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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 Gun
Scottish troops advance led by a piper
Ring of Remembrance Northern France
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.
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.
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.
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 1917
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.
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.
First World War grenades and gas grenades
German WWI artillery shells
British Cricket Ball Grenade
WWI Machine Guns
French Lefaucheux WWI Revolver. Compare this to the German WWI Lange P08 (known as a Luger) shown below.
German WWI Pistol. German Lange P08 (known as a Luger) . A recoil operated semi automatic pistol patented by Georg J. Luger in 1898.
Map of Battlefield
copyright Bill Bagshaw photography courses