Lieutenant Colonel Walter A. McConnell
256th (Toronto Railway Construction) Battalion
This battalion should be very popular, as a very small amount of drill is necessary, and the work of laying railways behind the lines will be particularly interesting.
(Toronto Star, 5 Jan 1917, 16)
Born on 28 September 1878 in Muskoka, Ontario, Walter Adam McConnell was a railway engineer and graduate of the Engineering Corps of the School of Science. In January 1917, he was authorized to raise the 256th Railway Construction Battalion. McConnell and the majority of his recruits had belonged to the 109th Regiment, the Home Guard unit organized by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Stewart two years earlier. Including the volunteers in the 256th, by 1917 the 109th Regiment had provided a total 200 officers and 5,000 men for overseas service.