One Day Arras Tour

One Day Arras Tour

Standing between the 1916 Somme battles and the Third Battle of Ypres in the second half of 1917 the Battle of Arras is strangely overlooked by many battlefield tourists and historians. Despite this omission it is a fascinating battlefield to visit and is far quieter than the more popular tourist spots.

Battle commenced on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. The aim was to push the Germans from the hitherto impregnable Vimy Ridge and drive east towards Cambrai. This British effort was the precursor to a larger French offensive launched a week later on the Aisne. The initial attack, despite taking place in driving wind and snow were, on the main, successful with Vimy Ridge falling to the Canadian Corps and one sector recording a spectacular advance of up to 3.5 miles in one day.

Trench map extract showing the village of Fampoux – scene of the greatest advance of trench warfare in April 1917

However, the momentum could not be maintained and stiffening German resistance and adoption of new elastic defence methods soon turned the tide against the British efforts. Despite repeated attacks the line barely moved any significant amount from the first few days of battle to its bitter end in mid-May.

Encompassing the First, Second and Third Battles of the Scarpe the Arras offensive was the most deadly battle of the war with a daily casualty rate of over 4,000 men – higher than the Somme, Passchendaele and the Last Hundred Days of 1918. Discover the Arras battlefields with me and let me show you many forgotten areas of the front.

Possible stops could include:

Morning:

  • Vimy Ridge – Canadian Memorial. Preserved trenches, craters & tunnels
  • Roclincourt & German cemetery at Saint-Laurent-Blangy
  • 9th (Scottish) Division Memorial & Point du Jour Military Cemetery for Grimsby Chums found in 2001

9th Scottish Division Memorial

  • Gavrelle for 63rd (Royal Naval) Division and Oppy for 31st Division and Hull Pals
  • Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery & Arras Memorial to the Missing

Lunch in Arras

Afternoon:

  • Fampoux – Seaforths Cross & Donald Mackintosh VC
  • Roeux – site of Chemical Works & Brown’s Copse Cemetery
  • Across the River Scarpe to Monchy-le-Preux & Infantry Hill

Monchy British Cemetery with the distinctive spire of the village church in the background

  • Guemappe & Wancourt
  • Neuville-Vitasse
  • Hindenburg Line pillboxes
  • Bullecourt or Wellington Quarry

Hibers Trench Cemetery, Wancourt – mainly full of men of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division