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Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery

Tribute to First World Way cyclists to be held at CWGC Arras Memorial as part of 5th stage of Tour De France

08 July 2015

The event coincides with the start of the fifth stage of the Tour de France, which will depart from the memorial and is dedicated to honouring the fallen of the First World War.

Equipped with the same rifle the infantry carried, cyclists provided a vital mobile combat force.
If terrain permitted, they could be used mounted for reconnaissance and communications, and if not, they could still run messages, or fight as infantrymen, leaving their bicycles behind. 

Theirs was a dangerous job, and a number of cyclists are buried or commemorated with dignity across the CWGC's cemeteries and memorials, including Arras.

Today's event will take place at 10am, and will be attended by  French Secretary of State Jean-Marc Todeschini as well as representatives and former competitors of the Tour de France.‪‬
CWGC Head of External Engagement in Western Europe, Carl Liversage, said: 'From the start of the conflict, the bicycle and the men who rode them, were vital to the Allied war effort.  'We are extremely grateful to the organisers, teams and riders of the Tour de France for their participation in this act of remembrance and for choosing Arras for the 5th stage of this year's tour.'

For more information, contact: Peter Francis on 01628 507163 or 07766 255884 or by email peter.francis@cwgc.org

Ends.

Notes for editors:

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) maintains the graves of the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive available online at www.cwgc.org

The CWGC operates in over 23,000 locations in 154 countries across all continents except for Antarctica.

2. The Arras Memorial

The city of Arras remained in Allied hands and near the fighting front from October 1914 until the end of the war. The British Army took over the city and the sector from the French in the spring of 1916, and began burying Commonwealth soldiers behind an old French military cemetery in the western suburb of Faubourg d'Amiens. The cemetery was used by field ambulances and fighting units until the Armistice. French graves were moved to other burial grounds in the 1920s and some Commonwealth graves brought here from the battlefields around Arras and two smaller cemeteries nearby.

The Arras Memorial commemorate more than 34,700 missing of the Arras sector, lost between
the spring of 1917 and August 1918.

Both the cemetery and memorial cloister and court were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The cemetery is now the final resting place of some 2,650 Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War killed in the heavy fighting of the Arras sector, many during the Arras Offensive of 1917.