Sir Francis Howard Inspects 161st Hurons

Battalion Diary – February 14, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

8:00am  Syllabus of training.

2:30pm  Battalion inspected while in training by Sir Francis Howard.

3:15pm  Battalion sports commenced but owing to the delay in starting due to the inspection was badly handicapped and many of the events were cancelled.

Four (4) N.C.Os went On Command, Drill Course, Bordon.

Two (2) other ranks taken on strength from the 4th Reserve Battalion.

One (1) N.C.O. struck off strength to the C.C.A.C. (Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre)

One hundred (100) other ranks composing Firing Party completed training in Engineering.

Site Update – Exciting Developments

Thanks to kind readers, more information and photos of the men of the 161st Battalion are coming to light.

Enhanced past entries and new features are just a few of the changes we are making. As photos become available, faces are being added to the enlistment entries so people can see the young men who enlisted and the men who commanded them. Over the next month, over 40+ new faces will appear next to entries of men from all ranks.

Under development is a bibliography section for the site that will be added to as the site grows. It will document the sources used in the inspiration for this site.

There will also be a section to find the men, by name in addition to enlistment date. This section will include their history as we know it and will be added to as new information is shared.

Visit the site often to keep abreast of men of the 161st and their adventures and challenges, published a century to the day, after the events of WWI. History made and now documented in all its glory and sadness.

Winter 1917 for 161st Battalion

Battalion Events – Winter 1917
The battalion moved from Dibgate to West Sandling and onto Witley Camp in Surrey County, near Milford, England. This is where the 161st Huron Battalion remained. Plans were afoot for establishment of a 5th Canadian Division and this called for a concentration of troops at Witley Camp, Surrey County.

At one point, it was believed that the 161st Hurons would become one of four battalions forming one of three brigades of The 5th Canadian Division. (LWC). That did not come to pass.

The battalion may have remained stationed at Witley Camp, but the men from Huron County, who trained together both in Canada and in England, were moved in small groups to reinforce Canadian battalions at the war front.

When the men of the 161st Battalion landed in England in November 1916, the Canadian infantry were engaged in the Battle of the Somme. The Canadian troops took the Regina Trench on November 11, 1916. The Somme offensive cost the Canadians 25,000 casualties. In total, the Allied force suffered 623,907 casualties. The offensive left the Canadian battalions starving for troops. The 161st Huron Battalion was one of many newly landed battalions feeding the front and its depleted battalions with manpower.

Throughout the winter of 1917, 161st Huron Battalion men were ‘struck off strength,’ a military term for ‘transferred out’ of the Battalion and ‘taken on strength’ by battalion in the battlefield. Training was over and rumours of a spring offensive began to wend its way through the troops.

List of Battalion Officers and Training Staff-Feb 28, 1917

Appendix A – Battalion Instructional Cadre – February 28, 1917

This is list of the non-commissioned officers and officers in charge of training and leadership in the 161st Huron Battalion as of February 28, 1917. It was included as Appendix A to the entry of February 28, 1917 in the 161st Huron Battalion Diary.

P.T.  & B.F.

Officer in charge: Lieut. W.F. Scott

654053 A/CSM H.G. James

654123 A/Sgt T.H. Bissett

654207 “ B.B. Bell

654035 “ A.M. Forbes

654078 “ M.W. Pfaff

305134 “ T.L. Rivers

654176 A/L/Sgt L.C. Cantelon

654242 “ J.E. Holmes


Officer in charge: Lieut. R.A. Walter

654139 A/L/Sgt F.W. Andrews

654350 “ H. Kingland

654442 A/L/Cpl J.M Ballantyne

654376 “ C.A. Campbell

654573 “ T.C. Lutton


In charge: No. 654087  A/Sgt  G.W. Schaefer

654059 A/Sgt R.C. Mann

654377 “ J. Gillepsie

654740 “ B.J. MacLean

654217 “ A.R. Mustard

654032 A. Cpl W.L Faegan

654153 “ C.A. Johnson

654524 A/L/Cpl L.R. Davidson

654533 “ C.H. Mitchell

654682 “ A.L. Tiernay

654451 “ E.A. Warner

654575 “ J. Yungblut

Musketry School

Officer in charge: Capt. I. Hetherington

654180 A/CSM F.W. Burchell

654027 “ J.O. Crich

654528 “ A.H. Jane

654570 A/Sgt J.H. Best

654428 “ C.R. Clark

654343 “ C.J. Cox

654470 “ J.H. Dunsmore

654042 “ A.J. Hefford

654368 “ W.E. Peachey

654358 “ L.J. Wasman

654168 “ S.A. Scott

654694 A/Cpl. H. Clairmont

654517 “ A.H. Gambrill

654198 “ J.A. Kelly

654164 “ C.D. Ross

654086 “ V.L. Sanderson

654167 A/L/Cpl T.D. Savage

654659 “ D.F. Young

School of Engineering

Officer in charge: Lieut. W.F. Grieves

654002 A/Sgt D.C. Angell

654071 “ W. McKinley

654647 “ I. Redford

654784 A/Cpl J. Adams

654282 “ G.W. Handley

654463 “ R.H. Neelands

Anti-Gas Instructors

Lieut. W.B. Wilson

Lieut. D.E. Holmes

654217 A/Sgt A.R. Mustard

654100 “ J.W. Straiton

654037 A/L/Sgt R.E.S. Fox

654041 A/Cpl H.P. Guest

654833 A/L/Cpl W.T. Fisher

654269 “ W.G. Harburn

654530 “ M.L. Toms

654305 “ C. Tuckey

654317 A/Cpl F.O.T. Manuel

654252 “ R.F. Woods

654548 A/L/Cpl C.G. Lawson

654496 “ H.C. Lawson

654823 A/Sgt N. McK. Geddes

654059 “ R.C. Mann

Company Commanders & Officers of Companion

“A” Company Major N.T. Sinclair

Capt. A.F. Sturdy

Lieut. W.B. Wilson

“B” Company Major H. Campbell

Lieut. H.C. McLean

Lieut. J.K Mair

Lieut. W.F. Scott

Lieut. F.M. Scott

“C” Company Major W.J. Heaman

Capt. C.K Macpherson

Lieut. D.S. Scott

Lieut. D.E. Holmes

“D” Company Capt. P.C. Town

Lieut. C.S. Hall

Lieut. R.A. Walter

Lieut. R.A. Cluff

Musketry Officer: Capt. I. Hetherington

Transport Officer: Lieut. W.P. Grieve

Four Men Transferred Temporarily to Shorncliffe

Battalion Diary – February 6, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

Officer-in-charge Engineering and Bombing Schools reported that better results could be obtained in these two branches, if the detail handed them for instruction were placed under them for half a day instead of for  1 hour periods. Accordingly this change was agreed to.

Strength: Taken off: Four (4) other ranks transferred to C.A.S.C, T.D. (Canadian Army Service Corps, Temporary Duty) at Shorncliffe.


Strength generally refers to the men of unit or battalion.

Taken off strength or Struck Off Strength (SOS) means to that men are transferred out of the battalion or unit.

Taken on strength (TOS) means that men have been added to the unit or battalion.