Discovering the Western Front
The British & Commonwealth Forces 1914 - 1917
This five-day tour to Northern France and Belgium provides a timely overview of the major events involving British and Empire forces on the Western Front to mark the centenary commemorations of The Great War. Visits to battlefields such as Mons, Ypres, the Somme and Arras will put the whole war into perspective geographically, chronologically, strategically, tactically and technologically. Such a tour acts as both an introductory tour for the novice and as an essential ‘aide memoire’ to those more experienced. It will also be a welcome reminder of the customs and cuisine of this attractive part of Northern Europe.
Our Guide is the popular Bruce Cherry, he will take us on a grand tour of attractive northern France and Flanders.
For over four years, British and Commonwealth forces locked horns with the Germans in the fields of Northern France and Flanders. By the end of 1914 the fluid warfare fought by the professionals of the British Expeditionary Force had been ground down to the stalemate of trench warfare which the Territorial and Commonwealth troops could not break in 1915. The new Kitchener armies, despite massive artillery support, failed to achieve the hoped for breakthrough on the Somme in 1916.
- Expertly guided by Dr Bruce Cherry
- Ideal tour for Western Front 'beginners'
- Visits to the key battlefield sites
- Mark the key centenary commemorations
"“The interaction between Bruce Cherry and the tour group was most enjoyable – Bruce is the best guide we have ever encountered”."
Day 1 – First Shots of the War. Depart London for the Channel Tunnel and drive to Casteau where the first and last shots of the War were co-incidentally fired just what is now NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). We then follow the route of the German advance to Nimy railway bridge on the north side of Mons as events developed from a skirmish to a full-blown encounter. Check-in to our hotel in Mons for one night.
Day 2 – The Battle and Retreat from Mons. We salute the first and last to fall at the St Symporien Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. With the first and last few weeks being fought over much the same ground, our itinerary covers remarkable actions from both periods including the Cheshire Regiment’s stand at Elouges, the Kiwi’s taking of Le Quesnoy, Wilfred Owen’s grave beside the Canal du Nord and the last one-day battle at Le Cateau. Check-in to our hotel near Ypres for two nights.
Day 3 – The Ypres Salient. A full day spent examining the establishment of the Salient in 1914; its subsequent defence against the gas attack in 1915; the carnage of 1917 that included Passchendaele; and 1918’s defence during the Kaiser’s push.
Day 4 – The Somme. Our focus is exploring the events of 1916, especially the notorious 1st July. The names are etched into our common consciousness; Serre, Thiepval, Pozieres, Beaumont Hamel, Delville Wood, Lochnagar, Mametz. These sites will become more than simply names after our emotional return. Check-in to our hotel in Arras for one night.
Day 5 – The Artois and Arras. In addition to the British 1915 Loos battlefield, many of today's sites featured action by Dominion and Colonial troops, including the Canadians at Vimy Ridge; Fromelles, where the newly arrived ANZACs received their 1916 baptism of fire; and Neuve Chappelle where the Indian Army made the major contribution in the 1915 victory against the Germans. The range of memorials, unusual cemeteries and bunker-scarred land provide a memorable end to the tour. Return to London.
To be confirmed