Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 1, 1890
Place of BirthSouth Wigston, Leicestershire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of Kinfather, John George Tanner of East Kirkby, Nottingham, England
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number439393
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJune 3, 1915
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 3, 1947
Age at Death56
Buried AtForest Lawn Cemetery, Burnaby, British Columbia

Tanner, Walter Charles

Walter Charles Tanner was born on 1 October 1890 in South Wigston, Leicestershire, England. His father John George Tanner was from Filton on the outskirts of Bristol in Gloucestershire while his mother Rose Louisa Stokes was from Isham, Wellingborough in Northamptonshire where the couple had married in 1889. John was a railway goods guard while Rose was a dressmaker. Children born to the family were Walter, George William (1892), Arthur (1894), Oliver Joseph (1900), and Rose Ella (1906). In the early 1900’s John, Rose, and some of the children moved to Kirkby in Ashfield in Nottingham. By the 1911 England census Walter was boarding with the Thomas Ward family in Northampton, Northamptonshire where he was working as a grocer’s assistant.

Walter immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1913, found on the passenger list of the Virginian that arrived in Quebec on the 17th of May. His destination was listed as Winnipeg and occupation shop assistant. By 1915 he was living in Kenora where he signed his first set of attestation papers with the 52nd Battalion on the third of June, occupation given as clerk.

The 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion, CEF was raised in Northern Ontario  during the spring of  1915 with its mobilization headquarters at Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario. Recruiting took place during the spring and summer, drawing from Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden, Port Arthur and Fort William. Along with a number of other local fellows, Walter left Kenora in June of 1915 for Port Arthur for training. The battalion left Port Arthur on 4 November 1915 for New Brunswick and embarked for England on the 23rd. Although local newspaper articles and the battalion’s nominal roll list Walter as leaving Canada with the battalion, he had been hospitalized in Saint John where surgery was performed to remove his appendix in December. After a period of time for recovery, he arrived in England aboard the Pretorian on 12 February 1916, the same day joining the unit  at Bramshott where it had been training.

The 52nd Battalion arrived in France on the 20th of February, spending the night in tents at No 1 Rest Camp during a snow storm. The next day the battalion moved by train to Belgium. In May of 1916, Walter signed a second set of attestation papers in the field. Ill health continued to plague Walter and he was admitted to the No 14 Stationary Hospital in Wimereux in mid August suffering from nephritis and later neurasthenia. Invalided to England he spent time at the Tooting Military Church Lane Hospital followed by transfers to the Bromley Convalescent Hospital and the Canadian Red Cross Specialty Hospital in Buxton. His illnesses were attributed to trench conditions at Ypres. Walter returned to Canada aboard the Northland, leaving Liverpool on 13 January 1917 with the destination as Winnipeg where he was to spend further time convalescing. Found medically unfit for further service, Walter was discharged in April.

Returning to Kenora, Walter found work as a customs officer. On 18 September 1917, in Kenora, he married Annie Pope. Born in Winnipeg in 1887, Annie was the daughter of Charles and Annie (née Paterson) Pope who had moved to Rat Portage (later named Kenora) where Charles was to work as an engineer for the railroad. Spending a  few years  in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Walter and Annie settled in Vancouver where Walter was employed as a manufacturing agent in the importing and exporting business.

Walter died on 3 June 1947 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  His Veteran Death Card listed his wife Annie of Vancouver as his next of kin.  At the time of his death he was survived by Annie, his daughter Jacqueline, and his parents and siblings back in England. Walter is interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery, Burnaby.

by Judy Stockham

Grave marker photo and obituary provided by Mike Melen.

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