Underneath the pavements of Arras, there is a place heavy with memories and emotion: the Wellington Quarry, or Carrière Wellington. In the build-up to the Allied offensive of spring 1917, the British came up with the idea of getting New Zealand tunnelers to connect the town's chalk quarries together. The New Zealand Tunnel Company accordingly dug a vast network of tunnels capable of accommodating up to 24,000 soldiers. To get an impression of what it was like to be one of the thousands of soldiers stationed underground, waiting to jump out onto the battlefield and take the Germans by surprise, visitors are taken down into the darkness of the tunnels, at a depth of 20 metres. A film, showing the soldiers as they head up to the surface, brings visitors right into the shock of the battle.
On 9 April 1917 the British Army launched a huge surprise attack on the German lines before Arras to divert attention away from the main French offensive which was to take place on Chemin des Dames Road in Aisne. That morning saw 24,000 soldiers flood out from the network of old chalk-quarry tunnels to attack the German defences. Today the tunnels of Wellington Quarry are open to the public and invite the visitor to discover the gripping story of the Battle of Arras.