Battalion Events – December 1916
In December 1916, The Hurons moved into army huts at Upper Dibgate, in time for Christmas … the first, away from home. Men commenced to take their first leave in England. Following this, drafts were called to go to France. (LWC)
The first 200 161st Huron Battalion members to cross the British Channel, for active duty in France, were in a draft to The 58th Toronto Battalion in December 1916. In the Goderich Signal of December 14, 1916, it reported that “drafts from The 161st have already gone to France. Evidently a large portion of “B” Company, made up of men from Goderich and Blyth is already across the Channel.
In a letter by Private Harry L. Watson, bandsman of the 161st Huron Battalion Brass Band that was published in the Goderich Signal on December 28, 1916, he kept the folks at home informed about what was going on in England. He noted that “Charlie Donagh is playing snare drums with a 60 piece band in Shorncliffe … Charlie used to be a drummer with the Goderich band 25 years ago.”
After the 161st Huron Battalion landed in England and were housed in camps, they were again examined for medical fitness for duty. It was noted in a December 1916 article in the Goderich Signal that only 67 members were rejected out of a total of 740 members. This was apparently a very good record in comparison with other battalions.