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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Arthur Last Name: WILMOTT
Date of Death: 14/04/1917 Lived/Born In: Harringay
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London9
Memorial Site: Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:

Enlisted-Hornsey

 

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)

169 Brigade was in reserve when, on the morning of 9th April, 1917, the opening day of the battle, the other two brigades of  56th (London) Division attacked and captured the strongly fortified village of Neuville-Vitasse, just to the south of Arras. Two days later, on 10th April, they relieved 167 Brigade in the front line. At 5.30am on 14th April, the 16th London and 9th London battalions attacked towards the Sensée River and the village of Chérisy with 16th London heading for the village itself and 9th London allotted the task of capturing the enemy positions running south from it to a small wood near Fontaine-les-Croisilles. 9th London had to cover a distance of nearly 3000 yards to get to their final objective but about two thirds of the way across there was a newly dug German trench that they had to contend with. They came nowhere near reaching their objective. Almost immediately they were hit by the German artillery and from unexpected fire from their flanks as they headed across no-man’s-land and only a few of them made it to this new enemy trench. They sought what cover they could and then had to lie there all day until darkness fell and then crawl back to their own lines. Not many of them made it back, Their casualty list for the day numbered over 350 one of whom was Arthur Wilmott.

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