Battles of Arras South

The Battles of Arras: South

By Jon Cooksey and Jerry Murland

Pen & Sword, 2019

Cooksey and Murland’s latest guide (their seventh) takes us to the southern end of the Arras battlefields, with eight routes covering a number of areas of interest – Bullecourt, Monchy-Le-Preux, Wancourt and the Valley of the Scarpe.

The historical context is brief, limited to just seven pages, but a further reading section provides a useful pointer to books that will give a more in-depth overview of the Arras campaign.

The routes themselves vary in distance from one mile to 27 miles, and are helpfully broken down by suitability for walking, cycling, and driving. They cover Feuchy Redoubt, Battery Valley and Observatory Ridge, Rouex, Telegraph Hill and The Harp, Monchy-le-Preux, Wancourt, and Bullecourt; the final route is a car tour that covers much of the ground of the other seven.

Each route takes the visitor to points of interest and contains a mix of war diary and personal accounts to illustrate the actions that were fought. As to be expected the routes take in a number of CWGC cemeteries, and Cooksey and Murland have included biographical details of a number of individuals whose graves can be visited. Appendices also list VC winners and soldier poets and writers who are buried or commemorated in the area.

Route maps are limited to one per route, and the addition of further contemporary trench maps showing the areas in question would have been useful. There are however many pictures of points of interest as well as photos of individuals mentioned in the text.

This is a slim volume, easily carried on the battlefields. It does what it says on the tin and will certainly be in my pocket when I venture to the Arras battlefields later this year.

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The Battles of Arras: South: Bullecourt, Monchy-le-Preux, Wancourt and the Valley of the Scarpe