Remembering Arras and Vimy Ridge

British infantry supports going up from freshly-dug assembly trenches, 9 April 1917. IWM Collections Q 5120

April 2017 marks 100 years since the start of the Battle of Arras, where British and Commonwealth troops successfully seized German-held ground in northern France – including the famous capture of Vimy Ridge by Canadians. Fighting continued until mid-May, with heavy casualties.

In this blog post, we share the Life Stories of just three of the thousands of people who took part in the battle.


Tribute to Fred Swaine in The Barnsley Chronicle, 26 May 1917. Courtesy of Barnsley Archives

The British and French planned a spring offensive to begin with a British attack near Arras in early April.  The Allies made solid preparations – including subjecting the German defences to a lengthy bombardment – before the attack began on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917.

One of the British soldiers who took part in the battle was Fred Swaine. Before joining the Northumberland Fusiliers, Fred worked at a glassworks in Barnsley, Yorkshire. He joined the army in February 1915, leaving behind his wife Clara and two young children, Annie and Leonard. He last wrote home to Clara on Good Friday – 6 April 1917 – just before the Battle of Arras began.

Fred was killed on the opening day of the offensive, aged 28. He is buried in Roclincourt Valley Cemetery in northern France.


Jay Batiste Moyer. Image from The Canadian Letters and Images Project

The four Canadian divisions fought together for the first time at Vimy Ridge, a German stronghold. The successful capture of this objective became a defining moment in Canada’s history.

One of the Canadian troops who took part in this attack was Jacob Batiste Moyer, known as Jay. He was born in Toronto in 1897 and enlisted into the army on 26 October 1915. He served overseas with the Western Ontario Regiment.

The Canadian Letters and Images Project holds over seventy letters written to and from Jay during his service.

I am certainly a very lucky boy to have such a lovely mother to send me all the nice things from home.

The final letter in the collection was written to him on 1 May 1917, but tragically he had been killed weeks earlier. Jay died on 9 April 1917 during the attack on Vimy Ridge, and is remembered on the Canadian Memorial on the ridge. The memorial commemorates all the Canadians who took part in the war including the 60,000 people who died in France, and Jay is named as one of the 11,000 men who have no known grave.


William Avery Bishop VC. IWM Collections Q 68089

During the Battle of Arras, men of the Royal Flying Corps fought for control of the skies. The heavy losses that they sustained led to this period becoming known as ‘Bloody April’.

One of the brave pilots was William Avery Bishop, known as Billy. Born in Ontario, Canada he enlisted in March 1915 with Canadian cavalry regiments. After a month in the trenches on the Western Front, Billy transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer. He was accepted for pilot training the following year and in March 1917 joined No 60 Squadron RFC on the Western Front, where his success in shooting down enemy aircraft soon gained recognition.

He earned the Victoria Cross in June 1917 after displaying courage and skill during a solo mission behind enemy lines. Billy lived through the war, and was highly decorated for his achievements. He died in 1956.


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61 Responses to Remembering Arras and Vimy Ridge

  1. Dave Charlesworth says:

    Sapper Wm Henry Barker of The NZ Tunnelling Coy survived The Battle of Arras . . .


  2. Peter Hastings says:

    I had two uncles in the 1st WW and both served in the army and were killed. I have copies of the letters sent to their parents when they died and other information on them. One is buried in Flanders and the others body was never found but is mentioned in one of the cemetries.walls

  3. Jane Wallace says:

    My grandfather was at the Battle of Arras. His name was William Henry Edwards and he was a private in the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. Private Edwards was selected to be part of the Brigade Intelligence Department formed of two men from each of four battalions. Their instructions were “to advance in the rear of the attacking troops, to examine whatever houses and dug-outs that had been cleared, and to bring back whatever information we could”. Happily he survived and as a result of this work was recommended for a commission. He left an account of his war experiences, including much about the Battle of Arras and life in the trenches, handwritten in a couple of school exercise books which are in my possession. He died in 1964.

  4. Christopher Marsden says:

    My grandfather, Major Arthur Thornthwaite Marsden, MC, never talked about his experiences in the Great War like so many other survivors. However, I have always understood that he was the first relieving officer to enter Arras after the attack. I have no means of verifying this but maybe you have?

  5. Ken Brawn says:

    Yes I have my Great Grandfather’s story of when he was killed on the 3rd May 1917 south of Arras. How do I upload it please?

    • Clare says:

      Not answering your question (sorry), but my father’s cousin was also killed on the third of May 2917 near Arras. He was 20. I think it possible that they knew each other.

  6. Ron Price-Jones (surviving son) says:

    Hugh Price Jones served with the Canadian Field Ambulance Corps. On one occasion he and his crew of :”stretcher bearers” (the equivalent of today’s “medics”) were struggling through the mud with one wounded soldier on their stretcher and another “walking wounded” to support. Another Canadian soldier caught up to them while “herding”: 4 German prisoners. Hugh “recruited” the prisoners as stretcher bearers, one on each handle of the stretcher, and they made good time through the mud and to the advanced dressing station. A Captain observed this and lectured Hugh that this was not to be done as it was against the Geneva Convention to put prisoners to work. That is true – but by the time the battle was won there was a total of approximately 800 German prisoners who had been employed in this way!

  7. Bryan Boots says:

    WILLIAMS. EDWIN GORDON (BA) – Second Lieutenant – 10th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers – son of Elizabeth and William Williams of Abertillery, – died 13th May 1917 at Arras – age 23 – Batchelor of Arts, Aberystwyth, – buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France – memorial reference – XVII E 18 – commemorated on the Abertillery Central Memorial, Somerset Street, Abertillery – commemorated on the Ebenezer Baptist Chapel Memorial, Park Place, Abertillery, – pictured South Wales Gazette dated 18th May 1917 & South Wales Daily News dated 17 May 1917.

  8. Thank you. My dad William Cornelius Beer was at Arras with 1st Battalion (Royal Fusilers). 56th Division. He was 17 at the time. . I’ve been to the Arras Service. Now on way to Vimy Ridge. Dad suffered a bayonet wound but lived until 1979.

    Reginald Beer

  9. Jane White says:

    Pte William Frederick Arrowsmith, 19th Btn Canadian Expeditionary Force. My great-uncle, born Fenton, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. Arrived in Canada in January 1912, employed by Toronto Railway Co. Div. 113. Enlisted with CEF on 30 June 1915. Wounded at Vimy Ridge in the first days of the battle. 11 Apr – dangerously ill in No 7 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples with gunshot wound to head. Transferred to England on 1 May to Beaufort War Hospital, Bristol, transferred to Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Wokingham and then to No 1 War Hospital, Reading where he died of his wounds. William was returned to his home town and lies in a war grave at Fenton Cemetery.

  10. My father joined the Royal Fusiliers at the Tower of London. He was 17 when he arrived in France. He was at Arras. He suffered a bayont wound but survived until 1979. His name was William Cornelius Beer.

  11. Alathea Anderssohn says:

    My grandmother’s cousin David Isaac Griffiths died on the second day of the battle of Arras. His record is on Lives ( together with the last letter he wrote to my grandmother, his memorial card, the two pages from the war diaries where his death is recorded, and a number of other documents which I and others have added.

  12. Brian Neale says:

    very poignant

  13. Alan Joudrey says:

    My Great Uncle died at Vimy on April 9, 1917 and is buried at Thelus Military Cemetery, France. I have visited his grave site twice and plan to return. The last time I was the was the 95 Anniversary one my Daughter’s school trip.I am so proud of her to take the interest that she does. I can’t say enough about the bravery that it must have took to be there. I’m so in debt for all that fell on the morning and there after. God Bless!

  14. David Quinn says:

    My wife’s great uncle Willie Donnan emigrated from Ireland in 1906 and ended up in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, via Kootenay. He was a teacher with a degree from Queens University Belfast. His father was a farmer in Co Down. So he had probably gone as far as he could from Ireland. He joined the 196th Universities Battalion in June 1916 at the age of 44, but was transferred to the 46th Saskatchewan Battalion, known as the suicide battalion He was shipped back the 6000 miles he had so recently come, trained in Seaford and was then killed in his first action on 4 May near Vimy. We have visited his grave in Villers Station. He was 45 when he died and possible the oldest man in the little cemetery. What motivated him to join up we can only guess at. A mundane story perhaps but epitomises the waste of lives.

  15. V. Devlin says:

    Looking for information and picture of Private Wm Robt Falkingham,Canadian Expeditionary Force Canadian Infantry, Western Ontario Regiment – service # 7226.
    Born Oct 5, 1893,
    Died July 23, 1917 VIMY.
    Records lost in a house fire.

  16. Susan F. Tollemache says:

    I will remember all those who lost their lives in the battle of Arras & Vimy Ridge.
    I have no personal memories of it. My Grandfather Acting Brigade Major Leone Sextus Tollemache 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade & the Leistershire Regiment died in February 1917 & lies in the Derenacort Community Cemetery at Albert in the region of the Somme. His Brother Captain Leo Quintus Tollemache of the Lincolshire regiment was killed in action & is remembered on the Menin Gate he lost his life in November 1914.I may have other family members who fought & lived through the horrors of this war but I do not know them personally.
    Susan F. Tollemache

  17. Susan F. Tollemache says:

    I will remember all those who fought in the battles of Arras & Vimy Ridge.
    I have no personal memories of eith battle. Both my Granfather Leone Sextus Tollemache Acting Brigade Major 3rd Australian Infantry Bridgade & the Leistershire Regiment died in February 1917 & lies in the Derenacourt Community Cemerety at Albert in the region of the Somme. His Brother Captain Leo Quintus Tollemache of the Linclonshire Regiment was killed in November 1914 & is remenbered on the Menin Gate. I’m sure I have other Family members who fought & maybe survived these horrors but I do not know them personally. I salute all who sacrificed so much tat I could live in Peace.

  18. George S. Spencer says:

    My Father Roy Spencer # 859 of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was wounded in right arm on July 1st 1916 at Beaumont Hamel,was sent back to Scotland, got patched up and returned fighting in the Battle of Arras where on April 19th 1917 was wounded in same arm and on May 6th 1917 his right arm was amputated at the shoulder in a Field Hospital at Camiers France , then sent to Scotland for recuperation .
    Discharged medically unfit on Sept 30th 1918 after 3 years and 276 days in service .

  19. Richard Owen says:

    My uncle (I am 81) Basil (Billy) Walwyn White served in the King’s Regt (Liverpool) Royal Flying Corps, the RAF had not then yet been formed. He was observer/gunner and on a ‘recce’ patrol the day before the battle, Easter Sunday Apr.8th.1917 he was shot down and killed by the ‘Bloody Red Baron’s Flying Circus’. Four other RFC planes were also brought down. I have his poignant last letter written a few days’ before. His details are listed on the CWGC website.

  20. S Gartland says:

    My grandfather John Gartland was wounded in July 1917.

  21. Mark Cooper says:

    How brave they were, to fight for freedom today, without these dedicated men and women
    we would be under the boot of the Kaiser! It reminds me of the Kohima Prayer :

    ” When you go home, Tell them of us, And say, For your tomorrow, We gave

    Our to-day. Burma 1943/44.
    We must teach our children well, and tell them of this before other battles are fought.

  22. Kate Evelyn Luard QAIMNSR arrived in Warlencourt, a Camp about six miles from the Front behind Gommecourt, on 3 March 1917 where she was responsible as Sister-in-Charge of setting up a casualty clearing station in preparation for receiving the wounded from a British offensive that was to become the Battle of Arras. She organised the lay-out and supplies in difficult and bitterly cold conditions against the background noise of shells and guns close by.
    She writes on Easter Tuesday, April 10th: “The 3rd Army went over the top yesterday and a wire came through by mid-day that we’d taken Vimy and 4000 prisoners and 30 guns … but there are horrors all day and all night as the three CCSs filled up in turn without any break in the Convoys; we take in and evacuate at the same time. The wards are like battlefields, with battered wrecks in every bed and on stretchers between the beds and down the middles ……. “

  23. My Australian relative private Joseph Sanderson 2/1 Australian infantry died 100 years ago today on 9th April 1917 when a shell killed his Lewis gun team.
    My grandfather Major Alex Sanderson DSO MC bar OC 3rd Australian Tunnelling Coy
    took part in the Battle of Arras as support when Canadian forces seized Hill 70 at Lens. His unit carried out the bomb deposal clearance of the booby trapped bunkers.

  24. Janet Rees says:

    My Great Uncle – Arthur Beer – served with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was wounded at Vimy Ridge on April 11th 1917. He was taken to a field hospital near Rouen where he died, aged 24years on April 15th 1917. I have visited his grave at St Sever Cemetery on the outskirts of Rouen.

    Like so many others of the time, Archibald Cecil Margrett, (born 1896) also known as “Jimmy”, gave himself without restraint to the conflict in France during the First World War and, as a consequence, carried the scars for the rest of his life. But despite needing six years to recover after the war from physical and emotional injuries, he went on to hold down a responsible job, retiring at 60 and living another 24 years beyond that. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

    On Thursday, 8 April 1915, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant at the Royal Military College, Camberley, Sandhurst, Surrey and posted to the 3rd Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.

    His ‘Officers Pocket Book’ says he was sent to a Plymouth army camp, and received Revolver training at Tregantle, Cornwall. At Hayling Island, Hampshire he was trained with the machine gun and in range finding. At Clapham Common, London he was trained in “bombing” (now called hand grenades). During 1916 he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps squadron number 47 at Reading for about 5 months.

    In December 1916 he was posted to France with the 8th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment who were in the Festubert area. After serving only a few weeks in France he was promoted in January 1917 to Lieutenant and therefore, aged 20, leading what would normally be 60 men in 4 platoons. They manned the front line in Loos, retiring during March to Rebruviette behind Arras for training. It was on Sunday 25 March 1917 he received flesh wounds, what his commander described as “both legs and one arm … but are not serious” during bombing training. He was not sent back to England and presumably returned to his unit as he recovered.

    On Wednesday 4 April 1917, the Battalion marched from Rebruviette over 5 days making stops at Avesnes, Lattre St Quentin, Wanquentin, and Warlus and arrived Monday 9 April at Port d’Amiens, Arras. His battalion was twice engaged in support fighting as the front line was pushed beyond the German Brown line.

    Perhaps as a result of his experience in the Battle of Arras, on the 10th June 1917 he was given a “10-day leave ticket” to return to England via Boulogne to Folkestone. We have a copy of the leave ticket which records the reason as “shell shock”. Then, before the end of June, he would have been back with his Battalion in France. About this time his unit moved up to Wyschaete, called by the men ‘Whitesheet’, near Ypres.

    On Sunday 11 November 1917 he was found to be suffering from debility and trench fever and given a further 20 days leave in England, which meant that he should have been back on the front line by Christmas, although his file seems to say 7th January 1918 was when he was transferred to the 11th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. According to the war histories, because of the great casualty rate, some units had become depleted, and so the men in regiments were being consolidated.

    The regimental diaries say that the 11th Battalion was fighting another action at Ervillers in March 1918, then in April improving the defences at Hazebrouck with further front-line action there. And so weeks and months of front-line, support-line, and reserve trench rotations passed by, whilst the Germans in early 1918 seeming to be pushing our lines back.

    Having seen the Registers in London, the next major event is beyond doubt. On Monday 24 June 1918 he was brought before a Courts Marshall “in field” (on the battlefield) to face charges of desertion, disobedience and miscellaneous offences. The line recording the trial in the Register is over-written in red ink ”acquitted, insane at the time of commission of offence“ giving plain evidence that he was again suffering shell-shock. The only anecdotal explanation of this event was that he issued a week or more of the rum ration to the men before they went ‘over the top’. Even if that were true, it might be that there was some sort of altercation (perhaps a black eye for the Major) to bring such charges against an officer. But after trial that morning he stood acquitted, and he was presumably sent back to his post. How would he have handled the return to lead his four platoons, whose care sat on his 21 year-old shoulders? How would they have responded to his leadership after he had faced such charges? But in his file there is no further record of sick leave, postings or charges, until August.

    On Wednesday 21 August 1918, his file says that, after admission to a front line clearing hospital, he was embarked at Bolougne per the Ambulance Transport “St Denis” to disembark at Dover, arriving at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Southampton, Hampshire that same day. He was sent to the Maudsley Neurological Hospital, Denmark Hill, London after a few days. By the end of the year he was attached to the 3rd Battalion East Lancashire Regiment in the UK and on half-pay on account of his ill-health. Hearsay reports Jimmy as attributing his recovery over the next six years from shell-shock to one of the nurses there that they all called “Scottie” at Netley Hospital.

    He was retired by the Army on a pension for life from ill-health in January 1924. He had been living with his parents for most of the six years whilst on half-pay and not in hospital. In about 1926 he obtained employment in Sheffield with Barclays Bank, later transferring back to Sussex. It was in the social group of Barclays Bank staff that he met Mary Jarrett who was running a staffing agency business in Brighton of her own. She became a regular passenger on his Matchless motor bike. When he proposed to her on the Devils Dyke nearby, he told her that he would not be able to live without her. Familiar words spoken by love-struck men, but he had his army revolver to prove the point according to Mary. But Mary was not a person to be intimidated by the threat of suicide by the man she was in love with. She said that she had to attend the doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley to be told what problems might face her, but she went ahead with their engagement and marriage.

    Today, some argue that we are failing in the support of our soldiers who return emotionally damaged from war, just at a time when we might have better understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the science of nervous diseases. Whilst there seems to have been some understanding of these things in the 1920‘s, plainly recovery for First World War soldiers was a matter of years of self-help. And on some occasions an injured personality can relapse. During the Second World War, Jimmy served in the Home Guard as well as working by day at Barclays Bank. When the family were evacuated, they got to hear of him digging a trench in the garden at home and standing guard overnight.

    In 1956 he retired from the Bank and lived another 24 retired years as a good, loving father, who never spoke of the war or even yesterday. Here also is a man who did not give his life in the war but gave the rest of his life because of the war.

  26. Chris Gibb says:

    Reginald Beardsworth – looking for relatives

  27. Nicholas Whitsun-Jones says:

    My maternal Grandfather Walter Watson Harrison (born 1894), a 2nd Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment, was severely wounded in the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe on the 23/24th April 1917, part of the Battle of Arras. This occurred on Monday 23 April 1917 (ironically St George’s Day) when “a shell drop[ped] in amongst half a dozen of us …. ”. It is possible that he was a casualty of so called ‘friendly fire’ from the creeping British artillery barrage that was meant to be dropping ahead of the advancing infantry but in fact was moving too slowly so that the barrage caught the following infantry. The Battalion diary entry says “A hundred yards distant from their own trenches the East Yorkshiremen ran into the British barrage, which was moving too slowly, and at once serious casualties were suffered. In the two flank Companies it was not long before every officer had been either killed or wounded, whilst many NCO’s and other ranks had been hit.”
    Walter was taken to 43 CCS (‘Casualty Clearing Station’). On 26 April 1917 he sent a note to his mother Annie, dictated to a nurse, Sister Sharwood: “I was wounded last Monday but nothing serious”. In fact he had had his right arm broken by a shell burst and his right leg was so badly smashed that it had to be amputated very high up – “for which I was very thankful as it was hurting like the deuce … am getting on famously and not much pain so we have just got to make the best of things and not worry”.
    Despite the brave face put on by Walter, the ‘wear and tear’ to his body caused by such a severe amputation was eventually to lead to his early death aged 63 in 1957 when his femoral artery gave way. He had married after the Great War, raising two children and having a successful career with Shell Mex, including working on the PLUTO secret pipeline in the Second World War, which pumped fuel under the Channel to the D-Day invasion beaches.

  28. John Dymott says:

    Herbert John SAMPSON, 34357, 6th Bn., Somerset Light Infantry died 9 April 1917, his memorial is at Tigris Lane Cemetery, Wancourt

    A memorial service for Herbert who came from Hucklesbrook Farm near Fordingbridge was held at Fordingbridge War Memorial on Friday, 7 April 2017 conducted by the Rev. Graham Long, Fordingbridge United Reformed Church.

    Herbert is remembered at All Saints, Harbridge, St. Martins Ibsley (now closed) at Holy Ascension, Hyde, near Fordingbridge and Fordingbridge United Reformed Church.

  29. My father and Robert Lintick, brothers , Les Lintick, John Lintick, Jim Lintick, all fought in the First World War . They were all wounded but all came home thanks to God to live out their life lives back home in their home town of Dauphin Manitoba and Winnipeg Manitoba. This and every day they are remembered along with all their comerades. Thanks to then through Gods blessing we can have the life we have to- day.

  30. CarolAnn McGregor says:

    My Grandad, Private George Henry Burton of the 4th Btn Middlesex Regt died at Arras 100 years ago this 10th April 2017, on the second day of fighting.

    We don’t know how he died, or what became of his body.
    He has no grave to visit, no memorabilia, just an Arras memorial number…. Bay 7, 124938432.

    I never had a living grandad & my dad was deprived of a father, as aged just 4yrs. & the youngest of 4 children, he was subsequently brought up in Dr. Barnados home, not knowing what happened to his father, other than he died at a young age.

    It has taken until just recently for me to discover what happened to my grandad…
    There are no photos, so I can only guess what he looked like!

    R.I.P Grandad,… Great Grandad,… Great Great Grandad. … We all love you. (( 💖 )) xxx

    • Ronald Chapman. says:

      My Grandad was with the 2nd battalion Lancashire Fusiilers at Arras, he was severley wounded and was taken back to a dressing station wher he died of wounds, he was forty years of age, and left a widow and five children.

  31. Dorothy Needham says:

    My father, Harold Fry was wounded after serving at Vimy Ridge. His leg was badly wounded – he put both fists in his leg to try to stop the bleeding. He was finally picked up and taken to a makeshift “hospital” where they sawed off his leg, without anaesthetic. My mother said he pulled his hair out by the roots, it was so painful. He came back to Canada after the war and died at the age of 41.

  32. Ron Price-Jones (surviving son) says:

    This was at Vimy Ridge. The thousands of wounded soldiers who were carried from the maws of Hell to a place of safety and treatment resulting in their recovery aught to remember who it was that did the carrying!

  33. Derek J. Cole says:

    My father-in-law, Corporal Alexander Norman of Second Essex, took part in the capture of Fampoux in front of Arras that day.. A few days later wrote Major Burrows, author of the Battalion history, they watched across the Scarpe what Lloyd George called the ‘Death gallop at Monchy’. This led him to delay the call-up and as a result the school I later went to had to open a the house I attended as boys expected to leave in July stayed until December.

    Corporal Norman was one of the 32 survivors who manned the sunken Road at Fampoux on Good Friday 1918. Lloyd George records that he prayed particularly hard that day and heard in the evening that Ludendorf had abandoned this final attempt to widen the Amiens offensive. We have a picture of our daughter aged about six in the sunken road where her Grandfather turned the course of history. Her son Alexander nearly five knows well the portrait of his Great Grandfather hanging over Granny’s head on our wall.

    Incidentally, Liddell Hart was wrong to say that Passchendal cause the delayed call-up. That started on 31st July 1917, but our school Governors knew in June that the call-up was delayed

  34. richard morton says:

    my granddad was wounded at the 2nd battle of bullancourt (arras)on 3rd may 1917.he was george shoesmith morton from halifax yorkshire

  35. MICHAEL GOODY says:

    All these men were so brave and gave their lives for the rest of the world.

  36. Anthony Higgins says:

    My grandad was wounded at Arras on 9th April. He was serving with the Tyneside Irish Brigade (Northumberland Fus)

  37. Ronald O. Hepburn says:

    My father James Oliver Hepburn was severely wounded near Arras on 9th April. He served with the 5th
    Scottish Rifles (Cameronians) and had arrived in France in November 1914 aged 18. He had been
    wounded at High Wood in July 1916 but Arras was the end of his front line service.
    He served in the Home Guard in WW2, reaching the rank of Captain.

  38. Christine Ritchie says:

    My Great Uncle Duncan King. Lance Corporal machine gunner with the 6/7th Royal Scots Fusiliers.Regimental number:12932
    Killed in action on 11 April – Arras-Pas-de-Calais. Buried in Orange Trench Cemetery aged 26yrs.

  39. Mike Perry says:

    PERRY, T H
    Herbert Thomas (Tom) Perry No. 25416 enlisted in Wellington in May 1916 and was a private in the 1st Bn. of the Somerset Light Infantry. He was sent to the Front in August 1916 and was killed in action near Arras on 9th April 1917, aged 19. It was the first day of the Battle of Arras. The family story is that he died on Easter Monday during the ‘great advance’, which was known as the First Battle of the Scarpe and that he had stopped to help a wounded colleague when he was shot.
    He was born in 1897 in Wellington and was the son of Ann and John Perry, a wool dyehouse labourer, who lived at 3, Garden Terrace, Tonedale. His mother had died in 1911 and his father in 1914 and before joining up he had lived with his brother William and worked at Wellington Gas Company. He was ‘walking out’ with a girl called ‘Gert’ Holley (whose brother, Herbert, also died in the war).
    He is buried in the Fampoux British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, which is near Arras and received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is also commemorated on a plaque in South Street Baptist Church under the name PERRY, TH. Wellington Somerset War Memorial also lists him as Perry TH.

    April 9th 1917 was Easter Monday. The previous day the weather had been hot and knowing the attack was coming the officers decided to get the men to hand in their greatcoats so they were less encumbered the following morning. That night the weather changed and it snowed, Not only that but breakfast didn’t arrive in time for the troops so the troops must have been cold, wet and miserable when they set off.

  40. Susan Richardson on behalf of Mr Neil Thomas says:

    A Vimy Ridge soldier. Sgt. Cornelius Francis Nisbet, serving with the XXXIst Alberta Battalion, of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On April 9th, 1917, this brave man among thousands of others, went forward into the sleet, rain and snow.
    Having served previously with the Royal Scots, during the Boer war, in South Africa, was enlisted as a Sergeant upon his prior military experience. Enlisting early upon recruiting for this battalion.
    On April 9th, the 31st battalion, as part of the the 2nd Canadian Division, 6th brigade, departed trenches at 7:20am. Pausing only long enough to allow creeping barrages to advance, and lead brigades to consolidate positions.
    We all know the rest of the story.
    Cornelius survived the war and returned for the commemoration of the Vimy memorial in 1936.
    Custodian of Sergaent Nisbet’s medals is Mr. Neil Thomas

  41. Christine Atkinson says:

    My great great uncle, Wilfred Carter of the Gordon Highlanders, born 1896, died 23rd April 1917, at the age of 20.
    His name is on the War Memorial in Eston, Yorkshire. He was born in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.
    He came home on leave, and told his mother he would not return home a second time from the Front.
    I would like to know why he was in a Scottish regiment, because he had no connections with Scotland. Can anyone say, please?

  42. Penny Evans-Jones says:

    In the news I have heard much regarding the Scottish regiments at Arras. My uncle – Stanley William Allison, Lance Serjeant, aged 19 had survived previous battles where his regiment – The Norfolks were almost wiped out and I believe initially combined with the Suffolks Thereafter, they were combined with the Northumberd Fusiliers, which must have been the case with others from English regiments, previously decimated. He was killed in battle on the first day of The battle of Arras, 9th April 1917 and is buried in close contact with other graves in Bailleul Road East Cemetery, St Laurent -Blangy. I understand that the men were buried close to where they fell in the battle of Arras, hence there are many small graveyards in the surrounding countryside, and many of the headstones are touching, something not seen often in the cemeteries of better known battles.

  43. Neil Leeson says:

    My great uncle, John Trotter Clelland of the 8th East Yorkshire Regiment, regimental number 26050, was killed at the Battle of Arras on April 9th, 1917. He joined the East Yorkshires in 1915 aged 38, when living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He was married in Huddersfield, to Alice Evelyn nee Leeson in 1904 and they had a daughter, Kathleen born in 1909. John was the son of Thomas and Bridget and was born in Hexham, Northumberland. He worked for a firm of linen makers in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and for his father in a drapers shop in Harrogate. A few articles of remembrance to John appeared in the Harrogate Gazette shortly after the battle especially mentioning his fine singing voice in a local church choir.

  44. Catherine Buie MacMillan says:

    My great uncle John Buie was killed at Arras on the 9th April 1917,he wa in the argyls and came from the Isle of Isaly.He was 22 yrs old.and is buried in Roclincourt cemetery.

  45. Christopher Coote says:

    Rest in peace guys…you did great!

  46. Kay Prosser says:

    JAMES ERNEST RITCHIE – 7 Aug 1894-3 Jun 1917.
    Born Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, son of Frederick William Ritchie and Adella Fry. He was attested on 25 September 1915 in Halifax, NS, age 21 years and 1 month. He was an electrical machinist and lived at 17 Gerrish Street, Halifax, NS.
    Private 488655 Ritchie, 10th Canadian Machine Gun Company died 3 June 1917.
    “Circumstance of Casualty:
    “Killed in Action”: His Section took part in an attack North West of Vimy on the morning of June 3rd 1917, and after the attack the Section took up positions in the German Gun-Pits. Some hours later, the enemy counter-attacked and Pte. Ritchie was shot through the heart whilst firing from the top of these Gun-Pits.” HQ File No. 649-R-7222.
    He was my 1st cousin 2 x removed.

  47. Rosemary Webster says:

    My grandfather Private Frank Arnold 1st battallion,42530 Royal Fusiliers.
    Frank was killed by shrapnel, on 14/419. 100 years ago this week.He was part of the small British unit carrying ammunition to the Canadians at the front Line. On his body,close to his heart was found a picture. Through the middle there is a rugged hole. The picture was of his 2 beloved daughters, Jessie, my mother who was almost 17, and her younger sister.With the photo was a letter written 2 months earlier for Jessie’s 17th birthday, in the February. Frank was posted ” missing believed killed”Jessie never received the present mentioned in the letter. He promised to” get her a better present next year” Another card found on his person read as follows.’ I’m alright – look after mum until I come home. Love and kisses’ Dad. I am profoundly grateful to have these precious letters and pictures in my possession.

  48. Dawlish WW1 project will remember:
    Gunner George Carter West, Australian Field Artillery who was killed on 15th April;
    Corporal Hubert John Bright, Machine Gun Corps who was killed on 17th April;
    Private Charles Maurice Sewell Peters,Honourable Artillery Company, who was wounded on 16th April and died of wounds on 22nd April;
    Private George Knapman, Royal Dublin Fusiliers who was killed on 24th April;
    Private Henry May, Royal Garrison Artillery, died on 22nd May.
    Biographical information on each of these men can be found on

  49. R. L. Newman says:

    My grandfather GS52147 L/Cpl Edward James Newman 10th Btn Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regt), formerly 24209 Middlesex Regt. was killed in action during the Battle of Arras near Monchy-le-Preux on 10 April 1917 aged 36yrs. He is one of the Fallen had has no known grave.
    Born: Hoxton
    Enlisted: Finsbury
    Residence: St. Pancras
    He was survived by his wife Clara Amy and son Edward James Newman

    My mothers cousin, 42562 Pte. James Loze 12th Btn. Highland Light Infantry (15th Scottish Division) survived the Battle of Arras only to be killed in the trenches at Fampoux on 23 December 1917. He was one of three brothers that served with only one surviving the Great War.

    Lest We Forget

  50. Elaine LeBoutillier Sprinkle says:

    A distant relative, Leo Le Boutillier, of Gaspé lost his life at Vimy. Read his story in a book created from his detailed letters home.
    Title: Leo’s War, From Gaspé to Vimy
    Author: Gordon Pimm

  51. John Broadhead says:

    My father, George William Broadhead was a volunteer soldier with the 18th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, known as the Second Bradford Pals. On 3 May 1917, the closing day of the battle of Arras, the Pals (part of 31 Division) made a night attack on Gavrelle, a village six miles north east of Arras. It was a moonlit night, the artillery barrage was ineffective and the Germans had withdrawn their troops from the front line so that they could shell the attackers. In the confusion which followed my father’s battalion suffered more than 300 casualties, as many as they lost on 1 July 1916 at Serre. Most of the dead were posted as ‘missing’ and their names are recorded on the memorial at Fauberg-d’Amiens Military Cemetery in the centre of Arras. My father rarely talked about the war but on one occasion he told me about the loss of ‘his three best friends’ at Arras. Immediately after the battle the Pals were reinforced and took up defensive positions in the Gavrelle sector. On 23 June 1917 a long range shell hit the orderly room tent which was located in a railway cutting just to the north of the village of St Laurent-Blangy. My father was working in the tent as an Orderly Room clerk and moments before the shell hit he had ‘been sent on errand by the Colonel’.Three Orderly Room clerks were killed – according to the Padre ‘literally blown to pieces’. All three men came from Bradford. Cyril Burgoyne, Walter Kellett and Sam Tweedale had been clerks in civilian life. Sam Tweedale, aged 35, was married with 4 daughters. The three men are buried side by side at Bailleul Road East Military Cemetery, a stone’s throw from the railway cutting where the shell landed. The cemetery also contains the grave of the Great War poet, Isaac Rosenerg whose poem ‘Dead Man’s Dump’ was written at the time of the battle. After the war my father worked in France for the Imperial War Graves Commission. Among his papers are photographs from 1932 of a party of Commission workers, including my father, posing in front of the newly unveiled memorial at the Fauberg-d’Amiens Millitary Cemetery – no doubt my father was thinking about the friends he had lost..

  52. Sue Brookes says:

    Vimy Ridge was the first proper engagement that my grandfather was in. He was shipped to France in January 1917, and reached the front , after more training, early in April. His dairy entry for 9th April says ‘Vimy Ridge. First casualties’. He was in the Royal Garrison Artillery, 276 Siege Battery, and survived the war, and being in the Army of Occupation on the Rhine until August 1919. I am very lucky to have over 100 letters that he sent to my Grandma.

  53. Noel Brennan says:

    My grandfather’s brother 2nd battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers won the Military Medal but was fatally wounded at the Some. Is there a record of the 2nd battalions experience prior to the battle of the Somme

  54. Vic Styles says:

    There is a book written by Gordon Pimm about his uncle´s diaries leading up to Vimy. If you link onto this site it will give you further details.

  55. My Grandad private Edward Graham aged 40 was a member of the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who took part in the Arras offensive , he had served with the Fusiliers from the outset of war 1914, he was fatally wounded at arras and died on the 11 th April 1917, he left a wife and five children at home in Salford Lancashire.

  56. Edward Graham. says:

    My Grandad private Edward Graham aged 40 was a member of the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who took part in the Arras offensive , he had served with the Fusiliers from the outset of war 1914, he was fatally wounded at arras and died on the 11 th April 1917, he left a wife and five children at home in Salford Lancashire.

  57. Esther Clark says:

    Five Sloan fought and four died in the War. Of the four three had been back and forth to
    Canada. Another brother fought and survived the War and, at one time he and the other three Canadians who died all lived in Passburg Alberta,
    The first to die was Robert aged 19 at the first use of chlorine at the 2nd B. Ypres with the Calgary Highlanders,10th Bat Alberta Reg.,the second to die was William aged 23. He was in
    2nd Tunnelig Co.Canadian Engineers. Thomas came home to Rankinston Ayrshire with his
    Scots-Canadian wife and son to see his family and then they returned to Canada and he joined the Scots Guards. He was killed in the Somme aged 28.The telegrams about William and Robert arrived on the same day and their mother never recovered.
    The fourth and last to die was Donald who had not been to Canada. He like the others left school at twelve and worked in ironstone and coal mines. He was an ex-professional footballer and joined the Black Watch. He died at Arras on ! January 1917. Details of his time at the Front are on Liverpool and Everton FC websites.

  58. Andrew Oliver Forman says:

    Yes my grandfather died in September 1916 aged 24 his name was Andrew Saunders,it is inscribed on the memorial.I have his signed call up papers and the book and letters from the high commission.
    I have visited the memorial many times,on the 80th anniversary was very poignant.
    I was named after him

  59. Andrew Oliver Forman says:

    My grandfather Andrew Hunter died on September 1916 and his name is on the memorial.

    I have made many visits, before and after the memorial was renovated, I still have the condolence card sent to my grandmother.

    Andrew Forman

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