Like Ypres, Arras was a front line town throughout the Great War. From March 1916 it became home to the British Army and it remained so until the Advance to Victory was well under way. In 1917 the Battle of Arras came and went. It occupied barely half a season, but was then largely forgotten; the periods before and after it have been virtually ignored, and yet the Arras sector was always important and holding it was never easy or without incident; death, of course, was never far away. The area around Arras is as rich in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries as anywhere else on the Western Front, including the Somme and Ypres, and yet these quiet redoubts with their headstones proudly on parade still remain largely unvisited. This book is the story of the men who fell and who are now buried in those cemeteries; and the telling of their story is the telling of what it was like to be a soldier on the Western Front. Arras-South is the companion volume to Arras-North and is written by the same author. It contains comprehensive coverage of over 60 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries to be found in Arras and to the south of the town. It has a wealth of gallantry awards, including their citations, and features hundreds of officers and other ranks who fell, not just at the Battle of Arras in 1917, but also many of those who died in 1916 and the final year of the war. Many small actions, raids and operations are described in a book that tells the story of warfare on the Western Front through the lives of those who fought and died on the battlefields of Arras. There are personalities, interesting characters and the well-connected, ordinary soldiers and many unsung heroes, families torn apart by war, fathers, sons and brothers, poets and padres. There is a link to Ulster and the Curragh Incident and a connection to King George V and Queen Mary, a hero of the Messina earthquake disaster in 1908, a father whose search for his son’s grave reaches its sad conclusion, a mysterious death in woodland, the moving spectacle of men waiting outside makeshift confessionals in a barn lit by candlelight before going up the line into battle, and a man whose father was a close collaborator with Sir Fabian Ware during the early days of the War Graves Registration Commission; there is even a remarkable prehistoric discovery and an improbable tale regarding an African hawk eagle that would not be out of place in a Harry Potter film. This is an essential reference guide for anyone visiting Arras and its battlefields.
VISITING THE FALLEN: ARRAS SOUTH
This is a superb reference guide for anyone visiting Arras and its battlefields. This volume contains in-depth coverage of over 100 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of officers and other ranks who fell on this part of the Western Front. It provides comprehensive details of gallantry awards and citations and describes many minor operations, raids and other actions, as well as the events that took place in April and May 1917.
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Hardback, 349 pages