Charles Burdick Layton

1897 - 1971


Their Story

Charles Burdick Layton was born on May 14, 1897, in Colegrove, Pennsylvania, to James Henry Layton and Minnie Layton. He had four brothers. He completed 8th grade.1 His father was a tank roofer for Standard Oil.2 Charles married Leora Barr in Olean, New York, on August 14, 1919. Their daughter, June Elaine, was born in 1920.3 His father was residing with him in 1920 and both he and his father were working in a coal mine.4

Layton enlisted in the National Guard on March 31, 1916, in Bradford, Pennsylvania. His unit, the Pennsylvania National Guard, 16th Pennsylvania Infantry, was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was called to service in July 1917 and trained at Camp Hancock, Georgia.5 Private Layton served overseas from May 1918 until April 1919. He was in France with Co. C, 112th Infantry, 28th Division, which saw action during several engagements, including the 5th German Offensive, Advance on Ourcq & Vesle, Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and Thiaucourt.6

On July 28, 1918, the Americans began their attack across the Ourcq River. The 3rd, 28th, and 42nd Divisions were to advance early in the morning and cross the river. The 3rd did and took Ronchères. The 28th was reliant on French guides, who arrived late. Their opportunity to leave early passed and they came under heavy fire from German troops at La Motte Farm. It was after 3 p.m. when they crossed the river. They then were taking heavy fire from the Germans and had to stop their advance, so they dug in just a quarter mile from the river.7

The Meuse-Argonne offensive took place from September 26 until November 11, 1918. This offensive involved 1.2 million American soldiers, resulting in 28,000 battle deaths, and costing 26, 277 American lives. To date, the Meuse-Argonne remains the deadliest single battle in American military history.8

The Allies launched the Meuse-Argonne Offensive to overwhelm the German forces and to end the war. The American Army of around 1.2 million was a decisive reason in the outcome of the offensive. The Germans battled with a great deal of resistance, but the sheer numerical superiority of the Allied forces saw the German defenses start to collapse. The American troops outnumbered the Germans by 2 to 1.9 The Germans, by November 1918, had lost most of their defensive positions along the western front and were retreating. An armistice was declared, and the conflict ended on November 11, 1918.

Layton was gassed on September 2, 1918.10 The use of gas throughout WW1 became one of the most feared weapons on both sides as a silent and often invisible weapon. It provided a means of attack that was secretive and deadly at the same time – it caused a high number of casualties and in most cases a slow painful death. Before protective equipment became more sophisticated it was very hard for soldiers of all ranks to hide from the effects of gas attacks.11

Private 1st Class Layton was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in World War I. He was honorably discharged on May 16, 1919, at Fort Dix, Texas.12

After the war, Layton worked various jobs. He was a carpenter in an oil refinery business while living in Lyons, Illinois. In 1940, Layton worked as a pipe fitter at a gas refinery in Western Springs, Illinois.13 Daughter, June, was a telephone operator. His mother-in-law was residing with them. In 1950, he was a construction carpenter and Leora was a practical nurse with a gas pump manufacturer.14 Charles B. Layton died on February 21, 1971, in Lowell, Michigan. 15


1 – 1940 United States Federal Census

2 1910 United States Federal Census –

3 Charles B. Layton – Facts (

4 1920 United States Federal Census –

5 Charles Burdick Layton – Facts (

6 Pennsylvania, U.S., World War I Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 –

7 The Battle of the Ourcq – The Americans make their presence felt at the Marne (

8 American Battles and Campaigns of World War One (

9“Meuse-Argonne Offensive 1918”, Meuse-Argonne Offensive 1918 ( – Pennsylvania, U.S., World War I Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948

11 “Gas Warfare in World War I,” Gas Warfare in WW1 | World War 1 Veterans,

12 – Pennsylvania, U.S., World War I Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948

13 Charles B. Layton – Facts ( 1940 United States Federal Census

14 1950 United States Federal Census –

15 Michigan, U.S., Death Index, 1971-1996 –