The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

817177 Private Wentworth Havelock Tabor

The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

Wentworth Havelock Tabor was born in Hillsdale, New Brunswick, on 29 Apr 1880. Tabor's family, led by parents Merritt and Celestia, can be found in the 1881, 1891, and 1901 Canadian Censuses. The appearances of the family in census records have not unexpected differences in the recording and transcription of names. In 1881 Merritt (30) and Celestia (32) have five children; Arvilla (8), Annie (6), Meribah (5), James E. (3), and Wentworth (1).

Ten years later, in 1891, mother Celestia has died that year, Arvilla has moved out and there are three new younger siblings; Etha Maud (8), Adelia (6), and Elizabeth (4).

In 1901, Tabor's father Merrit, now 40, has remarried some years before. Stepmother Catherine (40) has joined the family home and there are two younger step-sisters; Florence C. (7) and Cora L. (4). 1901 is also the last year Wentworth Tabor is shown in the family home by census documents. IN that year, he is 18 years of age and working as a farm labourer at which he earned $230 in ten months of the preceding year.

Tabor was married at St. John, N.B., on 9 Dec 1909. The following day's edition of The News of St. John, N.B., carried the following marriage notice:

"Tabor-Sellars.

"A very quiet wedding was solemnized at the house of Frank Allaby, 154 Waterloo street, at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon., when Rev. J. Douglas Milbery, of the Tabernacle Church, united in marriage Miss A. Jennie Sellars and Wentworth Tabor, an employee of T.S. Simms and Co. Ltd. Many presents were received, among them being a Morris chair from T.S. Simms and Co., and a handsome parlor clock from Dr. and Mrs. F.A. Godsoe. The happy couple left last night for a trip to Boston and other American cities."

The T.S. Simms Company began in Portland, Maine, in 1866 and moved to St. John, N.B. in 1872. It has had a long history as a leading manufacturer of painting tools and a tradition of craftsmanship and innovation since its beginnings. The Company continues to manufacture brushes and other painting tools in St. John today.

The 1911 Canadian Census shows Tabor moved out of the family home, but also married. Tabor (30) and his wife A. Jennie (31) are boarders in the home of Frank J. And Annie B. Allaby. Both men work at the brush factory where Tabor is a brush maker and Allaby a band-sawyer. Tabor' s annual wages are $676.

Wentworth Tabor first enlisted for service in the First World War with the 64th Overseas Battalion on 9 Sep 1915. He was given the service number 470308.

Tabor completed a second attestation for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 140th Overseas Battalion at Sussex, N.B. This attestation document was dated 17 Sep 1915. A 35-year-old finisher, Tabor was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a 38-inch chest, a fair complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair. His religious denomination was Baptist. Tabor identified his wife, Jennie Tabor, 32 Main Street, St John, N.B., as his next of kin. On attesting with the 140th Battalion, Tabor was given the regimental number 817177; this is the number he carried through his service overseas. The 140th Battalion (St. John's Tigers), C.E.F. was based in Saint John, N.B., and began recruiting in late 1915 throughout New Brunswick.

In October, 1915, Tabor sent $34 home to his wife and then established a monthly Pay Assignment of $20 to be sent to his wife beginning with the November pay. As a Private in the C.E.F., Tabor was paid $1.00 per day plus an additional ten cents daily field allowance. His pay assignment represented about two-thirds of his monthly pay. Jennie Tabor also received $20 monthly Separation Allowance, which had begun in April, 1916. The amount of separation allowance would increase to $25 per month in December, 1917, and to $30 in September, 1918.

Tabor's service record shows a transfer from the 64th Battalion to the 104th Battalion on 25 Oct 1915. There is also a new service number noted (180220) but this number is not from the block allocated to the 104th Bn. It appears that this transfer was never consolidated and he would later be shown as transferring from the 64th Bn. to the 140th Bn. This transfer also put to rest the old attestation he had completed for the 64th Bn., no further details were recorded in his file to explain the changes. On 6 Feb 1916, Tabor would officially be recorded as having transferred from the 64th Battalion to the 140th Battalion.

The 140th Battalion sailed from Halifax aboard the S.S. Corsican on 25 Sep 1916 and arrived in England on 6 Oct 1916. After arriving in England, the battalion was absorbed into the 13th Reserve Battalion and The Royal Canadian Regiment and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Depots in November 1916.

Tabor was transferred to The R.C.R. & P.P.C.L.I. Depot at East Sandling on 2 Nov 1916. This short-lived depot unit supported those two named regiments with drafts of reinforcements. It was created on 13 Feb 1916 by separating it from the 11th Reserve Battalion, and it was disbanded on 20 Jan 1917 when it was absorbed into the 7th and 26th Reserve Battalions.

Tabor would not remain in England for long. On 30 Nov 1916, he was transferred to The RCR (overseas). The following day, 1 Dec 1916, he landed in France and was taken on the strength of The RCR in the field. The Regiment was in the trenches near Mont St. Eloi.

The regimental history (Fetherstonhaugh, 1936) described the Regiment's activities for December, 1916 (p. 261-262):

"In December, 1916, the work of the Regiment differed in no essentials from that of the previous month. Again there were tours in the front line, alternating with periods in Brigade or Divisional Reserve, the tours involving the normal activities of trench warfare and the rest periods being marked by the usual training and duties of a battalion when out of the line. Though the period is thus briefly described as "normal," the strain on all ranks was greater than the term would suggest, for the unit was still much under strength, though carrying out the duties of a full battalion."

The Regiment followed the cycle of rotations in forward trenches, support trenches, and reserve positions that would characterize the infantry experience of the Great War. Beginning in early December, 1916, the Regiment would cycle through the forward line of trenches seven times before the assault on Vimy Ridge on 9-10 Apr 1917, each rotation being about four days between relief operations. Like many soldiers of the war, Tabor's experience was one of the steady cycle between trenches and reserve, without major incidents that necessitated entries in his service record.

Tabor survived the operations that captured Vimy Ridge without injury. The following excerpt from the regimental history describes the Regiments activities in May, 1917 (p. 286-287):

"After six days, during which much creditable work was accomplished, the Regiment was relieved by the 58th Battalion and moved first to billets at the Quarries Line and then, on May 1, to huts at Villers au Bois.

"In Villers au Bois, where six days were spent in training and sports, the Regiment welcomed Capt. K.M. Holloway and Capt. C.L. Wood, who rejoined after recovering from wounds, also Lieut. G.L.P. Grant-Suttie, who had crossed to England from Canada with the Battalion, and a draft of 5 officers and 94 other ranks. Then, on May 7, the unit concentrated in Grange Tunnel, whither "A" and "B" Companies had marched on the previous day. Strong parties worked in the next few days on repair of the tunnel, on road construction, and on defences, after which the Regiment and two companies of the Patricias, temporarily attached, moved over the crest of the Ridge and relieved the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles in the front line.

"Having taken over the front on the night of May 12, the Regiment sent out offensive and defensive patrols to comb No Man's Land, which was approximately 1,200 yards wide, and to oppose any German patrols encountered. The first fruit of these measures was plucked on the night of May 13, when a party from "B" Coy., under Sergt. M.D. Orr, captured a prisoner of the German 93rd Reserve Infantry Regiment. Again on the night of May 14, a patrol from "A" Coy. clashed with a patrol of the 93rd R.I.R. and killed the N.C.O. in command, whose body, after all papers and identifications had been removed, was buried in a shell hole. Among the German soldier's papers, was an excellent sketch map of the Canadian line.

"In addition to being featured by patrolling, this tour in the line was marked by much work on defences. Having captured Vimy Ridge, the Corps Commander had no intention of losing it again, and there was being inaugurated that plan of trench digging, wiring, and construction of strong points, which, when completed in the winter of the following year, converted the Ridge into one of the most impregnable field fortresses that modern warfare has ever seen.

"Though sickness developed in the Battalion at this time, due it is thought to the fact that the men were quartered underground, much had been accomplished before the unit was relieved on the early morning of May 21 by the 116th Canadian Battalion. Upon completion of the relief, the Regiment moved to bivouacs near the Quarry Line and later proceeded to billets at Villers au Bois."

As the Regiment left the front lines for bivouacs near the Quarry Line, Wentworth Tabor was on his way to the Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.). His service record notes "Wounded in Action" on 20 May 1917, but no further medical details of his injuries are recorded. The War Diary for the entry offers little information:

20.5.17. – VIMY.
Sultry, some showers. Relief by 116th Battalion commenced at 9.30 p.m. There has been a great deal of sickness this tour—P.U.O. [Pyrexia, i.e., fever, of Unknown Origin … trench fever]—due undoubtedly to a too-long stay underground in dugouts.

1 O.R. killed in action.
1 O.R. wounded in action.
1 O.R. died of wounds.

In any case, Tabor's wound were not serious enough for evacuation from the Divisional area. Having failed to acquire a "Blighty," i.e., a wound serious enough to take him to England for recovery, he was returned to the unit from the C.C.S. on 22 Jun 1917.

After his return to the unit, Tabor would not get another break from battalion life until November. On 18 Nov 1917, he was granted 14 days leave to England. He returned to the unit on 8 Dec 1917.

Surviving the winter and spring of 1918 unscathed by sickness of further injury, Tabor would last until the summer. On 21 Jul 1918, he was sent On Command, i.e., a temporary assignment without changing parent unit, to the 3rd Canadian Division Rest Camp.

By the summer of 1917, medical officers in the Canadian Corps were prohibited from using "shell shock" as a diagnosis. As a result, many men were diagnosed as having neurasthenia, or mayalgia or other non-specific illnesses that were then prescribed rest and a break from the stress of front line service. One method of caring for these men was the establishment of Divisional Rest camps, a place where a man could be sent for a few weeks rest to mitigate the potential effects of a complete psychological failure. Men who were kept in France and sent to the Rest Camps had a better chance of returning to their units than if they were evacuated to England.

On 3 Aug 1918, Tabor returned to the Regiment from the divisional Rest Camp.

The following month, on 15 Sep 1918, he was sent On Command to the Assistant Provost Marshal to be employed with 3rd Canadian Division Traffic Control. He would remain with this organization until the early months of 1919. Tabor would return to the Regiment in time for the return to Canada, rejoining on 8 Feb 1919 when he arrived back in England.

After one month in England, on 8 Mar 1919, Tabor was struck off the strength of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (O.M.F.C.). On that date he embarked at Liverpool to sail to Canada.

While at sea, Tabor was taken on the strength of No. 6 District Depot (Halifax, N.S.) on 12 Mar 1919 and posted to Dispersal Station "B" (Sussex, N.B.). He arrived back in Canada on 17 Mar 1919.

Tabor was discharged from the CEF on demobilization on 23 Mar 1919. Tabor's discharge certificate notes that he was issued the Class "A" War Service Badge, number 77425.

Ending in March 1919, the amounts of Separation Allowance and Assigned Pay that were sent to Jennie Tabor totaled $969 and $600, respectively. On discharge, Tabor was eligible to receive a War Service Gratuity of $600. Jennie also received a spousal amount of $180. Cheques were issued to both of them in five installments between March and August 1919.

The 1921 Canadian Census shows the Tabors still living as boarders with Frank and Annie Allaby at 32 Main Street, St. John, N.B. Tabor's trade is listed on the census returns as "wood-work."

For his service in the C.E.F., Tabor was entitled to receive the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These were despatched to him on 22 Feb 1922.

Wentworth Tabor died at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Lancaster Hospital, St. John, N.B., on 18 Dec 1969.

Pro Patria


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