This 4-day tour visits key British sites from the Western Front during the First World War. Explore the killing fields of the Somme, pay tribute to the men who fell in the Ypres Salient and visit lesser-known battlefields such as Arras, in the company of 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!
Welcome to our Western Front Explorer 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.
A full day exploring the killing fields of the Somme and, in particular, the horror of the first day, July 1st, 1916, the most costly day in the history of the British Army. Our day begins near the village of Serre, where we will explore an original frontline trench from July 1st, as well as the Sheffield City Memorial and Serre Road No 2 Cemetery. 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. Our next stop 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. After free time for lunch, we will visit the Ulster Tower near the site of the Schwaben Redoubt, before exploring the magnificent Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, where more than 72,000 missing men from the Somme are commemorated. Our day ends with visits to Mansell Copse, Lochnagar Crater and the imposing Fricourt German Cemetery, to learn the story of the men from the other side of the line. Our evening in Arras is free. (B)
We will depart Arras this morning and drive north into Belgium, to the iconic town of Ypres. En-route we will visit the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, and see the battlefield of Messines. Next we will visit the cratered landscape of Hill 60, and 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 travel to 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. Our final 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 Ypres and check in to our hotel. Tonight we will attend the Last Post service at the Menin Gate, an emotional tribute to the men lost in the Salient, which is performed every night. Dinner will be at leisure. (B)
Our final day on the battlefields begins with a walking tour of Ypres, which includes several exclusive visits, not found on other tours. We will also have free time to visit the outstanding In Flanders Fields Museum, or to shop for souvenirs and chocolates in Ypres’ main square. Early afternoon we will depart Ypres and 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