100 Years Ago: 3000 Soldiers to Trek to Belleville, Dealing with Deserters

The Intelligencer September 12, 1916 (page 1)

“3000 Soldiers Will Trek to Belleville. Members of the 154th, 155th and 156th Battalions at Barriefield Will Take Part in the March—Soldier-Boys Will Be Royally Welcomed at This City.

Mayor Ketcheson and Mr. E.G. Porter, K.C., M.P., of this city, were in Kingston yesterday, and had an interview with Col. Hemming, D.O.C. for the military district of Eastern Ontario, in reference to the proposed trek of the battalions, which are in camp at Barriefield. The result of the visit was that 3,000 of the men in khaki will visit Belleville within a few days. Unless anything unforeseen occurs on Wednesday the 20th inst., the three battalions, including the 155th, will leave Barriefield camp for a route march to Belleville. It is expected that the men will reach here late Friday night or early Saturday morning, and will bivouac at Zwick’s Island during their stay here of two days.

It is expected that the citizens will do all in their power for the entertainment and comfort of the soldier boys, and there is not the slightest doubt but they will do so. The coming of the boys is eagerly looked forward to by all citizens, and a royal welcome will be accorded them.”

The Intelligencer September 12, 1916 (page 7)

“Dealing with Deserters. Several deserters have been severely punished since the camp opened. In every case they were taken before a civil magistrate who showed no sympathy with the man who deserted the flag under the present strenuous circumstances. Many of the men punished were not merely absentees, but real deserters, who never thought of returning to military life and would never have seen the camp again, but for the fact that they were brought back under escort.

The men who go absent, and have no thought of forsaking a military career until the war is over, but who are afraid to return because of the consequences of absence without leave, the camp authorities are willing to consider generously, and instead of punishing these men are willing to restore them to their units.”