161st Battalion News – April 15, 1916
On April 15, 1916, the Brussels Post reported that over 200 people gathered in the A.O.U.W. Hall in Walton to witness the presentation of wrist watches to 12 Walton soldier boys enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion.
The address to the soldiers before the presentation was made by W.G. Neal, Convener of the Committee read, “To the Soldiers of the King from Walton, Ontario – It is nothing short of an esteemed privilege to have an opportunity of showing our war appreciation of the splendid example you have shown in volunteering your manhood in this critical period of the life of our Dominion and Empire. Tonight in this our assembly, we assure you of our confidence and faith in you, especially because you are our own contribution to the clarion call for men to help wage war against wrong, which struggle, we hope will terminate in the promotion of freedom, justice and that religion which is pure and undefiled. We are ever in remembrance of our brave Canadians whose noble deeds and bravery have been heralded before the nations of the world, as the fittest, bravest, best disciplined, and most honorable of soldiers in the present colossal struggle, and we have faith in you, our boys, to follow in the train of the men who have “trod the path before you” so valiantly. We pride ourselves in having … a band of stalwarts from our own village who will be patient and strong, who will forbear and show self control under provocation, calmness in adversity, and bravery in the line of battle, should it be God’s purpose to have you in the rank of open fire. May your preparatory days fit you to be fearless for the worst; persistent for the noblest, true as steel in your purpose, buoyant in faith for victory, and successful in your campaign for the noble cause of the British Nation. Yours is to stand at the post of duty as true Canadians, ours is to remember you at the Throne of Grace, praying that He, who has preserved you in days past, will shield you in danger’s hour. May it please God, our Father, to bring you safely home again that we may rejoice with you in victory. We ask you to accept this token of our esteem and appreciation of your patriotism in these epoch making days of our Empire, trusting it will remind you continually of your old home, and the many friends you leave behind.”
The soldiers presented wrist watches were Privates Alf. Dennison, Wilfrid Clark, Edward Ryan, Hugh Campbell, Clarence Bennett, Bert McLeod, William Sholdice, George Thamer, and Robert Lawson. Absent from the presentation was Wesley Ballantyne, Thomas Sullivan and Joseph Rowland due to measles.
After the presentations, “each boy replied briefly, thanking the people of Walton and vicinity for their kindness and assuring them that if the 161st Battalion ever reached the front each and all would try and do their duty by King and Country.
One of the soldiers also complimented the women of Canada on their splendid work in connection with this great war but warned them that greater sacrifices still must be made to bring about a complete victory over our enemies. The young men of Walton and vicinity were appealed to and asked to help bring Huron’s Own Battalion up to full strength before mobilization, which takes place May 15th.” The meeting closed with the singing of God Save the King. (Brussels Post, April 20, 1916)