37th Division Memorial37th Division Memorial, Monchy-le-Preux
©37th Division Memorial|Inconnu
Three British soldiersMonchy-le-Preux

Monument to the 37th British Division, Monchy-le-Preux

On a pedestal, three British soldiers recognizable by their helmets in the shape of a “bearded dish” are leaning and resting, their weapons on the ground. Inaugurated in 1921, this work by Lady Feodora Gleichen, sister of a former commander of this unit and the first woman admitted to the Royal Society of British Sculptors, pays tribute to “the memory of the officers and men of the 37th British Infantry Division who fell during the Great War of 1915-1918”. The men of the division, created in 1915 as part of Lord Kitchener’s reorganization of the British Imperial Army, distinguished themselves in the capture of Monchy-le-Preux in April 1917.

The lock of Monchy

A coveted position

Situated on a hill overlooking the Scarpe on one side and the road from Arras to Cambrai on the other, protected by two hills, the village occupies a strategic position. The Germans, who had held it since October 1914, had strongly fortified the “Monchy lock”, making it a strong element of the Hindenburg line.

British infantrymen

who blew up the "lock of Monchy".

The British attack in front of Arras was launched on April 9, when the weather suddenly became wintery. In these conditions, the advance proved difficult and the continuation of the assault was postponed until April 11, thus giving the Germans time to reorganize. On 11 April, the snow began to fall. The 37th Division, supported by six tanks, moved forward despite everything. But the gunners were late and when they opened fire, they hit their own infantry, disabling one of the tanks. The British soldiers, however, took position in Monchy.

The liberators

The village was not fully liberated until April 14, thanks to the feat of a handful of Newfoundland fighters who managed to hold off a German counterattack. The Caribou monument near the church pays tribute to their heroism.

The razed Monchy-le-Preux was retaken by the Germans during their spring 1918 offensive, before being definitively delivered in August by the Canadians.

In the fall of 1918, the 37th Division liberated the town of Caudry, which dedicated a bas-relief on its war memorial to its liberators after the war.