Arras Counter-Attack 1940

Tim Saunders

There is an enduring debate as to whether it was or was not a counter-attack and the impact this far from perfectly organised operation was mounted. The book unpicks the orders and analyses how the infantry and the armour failed to marry up to deliver a joint attack around the south of Arras but fought a series of separate despiurate battles. Despi
Date Published :
February 2019
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Series :
Battleground II
Illustration :
32 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781473889125
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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On 21 May 1940 during the ill-fated Dunkirk Campaign the British launched an operation spearheaded by two tank regiments to help secure the city of Arras. This was the only significant armored operation mounted by the British during the campaign.Poorly coordinated and starting badly, the Matilda tanks ran into the flanks of Rommel’s over-extended 7th Panzer Division. With the German antitank guns, unable to penetrate the armor of the British tanks, Rommel’s infantry fell into chaos as the Matildas plunged deep into their flank. The Germans were machine-gunned and started to surrender in large numbers but with the British infantry lagging well behind, fighting their own battles in the villages, there was no one to round them up.Into this scene of chaos entered Rommel whose personal leadership and example started to steady his troops and organize an effective response, despite being spattered with the brains of his aide de camp. This was classic Rommel but in the aftermath, he claimed to have been attacked by five divisions.The Arras counterattack contributed to Hitler issuing the famous ‘halt order’ to his Panzers that arguably did much to allow the British Army to withdraw to Dunkirk and escape total destruction.

About The Author

Tim Saunders served as an infantry officer with the British Army for thirty years, during which time he took the opportunity to visit campaigns far and wide, from ancient to modern. Since leaving the Army he has become a full time military historian, with this being his sixteenth book, has made nearly fifty full documentary films with Battlefield History and Pen & Sword. He is an active guide and Accredited Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.


This well-organized book begins with the prewar origins of the British armored force and expertly covers the expansion of the army as war loomed. With this interesting prelude, the author then dives into the battle, giving the reader a soldier's view of the action. While it stands well as a history, the book is also intended as a tour book to be used on a visit to the battlefield. As such it is well supplied with useful maps and illustrations.

- WWII History Magazine

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