The monument is situated within the gardens next to St Vaast Cathedral and the Musée de Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) housed in the former Abbey of St Vaast.
From the Place des Héros take the road running down the left hand side of the Hôtel de Ville. This will bring you down to the Abbey grounds. Turn left and then at the junction turn right, walk down past the entrance to the museum and then turn right into the park.
The monument is just inside the gate on your left.
You should also try and visit the cathedral – the former abbey church (See the link below).
In 1940 the Abbey buildings were being used as the Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.
On the 10th May 1940 Germany invaded France and within ten days had reached the coast at St Valery. Their narrow corridor across France from the Ardennes to the sea was open to rupture if the Germans could not secure the entire route.
The sticking point for the Germans on the 20th had been the British garrison at Arras which had failed to yield to Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division.
To try and relieve the pressure on the half surrounded garrison, Lord Gort VC commanding the BEF ordered the 1st Army Tank Brigade and 5th Division to join the 50th Division in the Vimy area.
The plan by the local commander Major General Martel was simple. The 151st Brigade would sweep from the west of Arras coming around and underneath it as far as the Cojeul river on the old 1917 battlefield. That done, the 13th Brigade would move southwards from its position on the Scarpe to the east of Arras to join up with the 151st Brigade.
Both the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiment were involved in this battle which, although it failed in its intended mission, did cause Rommel to pause and forced the Germans to regroup and rethink their supply lines before continuing on in their push towards the encircled Allies at Dunkerque.
The simple stone block carries the emblems of both the Royal Tank Corps and that of its predecessor the Royal Tank Regiment.
It is dedicated:
In memory of the officers and men of the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments killed at the battled of Arras 21st-23rd May 1940 and their predecessors of the tank corps who fell at Arras in the Great War.
In May 2010 the Royal Tank Regiment held a commemorative march in Arras in honour of the 70th Anniversary of the battle.