Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 19, 1900
Place of BirthEverton, near Foldingbridge, Hampshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinRichard Tanner (father) Commonwealth Hotel, Collie, West Australia
Trade / CallingMiner
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number16689
ForceAustralian Imperial Force
BranchPhysical Training School
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentBunbury, Perth, Western Australia
Address at EnlistmentWestern Australia
Date of EnlistmentJuly 8, 1918
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceAustralia
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19630110
Age at Death62
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Tanner, Frank

Birth date and location: According to his obituary, Richard Frank Tanner was born April 19, 1900 in Fordingbridge, Lymington, Hampshire, England. He went by Frank his entire life. In the 1901 and 1911 census, however, his birthplace is given as Everton, Lymington, Hampshire, Civil Parish of Milford, and Ecclesiastical Parish, All Saints.

Frank’s parents were Richard William Tanner, born 1867 in Wiltshire, England, and Laura Amelia Scammel, born 1879, also in Wiltshire. In the 1901 Census, Richard was an established brick and pottery maker. He owned his own business and was financially successful enough to be able to afford one female servant. Frank had 3  siblings:    Percival (Percy) Henry George (1896-1979); Phyllis Beatrice (born 1908); and, John Scamell (b. 1911).

Early life: The Tanners went to Australia in 1907 looking for employment opportunities; however,  most of the family  was recorded on the 1911 census back in Wiltshire, England.  Richard was now retired and he, Laura and their children,  Frank and  Phyllis were all living in The Old Manor House, Downton, Brokenhurst, Hants, England.  Frank is an 11 year old student.  Richard is recorded as a retired brickmaker and silk manufacturer.  The Tanner family research states that Laura did not like Australia, so she and Phyllis remained in England while Richard and his sons settled in Australia.

War experience:    Frank enlisted with the Australian Imperial  Force on July 8, 1918 at the Recruiting Tent, Blackboy Hill Camp, Bunbury, West Australia.  His father, who was living at the Commonwealth Hotel in Collie, West Australia, was next of kin.  Further, as Frank’s father, Richard was required to sign a document giving permission for his 18 year old minor son to serve in the Australian Imperial Army.

Upon enlistment, Frank was also  required to sign a document.  This was to certify  that he had received a copy of each of the following pamphlets.  Further, he was required to carry this document and the pamphlets at all times:
a) Musketry Small Book
b) Health Memoranda for Soldiers
c) How to Keep Fit
d) Hints for Soldiers

Private Frank Tanner was initially approved for the Physical Training School and remained there until he was transferred to the 5th Reinforcements (W) Australian Imperial Force on November 9th.  He was discharged December 24, 1918 at Perth due to ‘cessation of hostilities.’  According to the Tanner family history, complied by one of Franks’ Australian relatives, the war ended before Frank saw overseas duty and he  was discharged after serving 135 days.  Some of the information on Frank’s legion applications does not agree with the enlistment records. What has not been verified  are Frank’s services with the Merchant marines or the 88th Regiment.

Franks’ brother, Percy, who was older than Frank, did see service with the Australia Imperial Force at the Somme and  in Gallipoli.

Life after the war: According to Tanner family history, Frank returned to England to visit his mother and sister, following the war and also stayed for a short time with friends in the U.S.A.  In 1919, Frank moved to Canada where he went to live with his Uncle Jim in Ignace, Ontario. It is there he began working with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as a Carman.  Later, he  also worked with the CPR in White River and Kenora. Frank was still living with his uncle James Scammel during the taking of the 1921 census and he  was employed as a labourer with the CPR.

On September 10, 1923, Frank, now a Clerk, married Edith May Wright, in Eagle River, where her parents originally settled after arriving from England around 1913.  Edith, who went by the name May, was the daughter of Samuel Wright and Mary Ann Chamberlain.  She was born in 1902 in Enderby, England. Both she and Frank were  Church of England.  They had five children:  Keith; Lawrence; Doris (married name Norgate); Phyllis (married name McCurran); and John (who went by Jack). By about 1930,  the family had  moved to Kenora, living at 26 Mascot Avenue. Frank continued to work with the CPR.

Early on, Frank took an active role in the community.  He was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Kenora Branch, and the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League.  He was also a member of St. Alban’s Anglican Church and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of Australia.  Throughout his adult life, Frank expressed his artistic talent through his love of flowers.  His gardens in his yard on Mascot Avenue resembled a small park. Flowers of many varieties, colours, sizes and heights created a picturesque landscape.  He shared his knowledge and talents with the community by sitting on the Kenora Agricultural Society, serving as President for 15 years; having a membership in the Winnipeg Horticultural society; and, taking on the role of judge in many agricultural fairs.

In 1956, Frank, May and son, John, went on a 3 month trip to England. Sailing on the  Empress of Scotland of the Canadian Pacific Line, they arrived in Liverpool July 23. They were going to be staying at 21 Fonst Road, Huncote, Leicester.  Although no  further information was given on that residence,  it could have been his sister’s place.  Frank’s occupation was listed as Inspector and  John was a student.

Date of death and burial location: Frank died January 10, 1963 at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg. He had worked with the CPR for over 40 years, only leaving due to illness, which took his life shortly after.  One family researcher says he had cancer.  At the time of his death, Frank and May were living at 315 2nd Street North, Kenora.  May, who is buried next to Frank, died in 1980. They are buried in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.  Their daughter, Phyllis, continues to reside in Missouri and their son, Jack, lives in Arizona.

By Susan (Hillman) Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died


1901 England Census
1911 Canada census
1921 Canada census
Canada Marriages:   Ontario, 1923
Kenora Miner and News (Obituary)
Lake of the Woods Cemetery
Royal Canadian Legion (Kenora branch)
Northern Ontario Gravemarkers Gallery
Frank’s daughter, Phyllis, and Phyllis’ son-in-law, Mike S:   family history and oral history
First World War Service Records: National Archives of Australia

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