It is told that he had a crash landing of his aircraft while stationed in Egypt in 1918. He certainly suffered a fractured ankle in that accident, but it was discovered in America many years later that he had also suffered fractures on his spine. He received two war medals - A British War Medal, and a Victory Medal. They are in the possession of the Somme Museum, Newtownards, Co. Down. He was not demobilized until 1919.
After the war he emigrated to the USA and attended Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, Georgia. Contemporary letters indicate that he developed some kind of cancer, possibly a sarcoma, around this time; but its site is not described, although there is a hint of some X-ray therapy. It was the report of this illness that enticed his parents to consider making the long sea journey to see him there in 1923.
Following his brief period of study in Atlanta, he worked briefly for Coca Cola in Canada and then he went to New York where he studied voice. The depression years in the U.S. provided little opportunity for a career in music, even though, like so many of his family, he was an excellent pianist. His stepbrother Tom and family who lived in Staten Island NY did everything they could to support him.
He found work in a YMCA where he remained until sudden terminal illness struck. The diagnosis of his old fractured spine was treated surgically in a New York hospital, but the cancer of Hodgkin’s Disease was discovered too.
Unable to work, and still a British subject, he had to be persuaded to return home to Ireland and his birthplace, his parents’ home, Hillside, in 1938. Enquiries were made and eventually in 1939 the authorities granted him a war pension. It was for just over £1 per week. He died in a nursing home in Belfast in a cachectic state on 12 December 1939, and was buried in a second Harland grave in the Methodist cemetery in Bessbrook. Probate valued his estate at £143 12s 8d. (Will Calendar 1940)
An Obituary notice of Noel from the local newspaper begins with this expansive sentence:
"The death of Mr. David Noel Harland, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Harland, Hillside, Bessbrook, which event took place in a nursing Home in Belfast, has removed one of the most popular figures from the district of Bessbrook, where he was beloved by all with whom he came in contact and especially by the young folk he met during his rambles when he had less oppressive periods during his illness, which extended over such a long time, and which was so bravely and patiently borne".
Yes that is one sentence!!!
David Noel (‘Noel’) Harland
b.24 December 1896
d.12 December 1939 at a nursing home in Belfast
buried in the family plot in Bessbrook
Noel was educated in Bessbrook School and later as a boarder in Wesley College Dublin,
and so he was still only 17 at the outbreak of The First Great War. In 1915 he was
commissioned into the Yorkshire Regiment from the Queen’s University Belfast Officer
Training Corps, and saw service in India. He was transferred later to the Royal Flying
Corps, and then served in Egypt and France.