Jean and Denise Letaille Bullecourt Museum 1917Pistol and bullet casings exposed under glass
©Pistol and bullet casings exposed under glass|Paper Menthe
Treasures of warBullecourt 1917

Bullecourt 1917, Jean and Denise Letaille Museum

Located southeast of Arras, Bullecourt is a small village that found itself hemmed in by the defensive system of the Hindenburg Line designed by the Germans during the winter of 1916.

Pushing back the invader

On April 11, 1917 at 4:45 a.m., two days after the Battle of Arras broke out, Australian troops of the British Fifth Army emerged from their trenches and advanced in the cold and snow toward Bullecourt.

Aided by 12 tanks, they were charged with retaking the villages of Riencourt and Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt from the enemy.

The Germanic offensive

Diggers out of breath

After breaking through an initial network of trenches and barbed wire, the Australians reached the second line. Exhausted by 8 hours of fighting and short of ammunition, however, they had to withdraw to their starting positions.

Taking advantage of the shock suffered by the Australians, the Germans launched an offensive in front of Quéant on April 15. They seized part of the Australian front lines at Lagnicourt, but had to retreat; casualties were heavy on both sides.

A total defeat

On 3 May, a second offensive was launched by the Australian troops, who set off in eight successive waves protecting an artillery barrage. Once again, the objectives were not reached and the fighting stopped on 16 May. In total, the Australians suffered 10,000 casualties at the end of the Battle of Arras.

Memories of the past

History through objects

Jean and Denise Letaille, a farming couple from Bullecourt, have over the course of their lives assembled an impressive collection of objects found in their fields and in the surrounding countryside. Weapons, but also razors, combs, cigarette cases and other personal effects of Australian, English or German origin, are presented in the Jean and Denise Letaille Museum – Bullecourt 1917 and evoke the life of the Diggers, these valiant soldiers from the other side of the world who took part in the two Bullecourt battles.