21 Men Enlist in 1 Day

161st Battalion Enlistments on March 20, 1916

Of the twenty-one men who enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion on March 20, 1916, four died while fighting in WWI.

654571, BRADWIN, (Pte.) Albert Milton, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, ON. His next of kin was Ms. Lena Bradwin of Goderich, ON.

After WWI in 1935, Pte. Albert Bradwin was listed as being at the Christie Street War Veterans’ Hospital in Toronto by Miller’s 1935 nominal roll. It is unclear whether he was there as a patient or employee.

654586, COLBOURN, (Pte.) William Russell, “D” Company enlisted in Seaforth, ON on March 20, 1916. His next of kin was John Colbourn of Summerhill (a hamlet between Clinton and Auburn on Huron Road 8).

In the 1935 nominal roll, Pte. William R. Colbourn was listed as a returned soldier living  in Fort Erie, New York in the United States.

654589, DEEM, (Pte.) Sydney, “D” Company enlisted in Seaforth. His next of kin was William Deem of Seaforth, ON. Pte. Sydney Deem was born in Ireland. His brother, Harold Deem, also enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion.

His sister, Miss Emily Deem, of Stratford recalled how her brother Syd Deem was wounded by a gunshot to the head on April 10, 1918 and was admitted to hospital. After a partial recovery, he did not return to the Front, but stayed on as an army instructor in England until the end of the war.

In 1935, he was located at 110 James St., Sarnia, ON. Syd Deem died of a heart attack on August 3, 1968.

654591, DICK, (Pte.) Ross Thomas, “Hensall’s Own,” enlisted in Hensall, ON. His next of kin was Ms. Elizabeth Dick of Hay, ON.

Pte. Ross Dick was photographed with “D” Company’s detachment, Hensall’s Own, squatting in the front, 5th from the left.

In 1935, R.T. Dick was living in Hensall, ON.

654593 PteBenHolland

Pte. Ben Holland

654593, HOLLAND, (Pte.) Benjamin, “A” Company enlisted in Wingham. His next of kin was John Holland of Bay City, Michigan, USA and his country of birth was England.

According to the  War Memorial of Huron County’s Heroes and Heroines, “Private Ben Holland served in France with the 38th Ottawa Regiment and was in the battles of Vimy Ridge, Lens and Paschendaele. In October 1917, Pte. Holland was severely wounded in the side by shrapnel in the battle of Paschendaele. He was hospitalized in England until February 1919 and invalided home to Canada. Upon his arrival, he was shipped to a war veteran’s hospital in London, ON.”

654629, KNIGHT, (Pte.) Charles Edwin, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, ON. His next of kin was William R. Knight of 158 Brock St. N., Sarnia, ON. Before enlisting, Charles Knight worked at the Goderich Organ Factory, which was managed by his uncle, Alex Saunders.

While fighting across the English Channel, Pte. Charles. E. Knight became a member of the 58th regiment from Toronto. While fighting with the 58th  at Paschendaele, Pte. Knight was fatally wounded. The Goderich Signal article of November 15, 1917 stated, “Mr./Mrs. Alex. Saunders, of Goderich, received word their nephew, (Pte.) Charles E. Knight, was ‘Killed in action’ during the battle of Paschendaele. Only 19, he was the son of Mr./Mrs. Wm. R. Knight, of Sarnia (who were) formerly from Goderich. Before enlisting, Chas. Knight had been employed at Goderich Organ Factory and at The Canadian Pacific Railway office, (formerly located at West St and Shopper’s Square. Since being drafted, in mid-December, 1916 to the 58th, Private C.E. Knight had been in the trenches for nearly a year. A brother, Ernie, is now overseas with The Army Medical Corps.”

C. Knight is remembered on the Royal Canadian Legion #109’s cenotaph in Court House Park in Goderich, ON.

654613, MARSHALL, (Pte.) John, “C” Company enlisted in Clinton, ON. His next of kin was Ms. Elizabeth Marshall of Clinton, ON. His brother, Pte. James R. Marshall, was also enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion.

Pte. John Marshall may have been a signaller in the 161st Huron Battalion, according to fellow 161st signaller, A. Nediger’s sister.

654636, McCLUSKEY, (Pte.) Joseph Arthur, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich. His next of kin was Mrs. Robert Davidson of Dungannon, ON. Pte. Joseph McCluskey had prior military experience with the 33rd Huron Regiment.

He was one of the first Battalion members to cross the English Channel in December 1916 and join the 58th in France.

The Goderich Signal reported on August 2, 1917 that “Private Art McCluskey was wounded, July 17, 1917 while he was out with a ‘burial squad’… when a shell struck near them, it killed two of his comrades and wounded Arthur in three places.” Four months later, the Goderich Signal, reported news of Private Joseph Arthur McCluskey’s death. The article noted that “Private Art McCluskey had sailed on the Great Lakes several seasons before enlisting. Word of his death was received by his sister, Mrs. Robt. Davidson, of Dungannon. He was 31 years old.”

He was honoured as J.A. McCluskey on the Royal Canadian Legion Cenotaph #109 in Court House Park in Goderich, ON after the war.

654595, McLEOD, (Pte.) James Edmund, “A” Company enlisted in Brussels, ON. His next of kin was Ms. Sarah McLeod of Ethel, ON.

According to the August 1918 edition of the Goderich Star, “Private Jas. E. McLeod was badly wounded at Ameins on August 23, 1918.” A week later, the Goderich Star’s fatal casuality list contained his name.

Private James McLeod was remembered on the Royal Canadian Legion Cenotaph #218 in Brussels, ON and on a bronze memorial plaque in Duff’s United Church in Walton, ON.

654597, McLEOD, (Pte.) Norman (Peter), Hensall’s Own enlisted in Hensall, ON. His next of kin was James McLeod of Parkhill, ON. Pte. Norman McLeod’s brother, Ken McLeod also enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion.

Pte. Peter McLeod was photographed with Hensall’s Own squatted in front, 10th from the left.

Pte. McLeod survived the war and was listed as living in Dearborn, Michigan, USA in N.W. Miller’s 1935 nominal roll. Norman “Peter” McLeod died on October 31, 1976 in a Detroil nursing home, according to the October 1976 obituary in the Goderich Signal-Star. He was buried at Maitland Cemetery in Goderich, ON.

654635, MURRAY (Cpl.) John Wellington, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, his hometown before the war. His next of kin was Ms. Elizabeth Murray of Goderich, ON.

While overseas, Corporal John W. Murray was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was photographed with the 161st Sergeants’ Mess in the 3rd row, 1st on the left. Sgt. J.W. Murray was also photographed before going overseas with Goderich’s Own at Camp Borden in 1916 seated in the 3rd row, 16th from the left.

While on duty in France, Sgt. John Murray was wounded on September 3, 1918 during the battle for Arras. He survived and made it home.

By 1935 though, he was listed as having died since the war on N.W. Miller’s 1935 nominal roll.

654596, OTTERBEIN, (Pte.) William John, “Hensall’s Own,” enlisted in Hensall, ON. His next of kin was Mrs. Henry Otterbein of Zurich, ON.

Pte. Bill Otterbein was photographed with the “D” Company detachment, Hensall’s Own.

In 1935, William J. Otterbein was listed as a returned soldier living in Hensall, ON in N.W. Miller’s nominal roll.

654647, REDFERN, (Sgt.) Robert, “B” Company was a member of Goderich’s Own. Robert Redfern was a native of Portsmouth, England and had emigrated with his father and brothers to Goderich, before the war. When in England, Robert Redfern served with ‘The Territorialists’, a British militia. He was one of the three Redfern boys in Goderich to enlist for duty with the Canadian armed forces during WWI.

While overseas, Sgt. R. Redfern was a member of the 161st Sergeants’ Mess and was photographed with them standing in the 2nd row, 11th from the left.

During Sgt. Redfern’s active duty in France, he was a member of the 47th  Regiment,  a unit from Westminister, British Columbia. He was fatally wounded on September 28, 1918 during his regiment’s attack on a German trench system near Raillencourt village, called “the battle of the sugarmill”. Word of his death was sent to Mrs. Catherine Redfern by Regimental Chaplain A.H. Priest. Chaplain Priest wrote, “We have lost many Goderich men who joined us from the 161st Battalion but none was more respected by his comrades, as a brave soldier and faithful friend than your husband. I am sending you his personal effects which I, myself, removed from his body.”

On the Royal Canadian Legion Cenotaph #109 in Goderich, the Sgt was remembered as R. Redfern.

654680, SHANNON, (Pte.) Frank, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, his hometown before and for a number of years after WWI. His next of kin was Ms. Ellen Shannon of Goderich, ON.

Private Frank Shannon survived overseas army duty and returned to Canada but did not remain long in Goderich. For many years after WWI, Frank Shannon worked in the logging industry in northern Ontario. He died on December 26, 1949 at Markstay, a village east of Sudbury, ON.

654563, SMITH, (Pte.) Benjamin Charles, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich. His next of kin was Ms. Alice Emily Smith of Bruce St., Goderich. Benjamin C. Smith was born in England and acquired prior military training with Imperial forces.

While overseas, Private Ben Smith was reported a wounded casualty in a 1918 edition of the Goderich Star. “Private B. Smith who was wounded during recent fighting at Cambrai was admitted to No. 53 General Hospital at Boulogne, France.”

He was remembered on the St. George’s Anglican Church Honour Roll in Goderich, ON.

654654, SOMERSALL, (Pte.) Edward Houghton, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, ON. His next of kin was Ms. Mary Somersall of Goderich, ON. Private Ed Somersall was photographed with Goderich’s Own in the top row, 12th from the left.

Ed Somersall was among the first wave of the 161st Huron Battalion to cross the English Channel to France in December 1916 with the 58th Regiment.

In a letter Ed Somersall wrote home, that was published in the May 10, 1917 edition of the Goderich Signal, he said, “No doubt, by this time, you will have heard I was wounded (at Vimy Ridge). It’s not a very serious one and I aim to have a good rest while in “blighty.” Just a week ago we were on our way up (Vimy Ridge) to relieve the R.C.R.’S (Royal Canadian Regiment). They had taken up Fritz’s trenches on the top of the ridge where Canadians won a name for themselves that will never die. I’m glad to say I was there to do my bit. It certainly was hot work … some of our boys who had been up three or four times before, said it was the worst they had ever experienced…We had just been relieved …and had to put up shelter for the night because the dugouts were full. My chum and I had just completed our place and I was just opening a can of ‘bully beef’ when a shell burst near us …a piece of casing, a foot long and 3 inches wide hit me on the shoulder…but I’m so tough and hard, it only bounced. I’m getting the best of attention in hospital and a good bed, something I haven’t had for 6 months.

After recovering, the wounded Vimy veteran returned to Canada and resided in Goderich Township for some years after the war. Later, Ed Somersall was employed with the Veteran Affairs Department in London, ON. After a lengthy illness, he died on February 28, 1958.

654651, STACEY, (Pte.) Nelson Peter, “C” Company enlisted in Exeter, ON. Peter Stacey’s next of kin was Jabez Stacey, Coronation, Alberta.

Private Peter Stacey survived the war and was living in Stettler, Alberta in 1935.

654619, TOWN, (Pte.) Harry Hubert, “A” Company enlisted in Wroxeter, ON. Private Harry Stacey’s next of kin was George J. Town of Wroxeter, ON.

Private Harry H. Town survived WWI and was living in Wingham, ON in 1935. He became a foreman at the Western Foundry in Wingham.

654656, WATSON, (L. Cpl.) Henry Lovie, “Bandsman,” enlisted in Goderich, ON, his hometown before and after WWI. His next of kin was Margaret Watson of Goderich, ON. Lance Corporal Henry Watson acquired previous military duty experience when he was a member of the Huron 33rd Regiment.

Henry Watson was photographed with the 161st Brass Band standing in the middle row, 9th from the left holding a tenor horn.

On January 11, 1917, the Goderich Signal newspaper reported that Lance Corporal H. Watson and other band members of the 161st Huron Battlion were transferred to an Army Medical Corp.

After the war, Henry Watson continued to play. “Hot Watson,” as he was known due to his hot temper, played with the Bluewater Band and was with the band in August 1927 when the band won a prize during the band competition at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, according to Robert “Bob” Henry, a fellow band member of the Bluewater Band and photographer for the Goderich Signal-Star newspaper. At the time, Henry Watson was clerking in Craigie’s billiards/tobacco store at the corner of Montreal Street and Goderich Shoppers’ Square. Henry L. Watson died in October 1934.

654569, YOUNG, (L. Cpl.) Benjamin Franklin, “B” Company, enlisted in Goderich, ON. Lance Corporal Benjamin Young’s next of kin was Ms. Eva Matilda Young of Goderich, ON. Both Lance Corporal B.F. Young and his brother, James E. Young, served with the 161st Huron Battalion. Ben F. Young had prior military experience with the 33rd Huron Regiment. Benjamin Young was photographed with Goderich’s Own, squatted in the front row, 7th from the left.

Overseas, L. Cpl. Benjamin F. Young served with the 18th Battalion from London, ON in the European battlefields.

When Ben Young returned to Goderich after the war, he worked at the Goderich Elevators. During WWII, he was employed to patrol the harbour as part of the Veterans’ Guard. When he died on July 31, 1959, he was a life member of Branch 109 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Goderich).

654660, YOUNG, (Pte.) James Emmerson, “B” Company enlisted in Goderich, ON the same day as his older brother, Ben Young (see above). Like his brother Ben, Jim Young had also served with the 33rd Huron Regiment. When the photo of Goderich’s Own was taken, James E. Young was photographed squatting in the front row, 6th from the left, next to his brother.

Like his brother, Private James E. Young served with the 18th Battalion from London, ON when overseas in France. In August 1918, Pte. James Young was reported wounded at Amiens, France in the Goderich paper.

After recovering from his wound, Jim Young returned to the Goderich area and worked in agricultural enterprise in Goderich Township near Taylor’s Corners (on Hwy 8, south-east of Goderich) He died on June 17, 1967.

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