The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Memorial to the Missing at Arras in France is adjacent to the CWGC Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery in the western part of the city, near the Citadel d’Arras.
From 1914 until 1917 Arras was a few miles behind the Front, within range of some German heavy artillery, and the site of several French and British casualty clearing hospitals.
The Memorial to the Missing is located in front of the cemetery and is a two-winged colonnade with interior galleries, upon whose walls are listed 34,791 names of British, South African and New Zealand soldiers lost in the region between March 1916 and April 1918. Between the two wings there is a semicircular non-vaulted colonnade which partially encloses a small plaza, within which stands an unusual ‘memorial within a memorial’, the Flying Services Memorial, which commemorates the 991 missing of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force (from after March 1918) and the Royal Naval Air Service. Among those listed here is Irish-born Maj. Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock VC, who was the leading British Flying Ace of the war (Billy Bishop was Canadian).
The Memorials dwarf the cemetery, which has 2,650 burials, including 30 French and Germans from WW1, and from WW2, seven Brits, one American and one nationality unknown.
This makes the cemetery unusual too as it has both WW2 and non-BEF WW1 burials.
The Memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the foremost British architect of the era. He also designed the Thiepval CWGC Memorial, the India Gate in Delhi and the Whitehall Cenotaph, among many WW1 sites.
The Flying Services Memorial was created by the noted sculptor Sir William Reid Dick, who also contributed the paramount lions on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres (which will be covered in a future article) as well as several monuments in the UK including the Kitchener Memorial Chapel in St. Paul’s, London. The memorial is an obelisk with name panels on the four sides, topped by a sculpted globe with streamers around it representing the broad reach of air power.
Reid Dick’s specialty was historical sculpture; he produced prominent statues of King George V and Franklin D. Roosevelt that stand today in London. Reid Dick was also a veteran of WW1, joining in 1914 at age 34 and serving for the rest of the war, first with an ambulance unit and later as a surveyor with the Royal Engineers.