Arras 1914-1918. Part 2: Arras North

A Comprehensive Guide to the Battlefields

Jim Smithson, Tim Wright

A comprehensive visitor's guide to the First World War battlefields around Arras, south of the Scarpe, with descriptions of the battles, detailed maps and photographs.
Date Published :
April 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Illustration :
c 70 color images & 40 maps
No associated books available.

Overview
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Arras is known by some as the forgotten battle, because of this it’s not one of the most written about or visited First World War areas on the Western Front; in fact, it lacks the general awareness levels when compared to the iconic battlefields of the Somme or Passchendaele. Nevertheless, The Arras battlefields hold much to interest both the seasoned and curious visitor alike, with many visual reminders of the war over 100 years on.

This guide is designed to both educate and guide the visitor around four years of conflict that the city of Arras and its surrounding area endured. Organised geographically in sectors to aid the visitor, all the major engagements of the war in the Arras area are described and locations chosen to enable the visitor to gain a greater understanding of the battle; from the French on the Lorette Ridge in 1914 & 1915, the British from 1916-18 and the Canadians on Vimy Ridge in 1917, north of the city, to the Australians at Bullecourt in the south, the visitor will find the battlefield described in detail. The guide uses key observation points to ensure that the visitor is correctly orientated to get a fuller understanding of the battles and the ground they were fought over. The visitor can for example stand on Observation Ridge, look towards the city of Arras and using the description of the battle and the detailed maps and photographs taken from that key location, gain a full understanding of the attack of 12th Division on the morning of the 9th April. A detailed modern map then allows the visitor to turn and move to one of the many cemeteries in the area and again be able to read a detailed description of what he or she can see.

This is not a guide that will tell you where to go or give prescribed routes but by clearly marked key locations will allow the visitor to plan their own itinerary according to time, interest or inclination. Each location has photographs and a clear description of what can be seen and what happened at key moments of the war at that place. Advice is also given as to the accessibility (car, bicycle or on foot) for each location to aid the visitor when planning. Lavishly provided with maps and photographs, this guide will be the essential companion to anyone visiting the Arras battlefields and hopefully bring them back to the area again and again.

This volume deals with the area south of the River Scarpe where the British attacked in April and May 1917, the Germans in March 1918 and then the Anglo-Canadian offensive leading to the end of the war.

About The Author
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Born and raised in Sheffield, Jim Smithson always had a love of the countryside. He initially pursued outdoor instruction as a career prospect, but was soon persuaded that his interpersonal skills and personality were best suited to teaching. Graduating in 1990 from Durham University, he entered the teaching profession and, following a few years teaching in West Yorkshire, relocated to Germany to teach in the British Forces schools. After over thirty-two years' teaching he achieved the post of deputy head teacher at a secondary school. Jim has had a keen interest in military history since his days as a teenage wargamer. Thus began his interest in the World Wars which led to visits to related battlefields at every available opportunity. This enduring passion led to the purchase of a house near Arras in 2007. Thus situated, the opportunity to explore the former battlegrounds of the Western Front on a daily basis presented itself. With the 2014 closure of military school system in Germany, Jim retired to his Artois home. Since then he has been employed as a battlefield guide. Sharing his enthusiasm with others whilst developing an appetite for primary research, the result has been the acquisition of deep knowledge and understanding of the First World War military operations from both sides of the wire. It should come as no surprise then that his first book has as its subject, the very battlefield on which he now resides. Combining original research with daily walks around Arras and vicinity has provided Jim with unique insight into the spring 1917 campaign.

Unlike most other people with a passion for the Great War, Tim has Disneyland Paris to thank for the start of his journey. It was during a trip to Disneyland Paris over 20 years ago that Tim passed through Ypres and witnessed the Last Post Ceremony, an event that would change his life forever. From that point, he spent any spare time that he had, visiting the WW1 battlefields of France and Flanders, walking the ground he had read about and gaining a full understanding of the events that will be etched in the history books of the commonwealth forever. His thirst for knowledge of WW1 also introduced him to medal collecting, avidly researching and understanding the men behind the medals, the part that they played and the respective actions that they fought in. Tim has strong family links to the Great War, his Grand Father, a member of the 2nd battalion Devonshire regiment was taken prisoner of war, captured during the 2nd Devons historic battle at the Bois Des Buttes on the 27th of May 1918, his great uncle was KIA on the 4th of June 1918 whilst serving with the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire regiment. After many years of visiting the battlefields came the realisation that "you only live once" Tim and his wife decided to purchase a property in the heart of the Somme battlefields, give up the corporate treadmill and start living the dream. Tim, a glass half full person with a zest for life, has been carrying out research and guiding groups large and small around the battlefields of France & Flanders for many years, sharing his passion and knowledge with anyone who wants to listen. He also had in his own words “ the privilege of being the founding chairman of the Somme branch of the Western Front Association”.

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