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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Richard John Last Name: HARRISON
Date of Death: 03/05/1917 Lived/Born In: West Kensington
Rank: Private Unit: East Surrey8
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Notting Hill

 

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.

Third Battle of the Scarpe (3–4 May 1917)

The Third Battle of the Scarpe was launched in conjunction with an attack by British and Australian troops at Bullecourt to the south of Arras. Its objective was to force a German retreat further to the east and to try and reach the Wotanstellung, a strong German defensive line. This did not happen. It started badly as a result of the decision to fix zero hour at 3.45am, half an hour before sunrise which made it very difficult to see what was going on. To add to this, the nearly full moon, which set at 3.35am, silhouetted the assembling troops drawing enemy fire which caused heavy loss and confusion.  During two days of fierce fighting the British and Canadians were unable to make any significant advances and the offensive was abandoned. Once again the casualty rate had been shockingly high.

On 3rd May, 54 and 55 Brigades of 18th Division attacked the village of Chérisy to the south-east of Arras. The attack was launched at 3.45 am and at 5.45 am, after the first objective, including Chérisy had been gained, the 8th East Surrey and 7th East Kent (Buffs) battalions of 55 Brigade, resumed the attack and gained the final objective. This was not achieved without difficulty however. The enemy resistance in the form of machine-gun and artillery fire increased the further the advance went and by the time they arrived at their destination they had lost contact with the battalions on their flanks, and found themselves isolated and outflanked. The Germans then counter attacked before supporting units could reach them and despite all efforts to hold their ground they were driven back to their starting line. Their  action had failed to gain any ground and 8th East Surrey suffered 400 casualties.  One of these was Richard Harrison who was killed in action.

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