Albert Ellery Tallman, Pte No 859031
Albert was born in Toledo, Ontario on February 15th, 1885. His proud parents were Nelson Tallman (1852-1922) and Frances Ann nee Gorman (1854-1920). He was a member of a large family consisting of eight brothers and sisters.
There is little we know about his youth or the rest of his family, but somewhere between the time he was old enough to leave home and 1915 he moved to Winnipeg and was working as a Tinsmith.
Albert didn’t enlist when war broke out in 1914, but waited until November of the next year. Perhaps he thought that the war would be won quickly and he would not be required. However as 1914 rolled into 1915 Albert decided to enlist on November 16th, 1915. He was 30 years old, stool 5’6” with fair hair, grey eyes and a ruddy complexion.
He joined the 179th Battalion, Cameron Highlander, 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry in Winnipeg.
He spent almost all of his first year training in Canada before he set sail for England. His unit sailed from Halifax aboard the HMS Saxonia on October 4th, 1916.
After his arrival on October 13th, he and his unit went to East Sandling where they trained in the art of “Trench Warfare”.
After training in England he along with his unit were transferred to France where they joined the rest of the 16th Battalion. Little did he know what awaited him in the upcoming months, history would recall it as the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
On that first day of the attack, April 9th, 1917, Albert along with the rest of his unit went over the top of the trenches and into ‘no man’s land’. And that is the last we know of Albert as he was report “Missing in Action” on that first day of the battle. He was later declared to have been “Presumed to have died on or since April 9th, 1917”.
His story and life have been lost to history with the exception of his name that is carved into the “Vimy Memorial” in France, and also appears on the Cenotaph in Toledo.
For those who are interested we have reprinted part of the story of the Battle for Vimy Ridge below.
Vimy Ridge Memorial
Canada’s most impressive tribute overseas to those Canadians who fought and gave their lives in the First World War is the majestic and inspiring Vimy Memorial, which overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about eight kilometres northeast of Arras on the N17 towards Lens. The Memorial is signposted from this road to the left, just before you enter the village of Vimy from the south. The memorial itself is someway inside the memorial park, but again it is well signposted. At the base of the memorial, these words appear in French and in English:
TO THE VALOUR OF THEIR COUNTRYMEN IN THE GREAT WAR AND IN MEMORY OF THEIR SIXTY THOUSAND DEAD THIS MONUMENT IS RAISED BY THE PEOPLE OF CANADA
Inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial are the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France. A plaque at the entrance to the memorial states that the land for the battlefield park, 91.18 hectares in extent, was ‘the free gift in perpetuity of the French nation to the people of Canada’. Construction of the massive work began in 1925, and 11 years later, on July 26, 1936, the monument was unveiled by King Edward VIII. The park surrounding the Vimy Memorial was created by horticultural experts. Canadian trees and shrubs were planted in great masses to resemble the woods and forests of Canada. Wooded parklands surround the grassy slopes of the approaches around the Vimy Memorial. Trenches and tunnels have been restored and preserved and the visitor can picture the magnitude of the task that faced the Canadian Corps on that distant dawn when history was made. On April 3, 2003, the Government of Canada designated April 9th of each year as a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (Veterans Affairs Canada)
The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive on the Western Front during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras. The main combatants were the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army, against three divisions of the German 6th Army. The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive, which was intended to attract German reserves from the French, before their attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Chemin ridge further south.
9 April 1917
The attack was to begin at 5:30 am on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. The attack was originally planned for the morning of 8 April (Easter Sunday) but it was postponed for 24 hours at the request of the French. During the late hours of 8 April and early morning of 9 April the men of the leading and supporting wave of the attack were moved into their forward assembly positions. The weather was cold and later changed to sleet and snow. Although physically discomforting for everyone, the northwesterly storm provided some advantage to the assaulting troops by blowing snow in the faces of the defending troops. Light Canadian and British artillery bombardments continued throughout the night but stopped in the few minutes before the attack, as the artillery recalibrated their guns in preparation for the synchronized barrage. At 5:30 am, every artillery piece at the disposal of the Canadian Corps began firing. Thirty seconds later, engineers detonated the mine charges laid under no man’s land and the German trench line, destroying a number of German strong points and creating secure communication trenches directly across no man’s land. Light field guns laid down a barrage that mostly advanced at a rate of 100 yards in three minutes while medium and heavy howitzers established a series of standing barrages further ahead against known defensive systems. During the early fighting, the German divisional artillery, despite many losses, were able to maintain their defensive firing. As the Canadian assault advanced, it overran many of the German guns because large numbers of their draught horses had been killed in the initial gas attack.
It was during the early morning hours of this first assault that Albert Ellery Tallman lost his life in the muddy ground of “no man’s land” in the far distant fields of France.