Travelled last week to Arras in Northern France, a very attractive little town which had to be largely rebuilt after the First World War. The following local men that I am aware of are listed on the Arras Memorial:-
ANDREWS Arthur James Pte 7th Buffs died 3/5/17 aged 20. Mother at 12 Montefiore Cottages
BADDERLY Arthur Leslie Pte 5th Dragoon Guards died 10/4/17 aged 22 Liived at 1 Guildford Lawn
BEER Wilfrid Reuben Pte 1st Buffs died 21/3/18 aged 25. St George’s plaque
(worked at Ramsgate Sands Station)
BISHOP Archibald Thomas Rifleman 1st/8th London Regt (PO Rifles) died 21/5/16 aged 22
BROCK John Paddon Pte 12th Middlesex Regt died 03/05/17. Chatham House
COX Elgar Aylesbury Corp 6th Buffs died 11/4/17 aged 21. Parents 28 Vale Rd
DOLMAN Philip Walter W Pte 1st/5th Sherwood Foresters died 01/07/17 aged 40
FAGG Arthur Henry Pte 1st Essex Regt died 24/04/17 aged 39
GRIGGS Charles William Pte 8th East Surrey Regt died 03/05/17
HARRIS Stephen Henry Pte RAMC 42nd Field Ambulance died 04/05/17 aged 30
HODGES John Pte 6th Buffs died 11/07/17 aged 46
LAMBERT Christopher Rifleman 1st/9th London Regt died 14/04/17 aged 30
NUNNELEY John Cyril Lnc Corp 2nd Highland Light Infantry died 28/04/17
ORDERS Archibald Lnc Corp 22nd Royal Fusiliers died 29/04/17
POWNEY Alfred Frederick Pte 23rd Royal Fusiliers(London Regt) died 25/03/18
SADLER Frank Pte A Coy 7th Buffs died 03/05/17 aged 29
SIMPSON Stanley Pte 6th Buffs died 09/04/17 aged 27
WARMAN Ernest Petley Lnc Corp W Coy 2nd Royal Fusiliers died 24/04/17 aged 29
Many of these local men died in the Second Battle of Arras, which was a major British offensive from 9th April to 16th May 1917. After the Chantilly Conference of 16 November 1916, where the military leaders decided Allied strategy for the following year, General Nivelle, newly promoted to the post of commander-in-chief of the French Army, and his British counterpart, General Haig, drew up plans for a combined action to breach the German line.
The town of Arras was picked as the theatre of a diversionary offensive. This operation, combined with a large-scale attack in the French sector, was to draw in German reserve troops several days before the start of the French assault, to facilitate the hoped for breakthrough at the Chemin des Dames Ridge. Anxious to avoid a repeat of the slaughter inflicted on Allied troops in the battles of Verdun and the Somme the previous year, the British general staff instructed New Zealand engineers to create a vast underground network of tunnels through which the troops could pass to come up directly in front of the German front line.
By the end of March the tunnelling works were complete and the caves under the town contained more than 24,000 soldiers. The soldiers had to spend prolonged periods in the tunnels so they were equipped with kitchens, water supplies from the mains or wells, and electric lighting throughout.. The Wellington Quarry in Arras is now open to the public and well worth a visit.
The Commonwealth section of the FAUBOURG D’AMIENS CEMETERY near the citadel in Arras was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units until November 1918. The cemetery was enlarged after the Armistice and contains over 2,650 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 10 of which are unidentified. There are also a few Indian and even some German graves. The adjacent ARRAS MEMORIAL, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, and have no known grave.
The ARRAS FLYING SERVICES MEMORIAL commemorates about 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave. They include Major Edward (Mick) Mannock, one of the most successful war air aces of World War I, who was shot down over France behind enemy lines in July 1918 but received a posthumous VC. He spent a large part of his childhood in Canterbury and there is a memorial plaque to him on the south wall of the cathedral nave.
Just one local man that I am aware of is listed on the Flying Services memorial. He is also mentioned on St George’s Roll of Honour board.
PENTECOST Charles Gordon 2nd Lt RFC 25th Squadron who died 27/03/18