John Tanner

Rank: Pilot Officer, Unit: 145 Squadron, Division: R.C.A.F.
Military Service Files

John Tanner | | | Service Personnel Information | Essay | Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | | | Work Cited

Service Personnel Information

  • Name: John Charles Tanner

  • Service Regimental Number: J43174

  • Rank: Pilot Officer

  • Height/weight: 6"1/145 lbs

  • Colour of eyes: Hazel

  • Marital status: Married

  • Religion: Protestant - Presbyterian

  • Address: Ste E. Melbourne Apartments

  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Edna Tanner - Wife

  • Date of enlistment: June 17th, 1940

  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba


During the Second World War, many St Paul’s students and alumni gave their lives for the freedom of our nation. These boys were not experienced in the art of warfare, nor had they ever seen or been involved in a war, aside from newspaper propaganda. They went into the war for different reasons, some to make money, some for the glory, and some just for the adventure. What they all had in common, however, was that none of them knew just how horrific war really was. Tragically, many of these men did not make it out of the war with their lives. One of these brave souls was John Charles Tanner.

Tanner was born on February 17, 1914 to Charles and Winifred Tanner. He was raised and educated in Winnipeg, attending Victory School, Wesley Collegiate, and finally St Paul’s College. Throughout school, Tanner was very athletic and enjoyed playing sports such as rugby, tennis, and hockey. Not only was he athletic, he was also very intelligent and had other interests such as photography. After graduating from St Paul’s, Tanner worked various jobs. These include working for Boyles Brothers as a diamond driller as well as working at the Swift Canadian Packing Company. Before joining the air force, Tanner got married to Edna Tanner and lived in Ste E. Melbourne Apartments on Sherbrook Street. Tanner was a very smart man; being quick, deliberate and confident he was a perfect fit for the air force. He joined the air force on June 17th, 1940, where he served bravely with the R.C.A.F. for four years before his death (Military Service Files).

After joining the R.C.A.F., Tanner had to undergo routine training before he could become a pilot. Standard training for the R.C.A.F was comprised of basic military training, education in aerodynamics and navigation, followed by many levels of Flying Training School (Air Training Plan). Tanner was trained in Calgary and received his wings in May of 1941 and went on to become a pilot officer with the 145th squadron at Goose Bay. This squadron worked on the Eastern Command during the Battle of the Atlantic (Dies In Crash). The 145th Squadron of the R.C.A.F. was a bomber reconnaissance squadron who’s primary objective was flying on anti-submarine operations. This was an extremely important aspect of the battle, as Germans were sending U-boats to cut off trade routes between North America and the Allies in Europe (The Second World War). The German U-Boats were typically very powerful and in only one month of the battle, the U-boats had destroyed 500,000 tons of Allied cargo (Battle of the Atlantic). This gives a clear picture of how difficult and important the 145th Squadron’s job was. The 145th squadron’s badge consists of a lion holding a balance. Their motto, “fury with balance” closely relates to their badge (Operational Flying Squadrons). The lion represents the squadron’s power and ability on the battle field while the balance shows that they are not rash, impatient, or eager, but rather intelligent, and mature. In battle both strength and intelligence are necessary in succeeding in a mission. Because of his bravery and valor during the war, Tanner was awarded several medals for his time serving with the R.C.A.F. These medals include the 39-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Pilot Flying Badge, and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (Military Service Files). These medals are able to show much of Tanner’s history with the R.C.A.F; for example, the Atlantic Medal is given to those who participated in operations in the Battle of the Atlantic, and the War Medal is given to those who have served for a minimum of 38 days in World War II (Medals and Awards).

Tragically, on July 6th, 1944, after more than four years of service with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Tanner perished in a plane crash. The crash took place during a cross-country navigation familiarization flight. It was suspected that the cause of the crash was engine failure. Tanner, along with ten other men were killed in the crash. Tanner was buried at Goose Bay Joint Services Cemetery in Labrador. He left behind his wife, Edna, small daughter, Pamela, his brother Lawrence, sister Dorothy, and both his parents, Charles and Winifred (Military Service Files).

Many men sacrificed their lives in order to preserve the freedom of our nation of Canada. John Charles Tanner possessed the bravery and courage necessary to fight for our country. Tanner was a diamond driller from Winnipeg and went on to become a hero for our nation. Just like so many others, Tanner was a seemingly ordinary man who displayed extraordinary courage and valor in order to keep Canadians safe. John Charles Tanner will always be remembered as a St Paul’s hero.

Military Service Record

  • Age (at death): 30

  • Force: Royal Canadian Air Force

  • Unit: 145 R.C.A.F Squadron Goose Bay

  • Service Number: J43174

  • Honours and Awards: 39-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Pilot Flying Badge, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal

  • Photograph: Yes

  • Next of Kin (and relationship): may have changed since he enlisted: Edna Tanner - Wife

  • Date of Death: July 6th, 1944

  • Country of Burial: Canada

  • Cemetery: Goose Bay Joint Services Cemetery

  • Grave Reference: Plot A. Row 2. Grave 9.

  • Location: Labrador

  • Book of Remembrance: Page 458

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Goose Bay Joint Services Cemetery

  • Grave Reference: Plot A. Row 2. Grave 9.

Goose Bay Joint Services Cemetery

Additional information/links

Badge of the 145th Squadron

Tanner's page in the Book of Rememberance

Tanner's Apartment

Work Cited

Works Cited

“The Battle of the Atlantic.” Canada At War., 26 May 2009. Web. 2 May 2012. <‌page-54-battle-of-the-atlantic.html>.

“The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.” Bomber Command Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2012. <‌bcatp.html>.
Canada. Canadian Forces.

“Operational Flying Squadrons.” National Defence. Vol. 4. Canadian Forces, 2000. PDF file.

“Dies In Crash.” Winnipeg Tribune 13 July 1944: 10. Manitobia. Web. 2 May 2012. <‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1944/‌07/‌13/‌articles/‌123.xml/‌iarchives?query=John%2BAND%2BCharles%2BAND%2BTanner%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>.

“Medals and Awards.” Bob Baxter’s Bomber Command. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2012. <‌medals.htm>.

“The Second World War (1939-1945).” Royal Canadian Air Force. National Defence, n.d. Web. 2 May 2012. <‌v2/‌hst/‌page-eng.asp?id=890#s3>.

Archival Reference

Military service files of Pilot Officer John Charles Tanner (RG 24, Volume 28774) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.