed that his death was “due to service” and provided an Imperial War Graves Commission headstone to mark Abram’s final resting place.
|Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto, ON|