161st Men in Attack Exercises

War Events – April 12, 1917

April 12, 1917 was the fourth day of Canadians’ attack on Vimy Ridge.


Battalion Diary – April 12, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Battalion carried out attack in artillery formation during morning on Training Area about H. In HANKLEY FARM (Ref: 1st Map Aldershot District South). Individual training during afternoon.

Canadian Prime Minister’s Speech at Witley Camp

Battalion Diary – April 9, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Sir Robert Borden, Premier (Prime Minister) of Canada, addressed Officers and men of the 5th Division at Y.M.C.A hut in Witley Camp.

Note: Sir Robert Borden, the Canadian Prime Minister’s address at Witley Camp announced the beginning of the Canadians attack on Vimy Ridge. It was part of his presence in England during the ramp-up and launch of the Vimy Ridge attack, which he later spoke about in the Canadian House of Commons.

Pte. Wallace Aitchison Critically Wounded

Battalion Diary – April 7, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Individual training until noon.

Men of the 161st – April 7, 1917

Pte. Wallace Aitchison

On December 28, 1916, shortly after arriving in England, Private Wallace Aitchison was transferred to the 38th Battalion. By December 29, 1916, Private W. Aitchison was in the field in Havre, France.

On April 7, 1917, he was transferred to the 22 Casualty Clearing Station in critical condition due to serious, but unstated wounds and pneumonia received during action in France. On April 9, 1917, his condition was noted as very grave, but not hopeless.

The wounds and pneumonia were cited as his cause of death on April 11, 1917, according to a military casualty form and his Casualty-Active Service form. He was incorrectly listed as “Died, in France, Aubigny, January 27th, 1918” in N.W. Miller’s 1935 unofficial nominal roll. The official records are correct, not Miller’s list.

News from Witley Camp and Home

Battalion Diary – April 5, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Battalion proceeded on 14th Brigade Route March all day via PORTMOUTH ROAD – DYE HOUSE-PITCH PLACE-SILVERBACK main road to MILLBRIDGE-SHEEP HATCH-RISTEAD-CAMP. Battalion returned to Camp at 6:00pm. Weather good.

Home Events – April 5, 1917

On April 5, 1917, the Brussels Post ran the following letter.

“Witley Camp, Surrey England

“Dear Sir – In regards to one of our boys doing his “bit” for King and Country, Corporal J.G. Anderson is a son of James Anderson on the 5th concession of Morris. His grandfather rented his farm at Dundalk to one of his sons and is visiting with members of his family. Nineteen years ago (1898) he moved from the United States and is proving himself to be more than a “Note writer.”

Some time ago L/C John G. was picked for the “Guard of Honor” and proved himself worthy of handling his men on such an occasion. We, as a section, hope in the near future that he will accept Sergeant’s stripes of which he is worthy. Three cheers and hats off to J.G. Anderson of the 161st Battalion.

From two of the section,

H.P. McCluskey & Pte. J.R. Chisholm”