10 Men Enlist in Huron 161st

Enlistments – May 15, 1916

On May 15, 1916, 10 men enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion, 3 did not come home after the war’s end.

654861, CARRUTH, (Pte.) Joseph Hunter, Bandsman, enlisted in Wingham on May 15, 1916. Wingham was his hometown before WWI. Private Joseph Carruth had former military experience with the 30th Wellington militia. He was photographed with the 161st Brass Band, in the back row, 4th from the left at Camp Borden in 1916 and was one of  the trombonist in the band.

Private Joseph Hunter Carruth survived WWI but died before 1935.

654821, CLARK, (Pte.) Alfred Ernest, Bandsman, enlisted in his hometown of Hensall on May 15, 1916. Private Alf Clark was photographed with the 161st Brass Band in Camp Borden sitting beside Alf Rollinson. Alf Clark played clarinet in the battalion’s brass band.

Private Alfred Ernest Clark survived WWI and returned to Hensall.

A.E. Clark was a blacksmith in Hensall after the WWI. In 1977, 90 year old Alf Clark was in the Westminister Veterans’ Hospital in London, ON.

654823, GEDDES, C.Q.M.S., Norman MacKenzie, “A” Company, enlisted in Clinton on May 15, 1916, although he lived in the Belgrave area. Prior to WWI, Norman Geddes was a schoolmaster at Londesborough Public School.

While overseas, Company Quartermaster Norman Geddes was photographed with the 161st Sergeants’ Mess in the 4th row, 11th from the left in a photograph taken at Milford, Surrey in December 1917.

His wife, Mrs. Isabelle (Ferguson) Geddes told Sandy MacDonald, “My husband was in the front lines during the battle of Vimy Ridge … he might have been with the 58th Toronto Battalion while he was in France. He was wounded in both legs by machine-gun fire during this battle.”

After a stay in “blighty” (slang for hospital), Company Quartermaster N.M. Geddes returned to Canada, where he resumed teaching. From 1920 to 1928, Norman Geddes was schoolmaster of the Clinton Public School.

Norman MacKenzie Geddes died on June 10, 1970.

654816, McFALLS, (Pte.) Elmer, “C” Company, enlisted in Exeter on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was his father, Alex McFalls of Exeter.

Elmer McFalls worked as a clerk in Exeter before enlisting. He was born in Usborne Township on February 19, 1897 and at 19 stood 5’ 9.5” with a dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair and was Methodist.

Private Elmer McFalls did not survive WWI. He was killed in action on October 26, 1917 at the battle of Passchendaele. Private E. McFalls was commemorated on the village of Exeter’s Great War Memorial.

654827, MEYERS, (Pte.) John Aaron, “D” Company, enlisted in Hensall on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was Charles Meyers of R.R. 2, Zurich, ON. Private John Meyers was photographed with Hensall’s Own in the back row, 5th from the left.

While overseas, Private John A. Meyers was awarded the Military Medal, while serving with the Canadian Infantry.

Private John Meyers survived WWI, but died on August 8, 1935.

654828, ROLES, (Pte.) Percy Alfred, “D” Company, enlisted in Hensall on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was Thomas Roles of Brighton, Sussex County in England. His country of birth was England.

Private Percy Alfred Roles did not survive WWI. He was killed in action.

654817, STRANG, (Pte.) John Caldwell, “D” Company, enlisted in Exeter on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was Henry Strang of R.R. 1, Hensall, ON.

Private Private John Caldwell Strang did not survive WWI. He was killed in action on July 23, 1917 at the battle of Lens.

654830, WATT, (Pte.) Arthur Leopold, “Blyth’s Own”, enlisted in Blyth on May 15, 1916. His next of  kin was James Watt of Blyth, ON. Private Leo Watt was photographed with Blyth’s Own kneeling in the 3rd row, 11th from the left.

Watt’s son, Archie Watt of Goderich told Sandy MacDonald, “My Dad (Leo) and uncle (Earl) both went overseas with the 161st. They were both in the draft to the 58th Toronto Regiment (Battalion)…They crossed the (English) channel in mid-December 1916, only about a month after they landed in England … and were in the front lines, in France, within a month of their arrival in England.

Private Arthur Leopold Watt survived WWI. He was one of ten 161st Huron Battalion veterans who participated in Goderich’s Jubilee parade in July 1977. His son, Archie, who was a WWII veteran, provided the tractor and wagon for the 161st Huron Reunion float.

Leo Watt died on October 14, 1978.

654847, WILKINSON, (Pte.) Charles Richard, “A” Company, enlisted in Wingham on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was Mrs. Mary Wilkinson of Wingham, ON.

Charles Richard Wilkinson was born in England and had prior military experience with the British militia, the Territorials. While training in Canada, Private Charlie Wilkinson was a member of a barbershop quartette with the 161st Huron Battalion that also included Dr. Fred Thompson.

While Private Charles Wilkinson was in England with the 161st, he was promoted to non-commissioned rank and photographed in December 1917 with the 161st Sergeants’ Mess standing in the top row, 7th from the left.

Private Charles R. Wilkinson survived WWI and returned to Wingham, where he established an optometry practice.

654804, FAIRFULL, (Captain) James Kilgour, born on April 23, 1871 in West Wemyss, Scotland, enlisted in Clinton on May 15, 1916. His next of kin was his wife, Elizabeth Ann Fairfull of Clinton, ON.

James Kilgour Fairfull was a Baptist minister in Clinton, before he enlisted. At 42, he was 5’ 9” tall with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. Prior to enlistment, James Fairfull served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves.

On July 6, 1916, he received his commission as Captain. He was the chaplain for the 161st Huron Battalion. According to Harry Cochrane, Captain James Fairfull was a tall, thin man, who also served as a chaplain during WWII in Camp Borden.

Captain James K. Fairfull survived both wars. He was living at 441 Kingston Road, Toronto, ON in 1935.

One thought on “10 Men Enlist in Huron 161st

  1. Your information about Percy Alfred Roles dying in WW1 was incorrect, he was my grandfather and died at home in Elstead, Surrey in the late 1960’s. He met my grandmother whilst at the Witley Camp, took her to Vancouver where they got married, but returned as my grandmother was homesick. He nearly lost his hearing during WW1. I have a picture of him in his private uniform if you would like to put it on this very good website. Thank you so much for the work you do.


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