Today is the 97th Anniversary of the Battle of Arras, in some respects one of the forgotten battles of the Great War. Despite the huge amount of publications on Ypres and the Somme, in recent years only Jon Nicholl’s Cheerful Sacrifice, Peter Barton’s & Jeremy Banning’s Arras 1917 and my own Walking Arras have been published on this short but bloody battle. I blogged about this for the University of Oxford WW1 Centenary site last year but still remain disappointed that somehow Arras is neglected, even by battlefield visitors. Locally today the people of Arras will be commemorating the event as they do each year now and no doubt many will be thinking of relatives who fought and died there.
The Arras Memorial, seen here, commemorates 35,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died at Arras from 1916 until the end of the war, but a very high percentage of the total are men who fell in the fighting at Arras in April and May 1917.