161st Battalion Enlistments – March 10, 1916
Three men enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion on March 10, 1916.
654560, CALDWELL, (Cpl.) Robert Reynolds, “Hensall’s Own” enlisted in Hensall, Ontario. His next of kin was William T. Caldwell of R.R. 2, Hensall, Ontario. Corporal Robert Caldwell had former military experience with the 102nd Regiment. He was photographed with Hensall’s Own squatted in the front row at the extreme right.
654563, DUNBAR, (Pte.) Clifford Bruce, “A” Company enlised in Brussels, Ontario. His next of kin was David W. Dunbar of Ethel, Ontario, a community in Grey Township, east of Brussels.
According to Clifford Dunbar, interviewed in January 1977, “when I enlisted at Brussels, there were no other enlistments (in Brussels) on that date. Private William Stiles came in shortly after (on April 7, 1916). Lieutenant Frank Scott was our CO (Commanding Officer). When the Battalion mustered at London, ON, I was posted to “D” Company (Seaforth area). After we went to Camp Borden, I volunteered and was accepted for (training) with a ‘Machine-gun section.’
After arrival in England, the ‘machine-gun section’ was posted to a ‘depot at Crowborough, the hometown of (English) historian, H.G. Wells. We were there until we were transferred to France in late March 1917, just in time for the April 9th Vimy Ridge battle. I was transferred to a machine-gun unit of the Fourth Canadian Brigade. The Vimy battle was real exciting experience, although we didn’t go over the top, our machine-gun company did play a supporting role (in that battle).
When the 161st was broken up, mid-February, 1918, I was already in France, however I did make a visit to their ‘Witley Camp’ headquarters, while on leave from France. Somewhere along the way I became a L.C. (Lance Corporal) and later a Sergeant.
After World War One, I had a variety of pursuits. In 1920, I went West on a harvest excursion. The next winter I worked at a logging camp in northern Ontario. While in that part of the province, I was also employed in the Hollinger Gold Mine.”
According to Cliff Dunbar, he also spent several years in the 1920s working at the auto plants in Michigan. In October 1929, I returned to Ethel to take over a feedmill. Afterwards I was engaged in agricultural enterprise in Grey Township. I entered Grey Township council in 1952 as a councillor and was elected reeve in 1960. Cliff Dunbar served as reeve from 1960 to 1968 and was a member of Huron County council. He was photographed with the Huron County Council in photos that are on display at the Huron County court house and council chambers in Goderich.
654567, WESTLAKE, (Pte.) Walter Matthew, “C” Company enlisted in Bayfield, Ontario on March 10, 1916. Bayfield was his home before and after the war. His next of kin was his sister, Miss Susan Westlake, of Bayfield, Ontario. According to his son, L. Westlake, Walter Westlake was only 16 or 17 when he enlisted, although his attestation papers list as being 18 (b. May 4, 1899 in Stanley Township). He was a single, Church of England farmer who was 5’ 9” with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.
According to Walter Westlake’s wife, Pearl, after Walter enlisted, he and other recruits began their training by doing drills at the Bayfield Town Hall for a couple of weeks. In May, they went to London, Ontario for more basic training and later they took advanced training at Camp Borden.
When the 161st Hurons sailed for England on November 1, 1916, Walter Westlake was with the Battalion on the boat, S.S. Lapland. When he was transferred to France for active duty, he fought in many different places including Vimy Ridge, where he was wounded on his left hand, which led to the loss of 3 fingers eventually. He was wounded again in August 1918 during the battle for Arras.