A Battle Too Far - Arras 1917, by Don Farr

A Battle Too Far - Arras 1917, by Don Farr

Published by Helion in 2018, 352 pages. Hardback with Dust jacket (N7633X1)

Brand New Book

From the inside front fly leaf: The Battle of Arras has not received the attention it merits. It was fought in support of the French effort to win the war with one gigantic offensive. Preperations for it were sidetracked by the unsuccessful attempt by Prime Minister David Lloyd George to subordinate Field Marshal Haig and the BEF to the French Commander in Chief. They were further slowed down by inter-allied disagreements on logistical and tactical issues and appalling weather. They were then thrown into confusion by the unexpected voluntary German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.

When the British attacked on 9 April, the Canadian Corps of First Army captured Vimy Ridge and Third Army made the furthest BEF one-day advance of the war to that date. But then the attack lost momentum. The Fifth Army, assisting the main thrust of Third Army, found itself embroiled in a bitter and prolonged struggle to capture Bullecourt. Periodically First and Third Armies renewed their assaults with negligible gains.

Although the French assault, launched on 16 April, achieved some success it did not fulfil the extravagant promises made for it by the French Commander in Chief, General Robert Nivelle. This, and other grievances, led to serious outbreaks of indiscipline in the French Army. Nivelle had promised Haig that, if his offensive had not succeeded in 48 hours, he would call it off and throw his support behind Haig's planned Flanders offensive. Nivelle did not fulfil his promise. Aware of the French disciplinary crisis, Haig felt the need to support them by prolonging his Arras campaign. The resultant assaults led to record casualties for little gain. The Arras campaign drifted to a close in late May 1917, the outcome a catalogue of unfulfilled promise and failure...