Vimy Ridge and Arras: The Spring 1917 Offensive in Panoramas

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Dundurn, Jul 5, 2010 - History - 312 pages
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In April 1917, Allied guns pounded German positions near Arras with almost three million shells. During the early stages of the succeeding offensive, British and Canadian troops achieved unprecedented advances, capturing a huge swathe of enemy territory, including the famous Vimy Ridge. After the initial shock, however, the Germans quickly recovered to employ inspired battlefield tactics that crushed all hope of breakthrough, despite the injection of Australian military flair.

The ultimate cost in human life was immense, with an average daily casualty rate 40 per cent greater than the Somme and almost double that of Passchendaele – making it hour for hour the most treacherous British offensive of the First World War. It stands alone as an example of missed opportunity, wasted lives, defective leadership and poor communication. Yet the determination and doggedness shown by the troops on both sides was breathtaking.

In this major new account, Peter Barton showcases over 50 rediscovered British and German panoramic photographs of the battlegrounds. Taken at huge personal risk by specialist photographers, they reveal what no other photographs can – the view beyond the trench parapet – and a view not seen for over 90 years. Also included are many unpublished testimonies, letters, and memoirs, with stunning mapping, plans and diagrams throughout.

 

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Contents

Introduction
6
Warfare in Artois
8
The 1915 Battles of Artois
15
The British Arrival
20
Backcloth to Battle
32
Political Prelude
38
Flies in the Ointment the East Alberich and the Leaks
46
Command and Control
59
The Remains of the Day
164
Not Much Doing
175
Back to Business
190
Something for the Weekend Thursday to Saturday 1214 April 1917
212
Tyde What May
241
The Void
262
Final Steps
288
Epilogue
300

Preparations
71
Countdown
86
Osterschlacht North Vimy Ridge to the Scarpe
99
Osterschlacht South the Scarpe to Croisilles
129

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About the author (2010)

Peter Barton is a historian, archaeologist, and film-maker. His previous books include the acclaimed The Battlefields of the First World War which he wrote after researching the Imperial War Museum panorama archive for eight years. His other works include Passchendaele, The Somme and Beanth Flanders Fields.

Jeremy Banning has been researcher on four of Peter Barton's publications. His specialist work benefits film companies, authors, industrial clients and individuals. He also regularly acts as a battlefield tour guide.

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