The Western Front
An Introduction to The Great War
Our introductory tours are available for both bespoke and scheduled departure dates. Whilst bespoke tours will allow you to adjust the exact itinerary to your own requirements, our scheduled departure dates can also accommodate reasonable special requests. Travel from London is by Standard Premier Eurostar and 1st class TGV thus avoiding uncomfortable ferry crossings and long coach journeys. These tours will be led by members of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.
The Western Front
During the First World War, the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres saw the shedding of the blood of almost one million British and Commonwealth soldiers. Their names are synonymous with the horrors and sufferings of that conflict and the size of the monuments to the Missing at Thiepval, the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot are testament to the scale of devastation of human life. When on 31 October 1914 the Worcesters gallantly retook Gheluvelt from the advancing Germans, little did they realise that they would be condemning the British and Commonwealth forces to four years of hell on earth defending the Salient around the little Belgian market town of Ypres in what, retrospectively, some have deemed pointless and bloody symbolism. When on 1 July 1916 Kitchener’s Volunteers, the Pals battalions, stepped out of their trenches to walk slowly through No Man’s Land, most of them into their first ever battle, none of them believed that they would be victims of badly prepared and executed planning which contributed to nearly 60,000 British casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone!
Travelling from London St Pancras International by Eurostar to Lille, this introductory tour to the Great War is based out of centrally located hotels allowing us to enjoy local restaurants each evening. We will be accompanied by an expert from the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.
"It was an amazing spectacle of unexampled gallantry, courage and bull-dog determination on both sides".
Depart London St Pancras for Lille Europe. Drive to Ypres and visit the award winning ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum. Check in to our hotel for one night. Take an early evening walk around the ramparts and attend the emotional Last Post ceremony followed by dinner in the market square.
Examine the crucial action of the Worcesters at Gheluvelt on 31 October, 1914 and visit Hill 60 with its massive mine craters, Essex Farm and Pilkem Ridge. After lunch we visit Langemark German cemetery, Vancouver Corner, Tyne Cot cemetery and the preserved trenches at Sanctuary Wood. Continue to Arras and check in to our hotel for two nights.
Explore the Somme battlefield; Serre (the Pals attack), the trenches at Newfoundland Park, the memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, the Lochnagar Crater, Pozieres with its Australian memorials and Delville Wood.
"When you go over the top you can slope arms, light up your pipes and cigarettes, and march all the way to Pozieres before meeting any live Germans".
Brigadier General H Gordon
Fly by light aircraft to gain a bird’s eye view of the entire Somme battlefield.* Thence to Vimy Ridge tol explore the trenches and the underground tunnels and view the magnificent Canadian memorial. Continue to Lille to catch the return train to London.
*subject to weather conditions and a bodyweight restriction of 120 kgs per person or 240 kgs for two people.