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Battle of Arras (With extra focus on The First Battle of Bullecourt)


    Field Marshal Douglas Haig27 divisions
    GermansGeneral Erich LudendorffGeneral Ludwig von Falkenhausen7 divisions at the front, 27 divisions in reserve Picture of Douglas Haig, field marshal on the British side.
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    First Phase of the Battle of Arras.
    The battle was sceduled to begin on the 8th, Easter Sunday, but was postponed due to a request from the French even though the weather was clear. The first day began with heavy snow, and Allied troops advancing across no man's land were hindered by large drifts.
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    First Battle of the Scarpe

    The major British assault of the first day was directly east of Arras, with the 12th Division attacking Observation Ridge, north of the Arras—Cambrai road. One reason for the success of the offensive in this sector was the failure of German commander von Falkenhausen to employ Ludendorff's new Elastic Defence. In theory, the enemy would be allowed to make initial gains, thus stretching their lines of communication.
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    Battle of Vimy Ridge

    At roughly the same time as The First Battle of The Scarpe, in perhaps the most carefully crafted portion of the entire offensive, the Canadian Corps launched an assault on Vimy Ridge. They made heavy use of machine guns to take over the German forces, overpowering them and taking the ridge at about 1:00 pm.
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    The Battle of Arras

    The Arras Offensive was planned as a means to break through the German defences on the western front into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in a war of movement.
  • Planned attack on the Hindenburg Line

    Planned attack on the Hindenburg Line
    The attack on the Hindenburg Line is scheduled on the 10th of April, but is postponed due to the non-arrival of tanks, and is postponed for 24 hours. Title image from http://www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/commemorations/commemorative_events/major_anniversaries/western_front90/PublishingImages/bull0_small.jpg Picture is of the area the hindenburg line covers http://www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/commemorations/commemorative_events/major_anniversaries/western_front90/PublishingImages/bull2_small.jpg
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    First Battle of Boullecort

    The First Battle of Bullecorrt was the first battle in the larger Battle of Arras involving Australia, centred on the Hindenburg line. Due to failure of of tanks and severe losses on the United Kingdom/Australia side, the battle was a failure,
  • 12:30

    The last of the Australians withdraw, helped by the artillery, which has finally been allowed to fire in support. The battle is a failure, but the Germans acquire two of the tanks which had been used, and after seeing them perforated by armor-piercing bullets, believe the rifle A.P. bullet is an effective anti-tank weapon, which throws them off-guard Image of British artillery in the style of what was used at Bullecourt
  • 4.30 am

    4.30 am
    4th and 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division back in position east of the village of Bullecourt. However, only three tanks have taken their positions in front of the 4th Brigade and none have reached the 12th Brigade. Image of tank and officers at Bullecourt http://www.awm.gov.au/sites/default/files/bullecourt-tank.jpg
  • 4:30 am - 5:15 am

    4:30 am - 5:15 am
    The 4th Brigade advances but the 12th Brigade wait for their tanks before advancing. Tank crossing a trench at the Battle of Bullecourt
    Image from http://historywarsweapons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Battle_of_Bullecourt_MarkI_tank.jpg
  • 5:15 am

    12th brigade advances.
  • 5:15 am - 7:00 am

    5:15 am - 7:00 am
    Accurate shooting by the German artillery means no tanks reach the wire before the infantry and only one tank reaches the German trenches at all. Image of German artillery similar to what was used at the battle of Bullecourt http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4VXrkZe4WmU/TUgRdtDeLcI/AAAAAAAAM90/OzyJle2zrZY/s1600/german+wwi+artillery.jpg
  • 5:15-7:00 am

    5:15-7:00 am
    Both the German front line and support trenches are captured, Australians are held up as they advanced towards Riencourt village, and all the tanks are destroyed by 7 am. Image of destroyed tank from http://hsc.csu.edu.au/modern_history/core_study/ww1/bullecourt_hamel/tank2.gif
  • 7:00 am - 11:30 am

    7:00 am - 11:30 am
    Seeing German troops in motion at Riencourt, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Harry’ Murray fires the SOS signal for artillery support. The signal is repeated 17 times throughout the morning, but is not answered due to exaggerated reports of Australian success, mainly from the air and artillery observers, causing headquarters staff in the rear to believe that the advance is proceeding. Picture of trenches on the Hindenburg Line http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/2695/riencourt0001ayh2.jpg
  • 11:30

    Australian position worsens, and it becomes clear to Australian forces that the position can not be held. With German fire sweeping the escape route, Harry Murray tells his men, ‘It is either capture or go into that’. Many try, but Murray is among the few who return. Image of Lietenant Colonel Harry Murray, Major at the time of the photo http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Harry_Murray_1917_portrait.jpg
  • Battle of Lagnicourt

    Battle of Lagnicourt
    The German forces attacked the Australian forces holding a frontage of 1200 metres, and drove them back, destroying supplies and guns. Counter attacks from Australian battalions drove them back and restored the front line. Image from http://lagnicourt.netai.net/photos/lagnicourt_listeningpost_stereo.jpg
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    The Second Phase of the Battle of Arras.
    The Allies continued to push against the Germans in the Second Phase, spurred on by the overall success of the first days of the battle. However, from 16 April onwards, it was apparent that the Nivelle Offensive was failing and Haig (overall British commander during the battle) came under pressure to keep the Germans occupied in the Arras sector in order to minimise French losses.
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    Second Battle of the Scarpe

    The British forces launched an assault east from Wancourt towards Vis-en-Artois. They were able to secure the village of Guémappe, but were not able to advence further and suffered heavy casualties. The German forces counter attacked and attempt to recapture Monchy-le-Preux, but troops from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment were able to hold the village until reinforcements arrived.
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    Second Battle of Bullecourt (3–17 May 1917)

    Due to the failure of the First Battle of Bullecourt, a second assault was launched to try and accomplish what was failed in the first attempt. At 03:45 am on the 3rd of May, elements of the 2nd Division attacked east of Bullecourt village, intending to pierce the Hindenburg Line and capture Hendecourt-lès-Cagnicourt, while British troops from the 62nd Division attacked Bullecourt. The German forces pushed back fiercely, and the offensive was called off on the 17th of May.
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    Third Battle of the Scarpe

    After securing the area around Arleux at the end of April, the British determined to launch another attack east from Monchy to try to break through the Boiry Riegel and reach the Wotanstellung, a major German defensive fortification. The British forces suffered major casualties, and called off the battle on the second day.

    The gains by the British forces in the first two days were nothing short of amazing, By the end of the offensive, the British had suffered more than 150,000 casualties and gained little ground since the first day. Despite significant early gains, they were unable to effect a breakthrough and the situation reverted to stalemate, although it is widely regarded as a British victory.