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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 21, 2015 02:10PM) (new)

Bentley | 32378 comments Mod
This is the thread dedicated to the discussion of the Battle of Arras (1917).

Included for discussion on this thread are other accompanying battles and offensives including:

The Nivelle Offensive, First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917), Battle of Vimy Ridge (9–12 April 1917), First Battle of Bullecourt (10–11 April 1917), Battle of Lagnicourt (15 April 1917), Second Battle of the Scarpe (23–24 April 1917, Battle of Arleux (28–29 April 1917), Second Battle of Bullecourt (3–17 May 1917), Third Battle of the Scarpe (3–4 May 1917

Source: Wikipedia

Also: The Arras Offensive

Also: The Battle of Arras - Vimy Ridge

Also: New Zealand Tunnellers

Also: The Arras Tunnels

Also: France Reveals World War I - British Cave Camp

Also: Finding Private Adams

Also: 14th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.

For much of the war, the opposing armies on the Western Front were at a stalemate, with a continuous line of trenches stretching from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border.

In essence, the Allied objective from early 1915 was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in a war of movement.

The Arras offensive was conceived as part of a plan to bring about this result.

It was planned in conjunction with the French High Command, who were simultaneously embarking on a massive attack (the Nivelle Offensive) about eighty kilometres to the south.

The stated aim of this combined operation was to end the war in forty-eight hours.[4:] At Arras, the immediate Allied objectives were more modest: to draw German troops away from the ground chosen for the French attack and to take the German-held high ground that dominated the plain of Douai.

Initial efforts centred on a relatively broad-based assault between Vimy in the northwest and Bullecourt in the southeast. After considerable bombardment, Canadian troops advancing in the north were able to capture the strategically significant Vimy Ridge, and British divisions in the centre were also able to make significant gains.

In the south, British and Australian forces were frustrated by the elastic defence and made only minimal gains. Following these initial successes, British forces engaged in a series of small-scale operations to consolidate the newly won positions. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, these were gained at the price of relatively large numbers of casualties.[3:]
When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances, but had been unable to achieve a major breakthrough at any point.

Experimental tactics—for instance, the creeping barrage, the graze fuze, and counter-battery fire—had been battle-tested, particularly in the first phase, and had demonstrated that set-piece assaults against heavily fortified positions could be successful. This sector then reverted to the stalemate that typified most of the war on the Western Front.

The First World War by John Keegan by John KeeganJohn Keegan

message 2: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) One good book covering this battle is:

Cheerful Sacrifice by Jonathan Nicholls by Jonathan Nicholls
Publishers blurb:
In this book, Nicholls provides an account of the 39-day long battle of Arras, which remains the most lethal and costly British offensive of WW1. He reveals the horrors of trench warfare and the bravery of the soldiers who fought in the war.

message 3: by Jerome (new)

Jerome | 3595 comments Bloody April: Slaughter in the Skies Over Arras, 1917

Bloody April Slaughter in the Skies Over Arras, 1917 by Peter Hart by Peter HartPeter Hart


As the Allies embarked upon the Battle of Arras, they desperately needed accurate aerial reconnaissance photographs. But by this point the Royal Flying Club were flying obsolete planes. The new German Albatros scouts massively outclassed them in every respect: speed, armament, ability to withstand punishment, and maneuverability. Many of the RFC's pilots were straight out of flying school—as they took to the air they were sitting targets for the experienced German aces.

Over the course of "Bloody April" the RFC suffered casualties of over a third. The average life expectancy of a new subaltern on the front line dropped to just eleven days. And yet they carried on flying, day after day, in the knowledge that, in the eyes of their commanders at least, their own lives meant nothing compared to the photographs they brought back, which could save tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground. In this book Peter Hart tells the story of the air war over Arras, using the voices of the men who were actually there.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32378 comments Mod
Thank you Jerome on these.

message 5: by Jill, Assisting Moderator - Military Hist L/Global NF/Eur/Brit/Music (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 12548 comments Mod
The first battle where air superiority played a major role.

Bullecourt: Arras

Bullecourt Arras by Graham Keech by Graham Keech (no photo)


For much of World War I the village of Bullecourt was safely behind the German front line. All of this changed in February, 1917 when the Germans withdrew several miles to form a stronger defensive line. Bullecourt became incorporated in the Hindenburg Line defenses, with German strong points built into many houses and local hillsides. The position was attacked by the British as part of the Battle of Arras, on April 11, 1917. This battle was a preliminary to the larger Nivelle offensive, and was one of the first in which air superiority played a major role.No breakthrough was achieved, but the British command was satisfied with the results. The Australian authorities were extremely critical of the way in which their troops were handled in the engagement, and this was one of the battles that led to post-war demands for greater independence by Britain's colonies. This battle, the ingenious German fortifications and all the personalities involved are described in the accustomed Battleground Europe detail, with numerous illustrations, maps and a guide to the battlefield as it is today.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32378 comments Mod
Thanks Jill

message 7: by Jill, Assisting Moderator - Military Hist L/Global NF/Eur/Brit/Music (last edited Apr 29, 2015 08:29PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 12548 comments Mod
The author sets out to prove that the Battle of Arras was even more devastating than the horror that was Passchendaele.

Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras

Cheerful Sacrifice The Battle of Arras 1917 by Jonathan Nicholls by Jonathan Nicholls (no photo)


Cheerful Sacrifice tells the story of the spring offensive of April - May 1917, otherwise known as the Battle of Arras. Probably because the noise had hardly died down before it started up again with the explosions at Messines, shortly to be followed by the even more horrible Third Ypres - remembered as Passchendaele - the Battle of Arras has not received the attention it deserves. Yet, as the author points out, on the basis of the daily casualty rate it was the most lethal and costly British offensive battle of the First World War. In the thirty-nine days that the battle lasted the average casualty rate was far higher than at either the Somme or Passchendaele.
Jonathan Nicholls, in this his first book, gives the Battle of Arras its proper place in the annals of military history, enhancing his text with a wealth of eye-witness accounts. One is left in no doubt that the survivor who described it as 'the most savage infantry battle of the war', did not exaggerate. Nor can there be much doubt that the author is destined to rise high in the firmament of military historians.

message 8: by Jill, Assisting Moderator - Military Hist L/Global NF/Eur/Brit/Music (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 12548 comments Mod
One of the battles in the encounter known as the Battle of Arras.

Vimy Ridge 1917: Byng's Canadians Triumph at Arras

Vimy Ridge 1917 Byng’s Canadians Triumph at Arras by Alexander Turner by Alexander Turner (no photo)


Vimy Ridge was one of the most important geographic features on the entire Western Front in World War I (1914-1918). In early 1917 it was considered practically impregnable, but on 9 April the Canadian Army Corps, under the command of the British Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng, assaulted it as part of the Arras offensive. In one of the most spectacular operational attacks of the war, they seized almost the entire ridge in a single day. This book describes how the innovative efforts that went into every aspect of the preparation for this attack ensured that the Canadian and British troops achieved unprecedented success.

message 9: by Jill, Assisting Moderator - Military Hist L/Global NF/Eur/Brit/Music (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 12548 comments Mod
I have not read this book but it sounds absolutely heart rending.

To Arras, 1917: A Volunteer's Odyssey

To Arras, 1917 A Volunteer's Odyssey by Walter Reid by Walter Reid (no photo)


This is the true and poignant account of the life and death of a young Scottish officer, Ernest Reid, who was pinned down and fatally wounded in no-man's land on the first day of the Battle of Arras, on Easter Monday, 1917. This gripping narrative does not just set out the events of Captain Reid's life, but also describes the cultural influences--the code of duty, an unquestioning patriotism--that molded him and his contemporaries for service and sacrifice in the killing fields of France and Flanders.

message 10: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 207 comments Even the cover is troubling. It looks so peaceful and yet....

message 11: by Jerome (new)

Jerome | 3595 comments An upcoming book:
Release date: June 2, 2017

An Army of Brigadiers: British Brigade Commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917

An Army of Brigadiers British Brigade Commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917 by Trevor Harvey by Trevor Harvey (no photo)


There have been two major studies in recent years that have explored the roles and responsibilities of British generals at different levels within the British Expeditionary Force’s command structure. Dr Simon Innes-Robbins has written about the generals at predominantly GHQ and Army levels whilst Dr Andy Simpson has explored the development of the role of corps commanders during the Great War. For the first time Dr Trevor Harvey’s study provides an analysis of command at the level of the infantry brigade. His study is based on a critical period during the Great War, the period from late in the Battle of the Somme to the end of the Battle of Arras in mid-May 1917.

Dr Harvey’s analysis is based on the service records of 116 brigadier-generals whose brigades played some part in the Battle of Arras. He explores their roles, responsibilities and backgrounds, both in theory and in practice, in the lead-up to and during the battle to explain and illustrate the range and limitations of their commands. Based on this analysis, Dr Harvey presents case studies of five brigadier-generals, their staff officers and their battalion commanders. Each brigadier-general has been selected from one of the five corps that participated in the Battle of Arras which provides an operational backdrop to the exploration of their roles. The brigadier-generals exhibit, in different combinations, their different operational experiences, their different career paths and their different personal characteristics. In undertaking his research, Dr Harvey has drawn on a wide variety sources, including diaries, letters and personal papers privately held by descendants of his chosen subjects.

From the evidence drawn from the case studies, Dr Harvey identifies a series of threads about the responsibilities and actions which these brigade commanders share. He argues that the application of these threads enables the orthodox ‘administration and training’ interpretation of the role of brigadier-generals to be successfully challenged as both unnecessarily narrow and unduly limited. Dr Harvey’s study has been praised by his examiners because ‘it provides unique and original insights on British operations on the Western Front in 1916-17 which will be of great interest to scholars interested in British generalship during the First World War’. This ground-breaking study is a significant addition to the historiography of generalship during the Great War.

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32378 comments Mod
Great adds

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Books mentioned in this topic

The First World War (other topics)
Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras 1917 (other topics)
Bloody April: Slaughter in the Skies over Arras, 1917 (other topics)
Bullecourt: Arras (other topics)
Vimy Ridge 1917: Byng’s Canadians Triumph at Arras (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

John Keegan (other topics)
Jonathan Nicholls (other topics)
Peter Hart (other topics)
Graham Keech (other topics)
Alexander Turner (other topics)