battle of arras
Had they been allowed to proceed, the men of the 9
believed they could have taken key positions, such as Greenland Hill,
the nearby railway embankment, the village of Roeux and a former dye
factory known as the ‘Chemical Works’. However, by the time the 4
Division was in a position to continue the advance the German resistance
at these locations had begun to stiffen. As soon as the 4
to go forward its men came under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from
small detachments of German infantry. The attack faltered and no more
progress was made that day.
South of the river the 15
(Scottish) Division captured the village of
Blangy but came up against strong opposition at Railway Triangle until
a tank, the ‘Lusitania’, managed to climb the embankment and deal with
a number of machine-gun nests and other pockets of resistance. The
Division’s commanding officer, Major-General Frederick William Nicholas
McCracken, also ordered his artillery barrage back onto the embankment,
which greatly assisted the infantry to overcome any remaining opposition.
Having dealt with that obstacle, the 7/8
King’s Own Scottish Borderers
and the 10
Scottish Rifles were able to enter the northern end of
a shallow depression known as Battery Valley, where they helped men
of the 12
(Eastern) Division to capture a number of German field guns.
Although the Scots then went on to take the third objective, the Brown
Line, they were unable to go any further. Next to them the wire protecting
this defensive line was still mainly intact, which prevented units of the
Division from continuing their advance.
Further north, near Roclincourt, the 51
(Highland) Division’s plan of
attack was a complicated one. Much of the advance went without a hitch
but the 5
Seaforth Highlanders ran into determined opposition.
Problems also occurred beyond the second objective, known as the
Blue Line, which took nine hours to clear - far longer than anticipated.
The third objective, the Brown Line, was reached by 6.30 p.m. but with
little daylight remaining the advance came to a halt, with some units
even occupying the wrong positions. In addition, the right flank of the
Highlanders was partly exposed by the 34
Division’s failure to reach the
Brown Line, though their left flank was in touch with the Canadians.