200 Huron 161st Men Reinforce Ranks of 58th Battalion

Battalion Events – November 30, 1916

On November 30, 1916, about 200 men from the 161st Huron Battalion were taken on strength with the 58th Battalion. The 58th Battalion had been in France since February 20, 1916. They were part of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division.

This Battalion had participated in the trench warfare for Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood in Ypres Salient in the spring and summer of 1916. By September 1916, the heavy losses of 576 men in less than a year required them to take on more men.

One of the men, Pte. Nelson Agar was transferred on November 30, 1916, he was transferred to the 58th Canadian Battalion at Debgate, England and landed in France with the 58th on December 1, 1916. Once in France, the men were moved to the front lines to reinforce the 3rd Canadian Division.

Word Reaches Home, Battalion Safely Arrived

Huron County War News – November 16, 1916

The Brussels Post reported that “it is offically announced that the 161st Huron Battalion, 110th Perth Battalion, the 114th, 133rd, 142nd, 159th, 162nd and the 168th Ontario Battalions, the 184th Manitoba Battalion, the 195th and 209th Saskatchewan Battalions, the 131st British Columbia Battalions, the 196th Western Universities Battalion, drafts for the 192nd Alberta Battalion, the army medical corps, engineers and naval rations have arrived safely in England. Private cablegrams were also received confirming the same from the 161st.

161st Battalion Arrives at Dibgate Camp

Battalion News – November 14, 1916

On Sunday November 14, 1916 at 5:00 am, the 161st Huron Battalion arrived at their first camp in England, an isolation camp at Dibgate Camp, 1 1/2 miles from Shorncliffe. This camp was only 22 miles from France, and was sometimes raided by airships. Close by was a flying base, that could be on the firing lines in France within 15 minutes. (Pte. Earl Johns letter-Nov14,1916)

S.S. Lapland Finally Arrives in Liverpool, England

Battalion Events – November 13, 1916

On November 13, 1916, the S.S. Lapland sailed into Liverpool, England. The 161st Huron Battalion were assembled at 4 am but did not disembark from the ship until 4 pm. They were marched to the shipping sheds to wait for 2 hours for the train.Around 6 pm, the Battalion and others were loaded onto railway troop cars and moved to the Dibgate Camp, near Shorncliffe, near Folkestone on the southeast coast of England. During the train ride, in which they travelled 8 men and their luggage to a compartment, all doors and windows were closed and shuttered because no lights are to be seen at night. At Dibgate Camp, they camped for a week in this isolation camp, to ensure no illnesses were brought over from Canada that might be contagious. They were also waiting for their huts to be finished (Earl Johns letter-Nov14, 1916).

A group of the soldiers from Exeter area sent a telegram to Exeter to let people know that they had arrived in England. As Pte. Earl Johns explained in a letter to his mother, they figured the telegram would get there sooner than their letters.

Pte. John Passmore Killed at Battle of Somme

Huron County War News – November 9, 1916

Pte. John Passmore, 18 years old, who was reported missing since October 26, has now been reported killed in action in the Somme battle. Left to mourn him are his father and brother in Toronto, one sister in Wingham and Miss Mildred Russell, another sister.

Pte. Will Mayberry, currently stationed in France, has been promoted to Corporal.

Rumours of Lapland Sinking Untrue

Battalion News – November 5, 1916

The S.S. Lapland was expected to land in Liverpool around November 5, 1916. When it did not show up, there were rumours that it had been sunk. This rumour was passed onto Private Earl Johns by a soldier, Pte. Horney from Exeter, who’d been in England for 8 months. He told Johns that the boat was 9 days overdue. (Pte. Earl Johns letter-Nov14,1916)

During the trip over, the S.S. Lapland took precautions when it entered the war zone by swinging the life boats out and steering zig-zag for 24 hours. Machine guns were readied and manned for use and a special guard of 100 soldiers were given guns and 10 rounds of cartridges to use in case of attack.

After rounding the northern tip of Ireland, a storm struck, that kept the men below deck due to waves washing over the the boat’s bow. In his letter of November 14, 1916, Private Earl Jones described it, “The front of the boat would go up about 40 or 50 ft. It was a great time at meal time. I’ve seen two benches and a table go over and smash a dozen plates.”