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battle of arras


Had they been allowed to proceed, the men of the 9


Division firmly

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


Division tried

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


and 6


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.