This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Ohio.
Charles Altman was born in Rhode Island on 15 July 1898 into a Jewish family of German extraction. His father, Philip, who had served for six months during the Spanish-American War, was from New York and had German parents, and his mother, Sadie, had been born in Germany. In 1901, Charles Altman’s younger sister was born and sometime before 1910 the family moved to Cleveland, where his father worked for a clothing manufacturer. He later started his own business in Canton. While the family business remained in Canton, the family spent some time in California and Arizona, probably related Charles Altman’s bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.
Altman enlisted for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 5 January 1918 at Victoria in British Columbia and was taken on strength of the 2nd Depot Battalion, British Columbia Regiment. He was allocated the number 2138060.
During his training at Willows Camp, Private Altman first reported sick on 11 March. On 11 April he fell ill again and was diagnosed with influenza and bronchitis, and possibly tuberculosis, and transferred to the Jubilee Section, Victoria Military Hospital where tuberculosis was confirmed. It then became apparent that he had suffered previous bouts of similar illness. He refused treatment in a sanatorium in Canada, instead electing to travel to Arizona with his parents. In consequence of his illness he was medically downgraded. Before he was discharged from hospital, he was scheduled for an operation. On the night of 17 July he was prepared for surgery and, on account of his chest condition, chloroform was administered as an anaesthetic. Almost immediately he began to display the symptoms of chloroform poisoning. Attempts at resuscitation failed and he died at 11.15 pm. His body was returned home and buried in the Mayfield Cemetery, Cleveland. His grave is in Section 12, Lot 18, Grave 2, on the south-eastern edge of the cemetery.
Private Altman is commemorated on page 358 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 6 & 7 August. Having served only in Canada he was not entitled to any war medals. The memorial plaque and scroll were sent to parents and his mother received the Memorial Cross.
Chris Dubbs, Patricia Dubbs, Pamelia Williams, and Frank Holowach for their efforts to visit and photograph the graves in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
1. (Back) The details of Altman’s family are difficult to confirm. Philip Altman (17 June 1882-5 December 1954) married Sadie A. Nuddleman (23 February 1882-October 1963) on 15 February 1906 in Rhode Island: Florence R. (1901-NK); Dorothy Caroline (later Hiney) (12 July 1916-16 November 1978).