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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: James William Last Name: MATTHEWS
Date of Death: 12/04/1917 Lived/Born In: Enfield
Rank: Private Unit: Bedfordshire6
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:


8, Napier Road, Ponders End


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.

On 9th April, 1917, IV Corps attacked with 3rd, 12th and 15th Divisions between Tilloy les Mofflaines and the Scarpe with their main objective being the Wancourt-Feuchy line. They all reached the first objective, the Black line without too much trouble but the capture of the Blue line was more problematic. At noon, 112 and 111 Brigades of 37th Division, were ordered up to the Black Line and during the afternoon, 112 Brigade were ordered forward in rear of 12th Division. The 6th Bedfordshire battalion advanced but when they were confronted by uncut wire and heavy fire, they halted on the road through Feuchy Chapel and dug in. On the following day, 10th April, in conjunction with an attack by 11 Brigade on Monchy-le-Preux, the battalion resumed their advance and captured La Folie Farm and La Bergere and then dug in on a line from La Bergere cross roads to Guemappe. According to records, including those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a number of the battalion’s casualties, including James Matthews, were killed on 12th April by which date 6th Bedfordshire had been relieved and were withdrawn by bus to Wanquetin. However it is much more likely that they were killed on 10th April but that in the confusion of war, their deaths were not recorded until 2 days later.

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