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Battle of Arras 4

The Film











Running Time
09 min 09 s

Canadian War Records Office, Ministry of Information

This clip shows cavalry moving forward in the advance to the Hindenburg Line. Trench warfare was not very suitable for horsed soldiers, and for much of the Great War the cavalry awaited opportunities for action that almost never came.

What is most striking here is the footage of a British observation balloon being filled with gas and ascending. Allied aircraft can be seen passing nearby. We can see the observer in the balloon passing messages to the ground by telephone and the almost certainly staged sequence by which his information was passed to signallers and then to a gun crew. Balloons were legitimate targets for enemy aircraft and the observers’ only defence was to be winched down to the ground as quickly as possible. Too often, they did not make it to safety.


Artillery Spotters Observation Balloon, Vimy Front, 1917 Canadian Official Kinematographer Ready for an Ascent on a Kite Balloon, May, 1917

Other Materials

Wartime Letter from Captain Bellenden S. Hutcheson

Teaching Materials

World War I Warfare, Part A

World War I Warfare, Part B

World War I Warfare, Part C