La Carriére Wellington, Arras, France

Well-marked corridor

It’s hard to believe these medieval chalk quarries served as a strategic base and living quarters for 20,000+ British soldiers while they prepared to attack the invading Germans in the Battle of Arras.

Conveniently, vast quarries were spread throughout this front-line area, so it only made sense to put them to use. In 1916, British soldiers (back then, Britain included New Zealand, Canada and India) began linking the area’s quarries together in order to get closer to the German positions. The attack was scheduled for the morning of April 9, 1917, 6.30 a.m.

Soldiers’ bottles left behind

There’s still evidence of the strict underground organization. Limestone walls are labeled with names like “Auckland” and “Liverpool” and numbered areas and WC locations are clearly marked. The museum has recreated bunks and communication centers and preserved some of the many bottles and food tins that were left behind.

Wall sketch of the mass held the night before the attack

These quarries are only accessible via guided tour, which lasts an hour.

Rue Delétoille, Arras, open daily 10.00 am – 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm – 6.00 pm.

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