Western Front Discovery - 2021

Tour

DEPARTS: 25 May, 19 July & 21 September 2021

from: $3799
7 Days
  • Price: per person, twin share
  • Single Supplement: $720
  • Deposit: $750
This 7-day immersion will take you to all of the key WW1 battlefields where Australians were involved and special visits “behind the front lines”

Western Front Discovery – 2021

This itinerary has been hand-picked to explore several areas on the Western Front, uncovering stories of the spirit of mateship and sacrifice along the way. Over 7 days we will visit the key Australian battlefields of the Ypres Salient, Flanders and the Somme, all whilst enjoying an array of special inclusions. Either begin your tour in Paris or Lille, this 7-day immersion will take you to all of the key WW1 battlefields where Australians were involved as well as some special visits to sites ‘’behind the front lines’’ which will give you a unique insight to the Anzac experience on the Western Front.

Itinerary

Day 1 > Paris – Ypres

Welcome to our Western Front tour! Our group will assemble at the Holiday Inn Express – Canal De La Villette Hotel in Paris at 8:30am for a 9am sharp departure. We will leave Paris and drive north towards the Belgian border. Our destination is the town of Ypres, our home for the next three nights. Between 1914 and 1918 Ypres was completely destroyed by shellfire and came to symbolise the horror of the First World War. In the evening we will enjoy a walking tour with our Historian around the rebuilt town, before coming together for a welcome dinner. (Passengers joining the tour in Lille will be collected from our meeting point en-route to Ypres) (D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Welcome Dinner

Day 2 > The Ypres Salient

The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we will explore the Australian battlefields in the Salient, places where the Anzacs made history in 1917. Our first stop will be the Passchendaele Museum, a provocative collection of relics and displays that chronicles the fighting in Flanders. We will then visit the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood, where we will see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan’s documentary ‘Lost in Flanders’. Lunch is included at a local cafe. We then get a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world’s largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Tyne Cot sits in the heart of one of the most horrific battlefields of the war – Passchendaele. Our final stop today is at the German Cemetery at Langemark, where we will learn about the men on the other side of the line. As we drive back to our hotel, we will see the magnificent Canadian memorial at Langemark, marking the spot where poison gas was first used in the war. This evening we will visit the Menin Gate where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded, for the moving Last Post ceremony. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day and in all-weather since the memorial opened in 1927. The only interruption was during the four years of German occupation during the Second World War – the ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated. Two passengers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of our group. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS Passchendaele Museum 5th Australian Division Memorial   Tyne Cot Cemetery

★ Langemarck German Cemetery   Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate

Day 3 > Ypres

This morning our day will start with an exciting visit to ‘Pond Farm’ to view a unique private collection of war material that has all been found on the grounds of the owner’s farm. The highlight of our visit will be observing the replica Mark IV tank which is in full working order. A change of pace brings us to the Sint Bernardus Brewery in the village of Watou, where we have the opportunity to enjoy some free time for lunch and a tasting of their famous ‘Trappist’ beer, brewed by local monks for centuries. We will then drive to the nearby town of Poperinge, which was an important Allied support base during the war. While here, we will enjoy a guided tour of Talbot House, an ‘everyman’s club’ that provided respite to both officers and enlisted men during the war. While in the area, we will see the local prison, which features cells where convicted soldiers were held before being shot at dawn. The prison yard contains the original execution post, where the executions were carried out. Our next stop is Lijssenthoek Cemetery, one of the largest Commonwealth war cemeteries in the world, and the final resting place of thousands of brave soldiers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries. This afternoon we will return to Ypres where the evening will be at leisure. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Replica Mark IV tank at Pond Farm  Sint Bernardus Brewery    Talbot House Tour   Lijssenthoek Cemetery

Day 4 > Ypres – The Somme

Today we depart Ypres and travel south towards the battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop is the very moving 1916 battlefield of Fromelles, where Australia lost 5533 men during its first action on the Western Front. While here we will visit the Australian Memorial Park, VC Corner Cemetery (the only all-Australian cemetery in France), the site of the Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood and the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery, where 250 Australian and British soldiers were laid to rest in 2010. We will also visit the Fromelles Museum which tells the story of Australia’s disastrous involvement in the battle of Fromelles in 1916. Next, we will visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Experience – a unique new attraction that allows visitors to take a look behind-the-scenes at the work that is required to commemorate the 1.7 million Commonwealth casualties from the First and Second World Wars. Next is the battlefield of Bullecourt, where Australia lost 10,000 men in two great battles in 1917. We will pay our respects to them at the Slouch Hat memorial in the centre of town and the Australian Memorial Park on the site of the German front line. Our final stop for the day will be the former Australian HQ at the Chateau of Bertangles, where General John Monash commanded Australian operations in the first half of 1918. We will take a tour of the chateau and grounds to see the rooms where Monash conceived the great Australian victories of 1918 and stand in the spot where Monash was knighted by King George V on the chateau steps. We then continue onto Amiens where we will check into our hotel and have the evening free at leisure to enjoy one of the lovely French restaurants located along the nearby Somme river. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Australian Memorial Park  VC Corner Cemetery   Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery   

Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Experience    Slouch Hat Memorial former  Bertangles Chateux

Day 5 > Somme 1916

Today we will explore the killing fields of the Somme from 1916 and pay tribute to the men from all nations who perished in this bloody battle. Our first stop is the Sheffield Memorial Park, which remembers men from the north of England who died on the first day of the Somme – the frontline trench that they attacked from can still be seen in the park. Next, we will visit the Newfoundland Memorial Park, which contains a full sector of preserved battlefield, including British and German trench lines, with no man’s land in between. We will then travel on to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, which records the names of more than 72,000 men missing from the Somme fighting. Our next stop is Mouquet Farm and the village of Pozieres, scene of the most costly battle in Australian military history – 23,000 men were killed or wounded here in six weeks’ of fighting. We will pay tribute to them at the 1st Division Memorial and the Windmill Memorial in the town. We will then visit Lochnagar mine crater, blown by the British on the first day of the battle and heavily fought over in the days that followed. We will return to Amiens and enjoy dinner together as a group. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Sheffield Memorial Park   Newfoundland Memorial Park  ★ Mouquet Farm  

★ Pozieres  ★ Lochnagar Mine Crater  ★ Group Dinner

Day 6 > Somme 1918

Today we will explore the battlefields of the Somme, where Australian troops performed magnificently in 1918. Our first visit is to Adelaide Cemetery, where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay before being reinterred in Canberra in 1993. We will then visit the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux where a sign entreats that the schoolchildren ‘Do Not Forget Australia’.  We will also visit the excellent Franco-Australian Museum at the school. We then travel to the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, where the names of almost 11,000 Australians missing in France are recorded and visit the Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, an impressive multi-media museum which tells the story of Australians on the Western Front. Our next stop is the Australian Memorial Park at Hamel, scene of a great Australian victory orchestrated by General John Monash on 04 July 1918.  This evening is at leisure in Amiens (B,L)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Adelaide Cemetery   Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux  

  Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux   Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre  Australian Memorial Park at Hamel

PLEASE NOTE: A mobile device with the Sir John Monash Centre App installed is required to fully experience the Centre. Use of the App is required for the majority of the exhibits inside the Centre and allow visitors to tailor the experience to their own interests. We strongly recommend all visitors bring their own fully-charged mobile device and headphones to get the most out of their visit.

Day 7 > The Somme – Paris

Our day begins with a visit to the town of Naours to visit the underground tunnels where many Australian soldiers left their mark with graffiti. Their names have become a self-made memorial at a site that has been a tourist attraction since the 1800s. Following this memorable walk through history, we will visit Vignacourt, a town that remained behind the lines throughout the war and therefore a place of refuge for Allied troops on a break from the front line. In 2011, a treasure trove of glass photographic negatives was found in the attic of a local farmhouse, which was used as a makeshift studio for soldiers to have their photo taken during the war. We will visit the new museum onsite which tells their story. We then farewell the battlefields and drive back to Paris, arriving at the Holiday Inn Express – Canal De La Villette Hotel at approximately 5pm. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Naours Underground Tunnels  Vignacourt 14-18 Museum

The journey may be over, but the memories will last a lifetime.

Dates

START DATEEND DATE
Tuesday, 25 May 2021Monday, 31 May 2021
Monday, 19 July 2021Sunday, 25 July 2021
Tuesday, 21 September 2021Monday, 27 September 2021

Inclusions

★   Services of an expert WW1 Historian
★   Central Paris pick-up and drop-off, or pick up in Lille
★  All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
★   6 nights’ 3-star to 4-star accommodation
★   Travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach
★   Breakfast daily, 5 lunches and 2 dinners
★   Copy of Mat McLachlan’s definitive guide to the Western Front, Walking with the Anzacs
★   Souvenir cap and document wallet

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Contact our reservations team on 1300 880 340 or click on the enquiry button below and leave your details.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

LUGGAGE: Passengers are limited to 1 x suitcase & 1 x piece of hand luggage per person

RELATIVE REQUESTS: Please ensure you have advised Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours of any grave/cemetery visit requests before departure. Whilst we will do our best to accommodate, these visits cannot be guaranteed.

Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

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