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.”

Five Men Sent for Medical Assessment

Battalion Diary – February 7, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

8:00am  Usual syllabus for this day except that the O.C’s parade was held from 9 to 10am. This is an inspection of the men and has proven an excellent method of checking any tendency to become slovenly.

1:30 pm  Battalion sports were held under the Authority of the Division. All of the events had several entries. Men took a great interest in the competitions and clean rivalry was worked up between the Companies. “C” Company took the highest number of points.

Strength: Struck off – 5 other ranks transferred to C.C.A.C. (Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre). The Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre was located in Shorncliffe. Men were transferred there for medical assessment for either further treatment or return to duty.

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.

Start of Official 161st Battalion Diary

The contents of the diary of the 161st Huron Battalion’s activities, which was kept by the head of the Battalion, is available starting in February 1, 1917, courtesy of the Library and Archives of Canada. This diary provides a very basic overview of the 161st Battalion’s daily activities as a reserve battalion.

Official 161st Battalion Diary – February 1, 1917

Location: Witley Camp, North Surrey

8am Strength: 25 officers, 496 other ranks.

Reformed the Battalion from the system used in the Shorncliffe area and which is applicable to Reserve Battalion, to four (4) company basis. Quarters were allotted by Companies and the Cadre of Instructors for the several schools detailed. Schools were formed in Musketry, Drill, Bombing, Engineering and P.T. and B.F. Owing to lack of instructors no Anti-Gas or Lewis Gun training was carried on.

1:30pm Battalion attached to 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion, 5th Canadian Division. Training was carried on under the school system.

Letter-Life at Shorncliffe Camp, England

Huron County War News – January 11, 1917

A letter from Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Anderson, son of James and Mrs. Anderson of the 5th line of Morris, explained that he was in Shorncliffe Camp, England. He wrote that he was “busy with bayonet drill and musketry. The former put muscle into a fellow and he weighs 100. This is not the way with all the boys, however, as you would think you were in a sanitorium to hear the coughing. Monday, December 18th was the first day musketry training. It is cold work but very beneficial to the soldier boys. If one pays attention to orders it is not hard with a little practice to become a fair marksman.”