19e Third Battle of Artois: 25 to 28 September 1915

Département: Pas-de-Calais

Region: Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Country: France

A ‘Virtual Battlefield Tour’ from Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium

Summary: On 25 September, in conjunction with the British attack at Loos and a French offensive launched in Champagne, the third Artois offensive began, with the objective remaining Vimy Ridge. At 12:30, after a five-day artillery barrage, XXI Corps attacked Souchez; XXXIII Corps, now commanded by général de division Emile Fayolle, attacked toward La Folie. Souchez was entered and cleared on the second day, after bitter fighting on the grounds of Château Carleul. The stiff resistance, a dreadful rain, and the destroyed terrain halted the advance. The heavy casualties caused the premature end of the Third Battle of Artois on 28 September. The area became relatively quiet until the successful British assault on Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

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The early 16th century church of Ablain-St-Nazaire is another retained ruin from the battles in Artois. Ablain-St-Nazaire and Carency established the salient within the French lines that resulted from the German advance of October 1914. The village remained in German hands until the Second Battle of Artois when French forces attacked the fortified village on 12 May 1915 and completed its capture on 29 May by which time the entire village was in ruins. (50.393275, 2.721149)

Sucrerie British Cemetery was begun in April 1917 beside a large French cemetery that has since been removed. Before the war the site was occupied by a sugar beet processing factory, or Sucrerie. Extensively fortified by the Germans, during the Second Battle of Artois it became the scene of intense fighting during the French advance upon Souchez. The cemetery, accessible from the highway down a narrow walkpath, holds 382 burials. (50.39036, 2.724897)

Château Carieul and the wood behind it were German strongholds during the Third Battle of Artois. The 5-meter-wide moat around the ruined chateau protected a German bastion. The wood had been converted to a flooded swamp by the damming of the nearby Carency Creek. After numerous attacks during the summer of 1915, the site was finally taken by general assault on 25 September 1915. (50.389268, 2.73526)

The Center for European Peace is identifiable by the colorful First World War murals and numerous flags decorating its façade. The center contains a small exhibit of First World War trench art and a filmstrip of archival images as well as a commercial meeting center. Open every day, except Saturday and Sunday morning, from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. Fee. (50.400789, 2.739655)

A Memorial to the 158th Regiment d’Infanterie was erected by the survivors of the 158th RI in memory of their dead in the Lorette Sector. (50.408776, 2.732071)

Tomb of sous-Lieutenant Jean Léon, 28th Regiment of Infantry, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and recipient of Croix de Guerre was killed nearby on 26 May 1915. (50.409265, 2.733745)

A small pillbox bears a white stone Memorial to sous-Lieutenant Jacques Defrasse who was killed on 16 June 1915 during an attack upon a German trench that approximately followed the line of the track approaching the memorial. The memorial also commemorates the hundreds of soldiers of 3rd Company, 174th Division of Infantry killed on the same day for France. Defrasse was 23 years old. (50.40908, 2.735839)


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