Charles Yale Harrison

Service file

Charles Yale Harrison (1898-1954) was an 18-year-old student when he enlisted with the 244th (Kitchener’s Own) Battalion on January 24, 1917, in Montreal. He was wounded in the foot in August 1918 during the Battle of Amiens on the Western Front, and spent his three last months of service recuperating from the injury. After the war, Harrison worked at a variety of jobs in Montreal and New York City until 1930, when he published Generals Die in Bed, the most critically and commercially successful novel about Canadian soldiers in the First World War. The book appeared amidst a number of novels written by veterans from various countries who were, by the end of the 1920s, writing in an attempt to understand their wartime experiences. Harrison’s book is a first-person narrative from the perspective of an unnamed 18-year-old Canadian soldier. It is written in a stark, documentary style expressing utter disillusionment and cynicism, and has been called an anti-war novella. The book is now in the Canadian public domain and is available online with  few restrictions.

Service Record Details

Attestation Paper 1

Date of Birth: June 16, 1898 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Date of Attestation: January 24, 1917

Age at Enlistment: 18 years, 7 months

Height: 5 feet, 7 1/2 inches

Weight: 147 pounds

Description: Dark complexion, grey eyes, brown hair. Jewish. Scar on left arm (accident when he was a child), scar on right heel (injury sustained during service in France).

Home Address: 109 Park Avenue, Montreal, Quebec

Trade: Student

Married: No

Next of Kin: Mother—Sophia Harrison, living at 1101 Laurier Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec.

Theatre of War: France

Attestation Paper 2

Casualties / Medical History

  • September 1917 – Notes indicate that Harrison was hospitalized due to a fractured finger, which was bent back during a bayonet drill at Shoreham. (Pages 25 and 28)
  • September 18, 1917 – A note indicates that he was admitted to hospital in Brighton on September 13, 1917. (Page 13)
  • August 10, 1918 – He is sent to England due to a gunshot wound to his right foot. (Page 18)
  • August–September, 1918 – A note on a Medical Case Sheet from the Great Northern Central Hospital in London describes his gunshot wound as a “granulating wound, fairly superficial, some discharge. No evidence of bony injury. General condition good.” (Page 36)
  • 1918 – He is treated at three hospitals between August and October 1918: the Australian General Hospital (Abbeville, France), the London General Hospital (London, England) and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital (Bexhill, England). (Page 48)

Interesting Details from the Service Record

  • March 13, 1917 – In his will he bequeaths his entire estate to his mother, Mrs. Sophia Harrison. One of the witnesses, J.J. Burke, lives on Lebreton Street in Ottawa—a street that no longer exists. The surrounding neighbourhood, however, is now the site of the Canadian War Museum. (Page 5)
  • March 28, 1917 – He sails from Halifax on the SS Lapland. (Page 54)
  • January 1918 – His pay is stopped in order to offset the cost of losing a mess tin. Three weeks later he is given a day of field punishment for being absent from the morning parade. (Page 18)
  • July 26, 1918 – A letter sent to the Officer in Charge of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Bexhill-on-Sea, indicates that the hospital will be receiving four new patients: Corporal Jones (186167), Private McWhannel (693312), Lieutenant Corporal Harrison (1054778), and Private McPherson (892699). (Page 33)
  • 1919 – His pay sheets indicate that he had a connection to the Bronx, New York City. (Page 65)
  • Undated – A biography from an unknown published source provides details about his life before and after the war. (Page 12)

The London Gazette

  • No records found

Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)

  • No records found

Census Records

  • No mentions found
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