Remembering Arras

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.

3 Comments on “Remembering Arras

  1. Paul – Yes the neglect of Arras is strange especially given what a delightful place it is to visit. They are hiding their light under a bushel so to speak.

  2. I have just visited Arras with my cousin to pay my respects to our Great Uncle Tom Bowes – he died on 11th September 1917 aged just 20; he is buried in Heninel Communail Cemetery Extension a short distance south of Arras. I only discovered he had a grave about 12 months ago but planned the visit to coincide with the anniversary of his death. I found the whole experience incredibly moving and the cemetery a beautiful and peaceful place. It is an added sadness that he survived the major April – May battle only to die a few months later in September.
    As someone else commented, aside from the incredible war history and my own family connection, Arras is a really lovely place, which I would recommend anyone visiting – I hope to return for the Christmas Market in 2016, the second largest in France I am told.
    A truly memorable visit!
    Sue Briggs

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