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Battle of Arras 9th April 1917 100th anniversary

 
 

Battle of Arras. 9th April 1917. 100th anniversary.

Battle of Arras took place on 9 April 1917.
Forty four Scottish battalions and seven Scottish-named Canadian battalions took part in The Battle of Arras.
This was the largest number of Scots to have ever fought together.

159,000 British and Commenwealth troops were killed, together with a similar number of German troops.
They are all commemorated at The Ring of Remembrance at Notre Dame de Lorette.

64,000 of the British deaths were Scottish.
The daily losses were greater than at Passchendaele and the Somme.
The Battle of Arras has been referred to as “The most savage infantry battle of World War I”.
This brutal battle is only now receiving the recognition it deserves.
60 British  tanks took part in the battle, including MKI  and MKII (training) tanks.

British Vickers WWI Machine GunBritish Vickers WWI Machine gun as used at Battle of Arras (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

Scottish troops advance led by a piperScottish soldiers at Battle of Arras 9th April 1917 led by a piper (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

Ring of Remembrance Northern FranceSilhouette of soldier at Ring of Remembrance Notre Dame de Lorette Northern France. The ring of Remembrance memorial commemorates 580,000 soldiers of all nationalities killed in Northern France. Bronze panels are engraved with the names of all the soldiers who died on the battlefields of Pas-de-Calais France during WWI. World War 1 was from 1914-1918. Known in France as Anneau de la Mémoire or officially known as Mémorial International Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

The Battle of Arras was one of the main 1st World War offensives by the British Army, and of a similar size to the Battle of the Somme.
British artillery bombarded the German lines, churning the ground up so much, that British tanks found it difficult to advance.British WWI tank stuck in trench. Battle of Arras 9th April 1917 (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

The offensive used a vast secret network of underground tunnels dug by New Zealand miners.
24,000 Allied soldiers emerged from the tunnels to surprise the Germans.
Wellinton tunnels; also known as Wellington Quarry were one of the most secret places in military history. They were dug in secret by New Zealand miners. 24,000 British soldiers hid there to launch a surprise attack on the Germans at The Battle of Arras on the 9th April 1917. Photo shows No 10 Exit. (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

Wellinton tunnels; also known as Wellington Quarry; were one of the most secret places in military history.
They were dug in secret by New Zealand miners. 24,000 British soldiers hid there to launch a surprise attack on the Germans.
The tunnels allowed troops to advance undetected to the German lines; avoiding no mans land.

All 24,000 Allied soldiers emerged from the tunnels to surprise the Germans; after a creeping artillery barrage.
Photo shows cutaway of 6 inch British shrapnel shell.Cutaway of British 6 inch Artillery Shell loaded with shrapnel. Arras France. (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)
The British artillery fired nearly 2.7 million shells.
One third (and possibly up to two thirds in some cases) of the shells did not explode.
They are still there to this day; together with hand grenades; ready to explode.
Unexploded Gas Shells are amongst the most dangerous; as they are now leaking poisonous gas.
It’s estimated it will take another 700 years to remove unexploded munitions from France and Belgium.

British Tank amongst the ruins of Arras 9th April 1917British World War I tank at The Battle of Arras. 9th April 1917 (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

In a coordinated attack; Canadian soldiers captured Vimy ridge; allowing The Allies to advance up to three miles.

Photo shows safety signage around DANGEROUS shell craters at Vimy Ridge.
It’s very easy for the unwary to wander around in Northern France and find UNMARKED and UNFENCED DANGEROUS shell craters that look like this – DON’T DO IT.
They are still full of unexploded munitions.
Even innocuous looking fields are just as dangerous.
Farmers ploughs sometimes blow up as they till the soil.
Safety fencing around DANGEROUS shell craters at Vimy Ridge. It's very easy for the unwary to wander around in Northern France and find unmarked and unfenced DANGEROUS shell craters that look like this - DON'T DO IT. They are still full of unexploded munitions (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)
By 16th April the Germans reinforced their lines, and the main offensive was called off.
The Battle of Arras was considered a British victory; but did little to change the Western Front; as the Germans built new defences.

An estimated 300 million unexploded bombs are still buried in Northern France and Belgium.
Many of the shells contain lethal poison gas. ( Chlorine, phosphene and mustard gas).

The “iron harvest”, refers to nearly 900 tons of unexploded munitions which are ploughed up every year by Belgian and French farmers.

The area is still full of unexploded shells; unexploded poisonous gas shells, live grenades, and live ammunition.

It’s estimated it will take 700 years to clear the area of unexploded munitions; at the current rate of progress.
Arsenic, mercury, lead, acids, & dangerous gases still lie in the ground killing plant life.
Since the armistice, over 1,000 people have been killed by weapons and chemicals still remaining in the ground.

Bullet Propelled WWI Grenade dug up in a field.     This grenade is still in the barrel of a rusted WWI rifle. The soldier probably died before he could fire it.Bullet Propelled WWI Grenade dug up in a field near Arras. This grenade is still in the barrel of a rusted WWI rifle. The soldier probably died before he could fire it. (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

First World War grenades and gas grenadesFirst World War Grenades and WWI gas grenades (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

Saxon Helmet

German First World War Saxon Helmet World War 1 German Helmet (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

German WWI  artillery shellsGerman WWI artillery shells (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

British Cricket Ball GrenadeBritish WWI Cricket Ball Grenade. (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

WWI Machine GunsWWI Machine Guns and bullets (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

French Lefaucheux WWI Revolver. Compare this to the German WWI Lange P08 (known as a Luger) shown below.

 (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

German WWI Pistol.   German Lange P08 (known as a Luger) . A recoil operated semi automatic pistol patented by Georg J. Luger in 1898.German WWI Revolver. World War One Lange P08 known as a Luger. A recoiloperated semi automatic pistol patented by Georg J. Luger in 1898. (copyright Bill Bagshaw/M.Williams all rights reserved)

Map of BattlefieldBattlefront Map of The Battle of Arras 9th April 1917. Somme Battlefront (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

copyright Bill Bagshaw photography courses