French National Necropolis of La TargetteFrench National Necropolis of La Targette
©French National Necropolis of La Targette|Isabelle Pilarowski
The TargetteNeuville-Saint-Vaast

Nécropole Nationale Française de la Targette and Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-Saint-Vaast

The Targette French National Cemetery contains 8,000 identified graves and 4,000 bodies in 3 ossuaries.

The French of La Targette

At Neuville-Saint-Vaast, in the hamlet of La Targette, a French necropolis adjoins La Targette British Cemetery. The strict alignment of the French crosses contrasts with the landscape and architectural will of the British, marked in particular by two elegant Indian-style mausoleums.

Located on the road that connects Arras to Lens, Neuville-Saint-Vaast was to be at the heart of the fighting that the sector was to experience in 1915 and then in 1917.

The taking of Neuville

On May 9, 1915, the French army launched a major offensive against German positions located on the Artois hills. The capture of Neuville was a major objective before regaining a foothold on Vimy Ridge. On the German side, the village was protected by four lines of defense and each of its 150 houses transformed into a fortress bristling with cannons and machine guns.

At the exit of the town, the famous “Labyrinth,” with its miles of trenches flanked by forts and blockhouses, constituted a position considered impregnable. The French conquered it piece by piece, after a fierce struggle that lasted until June 17, 1915 and cost the lives of thousands of men, many of whom are buried today in the Targette necropolis. Neuville Saint-Vaast in their hands was no more than a heap of ruins, the spur of Notre-Dame de Lorette was conquered but Vimy still eluded them.



At the heart of the fighting in 1915 and 1917.

In March 1916, the British relieved the French 10th Army in the Arras sector and the Canadians took over the Vimy sector. They then began a meticulous preparatory work for a future assault that would see, in particular, the construction of a vast network of twelve tunnels, leading to the German lines.

On April 9, 1917, despite the snow squalls, the 4 Canadian divisions left for the assault on Vimy Ridge. At “Aux-Rietz”, the 2nd Canadian Division followed the operations from its forward headquarters and its artillery units supported the soldiers’ advance on the ridge. One-third of the soldiers buried at La Targette British Cemetery belonged to the artillery forces that participated in or later defended this assault.