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Visiting the Fallen - Arras South (Hardback)

Military > Battlefield Guidebooks WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Arras WWI > By Year > 1917

By Peter Hughes
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781473825581
Published: 28th September 2015



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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.

This is an essential reference guide for anyone visiting Arras and its battlefields.

Read the full review here.

inScale, GS Danis

There are many hundreds of Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries all across France and Belgium and to better understand them they divided down to battlegrounds. This work concentrates on those in the southern area of Arras, a battle which began in April 1917 with fierce fighting around features such as Telegraph Hill. Thousands were killed on both sides and this work covers the cemeteries where British and Commonwealth troops from Canada and Australia are buried. From the smallest, such as Morchies Communal Cemetery where they are only eight military graves, to the locations with thousands, are all listed here. Some cemeteries are very remote by there are each in their turn worthy of visiting.

GunMart, November 2016 - reviewed by John Norris

Peter Hughes’ Visiting The Fallen: Arras South is the second volume in his study of the Great War cemeteries around Arras. This volume looks at the south-south-east area of the battlefield taking in the many small battlefield cemeteries in this area, many of which are well off the beaten track. For each cemetery there is normally some background to the burial ground then the author has selected a number of men buried there who are particularly interesting. Using their stories the book essentially retells the Battle of Arras through the men who fell there. It is a very useful book for visiting the ground and while it is more reference than a good read, it is well put together and superbly researched.

WW1 Centenary - Paul Reed

There is an interesting variety in the stories, as the author has gathered information over the years which have attracted his own interest, and sometimes even can be amusing as well as the sad ones. It is a really effective way I think of 'Remembrance'. It should encourage visitors to see the various cemeteries and have a better understanding of the individual who they see named on the lines of headstones... I for one will be searching out the earlier part of this trilogy covering Arras North and look forward to part three which will deal with the many memorials you can find.

Military Modelling - Robin Buckland

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