161st Battalion Enlists Major Dr. John Shaw

161st Huron Battalion Diary -December 30, 1915


Major JW ShawSHAW, Dr. (Major) John William was commissioned on December 30, 1915. His next of kin was Mrs. Harriett Shaw of Clinton, ON. Major Dr. John Shaw had prior army duty with the 33rd Hurons.

Dr. John Shaw was a native of Hullett Township in the County of Huron. He graduated with the class of 1891 from Trinity College in Toronto. After graduating from the college’s faculty of medicine, he returned to Huron County to establish a family medical practice in Clinton, ON. His office/residence was located at 31 Rattenbury St. E., where Miss F. Schoenhals, formerly of Port Albert resided in the 1980s.

Dr. J. Shaw celebrated 60 years of medical practice in 1951. He as a charter member of the Clinton Royal Canadian Legion and was present on November 11, 1954 to lay the cornerstone of the present Clinton Legion Hall. He was then in his 92nd year. He passed away in 1955 in his 95th year.

In the History of Clinton, 1875-1975, there was a photograph of Dr. John Shaw with 161st officer, H.B. Coombe greeting the Prince of Wales in London, ON, when the British King-to-be was touring the Dominion in September of 1919. This photograph was borrowed from the late Dr. J. Shaw’s grandson, of Toronto.

In a photograph of the 161st officers, taken in the Spring of 1916 by Clinton photographer, Roy Ball, Dr. John Shaw was seated in the third row, second from the left.

Dr. J. Shaw’s housekeeper in his later years, Miss Adele Finlay, later married 161st veteran, Gordon Howes of Clinton, ON., noted that Dr. J. Shaw used to say, “I’ve sent hundreds of people to hospital but I’m not going to enter one myself.”

The final resting place of Dr. John Shaw was the Clinton cemetery. His plot features a black granite monument that is engraved, “J.W. Shaw, M.D. 1861-1955.” The grave is also marked by a British Empire Service League marker and a Royal Canadian Legion plaque.

Enlistments – December 30, 1915

On December 30, 1915, five men enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion. One of these five men did not return home at war’s end.

654124, BOLTON, (Pte.) Albert Stanley, “C” Company, joined “C” Company of the 161st Huron Battalion at Exeter. His next of kin was not stated on the 1916 Overseas Roll.

654315, LETSON, (Pte.) Bert, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, his hometown before WWI. His next of kin was Mrs. Mary Letson of Goderich. Bert Letson was one of two Letson brothers in the 161st. Both enlisted with “B” Company.

Pte. Bert Letson was standing in the fourth row, nineteenth from the left in a photograph of Goderich’s Own. Pte. B. Letson was identified in the Camp Borden photograph by former Goderich County jail governor, Robert W. Bell, formerly of St. Andrews Street, Goderich.

654163, RINGLER, (Pte.) John Carmichael, “A” Company, enlisted in Wroxeter. His next of kin was Mrs. Elizabeth Ringler of Wroxeter, ON. John Ringler was photographed with the Wingham, Brussels and Wroxeter Boys of the 161st, standing in the back row, eleventh from the left. This photograph was published in the April 6th, 1967 edition of the Wingham Advance Times in commemoration of the 50th Vimy Anniversary.

654135, STOKES, (Pte.) George Wilfred, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, his hometown before and after WWI. His next of kin was Fred Stokes of Goderich. Fred Stokes was his father. He also served in WWI as Private F.W. Stokes. Prior to enlisting, George Stokes had been a member of the 33rd Huron Regiment.

G.W. Stokes was featured in the photograph of Goderich’s Own in the fourth row, thirteenth from the left.

654136, THOMPSON, (Pte.) Ernest, “A” Company enlisted in Wingham. His next of kin was Samuel Thompson of Belgrave. He was one of two Thompson brothers from Belgrave who enlisted with the 161st.

In N.W. Miller’s 1935 nominal roll, Ernest Thompson was listed as “Died (accidentally by a gunshot wound) since the war.”

Huron Homefront – December 30, 1915

Enlisted Huron Residents

At the Christmas Tree Entertainment held in the Bluevale Methodist Church on Saturday night, Privates Robert Masters and Robert McMichael were called to the platform and presented with $5 each. The address given by Rev. D.D. Thompson was printed in the Brussels Post –

“Soldiers of the King and defenders of the Empire, of which we form a part. We, the members and adherents of the Bluevale Methodist church, appreciate the stand you have taken to join the ranks and show your loyalty to the Union Jack, the flag which has braved a thousand years the battles and the breeze. No more noble decision could any physically strong young man make at this time when our Empire is engaged in the most terrible struggle which has been recorded in the annals of history, a war which must be fought and won by such brave and loyal men as yourselves. It must be a source of much satisfaction to our brave Canadian Minsters of Militia to see so many sons of Canada ready and willing to lay down their lives, if need be, in defence of the liberties which we enjoy and enable the future generation to be like us, free from Prussian tyranny and militarism. We cannot let the occasion of your parting pass without showing in some small way our appreciation of your sacrifice and we beg of you to accept this small token, expressive of our regards and we hope that if you are called to go to the battle front that the Lord will be with you and bring you back in safety to home and friends. Signed on behalf of the Methodist Church.”

Private Samuel Burke from Jamestown and Private Holt, of Wingham, were home with their families to spend Christmas. They had been training in Galt, ON. While at home, a number of friends and neighbours gathered at the family home of Private Burke on December 24th for a program of speeches, songs and recitations.

Private Burke had recently enlisted with the 71st Battalion at Galt. After the program concluded, friends and family present Samuel with a wrist watch.

The address, given by G. Parks and B. Payne was printed in the Brussels Post. It read,

“Dear Sam – We, your friends and neighbours assemble here tonight to show you, in a small way, how much we appreciate this self sacrifice of yours and your loyalty to our Mother Country. We realize that in a crisis like this you are are doing the most honourable thing any man can do, that is following the call of duty. No matter where that call may lead you we hope and pray that God may give you strength to follow the narrow way. As a small token please accept this wrist watch in remembrances of the friends you are leaving behind. While you are away some where in France or Belgium remember that we at home are praying for your safe return. Signed on behalf of your friends.

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