10 minutes north of Arras, Heritage Village (Village Patrimoine©) labelled Thélus bears the marks of the recapture of this sector by the Canadians during the Battle of Vimy in 1917 during the First World War. Mine craters converted into cemeteries and impressive monuments: Thélus tells the story of that conflict which devastated the Pays d’Artois
Pre-War and Post-War
What remains of Thélus from before the First World War? Nothing. As in Neuville-Saint-Vaast, not a wall was left standing.
The theatre of the Vimy Ridge offensive during the Battle of Arras in April 1917, the village was laid waste. To such an extent that it took several hours before the location of the Church of Saint-Ranulphe could be identified. In the village centre, the church was reconstructed in 1930 and ultimately it is the only monument recalling even a small element of pre-War heritage.
In the footsteps of the Canadians
To visit Thélus is to relive the story of the recapture of the village by the Canadians who succeeded in retaking the sector on 9 April 1917 thanks to a barrage of artillery.
First, make a stop at the Zivy Crater (RD49) and the Lichfield Crater (RD55 close to the motorway bridge). These two impressive mine craters are now enormous mass graves. They hold the remains of soldiers of the Canadian divisions who threw themselves into the assault on Vimy Ridge. These are the only examples of cemeteries of this type. Just next to Zivy Crater, make a detour past the Moulin Rouge.
Louis Barthas and the Moulin Rouge
Between Neuville-Saint-Vaast and Thélus, a new interpretation site has been opened at the locality known as the Moulin Rouge.
Excavations carried out in 2015 unearthed the remains of a brick mill which was converted into a strategic observation post during the First World War. In fact, it was here on 10 December 1915 that Louis Barthas witnessed the episode of fraternization which he described in his World War One Notebooks and which gave rise to the creation of the Monument to the Fraternizations one hundred years later. Interpretation boards and a reconstruction of the site recount this story.
If you continue along the D949, you will see a large cross at the intersection with the N17. This is the Canadian Artillery Memorial, one of the few to be erected in the immediate aftermath of the War, as early as April 1918! It was inaugurated by Byng’s Boys, soldiers serving under the Commander of the Canadian Corps, General Byng, just a year after the retaking of Vimy. You will finish this immersion into the Battle of Vimy in Thélus with a view of a large cross standing right in the middle of a field just outside the village. It marks the furthermost point in the advance of the Canadians in the evening of 9 April 1917, in the Rue de Bailleul. Via Farbus, you can continue your discovery of the Remembrance Trails with a visit to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
Thélus in practice
- The Village Patrimoine© trail encompasses 8 key points of interest to guide you.
- Le Relais Thélusien restaurant, 1317 Rue des Artilleurs Canadiens.
- Walking trail: “Le Chemin de la Couture Comblée” – 15 km, 3 hours 45 minutes.
- More information : http://www.cu-arras.fr