The Arras offensive, 1917 (Battle of Arras)

9 April -16 June 1917: the Arras offensive. Once again the British are called upon to launch an attack in support to a larger French offensive: the battles of the Chemin des Dames and the hills of Champagne. The opening Battle of Vimy and the First Battle of the Scarpe are very encouraging, but once again the offensive – often known as the Battle of Arras – bogs down into an attritional slog. Final attempts to outflank the German lines at Bullecourt prove terribly costly.

Arras

The shaded area on the map above shows the ground captured during the Arras offensive.

Phase: the Battle of Vimy, 9 – 14 April 1917

First Army (Horne)
I Corps (Holland)

24th Division.
Canadian Corps (Byng)
5th Division
1st Canadian Division
2nd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division
4th Canadian Division.

Parallel phase: the First Battle of the Scarpe, 9 – 14 April 1917

First Army (Horne)
XIII Corps (Congreve)
(came into the line on 12 April when 2nd Division relieved 51st Division of XVII Corps)
2nd Division.

Third Army (Allenby)
Cavalry Corps (Kavanagh)

1st Cavalry Division
2nd Cavalry Division
3rd Cavalry Division, which captured Monchy le Preux.
VI Corps (Haldane)
3rd Division
12th (Eastern) Division
15th (Scottish) Division
17th (Northern) Division
29th Division
37th Division, which also captured Monchy le Preux.
VII Corps (Snow)
14th (Light) Division
21st Division
30th Division
50th (Northumbrian) Division, which captured the Wancourt Ridge
56th (1st London) Division.
XVII Corps (Fergusson)
4th Division
9th (Scottish) Division
34th Division
51st (Highland) Division.

Battle of the Scarpe. British cavalry resting alongside the Arras-Cambrai road, April 1917. Imperial War Museum image Q2031

Battle of the Scarpe. British cavalry resting alongside the Arras-Cambrai road, April 1917. Imperial War Museum image Q2031

Flanking operation: the first attack on Bullecourt, 11 April 1917

Fifth Army (Gough)
V Corps (Fanshawe)

62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.
I ANZAC Corps (Birdwood)
4th Australian Division.

Flanking operation: the German attack on Lagnicourt, 15 April 1917

Fifth Army (Gough)
V Corps (Fanshawe)

62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.
I ANZAC Corps (Birdwood)
1st Australian Division
2nd Australian Division.

Phase: the Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23 – 24 April 1917

First Army (Horne)
XIII Corps (Congreve)

63rd (Royal Naval) Division, which captured Gavrelle.

Third Army (Allenby)
VI Corps (Haldane)
15th (Scottish) Division, which captured Guemappe
17th (Northern) Division
29th Division
8th Brigade of 3rd Division.
VII Corps (Snow)
30th Division
33rd Division
50th (Northumbrian) Division.
XVII Corps (Fergusson)
37th Division
51st (Highland) Division
103rd Brigade of 34th Division.

Subsidiary: the attack on La Coulotte, 23 April 1917

First Army (Horne)
Canadian Corps (Byng)
5th Division
2nd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division.

Phase: the Battle of Arleux, 28 – 29 April 1917

First Army (Horne)
XIII Corps (Congreve)

2nd Division
63rd (Royal Naval) Division.

Third Army (Allenby)
VI Corps (Haldane)
3rd Division
12th (Eastern) Division.
XVII Corps (Fergusson)
34th Division
37th Division.

British troops moving up to the trenches near Arras, 29 April 1917.Imperial War Museum image Q2105

British troops moving up to the trenches near Arras, 29 April 1917.Imperial War Museum image Q2105

Phase: the Third Battle of the Scarpe, 3 – 4 May 1917

First Army (Horne)
XIII Corps (Congreve)

2nd Division
5th Division
31st Division.
Canadian Corps (Byng)
1st Canadian Division, which captured Fresnoy
2nd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division.

Third Army (Allenby)
VI Corps (Haldane)
3rd Division
12th (Eastern) Division
56th (1st London) Division.
VII Corps (Snow)
14th (Light) Division
18th (Eastern) Division
21st Division.
XVII Corps (Fergusson)
4th Division
9th (Scottish) Division.

Flanking operation: the Battle of Bullecourt, 3 – 17 May 1917

Fifth Army (Gough)
V Corps (Fanshawe)

7th Division
58th (2/1st London) Division
62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.
I ANZAC Corps (Birdwood)
1st Australian Division
2nd Australian Division
5th Australian Division.

Subsequent: the capture of Roeux, 13 – 14 May 1917

Third Army (Allenby)
VI Corps (Haldane)
3rd Division
12th (Eastern) Division.
XVII Corps (Fergusson)
17th (Northern) Division
51st (Highland) Division.

Flanking operation: the actions on the Hindenburg Line, 20 May – 16 June 1917

Third Army (Allenby)
VII Corps (Snow)
21st Division
33rd Division

Fifth Army (Gough)
IV Corps (Woollcombe)

20th (Light) Division.
V Corps (Fanshawe)

7th Division
58th (2/1st London) Division
62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.
I ANZAC Corps (Birdwood)
5th Australian Division.

Flanking operation: towards Lens, 3 June – 26 August 1917
including the affairs south of the Souchez River 3-25 June 1917 and the capture of Avion 26-29 June 1917, both by 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions

First Army (Horne)
I Corps (Holland)

6th Division
46th (North Midland) Division.
Canadian Corps (Byng)
1st Canadian Division
2nd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division
4th Canadian Division.

Subsequent: the capture of Oppy Wood, 28 June 1917

First Army (Horne)
XIII Corps (Congreve)

5th Division
31st Division.

Subsequent: the Battle of Hill 70, 15 – 25 August 1917

First Army (Horne)
I Corps (Holland)

6th Division
46th (North Midland) Division.
Canadian Corps (Byng)
1st Canadian Division
2nd Canadian Division
3rd Canadian Division
4th Canadian Division.

Links

Battles of the Western Front in France and Flanders

Gazetteer of the Western Front : Bullecourt

Gazetteer of the Western Front : Oppy

Guide to touring the Arras battlefields

Books

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