Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Observation Ridge and Battery Valley- Arras

After the walk around Monchy, it was a quick brew up at Monchy le Preux British Cemetery before heading towards Tilloy and a walk around Observation Ridge and Battery Valley.

Above images - Monchy le Preux British Cemetery.
Second image - Lieut. T L Teed, M.C.: "I SHALL GO TO HIM BUT HE WILL NOT RETURN TO ME"
Third image: D D'arcy Sullivan M.M.: "ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE LOST CAN UNDERSTAND"

This was the area attacked by 12th Eastern Division on the opening day of the Battle of Arras. The German second line system consisted of a number of redoubts, heavily wired and strongly defended with machine guns allowing the Germans to put into practise their new 'elastic defence'. However it did not work on the opening day of the battle as the Eingriff  ('alert') troops were held  too far back to make a rapid counter attack.

Above: Top image - British trench map showing Observation Ridge and the redoubts
Second image: Map from the 12th Div History showing the redoubts
Third image - Observation Ridge, my brother standing in the area of the Hotte Work
Forth image - Observation Ridge had a commanding view over Arras
Fifth Image - Orange Hill and Monchy in the background; image taken from the crest of Observation Ridge

The redoubts proved to be problematic, but were eventually overcome by outflanking movements.
Battery Valley was crammed with German artillery and as the British appeared over the ridge some opened fire at point blank range. The valley was taken by a bayonet charge covered by Lewis guns, with the German guns captured and the Germans fleeing in disarray.

Above: Top image - Bunyons Cemetery, Observation Ridge
Second and third image: Houdain Lane Cemetery, Observation Ridge
Forth image: gun pits can still be seen in Battery Valley although these are British, dug after the valley was captured.
Fifth image: Battery Valley

This was part of an outstanding successful day for the British, but  delays followed allowing the German reserves to move up and stabilise the position. The Battle of Arras was to continue for over an another month and in terms of casualties on a day by day basis was the most costly battle fought by the British during the entire War.

We finished off the day by visiting Tilloy British Cemetery and Orange Hill Cemetery.

Above: Top image - Tilloy Cemetery
Middle image - Orange Hill Cemetery
Third image - from Orange Hill good views of  Roeux and the area of the Hyderabad redoubt and sunken lane in which some of the most futile attacks of the Battle of Arras were made, against the Rouex Chemical Works which had been fortified by the Germans.

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