161st Inspected by Brigadier

Battalion Diary – February 24, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Battalion lines inspected by the Brigadier.

Strength: Taken on five (5) other ranks transferred from Canadian Army Medical Corps – Temporary Service (C.A.M.C., T.S.), Westenhanger Camp (in Westenhanger in Kent, near Folkestone, England). The Monks Horton Convalescent Hospital was located in Westenhanger.

Saturday: half holiday.

Note: CAMC were a corps of military doctors, nursing sisters and other personnel providing medical treatment to soldiers.

Lieutenant D. E. Holmes Observing Royal Flying Corps

Battalion Diary – February 15, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

7:45am  Firing Party of 1 Officer and 100 other ranks and 8 coaches, also Butt Party of 115 other ranks, paraded for Route march to Ash Ranges.

Battalion also supplied a Company of 4 Officers and 150 other ranks to be at the disposal of the Commandant, Senior Officiers’ School, Witley.

Lieutenant D.E. Holmes transferred to Royal Flying Corps as observer.

Four (4) other ranks went On Command to attend course at Bordon.

Strength: Taken on three (3) Officers from the 156th Battalion.

161st Hurons Buzzing with Activity

Battalion Diary – February 9, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

8:00am  Medical inspection of men drafted from the 17th Reserve Battalion, Bramshott. All underage, classed A4

1:30 pm  Route march – 9 miles

Battalion is very short of junior officers and in an endeavour to remedy this the Office Commanding has taken the matter up with Brigade Headquarters.

Application was also made for the transfer of Lieutenant W.E. O’Neill from the 64th Battalion, Shoreham, England and of Lieutenant G.M. Smith, 6th Reserve Battalion, Sandling.

Battalion Messing Accounts – Messes and quarters inspected by Colonel Coutenay, who reported everything to his satisfaction.

161st Takes on 102 Underage Soldiers to Train

Battalion Diary – February 8, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Bombing Officer could not complete the training of the men under him as “live” grenades were not procurable. The Signalling Section was given a test at Brigade Headquarters.

Taken on strength: 102 other ranks (Category A4) from the 17th Reserve Battalion, Bramshott.

Note: Category A4 ranks were “boys who would be fit as soon as they reached 19 years of age.”

Slow Down in 161st Enlistments

Enlistments – May 1, 1916

On May 1, 1916, one man enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion. He did not come home after the war.

654760, HASTINGS, (Pte.) David Eldon, “A” Company, enlisted in Wingham on May 1, 1916. His next of kin was Alvin Hastings of New Liskeard in northern Ontario.

Private David Hastings did not survive WWI. Private D.E. Hastings was among those listed as fatal casualties at the battle in Lens, France on April 23, 1918.

Three Enlist Today – March 30, 2016

Enlistments – March 30, 1916

Three men enlisted with the 161st Huron Battalion on March 30, 1916. One man did not return home.

654730, CHESNEY, (Pte.) Hector David, “D” Company, enlisted in Clinton on March 30, 1916. His next of kin was Ms. Jean Chesney of Seaforth, ON. H.D. Chesney was photographed with Seaforth’s Own.

Private Hector D. Chesney survived WWI and returned to Seaforth. In 1976, Hector Chesney talked with historian Sandy MacDonald about the Boer War and told him that “Frank Williams was a veteran of the South African war. In fact, he used to work as a labourer, digging ditches for my Dad.” Hector David Chesney was a life-long member of the Branch 156 Royal Canadian Legion in Seaforth.

654711, DAY, (Pte.) Louis Edgar, “C” Company, enlisted in Exeter on March 30, 1916. His next of kin was Louis Day of Exeter, ON.

Private Louis Edgar Day survived WWI. L.E. Day returned to Exeter to live and was still there in 1935 when N.W. Miller compiled his nominal roll for the 161st Huron Battalion Reunion. Louis E. Day died on August 5, 1975 at the age of 86.

654714, McNAUGHTON, (Pte.) William Middleton, enlisted in Clinton on March 30, 1916. His next of kin was John McNaughton of Varna, ON. While Private Bill M. McNaughton trained with the Battalion, he was a member of the Stretcher-bearers’ unit. He was photographed with the Red Cross Soliders of the 161st Huron Overseas Battalion kneeling in the front row, 2nd from the left. This photo appeared in the April 1980 edition of the Clinton News-Record.

While serving overseas in France, Private Bill McNaughton was awarded the Military Medal, which was given out for bravery in the field. Private William Middleton did not survive WWI. He was fatally wounded during the Battle for Arras in late August 1918.

Huron County War News – March 30, 1916

Under the heading “161st Battalion Notes” in the Brussels Post, they reported that “the recruits added to the roll of Brussels Company during the past week were: Ed McLeod, Leslie Perrie, Clifford Rowland, William Ward, Robert Lawson, Wilfrid Thomson and W.J. Henderson.

Later in the paper, it was noted that Robert Lawson, a “well-known resident of the 8th line” of Morris Township “decided that it was his duty to show his loyalty to the old flag and his patriotism to the Land of the Maple by shouldering a rifle and going to the defence of the Empire. He is arranging for the working of his 100 acre farm and taken his place in the ranks of Brussels Company. This is a fine example of sacrifice and service and is most commendable and stimulating. There are a hundred young men in Morris who could get away easier if as enthusiastic as “Bob.”

Huron County Soldiers

A reception was held for an enlisted soldier, Pte. W.H. Cook, who enlisted with the 71st Battalion. He came to the home of John Barr, on the 4th line of Morris Township, from Stratford, where he had been training, to say goodbye to his sister, Miss Florence Cook, a housekeeper for Mr. Barr. Pte. W.H. Cook was presented with a wrist watch by his sister and the evening was spent in song, story, instrumental music and dancing. It concluded with a tasty lunch. Pte. Cook sang the 71st Battalion song and the party ended with all singing the National Anthem and the exchange of good wishes for Pte. Cook as he does his duty at the “front in the interests of humanity.”

At the Belgrave Presbyterian Church, an evening was held to present bibles to 12 area young men who were on the Honor Roll of the Presbyterian Church and “now wearing the King’s colors.” It was put on by the Young Peoples’ Guild of Knox Church.

A memorial service was held Duff’s Church in Walton on March 26 for Pte. Cleve McDonald. The service was largely attended, with Rev. Mr. Lundy giving a sermon based on the scripture from II Timothy – “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

New Enlistments from Hensall to Wingham

161st Battalion Enlistments – March 25, 1916

On March 25, 1916, 8 men enlisted in the 161st Huron Battalion, 2 of whom did not return home.

654672, CLARK, (Pte.) David Garnet, “D” Company, enlisted in Hensall on March 25, 1916, where he resided before WWI.

654686, CLARK, (Pte.) Peter, “C” Company, enlisted in Bayfield on March 25, 1916, where he lived before and after the war. Private Peter Clark was native of England who had immigrated to Canada in 1912.

654722, McKAY, (Pte.) Hugh R., “C” Company, enlisted in Bayfield on March 25, 1916, his hometown before and after the war.

654692, NOBLE, (Pte.) Clarence Jarrett, “C” Company, enlisted in Clinton on March 25, 1916, his hometown prior to WWI.

654690, PARLMER, (Pte.) Earl Ross, “C” Company, enlisted in Clinton on March 25, 1916. His address on the 1916 Overseas Roll was Hensall, ON.

654697, SAVAGE, (Pte.) George Henry, “A” Company, enlisted in Wroxeter on March 25, 1916.

Private George Savage’s entry in the War Memorial of Huron County’s Heroes and Heroines, printed by the Wingham Advance in 1919 states “Private G.H. Savage went overseas in 1916 and was attached to the Signalling Corps in England. He was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. and crossed to France in 1917.

654708, STOKES, (Pte.) Frederick William, “B” Company, enlisted in Goderich on March 25, 1916. Prior to WWI, Frederick Stokes worked as a finisher in the Goderich Organ Factory, formerly located on the corner of East Street and Cambria Road, where a funeral home was later located.

654709, WIGHTMAN, (L. Cpl.) Charles Ivan, “B” Company, enlisted in Blyth on March 25, 1916. His address prior to the war was Belgrave, ON. Lance Corporal Ivan Wightman was photographed with Blyth’s Own in the 2nd back row, 5th from the left.E