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A British machine gun post near Feuchy

The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May, 1917, British, Canadian, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. The Arras offensive was conceived as part of a plan to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in a war of movement. It was planned in conjunction with the French High Command, who were simultaneously embarking on a massive attack (the Nivelle Offensive) about eighty kilometres to the south. The stated aim of this combined operation was to end the war in forty-eight hours. At Arras, the British Empire's immediate objectives were more modest: (1) to draw German troops away from the ground chosen for the French attack and (2) to take the German-held high ground that dominated the plain of Douai. After considerable bombardment, Canadian troops advancing in the north were able to capture the strategically significant Vimy Ridge. Only in the south, where British and Australian forces were frustrated by the elastic defence, were the attackers held to minimal gains. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, many of them resulted in relatively large numbers of casualties. (more...)