Rendez-vous at Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery and Arras Memorial
Faubourg-d'Amiens already had a military cemetery when the British Army relieved the French at Arras in 1916; however it was later removed and today only the Commonwealth one remains. In all, 2,650 Commonwealth soldiers and several German prisoners were laid to rest there.
At the entrance to the cemetery stands the Arras Memorial which bears the names of the 34,785 British, New Zealand and South African soldiers who fell in the area and whose bodies were never found. The names of Canadian and Australian soldiers are not included because they are inscribed on memorials in Vimy and Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme respectively.
Most of the dead fell in the Battle of Arras which opened on 9th April 1917 to divert attention away from the French assault on the Chemin-des-Dames Ridge. In preparation for the assault, the New Zealand tunnellers turned the old chalk quarries under Arras, known locally as boves, into a veritable underground communication network so that the 24,000 soldiers of the initial wave could approach the German lines unobserved. Today part of this network, Wellington Quarry, is open to the public. The Commonwealth Forces suffered 100,000 casualties in the battle, of which nearly 37,300 where killed or reported lost in action.
In the half-rotunda which leads to the Stone of Remembrance stands the Arras Flying Services Memorial. Topped with a globe, the square column of the memorial bears the names of the 991 men of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) who died on the Western Front in the First World War. The pilots who took part in the Battle of Arras in April 1917 called it 'Bloody April'. Prior to the battle the RFC carried out reconnaissance missions and raids on various German positions. They were pitted against a well-organized German flying corps equipped with powerful Albatros aeroplanes. One of these squadrons was the Jasta 11 whose leader was Manfred Von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. In one single month the RFC lost 316 pilots out of a total of 730.