161st Battalion Enlistments – March 29, 1916

Three men enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion on March 29, 1916. One soldier did not survive the Battle of Paschendaele.

654702, CORNISH, (Pte.) Richard Hardwick, “C” Company, was a native of Wales in the United Kingdom and was living in Elimville in Usborne Township when he enlisted in Exeter on March 29, 1916. His next of kin was John Cornish of Elimville.

Before the 161st Huron Battalion was ever organized, Richard H. Cornish was overseas and back during WWI. R.H. Cornish first joined the 71st Oxford County Battalion and went overseas with them. In 1915, he was rejected for active duty because he was too young and too small. When he returned to Canada, he joined up with the 161st Huron Battalion with his older stepbrother, Jack Cornish, and before he had chance to do his bit, he was required to take Signals training. He was photographed with the 161st Signallers standing in the back row, 2nd from the left. While serving overseas in France with the 47th Battalion from Westminster, British Columbia, Private Richard H. Cornish served as a motorcycle dispatch rider.

After WWI, Dick Cornish moved to Goderich, where he established a radio sales and service shop on the corner of Kingston and Shoppers Square. Later he moved it to West Street, site of a restaurant in the 1980s. Richard was a prominent founding member of the Goderich Kinsman Club and also was a member of the British Empire Service League (BESL). In 1940, with fellow 161st veterans, George James and Ted Pooley, Dick attended the British Empire Service League dinner and convention in Montreal at the Mount Royal Hotel. In September 1976, Richard Hartwick Cornish displayed his collection of 161st memorabilia to historian Sandy MacDonald. The collection included the dinner menu card from the 1940 BESL Dinner, 5 foot long photo of the 161st Battalion taken at Hillcrest Camp in London, ON, a bayonet used for close-up and hand-to-hand enemy encounters, and a lapel button with 161st 1935, Clinton, ON printed on it, from the September 1935 reunion of the 161st Huron Battalion veterans.

654704, LEITH, (Pte.) George David, Bandsman, enlisted in Blyth on March 29, 1916, his hometown before and after the war. Private George Leith was photographed with the 161st Brass Band at Camp Borden standing in the middle row, in the alto horn section, 7th from the left.

Private George David Leith survived WWI. In 1935, N.W. Miller’s nominal roll listed G.D. Leith as living in Blyth, ON.

654713, McCLINCHEY, (Pte.) Wesley, Blyth’s Own, enlisted at the 161st Huron Battalion’s headquarters in Clinton, ON on March 29, 1916. He was later attached to the battalion’s Blyth division. Private Wes McClinchey was photographed with Blyth’s Own in the 2nd back row, 2nd from the left.

Private Wesley McClinchey did not survive WWI. While serving with the 58th Battalion in France, he was killed at Passchendaele on October 26, 1917.