Richard Taelman

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Kruishoutem, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium

General information

Homestead farmer
Roman Catholic

Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
 —  Canadian Infantry, 28th Bn. (North West)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Mosselmarkt, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel: Panel 18 - 26 - 28.

Points of interest 2

#1 Place of birth
#2 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Richard Taelman was born in 1885 in Kruishoutem, East Flanders, Belgium. As a farmer’s son Richard emigrated to Canada and started farming in Ratner, Saskatchewan. In May 1916 Richard enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as war raged in his native country. By the time of the Battle of Passchendaele Richard served with the Canadian Infantry 28th (North West) Battalion, part of the 6th Canadian Brigade, of the 2nd Canadian Division. The Division attacked the village of Passchendaele with the 6th Canadian Brigade. The attack was carried by the 27th on the right, the 31st in the center and the 28th Battalion on the left.

At 6.00 a.m. on the morning of the 6th of November 1917 the allied artillery opened up an incredibly heavy barrage on the crest of the Passchendaele Ridge. The troops climbed out of their trenches and shell holes and moved forward. The terrain was wet and boggy and the men struggled forward through the desolate wasteland. Some parties ploughed knee-deep through the water and the mud. Three minutes after zero hour, the German artillery laid down a heavy barrage of their own, but the shelling was erratic and the Germans had trouble pinpointing the exact locations of the attacking troops. The effects of the irregular shell fire were further reduced by the swampy nature of the ground, which made the shells to misfire. While the men were struggling in the mud they were harassed by German airmen, which strafed their ranks with machine gun fire.

At about 100 yards from the Battalion’s objective the Germans enfiladed the men with heavy machine gun fire. The Passchendaele Ridge was littered with series of pill-boxes, which stood at every cross point or were hidden in ruined farms. The German main line of defense ran along the Passchendaele-Mosselmarkt Road. This line however lacked the protection of dug-outs and many Germans were killed due to the barrage, others were seen fleeing from the line. Notwithstanding the heavy machine gun fire the men pressed on, outflanking and clearing the pill-boxes.

By 7.40 a.m. all Companies had reached their objectives. Consolidation of the positions was completed shortly after 10.00 a.m. The Battalion suffered about 35 casualties during the attack, but suffered more casualties when German airplanes started shooting at the men in the lines. After the airplanes were driven off, the German artillery started shelling the men in their positions on the ridge. This bombardment lasted till 06.00 p.m. Parties of stretcher bearers encountered great difficulties in evacuating the wounded, due to the shelling and the ghastly state of the ground. Nevertheless all the dead were buried in the field, before the Battalion was relieved.

Thirty-two year old Private Richard Taelman was killed in action during the 28th Battalion’s attack Northwest of Passchendaele. He was buried in the field near Vindictive Cross Roads, only a couple of kilometers from his birthplace, but thousands of kilometers from home. Though Richard had been buried in the field, his grave got lost. Richard is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial.

More information 2