Using information from a sources such as attestation papers, military files (now available at the Library and Archives Canada site), local newspapers and other publications, biographies of the soldiers of the 161st Huron Battalion will be added below.
Those with more information and photos are encouraged to add to the information collected. These men deserve to be remembered as fully as possible. Their stories are rarely heard, some kept locked within old trunks or closets, while others are lost to dumps and the decomposition of time.
654308, ADAIR, (Pte.) William Gordon, “A” Company enlisted on January 22, 1916 in Wingham. His next of kin was his father, William J. Adair of Wingham, ON, while it was to his mother, Mrs. Jennie Adair, that his pay was sent. Prior to enlistment, William Adair was working as a bank clerk in Wingham, Ontario.
William Gordon Adair was born on February 28, 1897 in the Township of Turnberry, County of Huron, ON. At 18 years old, he was 5’ 11” tall with blue years, brown hair and a fair complexion. He was Presbyterian in faith.
Pte. W.G. Adair was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot on January 10, 1917 but was transferred back to the 161st Battalion on February 6, 1917. He was hospitalized briefly for mumps in the isolation ward of the hospital on March 19, 1917.
On November 22, 1917 around 1:00 pm, in the 161st Battalion, it was recorded that Private William Gordon Adair killed himself by holding a rifle under his chin and firing it in a hut, in which there were five other people-Private B. Snider, Private C.E. Fisher, Sergeant L.G. Canteen, Sergeant J.M. Ballantyne and Private F.J. Britain- sewing buttons on uniforms, cleaning their harness, preparing for afternoon parade or getting ready for physical training class. The resulting gunshot wound extended from under the chin through the left ear. He was operated at the Bramshott Military Hospital to fix his broken jaw and pack his wound, but at 3:30 pm he had a secondary hemorrhage and died in a few minutes. He was buried in Hampshire cemetery.
An envelope found at the scene was addressed “To Whom It May Concern” and it read, “The sole reason for which I am doing this act is because I have to answer C.B. Something which I never intended to do unless it was for a just reason. Why a Sergt swears falsely against a man it is time to cease to have anything tom do with him”
To Capt. C.G. Vanstone
You said you could make me soldier it will be hard to do.
Prior to the incident, Private William Adair was given 5 days C.B. for being late to tattoo while on active service on November 1, 1917 by Sergeant Wilkinson and given 4 days C.B. for inattention on parade on November 22, 1917 by Sergeant Campbell.
After a coroner’s inquest was held, his death was recorded as the result of a suicide by gunshot whilst temporarily of unsound mind.
According the will in his military records, he willed his estate to his sister, Mrs. Ethel Prast of Hanover, Ontario.
Roy Adair, William’s brother, wrote to Sandy MacDonald who was researching the 161st Huron Battalion in June 1977. According to Sandy’s manuscript Roy Adair wrote, “I received a letter re. my brother’s death in England, in November 1917. I contacted my nephew W.A. Prast of Durham. He had investigated his uncle’s death while he was overseas in England in WWII. This is my nephew’s report.
William G. Adair was at a reinforcement center near Bramshott, England, undertaking special training, in preparation for active service at the front lines in France. He died as the result of a gunshot wound and is buried in honor in the chapel adjoining the cemetery grounds. … Some of my brother’s belongings were sent to my Dad and Mother in Wingham. Unfortunately in 1925 their house burned down and all their things and my brother’s were destroyed. I was overseas in 1961 and visited my brother’s grave and found things as stated.”