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Remembered Today:

ARRAS: WWI damage


angelab
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I just took some French friends to visit sites in the north of their own country, including the city of Arras.

They were totally unprepared for the beauty of the two main squares, and when I explained that they had been flattened during WWI they were reluctant to believe me.

I have been trying to find some good images of the wartime destruction to forward to them, but have not had much luck so far - though I know I have seen amazing ones in the past that show, particularly, the two main squares.

Would anyone be able to point me at some, please?

Angela

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I've got quite a lot of postcard images of this, Angela. I'll scan a few and place them here. Will be tomorrow. Hope that is OK.

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That would be brilliant, Chris, if it's not too much bother!

I even bought them a book of old postcard views before I left Arras, with the intention of posting it to them, but *very* few of them show wartime damage. So I thought I would send a few print-outs of more war damage if poss, along with the book.

Angela

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Hello angela.I dont think arras was ever flattened in the war but it was badly damaged and some people still lived in the town through the war.tom

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Oh dear, maybe I exaggerated a bit there Tom...

But the main squares were both entirely rebuilt post-WWI in the old style; the images I have seen at odd times do certainly show very extensive damage to those areas (including b elfry and Hotel de Ville), as well as to the cathedral and to the former Abbaye St Vaast (now the Beaux-Arts museum). Also the part round the station was much knocked about.

Other areas, such as the citadel, and round Place Victor-Hugo, escaped damage by the look of it.

Angela

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I have just picked up on this thread and can recommend a book I purchased the last time I was in Arras from the tourist office. It is called " Somewhere on the Western Front....Arras 1914-1918 " It is a comprehensive history of Arras and the surrounding area containing many photos of the town and including descriptions of the tunnel systems. It is a fascinating read. The credits say that it was published in 2003 with the financial support of the Tourist Office of Arras; it was originally in French and translated by members of the Suffolk branch of the WFA. The ISBN no. is 2-9508919-8-5. You may be able to get a copy through Amazon, it is well worth it.

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Hi Angela,

the 1st pic is dated May 1917 and shows the remains of the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)

post-15439-1211553170.jpg

post-15439-1211553014.jpg

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Oh bother, Gordon! I was in Arras just over a week ago, and bought from the main bookshop a quite different book of old PCs of the town to send to my Paris friend. But there were very few images of war-time desctuction in it! Next time I am there, I will lok for the one you recommend.

Thanks for those, JW. The one of the Place des Heros is particularly amazing...

Angela

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Hello. I'm very new to this forum, but just read about Arras. I visited there only two weeks ago and was also impressed by the squares. I didn't come across anything to suggest it was destroyed in the first world war, however, I'm currently reading a book on Dunkirk and during the retreat, the British were again defending it. It doesn't mention it was flattened but mentions clearly that ,most of the civilians sheltered in the same underground tunnels as the the soldiers in the great war...

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Some time ago I scanned the postcard collection from my grandfather at Arras. All those pictures are here:

http://www.censol.ca/research/greatwar/arras/index.html

This would be a sample of the collection:

(until I posted this I never noticed the writing at the bottom "for sometime our billet")

photo18.jpg

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