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The Arras Memorial and the Flying Services Memorial

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The Arras Memorial is to be found in the western part of Arras, and commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and August 1918, the eve of the “advance to victory”, and have no known grave. Alongside the Arras Memorial is The Arras Flying Services Memorial. This commemorates nearly 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force either by attachment from other arms of the forces of the Commonwealth or by original enlistment, who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave.

Two files held at The National Archives ADM 116/2906 and AIR 2/9244 gives background information on the unveiling ceremony and ADM 116/2906 contains an “Introduction to the register of THE ARRAS MEMORIAL at Faubourg-D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras, France” Memorial register 20. This was published by the Commonwealth Graves Commission and contains much valuable information. We also learn from ADM116/2906 that Captain R.Bell Davies, V.C., D.S.O., A.F.C., R.N, represented the Admiralty at the Arras unveiling ceremony on 31st July 1932.

File AIR 2/9244 gives us background information on the Arras unveiling from the Air Ministry perspective also the Thiepval Memorial. The file contains a selection of press cuttings covering the Arrras and Thiepval unveilings. We learn that The Lord Trenchard, G.C.B., D.S.O., carried out the Arras unveiling and also laid the wreath at Thiepval on behalf the RAF.

In the gallery of photographs below, one is of some of the names on the wall of the Arras memorial including that of Walter Tull, the first black officer to serve in the British Army. Sir William Reid Dick, the Scottish sculptor, was responsible for the globe on top of the Arras Flying Services Memorial .A photograph of this memorial is included in the photographs shown below. Reid Dick carved both the badges on the memorial and the great globe, which is 4 foot 6 inches in diameter and weighs almost three tons. The memorial consists of an obelisk with a globe forming a finial on the top. The badges are those of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, Royal Naval Air Service, and the combined badges of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. File AIR 1/677/21/13/1891 gives us some further background information on the Arras Memorial. It contains a draft of the Introduction to the Register of the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) written by their Director of Records, Major H.F. Chettle. Chettle’s covering letter is dated 18th March 1930.The two Memorials and the lay-out of the cemetery are the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The Arras Flying Services Memorial includes amongst the men remembered a winner of the Victoria Cross, Edward "Mick" Mannock who died 26th July 1918 aged 31. We can view details of this award on the Victoria Cross listings available in the Victoria Cross listings in The National Archives’ “Documents Online” series.

Amongst the photographs is one of the “Stone of Remembrance” at Arras. This general monument, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, can be found in most cemeteries along with Sir Reginald Blomfield’s “Cross of Sacrifice”. All the “Stones of Remembrance” bear the quotation from Ecclesiasticus –“THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE”.

Amongst those commemorated on the Arras Memorial are T/Lieutenant Richard Basil Brandram Jones , Sergeant John Erskine, T/2nd LKieutenant John Harrison, Corporal George Jarrat,Sergeant Albert White and, A/Company Sergeant-Major Alexander Edwards, all winners of the Victoria Cross.

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