Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

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Tennant, Walter Anderson

Sergeant 430262
29th Battalion, Canadian Forestry Corps
48th Battalion


Walter Anderson Tennant was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, October 9th, 1885 to James Tennant Sr. and Margaret Telford Anderson Tennant. According to records, Walter grew up in a large family and lived in the home of his father, James Tennant Sr. who occupied a home on Government House Avenue, presentaly a heritage home located beside the Fredericton Rural Cemetery. Walter's father died just before the outbreak of the war in 1910 and records reveal that his mother had passed away in 1898 when he was thirteen years old leaving children in the family to fend for themselves as young adults. As a result, his official service records indicate his sister, Ms. Margaret Atherman, who lived on 388 Woodstock road in Fredericton, as his next-of-kin. He was one of seven children with three brothers Norman, James and Archibald, as well as three sisters, one of whom was named Margaret, after her mother. According to newspapers, three boys would serve during the war indicating that Norman would leave his job with the Northwest Mounted Police from Calgary, Alberta and James would leave from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Walter's attestation papers show that he was raised a Presbyterian and when he was 19 years old, he moved to Cranbook, British Columbia and took a job as a lumberman. While little is known of his upbringing in Fredericton, at the time of his enlistment Walter was 29 years old, unmarried, stood five feet nine inches tall, and weighed approximately 170 pounds. He had brown eyes, brown hair and a distinctive scar on his right shoulder received from an accident early in his life. On March 3rd, 1915, Walter enlisted with the 29th Canadian Foresetry Corps before joining the 48th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Victoria, British Columbia which was preparing to leave for England two months later. Walter would never return home.

Wartime Experience

Walter left for England aboard the RMS Grampian July 1, 1915 from Canada and arrived at Shorncliffe the early summer of 1915. He would train with the 29th for two months until late September when he left with his unit for France. He would write his formal will naming his sister in December of 1915. Walter was in the field for most of his eighteen months of service, being promoted to Lance Corporal and then Sergeant in the same year. In less then seven months of service, Tennant would be awarded the Military Medal twice for bravery in the field and the Italian Bronze Medal for military valour in the spring of 1917. During this time he was wounded multiple times from shrapnel fire in the arm and chest, being admitted to military hospital from October 15 to December 3 for treatment of gunshot wounds, and then again in the summer of 1917 because a bullet and shrapnel embedded in his left fore-arm. When Walter's injuries would cause him to be declared unfit for duty in the field, he joined the Forestry Corps in Skibo, Scotland, putting his skills as a lumberman back home to good use. On November 13, 1918, only two days after the signing of the Armistice ending the war, Sergeant Tennant would contract double pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. He stayed at Orpington Hospital in England for about six months awaiting to get home when his conditioin suddenly worsened. On June 30, 1919, medical records report that Walter Anderson Tennant would pass away in Liverpool, England, after succumbing to a case of empyema which caused the collapse of his right lung. A highly decorated officer, twice awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field as well as the Italian Bronze Medal for bravery while under shell fire, Sergeant Walter Tennant was 33 years of age when he died in hospital, nearly seven months after the war had ended. All his possessions went to his sister Margaret. His brother, Archibald would also be named as receiving official war plaques for Walter's sacrifice and service.

Lest We Forget

Walter Anderson Tennant is memorialized at the Kirkdale cemetery in Liverpool, England. According to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, in December 1914, Liverpool became one of the 21 Auxiliary Patrol Bases and in February 1915, the base of the 10th Cruiser Squadron. A large Canadian hospital, which became No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, opened at Kirkdale in July 1917 and of the 386 First World War burials in Liverpool (Kirkdale) Cemetery, more than 100 are Canadian.

*This biography was researched and written by Sage Walker, a Grade 8 student (2016-2017) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.