The Great War and the AIF
For Australia the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties in its history. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. As a proportion of its fighting force of men who were actually exposed to a theatre of war, the AIF suffered more deaths, more hospitalisations for wounding and illness and injury than the armies of Britain, Germany, France, Canada or the United States. Winning this war came at too high a cost for our young nation. Source
The two Battles of Bullecourt were a tragic example of our involvement in WW1.
First Battle of Bullecourt 11 April 1917
The first battle of Bullecourt was hastily planned and executed by the British High Command (General Sir Hubert Gough) and was to use tanks for the first time. Delayed from the 10th to the 11th April, and despite extensive protests from the Australian commanders the attack went ahead on the morning of 11th April. The tanks however were unreliable and many broke down and the *limited artillery barrage (*a limited artillery barrage was decided upon to allow the tanks to overun the German defences) left much of the barbed wire in front of the German trenches intact. Besides this the aborted attack on the 10th April had alerted the Germans so they were fully prepared for the attack on the 11th.
Also, most importantly, the German defenders quickly realised the tanks were next to useless and easily destroyed with armour piercing fire so the tanks were quickly destroyed. Although some of the Australian 4th Division got to some sections of German trenches, they had to quickly retreat with very heavy losses. Due to confusion over how far the Australians had advanced all supporting artillery fire was held back, with the Australians being surrounded and forced to retreat. The two brigades from the 4th Division that took part in the attack, the 4th and 12th, took over 3,200 casualties with 1,170 Australians taken prisoner - the largest number of Australian prisoners captured in a single action during the war.
Second Battle Bullecourt: 10-17 May 1917
Following the First battle of Bullecourt, a second battle took place starting on the 3rd May. Learning from the disaster of the first battle of Bullecourt, tanks were given a much reduced secondary role and artillery was given it's traditional prominent role to lay down a creeping barrage to cut the wire and shelter the advancing troops. In the leadup to the battle the general area around Bullecourt was totally destroyed by Allied shelling and the wire in front of the German defences was destroyed. A very bitter series of battles took place as the Germans were extremely well dug in but by May 17th the Allies had captured all their objectives.
In total, the two attacks on Bullecourt had resulted in over 10,000 casualties for the Australians with the Germans suffered a similar number of casualties.One of the most negative legacies of these battles was the Australians - both senior staff and the fighting troops - deep distrust of using tanks in a primary role in battle and also an openly displayed distrust of the British High Command's planning ability - especially Gough.
Bullecourt Centenary Tour 2017 : Friday 07 April – Wednesday 12 April
5 Nights /6 Days: Bullecourt Centenary Tour- "Disaster at Bullecourt"
Tour departs and returns to Lille, France.*Tour includes 3 nights stay in a 3*+ hotel in Arras. Starts: Friday 07 April 2017: Finishes Wednesday 12 April 2017.
Early registration to confirm your place is recommended as tour will fill quickly & space IS limited...
At a Glance...
Your Guide: Tim Pritchard-Barrett
Dates: Friday 7 April – Wednesday 12 April 2017
Duration: 5 Nights/6 Days
Starts: Lille (France) Finishes: Arras/Lille
Tour Code: BUL6DLIL
Tour Cost: Euro €1606 (approx A$2230) Per Person Share Twin/Double (All payments in €)
Single Room Supplement: Euro €547 (approx A$760) (All payments in €)
CRUISE BONUS! We have also secured an allotment of cabins and staterooms aboard the *Amadeus Cruise Ship's (*previously Amras Cruises) brand new "Amadeus Silver III" on the 8 day Amsterdam-Amsterdam *Tulip Serenade Cruise (13-20 April 2017.) Please contact us for our *special 2017 prices for these cruises and how to reserve space on these historic river cruises!
(**This cruise seamlessly integrates into this Bullecourt Centenary Tour as the tour finishes on the 12th April and the cruise starts on the 13th April.)
*Also worth considering is staying on in Europe and taking our 99TH Anniversary 1 day Anzac Day tour from Paris to the Villers-Bretonneux Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day 25 April, 2017.
Day 1 – Friday 7 April 2017
Arrive at your Lille hotel for overnight accommodation prior to departure after breakfast the following morning on your tour.
Accommodation: 3-4* Lille Hotel
Day 2 – Saturday 08 April 2017
9.00 am – After breakfast and loading baggage we depart hotel for our short drive to the Ypres Salient. During our day we will have visits to: (Lunch at restaurant en-route)
Messines Ridge – 3rd Australian Division attack
Ploegsteert Visitor centre (new) (entry included)
Toronto Avenue Cemetery (The only all Australian cemetery in Belgium)
Hill 60 - Australian Tunnelling Corps Memorial
Menin Road & Polygon Wood - 5th (Australian) Division Memorial
Canadian 'Brooding Soldier Memorial' Vancouver Corner: First Gas attack
Late afternoon check-in to our 3* Ypres area hotel.
Early dinner before Menin Gate ceremony or late dinner after (own expense). (Note. You can also see the Menin Gate Ceremony the following night if you wish to have a free evening.
8.00 pm - This evening we will experience the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony. After the ceremony free to wander around this beautiful Flemish market town completely rebuilt after WW1.
Accommodation: *3-4 star Ypres area hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 – Sunday 09 April 2017 ( *Vimy Centenary: The Battle of Vimy Ridge: Canada)
Today is the official ceremony for Canada's WW1 Battle of Vimy Ridge. This very famous all Canadian WW1 battle marked the beginning of Canada's independence. (Note: We shall be keeping well away from the Vimy area near Arras today as with over 30,000 visitors expected for the official Centenary event today traffic will be extremely difficult.) After breakfast we will depart in our coach to the battlefield of Fromelles where we visit the tragic battlefield of 19 - 20 July 1916, where Australia incurred the greatest loss in its history.
At Fromelles we will visit:
VC Corner Australian Cemetery
Pheasant Wood military cemetery (Fromelles) – including the WW1 Museum (*entry included)
Early afternoon we will return to Ypres visiting enroute:
Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke – entry included (allowing minimum 2hours)
(We will have a picnic lunch in the grounds here weather permitting)
Tyne Cot War Cemetery. The largest British/Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world. 3 VC winners are buried here.
We then arrive back in Ypres late afternoon. Free evening to take in this lovely ancient market town and maybe take in the Menin Gate ceremony if you did not attend the previous night.
Accommodation: 3*+ Ypres area hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 – Monday 10 April 2017
Checkout from hotel after breakfast this morning and travel south to the bloodbath that was the Australian sectors of the Western Front, with our first stop at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and cemetery. This morning we will learn about the history of this famous memorial and the 2nd battle of Villers-Bretonneux where the Aussies saved the day (and the war) in a bloodthirsty battle on Anzac Day 1918. After our visit here we will then visit nearby Adelaide Cemetery and the newly refurbished *Franco- Australian (Victoria School) Museum in Villers Bretonneux, then a well- deserved lunch at the delightful Le Moulin des Ecrevisses restuarant near Amiens. After lunch we will head north to the lovely city of Amiens for a quick tour, learning about how the Australians saved the city as if this fell in 1918 the war would have had a very different outcome. We then head back past Villers-Bretonneux to Monash's greatest victory at Le Hamel Memorial Park and then Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, scene of probably the worst bloodbath in casualty numbers in Australia's history with over 23,000 men killed and wounded in 6 weeks in a futile effort to take a non- important piece of ground. Whilst in the vicinity we will also visit the Lochnagar Crater, scene of the greatest mine warfare explosion in the world, and heard as far away as London. Time & traffic permitting will also visit Thiepval for a photo opportunity, the soaring Lutyens Somme memorial to the British. We then travel north again to Arras for our hotel for the next 2 nights. Dinner tonight is free for you to wander this delightful town, all but blasted into oblivion in WW1.
Accommodation: 3*+ star hotel Arras area:
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 – Tuesday 11 April 2017 (Bullecourt Centenary Day)
Today is our very special 'Battle of Bullecourt' Centenary Day as we travel 20 klm eastward from Arras towards Bullecourt to visit the battlefield and remember the 100th anniversary of the two terrible battles of Bullecourt in April and May of 1917 - commanded by General Hubert Gough, chief of the British 5th Army. (It is interesting to note that post war Gough was slated for his many questionable battle commands with the 5th Army and barely survived a call for him to be court martialled in 1919 by LLoyd George. Today is being deliberately left flexible as we visit the "Digger" and "Slouch Hat" Memorials and *Bullecourt War Museum and also walk the Bullecourt battlefields with our expert guide/historian covering in detail the 'how why and where' for these two great battles that nearly brought the AIF to its knees.
After a picnic lunch (included) we move on to Mont St. Quentin to learn about the bitter battle in 1918 and see the inspiring Australian Memorial. We will also see the St Quentin Canal area and visit:
Sites of the American & Australian attacks on the St Quentin Canal line
The mouth of the St Quentin Canal tunnel
Le Quesnoy. NZ Division's final fight of WW1 (Only if time permitting)
(*This afternoon section could be reversed due to the timing of any official Bullecourt ceremony) Return to our hotel for relaxed farewell group dinner in the hotel.)
Remainder of evening at leisure.
Accommodation: 3*+ star hotel Arras area
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 – Wednesday 12 April 2017
After breakfast this morning we check out and head back to Lille, stopping en-route to visit the breathtaking Vimy Canadian Memorial just outside of Arras nearby. After our Vimy visit we then continue onto Lille arriving in Lille around 12 midday where our tour finishes at the Lille Europe Station.
*For those passengers taking the' Tulip Serenade' 8 day Amadeus River Cruise from Amsterdam tomorrow (13th -20 April) we suggest that you take the 9am TGV fast train from Arras to Lille then connect with the NS International 2hr-40 minute direct TGV fast train from Lille to Amsterdam arriving around 3pm in Amsterdam.
Highly experienced and knowledgeable military historian and guide throughout
Executive standard coach used throughout the tour (*wifi on coach if fitted)
Dedicated experienced coach driver throughout tour
1 nights 3*+ accommodation in Lille
2 nights' 3*+ accommodation in Ypres area
2 nights' 3*+ accommodation in Arras area
Breakfast daily whilst on tour
Museum entrance fees:
Ploegsteert visitor centre
Passchendaele Museum, Zonnebeke
Fromelles WW1 Museum
Bullecourt War Museum
Franco-Australian Museum (Memorial School), Villers-Bretonneux
Special deluxe souvenir colour tour booklet
High quality commemorative clothing: hat and backpack including unique travel blanket
Rainproof Poncho/Heat blanket
Twin/Double Room: Per Person: AUD $2230
Single Supplement: AUD $760
(*Final tour price is subject to currency fluctuation(s) adjustment(s) at all times prior to full payment.)
Costs do not include:
Lunches, dinners and beverages not detailed above
Tips, porterage and all personal extras
Transport/trains to and from start and end point (Start Tour: Lille End Tour: Arras/Lille)
* Subject to currency fluctuation & confirmation at time of booking.
Minimum passenger numbers apply
Terms & Conditions:
Deposit of €300 (Euro) per person to confirm booking
Final Payment 100 days prior to departure
Please see website for full Terms & Conditions
Baggage: Baggage is generally restricted to 1 large suitcase and 1 item of hand baggage per person.
* Further information for baggage on tours is shown in our Terms and Conditions
For all enquiries or booking please contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1634 233785
"N'oublions jamais l'Australie" (Let us never forget Australia)