battle of arras
Enemy resistance on the opening day had been patchy almost everywhere
but in some locations it was more determined and more organised and
had proved difficult to overcome, leading to inevitable delays. However,
all three Scottish Divisions involved on 9
April performed extremely
well but the British were unable to exploit the opening day’s gains. On
April the remainder of the Brown Line, south of the River Scarpe,
was finally captured but that was about all. That said the weather was
appalling, as were conditions on the battlefield – they were so bad that one
Canadian unit reported that it had taken 100 men on ropes and 18 horses
to move one field gun across the mass of shell holes and broken trenches.
Yet, in spite of the weather, troops were ordered to leave their greatcoats
behind and a handful of men even froze to death overnight on 9
April. Many horses also died from exposure to the cold.
Experience on the Somme the previous year had shown that the
Germans were extremely adept at improvising defensive positions
and could do so far quicker than the British could advance without
the protection of an effective artillery barrage. While the British were
busy bringing up guns, shells and other materials, the Germans were
also making good use of their time, replacing lost guns, bringing up
reinforcements and re-organising their field defences.