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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Philip Alfred Last Name: SMITH
Date of Death: 09/04/1917 Lived/Born In: Kensal Green
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: King's Royal Rifle Corps9
Memorial Site: Kensal Rise, St Mark 2. Hammersmith, St Peter 3. Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:


19, Letchford Gardens, Kensal Green


The Battle of Arras was a series of offensives by the British Army between 9th April 1917 and 16th May 1917. It had been planned in conjunction with the French who would attack in Artois and between them the Allies would force the Germans out of the large salient they had held since the line of trenches was first established. But the Germans had spoiled this plan by falling back to the new and very strong Hindenburg Line in January 1917 and the salient no longer existed.  For the want of an alternative plan the attack went ahead anyway. It all started well for the British who made substantial gains on the first two days but then the offensive ground to a halt and by the end their losses amounted to over 150,000.

The First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April)

On 9th April, 1917, the opening day of the battle, 14th Division attacked from in front of Beaurains, just to the south of Arras, with fourteen tanks in support. Their objective was Telegraph Hill and the southern part of the Harp, a formidable redoubt 1000 yards long from north to south with a single trench, the String, running down its length. At 7.34am, 43 Brigade on the right and 42 Brigade on the left launched their attack. 5th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry attacked on right of 42 Brigade and reached the String after hard fighting. On their left, 9th King’s Royal Rifle Corps first secured a footing at either end of that section of the String that was their objective and  then worked in, clearing the trench by 8.20am. The opposition that they met had not come from the German artillery which was quite muted on this section of the front, but rather from machine-guns in the Harp  which caused many casualties in the two leading companies. Luckily the wire had been well cut which was just as well as the accompanying tanks all got bogged down and would have been unable to assist. Over 200 prisoners were captured by 9th King’s Royal Rifle Corps which was the same number of casualties that the battalion suffered with nearly 80 being killed or missing. One of these was Philip Smith.

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