The offensive at Arras notched up some impressive early gains, with the Canadians storming Vimy Ridge and British forces making the furthest one day advance of the trench war so far. Since then though the battle has bogged down. The Allied forces have exhausted themselves in the fighting and are suffering from the unseasonal blizzards that have covered the battlefield in snow and sleety mud. The Germans meanwhile have reinforced and reorganised their defences, with Ludendorff sending a trusted associate, Colonel Fritz von Lossberg, to take effective command of the battle.
Today the Germans are even so bold as to strike back against the Allies, with the Australians being hit hard by an assault at Lagincourt. However they stage their own counter-attack and restore the front line, albeit with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
Although the Arras battle has failed to break through the German lines, this was never something it was intended to do. Instead the British and their overseas allies were attacking here to draw German reinforcements away from the Chemin des Dames sector, where Nivelle‘s French offensive is due to begin tomorrow. This is to be the Allies main stroke on the Western Front this year, with Nivelle confident that he will be able to smash the Germans and drive them from French soil.
Looking down from Vimy Ridge (Arras Battlefield Tours)