Although the 161st Huron Battalion was not officially authorized until December 2th, 1915, twelve of its future members were already wearing the uniform of a Canadian WWI soldier. The following men enlisted prior to the official establishment of the 161st Huron County Infantry Battalion, then transferred to the 161st Huron once it was formed.
Of these twelve men who enlisted, five did not return home after the war’s end.
126478, SEELEY, (Battalion Sergeant Major) John Charles., enlisted into Canadian Army Service, September 15th, 1915, at Clinton and was accepted on September 18. He was a 3 year veteran of The South African British/Boer War (1899-1902) and served with the 41st Welsh Regiment of England. Upon enlistment in WWI, he was attached to the 71st Battalion and later transferred to the 161st Huron Battalion.
His regimental number was changed, at one point, to 654206, then changed back to 126478. John Charles Seeley was born on July 10, 1874 in Harescombe, England in Glocestershire County. At the time of enlistment he was working as a sectional railroad man and lived in Brucefield, Ontario. His next of kin was his wife, Elizabeth Seeley. When he enlisted in 1915, he was 41 years old, stood 5’ 7” with a ruddy complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He had an irregular scar on the top of his head. His religion was Church of England.
John Seeley is in a ‘161st Sgts. Mess’ photo, on the 4th row, 8th from left. This picture was taken while the 161st was stationed at Witley Camp, England, in December, 1917.
Fred McClymont, of Clinton, recalled ‘161st Huron’, J.C. Seeley and said, “I used to hear him talking, when I was just a young fellow, about all the experiences he had while he was serving with a British regiment in South Africa –.” According to McClymont, Seeley said “I wore out dozens of pairs of breeches while riding (horseback) in South Africa.”
127512, SWARTS, (Pte.) John Bertram, enlisted Oct. 19th, 1915 in Goderich and was approved to join the 71st Battalion the same day. But after the 161st Huron Battalion was established, he was transferred to it. On October 25, 1916, he was re-sworn into service as a member of the 161st Huron Battalion by its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel H.B. Coombe.
Prior to WWI, John Swarts was a member of the Swarts Family who ran a livery stable, on South St., Goderich (their livery business rented rigs, horse and carriage to visiting tradesmen). At the time of enlistment, John Swarts was hotelkeeper of the Queen’s Hotel in Wingham on Josephine Street. He was born in Goderich on February 24, 1893, and had no prior military experience. Upon enlistment, Jack Swarts was 22 years old, stood 5’ 11” and had a medium complexion with brown eyes and light auburn hair. He was Presbyterian in religion.
654042, HEFFORD, (Sgt.) Alfred John, “B” Company, enlisted November 22nd, 1915, at Goderich. He was considered fit for service on December 1, 1915 and approved for enlistment into the 161st Huron Battalion on the same day.
His next of kin was his sister, Miss Lottie E. Hefford of R.R. 1, Dungannon, Ont. Alfred John Hefford was 19 upon enlistment, born on July 5, 1896 in Leyton, Essex in England. At the time of enlistment, Alfred Hefford was a farmer in the Dungannon area. He was 5’ 5.5” tall with a medium complexion, grey eyes and light-coloured hair. He belonged to the Church of England.
Alfred Hefford was photographed with ‘Goderich’s Own’, in the back row, 4th from left. He was also photographed with the Sergeants’ Mess group, at Witley, in the front row, 2nd from left.
By the end of the war, he had earned the rank of Corporal Alfred Hefford.
654032, FEAGAN, (Cpl.) William Leonard, enlisted and approved for duty on November 27, 1915 at Goderich, with “B” company.
His next of kin was his father, John Feagan of R.R.5, Goderich, Ont. William Leonard Feagan was born on February 15, 1896 in Colborne Township in Huron County, Ont., and at the time of his enlistment worked as a farmer at R.R. 5 Goderich, Ont. and had no prior military experience.
At the time of enlistment, William Feagan was 19 years old, stood 5’ 8” tall with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was a member of the Methodist Church.
654064, MOORE, (Pte.) Stanley Herbert, “B” Company, enlisted and was approved on November 25th, 1915, at Goderich. His next of kin was his wife, Mrs. Miriam Moore of Goderich, Ont.
Stanley Moore was born on February 26, 1888 in Kent, England and was working as a tinsmith when he enlisted. Stanley H. Moore served 7 years with the 33rd Huron Regiment as a cook. He was 25 years old and stood 5’ 10” tall with a dark complexion, dark brown eyes and black hair. His religion was the Church of England.
Pte. Stanley Moore has not yet been identified in the photo., ‘Goderich Own’. It is believed he was an army “cook” while with ‘The 161’ at training camps in London and Camp Borden.
730097, FORRESTER, (Pte.) Roy Alexander, enlisted and accepted into service on November 26, 1915 in Galt, Ont. With the 111th Battalion. His next of kin was his father D.A. Forrester of Clinton, Ont. At the time of his enlistment, he lived in Clinton, Ont., where he worked as a printer, and had one year’s military experience in the 33rd Huron Regiment.
Roy Alexander Forrester was born on December 21, 1894 in Preston, which made him 21 years old when he enlisted. He was 5’ 5” tall with a dark complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. He was Presbyterian by faith. Ont.
Private Roy Forrester was later transferred to the 161st Huron Battalion.
654005, BARKER, (Pte.) Joseph Henry, Bandsman, enlisted and accepted to serve with the 161st Huron Battalion’s “A” Company in Wingham, Ont., on November 29th, 1915. His next of kin was his mother, Annie Barker of Wingham, Ontario. Prior to enlistment, he’d been a volunteer with the 33rd Huron Regiment for one year.
Joseph Henry Barker was born on September 5, 1893 in Hampshire, England. At the time of enlistment, he was a 22 year old farmer in the Wingham area, who stood 5’ 4” tall with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light-coloured hair. He was Salvation Army in faith.
He was photographed with ‘The 161’s’ brass band at Camp Borden, standing second from right, middle row. This 161 army bandsman played an alto horn.
654066, MCDONALD, (Cpl.) Theodore St. Clair, “A” Company enlisted and was accepted into service on November 30th, 1915 at Wingham. His next of kin was his father, Thomas T. McDonald from Wingham, Ontario. When he enlisted, he was a student in high school and worked as drug clerk. He had no prior military experience.
Theodore McDonald was born on January 19, 1898 in Wingham, Ont and was 18 years when he enlisted. He was 5’ 8” tall with a fair complexion, with blue eyes and dark hair. His religion of choice was Baptist.
823028, MINER, (L. Corp.) Harry Garnet Bedford, “C” Company, enlisted and accepted into service in London, Ontario on December 1, 1915 with the 142nd Battalion. Lance Corporal Harry Miner was transferred from the 142nd Battalion to the 161st Huron Battalion on March 21, 1916. His next of kin was his parents, John and Urpla Miner, of 102 1/2 Harvey St., Chatham, ON. When he enlisted, Harry Miner had no previous military experience.
His military pay was paid to Miss Mary Yesbec, of Clinton, ON. At the time of his enlistment, Harry Miner was living in Kippen, Ontario as a 24 year old farmer. He was born in Cedar Springs, Ontario on June 24, 1891. At 5’ 7”, he weighed 172 lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He listed his religion as being Methodist.
654086, SANDERSON, (Cpl.) Vance Leslie, “A” Company enlisted and accepted for military service on December 1st, 1915 in Wingham, his hometown before WWI. His next of kin was his father, Albert Sanderson, also of Wingham, Ontario.
Vance Sanderson was born on April 23, 1897 in Wingham, Ontario and prior to enlisting, worked as an unmarried express clerk with no prior military experience. At 18 years old, Vance Sanderson stood 5’ 11” tall and had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light coloured hair. He was Methodist in faith.
Shortly after his enlistment, V.L. Sanderson enrolled in a non-commissioned officers military course at London, Ontario. After completing it, Pte. Vance Sanderson was promoted to the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) rank of Corporal.
654087, SCHAEFER, (Sgt.) George Wm., “A” Company enlisted and accepted for military duty on December 2, 1915 in Wingham, Ontario. His next of kin was his father, Adam Schaefer of Wingham.
George Schaefer was born on October 24, 1894 in Chilton, Wisconsin in the United States of America. At an early age he came to Huron County with his parents from the United States. Prior to enlistment, he worked as an unmarried 21 year old clerk in a dry goods store in Wingham, Ontario. Upon enlistment, he was 5’ 10” tall with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light-coloured hair. He was also Presbyterian by faith.
While a youth in Wingham, the ex-Wisconsin boy took military training with the 33rd Huron Regiment.
While at Camp Witley in England, Sergeant George W. Schaefer was a member of The ‘161st Sergeants; Mess,’ and was photographed with them seated in the fourth row, 4th from the left.
654119, WINDSOR, (Pte.) William Augustus, “A” Company enlisted and approved for military duty on December 1, 1915 in Wingham, Ontario. His next of kin was his father, George Windsor, of 33 Goldsmith, Norwich, England. William Windsor had prior military experience from serving with 1st East Anglian Brigade of the R.F.A of Britain.
William A. Windsor was born on June 29, 1890 in Portsmouth, England. Upon enlistment, he was a 25 year old, unmarried farmer working in the Wingham area. He was 6’ tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. His faith was that of the Church of England.