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Battle of Arras 1

The Film


Running Time
08 min 04 s

Canadian War Records Office, Ministry of Information

Beginning in September 1916, the German army constructed a strongly fortified defensive position, dubbed the Hindenburg Line, through a 160-kilometre stretch of French territory to the east of the existing battlefront. Their object was to shorten their line and to take up new and better positions. In February 1917, the Germans secretly withdrew, sometimes as much as 30 kilometres eastward, to their new line. Everything valuable was ruthlessly destroyed by the Germans in their withdrawal, roads were mined or cratered, trees felled, and most villagers evacuated.

The British moved forward toward the Hindenburg positions, re-building bridges, re-routing roads, and blowing up obstacles left in the River Somme by the Germans. Still, France was elated at the recovery of some of its territory, and French President Raymond Poincaré visited the town of Roye to see what the enemy had done.

The Germans, however, did not retreat from their strong positions on Vimy Ridge, important because they protected the industrial and mining city of Lens. The great Canadian attack on Easter Monday, mentioned but not shown here, drove the enemy from Vimy and forced the Germans to pull back to positions in front of Lens


Canadian Engineers Repair a Bridge Destroyed by the Germans Barbed Wire Along the Hindenberg Line, 1914-1918 Ruined French Village, 1914-1918

Other Materials

The Withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line

Teaching Materials

World War I Warfare, Part A

World War I Warfare, Part B

World War I Warfare, Part C