Commemorate Remembrance Day on the ground where the First World War was fought, on our 5-day tour of the Western Front. This once-in-a-lifetime journey is escorted by Pete Smith, expert battlefield guide and co-host of the popular BattleWalks podcast. Our tour includes central battlefield accommodation, deluxe transportation and exclusive extra visits not found on any other battlefield tour!
Our tour begins in the northern French city of Lille, which is easily accessible by road or Eurostar from the UK. We will meet our group at Lille Europe Station and then travel south towards Arras. On route, we will visit the CWGC Experience, where Commonwealth War Graves staff will demonstrate how they caringly tend to hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth graves throughout the world. We will then travel to Arras, our home for the next two nights, and explore wartime sites including the Arras Memorial to the Missing, Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery, the Arras Flying Services Memorial and the Memorial du Mur des Fusilles WW2, where hundreds of members of the Resistance were executed during the Second World War. We will then check in to our central hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure to explore the restaurants and bars of Arras.
Our first stop today is the Newfoundland Memorial Park, where we will walk through a full First World War trench system, including British trenches, German trenches and the shell-cratered no man’s land in between. We will then visit Sucrerie Cemetery, to see the graves of men who were shot at dawn for desertion or cowardice. We will then explore the battlefields near the village of Serre, including an original frontline trench from July 1st, as well as the Sheffield City Memorial and Serre Road No 2 Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the Somme. We will also visit the impressive Ulster Tower. After free time for lunch, we will enjoy a private guided walk through Thiepval Wood, with its network of preserved trenches, and visit several cemeteries associated with the Somme fighting. We will then visit the famous Sunken Lane, immortalised in Geoffrey Malins’ black and white films. We will then explore the massive Hawthorne Ridge mine crater, which was blown twice during the Battle of the Somme and has been preserved as a memorial to the thousands of men who fell in and around it. We will return to Arras where our evening is free. (B)
Our morning begins with a visit to the Basilica in the town of Albert, with its famous ‘Leaning Virgin’ statue. We will also visit the Museum of the Somme in the town. Our next stop is the huge Lochnagar mine crater, which was detonated on the first day of the battle. Next we will visit the magnificent Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, where more than 72,000 missing men from the Somme are commemorated, before driving to the nearby Australian battlefield at Pozieres. While here we will enjoy free time for lunch (and to explore the huge collection of relics at Le Tommy Café), before visiting memorials to fighting in the area including the Gibraltar blockhouse, the Australian 1stDivision Memorial and the Windmill. We will also see the Tank Corps Memorial, which marks the site where tanks were first used in warfare. Our day ends with visits to Mansell Copse and the imposing Fricourt German Cemetery, to learn the story of the men from the other side of the line. We will then depart the Somme battlefields and drive to Ypres, across the border in Belgium. On arrival we will check in to our hotel and have free time for dinner. (B)
A very special Remembrance Day on the battlefields. Our day begins with a walking tour of the town of Ypres, from the Cloth Hall to Ramparts Cemetery. We will then visit the famous Menin Gate and join the town service at 11am commemorating the moment the guns fell silent and the war came to and end. In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the town and visit the outstanding In Flanders Fields Museum, before reassembling at 7pm for the evening Last Post service at the Menin Gate. Our evening is free for dinner. (B)
Our final day on the battlefields will enable us to explore the infamous Ypres Salient. Our first stop is Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McCrae composed ‘In Flanders Fields’ in 1915, the most famous poem of the war. We will then drive to the cratered landscape of Hill 60, where we will learn about the underground war that shattered the hill, and also visit the nearby Hooge Crater and Cemetery. After free time for lunch, we will visit Tyne Cot Cemetery, the world’s largest Commonwealth Military Cemetery, and hear the stories of some of the 12,000 men who are buried here. Next we will see the Canadian Memorial that marks the site where poison gas was first used in the war, before travelling to Langemarck German Cemetery, one of the largest final resting places for German soldiers in Belgium. Late afternoon we will return to Lille, where our tour will end at Lille Europe Station. An easy Eurostar connection will return you to the UK. (B)
★ Services of an expert WWI Historian
★ Pick up and drop off in Lille
★ All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
★ 3 nights’ 3- to 4-star accommodation
★ Travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach
★ Breakfast daily