All 727 Battalion Members March Onto S.S. Lapland for Departure

Battalion News – October 31, 1916

On Monday, October 31, according to the November 7, 1916 edition of the Goderich Signal, the men of the 161st Huron Battalion marched into the great freight sheds of Halifax Harbour. Later that day, the men of the 161st Huron Battalion, the 168th Woodstock Battalion and the 133rd Simcoe Battalion marched into the waiting transport ship, the S.S. Lapland. Loading the ship with men took all Monday and the greater part of Tuesday November 1, 1916.

The 161 Battalion consisted of 28 officers and 749 NCOs and enlisted men when they boarded the troopship, the S.S. Lapland, according to the Lest We Forget booklet. The S.S. Lapland was originally a passenger ship, built by the shipbuilding firm, Harland & Wolff of Belfast, Ireland for the Red Star Line. It was launched on June 27, 1908, though its maiden voyage began on April 10, 1909 from Belgium to Dover, England and onto New York under the Belgium flag. Its port of registry was Antwerp, Belgium. Although the S.S. Lapland resembled her sister ships, the Samland, Gothland and Poland, it was substantially larger. Its tonnage was 17,540 gross tons and it was 606 feet, 11 inches long and 70 feet, 2 inches wide at its beam. It had 4 sailing masts and twin screw engines that could do 17 knots. The ship accommodated 1500 passengers The S.S. Lapland made its last pre-war sailing as a passenger on October 29, 1914 doing the Liverpool to New York crossing under the British flag, while under charter to the Cunard Line. In April 1917, she hit a mine off the Mersey Bar Lightship but made into port at Liverpool.

In June 1917, the S.S. Lapland was requisitioned to be converted to a troopship, running recruits and supplies between England and North America. After the war, on November 24, 1918, the S.S. Lapland sailed from Liverpool, England to New York as part of the White Star Line, transferring soldiers and equipment back home until November 27, 1919.

After war service, the ship was refitted to 18,565 gross ton with accommodations for 389 first class passengers, 448 second class passengers and 1,200 third class passengers and resumed service for the Red Star Line, flying under the British flag from Antwerp, Belgium beginning January 3, 1920. She sailed the Antwerp, Southampton, England to New York run until April 29, 1932. From 1932-33, she served as on the London-Mediterranean cruise route but was sold in 1933 to Japanese owners who scrapped the ship in Osaka, Japan in 1934.

G.E. Grover Enlists & News of Fallen Hurons in Battle

Battalion Events – October 26, 1916

On October 26, 1916, the Goderich Signal reported that “Members of The 161st, during the past three weeks have completed a course in musketry at the rifle ranges. Afterwards the men were all issued ‘housewives’ (jack-knives) and a pace of first-aid field dressing.”

Enlistments – October 26, 1916

One man enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion on October 26, 1916.

654887, GROVER, (L.Sgt.) George Edward, “B” Company, born on January 26, 1894 in Kerkick, Iowa, US, enlisted at Camp Borden. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs. L.H. Grover of the same address as Lance Sergeant George Grover, 238 Withrow Ave., Toronto, ON. This was his second time enlisting. G.E. Grover enlisted on April 6, 1915 in Guelph, and his regimental number was 127448. He was approved as fit and presumably enlisted. It was noted on his April 6th 1915 attestation papers that he was discharged. At that time, it was also noted on his attestation papers that he had a large pigmentation mark on the right side of his abdomen and around back of lower thorax. This was not noted on his enlistment papers of October 26, 1916. In 1915, his mother, Mrs. L.G. Grover was living in Chesley, ON. George Grover worked as a steam engineer prior to enlisting in 1915 and 1916. In 1916, he had previous military experience with Canadian Expeditionary Forces’ 34th and 71st Battalions. At 21 years old, he was 5’ 9” tall with fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and was a member of the Church of England.

While overseas, Lance Sergeant G.E. Grover was a member of the 161st Sergeants’ Mess and was photographed with them in the 3rd row at the extreme right of a photo of the Warrant Officers, Staff-Sergeants and Sergeants at Milford, England.

Huron County War News – October 26, 1916

Among the list of Morris boys reported missing in France during the past week is John Passmore. He made his home for years at the late Pete Cantelon’s. John enlisted in Brandon, Manitoba. When he went to England, he was drafted into a Highland Regiment and went into the trenches early in September 1916.

A memorial service was held on October 22 at the Union Church for  Pte. William Richmond, who was killed “in defence of the Empire.” Rev. Mr. Johnson preached a sermon on “A Good Soldier” while Rev Mr. McDonald of Atwood gave a fine patriotic address.

Ex-councillor William Thuell took a trip to the Great West this Fall for 2 months. When he got back last week, he made a visit to his 3 sons at Camp Borden from Toronto prior to their leaving for overseas service.

Last Saturday (October 21) R.J Hoover, Will Hoover, Duncan McCallum and John Crerar motored to Camp Borden in Crerar’s car to visit the sons of the Hoovers and Duncan McCallum and other “khaki lads who will hiking overseas soon.”

Pte. Ralph Shaw, who enlisted with the  161st Huron Battalion, is able finally to be up and about. He is slowly regaining his strength after a long fight with typhoid fever.

The secretary of the Ethel Women’s Institute published an appeal in the Brussels Post, asking all ladies who have sewing on hand for the soldiers to “kindly get it finished and hand it in to Mrs. Dilworth, as we want all the garments sent away at as early a date as possible.”

In Ethel, on Monday October 31, an illustrated lecture by Dr. Minifi, Chaplain of the National Guards in London, England will be given. The title of the lecture is “With the British Forces in Camp and Field.”

Letter from Pte. Will Cook to his sister, Florence – Dear Florence,  Just a line to let you know I am o.k. and hope you are the same. Received parcel all tight and the socks come in very handy and I thank you very much. Have another position, this time at Longwood, near Bramshott, am orderly to Major Dunlop of Goderich, Capt. McKay and Capt. Simpson so I have my hands full. Had a letter from Walter Haytor. His brother, Ted, was slightly wounded. They were in the same section as me. This morning we had news from Lieuts. Brockelbank and Jimmy Lowe of Arthur and Stratford. Said it was fierce over in the trenches. I am in splendid health. We see the aeroplanes coming over from France every day. They cross over our camp to Aldershott, taking a new one over and fetching an old machine back. We see as much here as they do at the front, in a way, as everything is military. Sometime 5 to 10 aeroplanes are together racing one another and it is a grand sight. About 400 conscriptionists are being drilled here. Was sorry to hear of “Chad” McMillan’s death and others of the 71st also got it. Yours very truly, Will.”

A letter from Pte. George McLelland was received describing his recent trip to Ireland. “He visited Dublin, Cork, Blarney Castle (and kissed the blarney stone), Killarney, the gap of Dunloe, the Devil’s Punch Bowl and from these took the Sligo train for Killen-shandra, Drumbrick. He says my great grandmother had 22 children (19 boys and 3 girls) and went to church with her sword under her cloak. Everybody has heard much about the beauty of the Irish colleens and it is no mistake. People burn peat here; the hedges are fine and the holly tree very common. Am sending some shamrock and a black thorn walking stick.”

Community War Work in Brussels, ON Area

Home Events – October 21, 1916

According to the Brussels Post, October 21, 1916 the following war-related events took place in the Brussels area.

In Bluevale, the Red Cross workers have been holding their sewing bees in the churches for several weeks on Wednesday afternoons and accomplished a great deal of work. The Bluevale Women’s Institute has also “made several shipments of jam for the the soldiers.”

A Trafalgar Day was held on October 21, 1916 at a public meeting at the Bluevale school at 8 pm. Different aspects of the war were discussed by a number of speakers. L.W. Winch spoke on the causes of the War; Rev. D.D. Thompson explained the Eastern Front, while Clayton Duff explained the Western Front. J.W. King discussed the situation in the Balkans, the Dardenelles and the Italian Front while Rev. Crawford Tate dealt with the war on the sea. All the speakers used maps to illustrate their talks to “make the war as vivid as possible to their hearers.” The proceeds would go to Red Cross, except for a small sum for school improvements.

On Sunday, October 15, 1916, members of the Westminister Guild of the Bluevale Knox Presbyterian Church and the Bluevale Women’s Institute visited  Alfred Ennis (603222) of the 34th Battalion at the home of John Spence of Morris to give him a gift of cash, time being too short to order him a wrist watch. He was due to leave London, On with his battalion for “parts unknown.” “A. MacEwen and L.S. Winch and others expressed the regard and appreciation the people of the community feel towards one who has lived in our midst for several years and has responded to the call of duty.” (Note: Alfred Ennis was born Feb. 21, 1895 in Sussex, England, worked for George and Bella MacDonald of Lots 28-30 N, Concession 1 in Morris Township).

Former Huron Resident, Henry Johnson, Killed in Action

Huron County War News – October 19, 1916

Pte. J.M. Miller of the 161st Huron Battalion has been quite ill with tonsillitis and pneumonia at the home of his parents, Richard and Mrs. Miller. If he does not soon regain his vigor, his sickness may interfere with his plans to go overseas with his Battalion.

Pte. David Johnson, of the Bluevale area, returned to Camp Borden after a hurried trip to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where he was settling up his business before going overseas.

Pte. T.L. Smith, son of Thomas Smith of the Jamestown area, has gone overseas with the 157th Battalion, after enlisting in Coldwater, Ontario.

John Henry Shaw, nephew of Henry Johnson on the 5th line of Morris, was killed in action on September 26th in France. John H. Shaw lived on the farm in Morris when he was a boay and attended S.S. #5 Morris 30 years ago. He later moved to Wingham, then to Toronto where he enlisted. Henry Johnson has two other nephews in the army who have been in France since March 1916. They enlisted in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Goderich Soldiers Honored with Dinner at Hotel Bedford

Battalion Events – October 12, 1916

The Goderich Signal of October 12, 1916 reported that men of the 161st Huron Battalion had had their last leave from Camp Borden. When members of “B” Company arrived home in Goderich on Thursday October 1916, the Goderich Town Council members had quickly arranged a supper in honor of the “the boys” at the Hotel Bedford.

Huron County War News – October 12, 1916

Private Harris Irvine, formerly of Belgrave, has been reported wounded in Monday October 9th daily papers.