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.