Early days of the First World War saw many Bruce County men join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Bruce County men enlisted in 1914 and 1915 at many locations across Canada, many of whom already had military training through the County’s militia, the 32nd Bruce Regiment. On December 2, 1915, Lt. Col. Adam Weir, former commander of the 32nd Bruce Regiment, was instructed to form a Battalion made entirely of Bruce County citizens. Four companies were mobilized: A Company from Walkerton, Cargill, Paisley, Port Elgin and Southampton; B Company from Chesley, Tara, Hepworth and Teeswater; C Company from Wiarton, Lion’s Head, Tobermory, Cape Chin and the First Nations; and D Company from Kincardine, Lucknow, Ripley and Tiverton. Two soldiers were identified as making up the Transport Section of the 160th Battalion. The 160th Battalion Band, including the Bugle Band, was formed mostly of men from the Chesley Citizen’s Band. The men were relied upon to encourage others to join, and recruitment rallies were held across the County.
The 160th Bruce Battalion had over 1,350 enlist to support forces already overseas. By May 1916, over 1,200 men were sent to Walkerton for a month of training together. On June 4, 1916, they marched from Walkerton to Chesley to receive their colours from Tara native, Premier William Howard Hearst. They then moved to London, Ontario for training in the summer of 1916, and by October were sent to England for another year of grueling training before being sent to the front lines.
Enlistment continued after the 160th went overseas, as people came of age, or were drafted under the Military Service Act in 1917.
In February 1918, the 160th was disbanded and the men were transferred to a variety of other Battalions including the 1st, 18th, 47th, and 78th Canadian Infantry Battalions.
In all, approximately 2,000 Bruce County men enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Over 650 did not come home, or died shortly after arriving home of wounds sustained in the course of duty.
For more photographs and information about the Bugle Band of the 160th Battalion, visit Bruce County Museum’s Online Collections site: Bugle Band, 160th Battalion, Bruce County Museum Online Collections.