Point Du JourPoint Du Jour
©Point Du Jour|Isabelle Pilarowski

9th Scottish Division Memorial and Point du Jour Cemetery


On April 9, 1917, on the first day of the battle of Arras, the soldiers of the 9th Scottish Division liberated the village of Athies. In honor of this division, at a place called “Point du Jour” on the Arras-Douai road, a memorial in the form of a tower was built as a “cairn”: stones, in this case blocks of granite brought from Scotland, piled up in memory of the dead according to Celtic tradition. This cairn bears the names of the battles in which the Division participated during the Great War. All around the monument, 26 stones remind us of the units that composed it.

Le Point-du-Jour

Facing the monument is the Point-du-Jour Military Cemetery. This cemetery was created during the Battle of Arras to house the bodies of 82 soldiers killed during the attack on the German fortified redoubt of Point du Jour, which was part of the “Brown Line” device, the German second line, in front of Athies. Among them were men from the South African Brigade, which had earned the division the nickname “Jocks ans Springboks” (derisive nicknames for Scots and South Africans).

For South African soldiers, the sobriquet referred to their emblem, the springbok, a species of gazelle renowned for its leaping that is widespread in southern Africa. After the Armistice, the British would group more than 650 graves from nearby village cemeteries at Point du Jour.

Grimsby's buddies

In 2002, during the earthworks of the Actiparc business park located on the other side of the national road, the archaeological service of the city of Arras uncovered a grave where 20 soldiers of the 10th Battalion of the Lincolshire Regiment, all from the town of Grimsby, had been buried side by side, arm in arm. Five of these “Grimsby Chums” are now buried in the Point-du-Jour Cemetery.