This very special 3 night/4 day commemorative 2019 tour series closely follows the Australian actions on the WW1 Australian sector of the Western Front.
( ** For 2019 1 day tour(s): see our new ULTRA ex Paris 1 day tour to the Australian Western Front! )
Imagine a ditch – zigzagging from Melbourne to Canberra – about 700 klm long – this was the Western Front in WW1 - stretching from Belgium to the other side of France. Some 295,000 Australians served on the Western Front - where over 46,000 died and 134,000 were wounded or captured. As a proportion of its fighting force of men who were actually exposed to a theatre of war, it is widely accepted that Australia's armed forces in WW1 suffered more deaths, more hospitalisations for wounding, illness & injury than the armies of Britain, Germany, France, Canada or the United States.
The fighting prowess, bravery, mateship, and immense sacrifice of our soldiers here was - and will remain forever legendary. At the end of the war it was officially noted that "probably in no other year have Australians influenced the destiny of the world as Australian soldiers did by their achievements in these (and later) weeks of 1918." Marshal Foch (a prominent French General) reflected that "the passionate valour of the Australians served as an example to the whole world You saved Amiens, and you saved France". (2nd Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, Anzac Day, 1918).
Messines Ridge - Here we learn about the 3rd Australian Division attack. Messines was the scene of the greatest underground mine explosions in the war, and it was here for the first time Australians and New Zealanders were to fight side by side since Gallipoli in 2015. The Battle of Messines was the most complete success of any major Western Front attack by the Allies to that stage of the war.
Hill 60 - Australian Tunnelling Corps Memorial
Menin Road & Polygon Wood - 5th (Australian) Division Memorial
Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke
Broodseinde and Tyne Cot War Cemetery.Tyne Cot - beyond the Great Cross the headstones stretch away - row on row on row. There are 1,369 Australian graves here, 791 of them unidentified, making Tyne Cot the war cemetery with the most Australian burials in the world.
Menin Gate Ceremony
Battle of Fromelles: 19 July - 20 July 1916.
The 1916 Fromelles battlefield
VC Corner Australian Cemetery at Fromelles
'Cobbers' Memorial at Fromelles
Pheasant Wood cemetery at Fromelles
Visit to Fromelles Museum
Pozieres – Windmill Memorial & Tank Memorial & 1st Division Memorial. - In less than seven weeks in the fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties. Of these, 6,800 men were killed or died of wounds. It was a loss in a 8 week period between 23 July and 27th September 1916 that was comparable with the casualties sustained by the Australians over eight months at Gallipoli in 1915. It remains the largest casualties suffered in any battle in WW1 by Australia including Fromelles the previous week (19th/20th July 1916) to the start of the battle of Pozieres.
Thiepval Memorial (time permitting)
Bullecourt, the battlefield, the Digger and Slouch Hat Memorials and Bullecourt War Museum. Bullecourt, more than any other action on the Western Front this shook the Australian fighting mettle to the core. Hastily planned and mounted by the British High Command, the attack was launched on 11th April 1917 by the 4th Australian and 62nd British Divisions and was a shambles.
Tanks which were supposed to support the Australian infantry either broke down or were quickly destroyed. The infantry did however break through the German defences, but due to uncertainty as to how far they had advanced, supporting artillery fire was withheld, and eventually the Australians were hemmed in and forced to retreat. The two brigades of the 4th Division that carried out the attack, the 4th and 12th, suffered over 3,300 casualties; 1,170 Australians were taken prisoner - the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.
Mont St. Quentin to learn about the bitter battle in 1918 and what was described by Australian General Sir John Monash "that it furnished the finest example in the war of spirited and successful infantry action conducted by three divisions operating simultaneously side by side" including battalions from every Australian state. British Commander General Lord Rawlinson remarked that this feat by the Australian troops under Monash's command was the greatest of the war. Forced out of Péronne, the Germans then had to retreat to their last line of defence - the Hindenburg Line.
The inspiring Australian 2nd Division Memorial with its rich history.
The American & Australian attacks on the St Quentin Canal line
The mouth of the St Quentin Canal tunnel
The scene where Lt Joe Maxwell, MC and Bar, DCM, 18th Battalion AIF earned his VC.
Villers-Bretonneux -(Scene of 1st tank v tank action) where we will see:
Australian National Memorial: site of the annual Anzac Day Ceremony
Adelaide War Cemetery
The action that led to the VC for Lieutenant C.W.K Sadlier during the 2nd battle for Villers- Bretonneux on Anzac Day 1918.
(New!) Sir John Monash Interpretative Centre
Franco-Australian Museum at the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux
Australian Corps memorial Park – Le Hamel, including trench system.
At a Glance...
Your guide: A certified SOR Historian/Battlefield Guide
Dates: Tour commences Lille last Friday every month from end May 2019 to end October 2019
Duration: 3 Nights/4 Days
Starts: Lille (France) Finishes: Amiens/Lille (France)
Tour Code: FOOT194DLIL
Tour Cost: €1240.00 Per Person Share Twin/Double
Single Room Supplement: €460.00
Day 1 – Friday
8.00-0815 am – Meet Guide and coach at Lille Europe Station coach depot pickup area, then take the short drive to the Ypres Salient. During our day we will have visits to:
Messines Ridge – 3rd Australian Division attack, NZ Division attack.
Ploegsteert Visitor Centre (entry included)
Toronto Avenue Cemetery (The only all Australian cemetery in Belgium)
Hill 60 – Australian Tunnelling Company Memorial. 'Beneath Hill 60'
Menin Road & Polygon Wood – 5th (Australian) Division Memorial
Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke – entry included
Tyne Cot War Cemetery
Lunch at 'Anzac Rest' Zonnebeke
Late afternoon/evening check in to our Ypres area local 3-4* hotel
Early Dinner at a local restaurant (included)
8.00 pm – This evening we experience the Menin Gate Ceremony in Ypres. After the ceremony free to wander around this beautiful Flemish market town completely rebuilt after WW1 before retiring for the night at our hotel.
Accommodation: 3-4* Ypres area hotel
Meals: L D
Day 2 – Saturday
After an early breakfast and checkout we depart in our coach to the battlefield of Fromelles: 19-20 July 1916 where we visit:
The 1916 Fromelles battlefield
VC Corner Australian Cemetery
Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery (Fromelles)
Visit to the new Fromelles WW1 Museum (entry included)
The breathtaking Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial
We then travel onwards to the Somme region, stopping for lunch enroute. (included)
In the afternoon we visit:
Thiepval Memorial (time permitting)
Mouquet ("Moo-Cow") Farm
Pozieres – Windmill Memorial & Tank Memorial & 1st Division
We then travel to our 3-4* hotel in or near Arras, our home for the next 2 nights. Tonight we have a welcome group dinner.
Accommodation: To be advised. 3-4 star hotel - in or near to Arras.
Meals: B L D
DAY 3 – Sunday
After breakfast we then depart for Bullecourt to visit the battlefield, the "Digger" and "Slouch Hat" Memorials and *Bullecourt War Museum (*entry included.) We then move on to Mont St Quentin to learn about the bitter battle in 1918 and see the inspiring Australian Memorial. After a picnic lunch we travel to the St Quentin Canal area to visit:
Sites of the American & Australian attacks on the St Quentin Canal line
The mouth of the St Quentin Canal tunnel
Peronne: The taking of Peronne from the Germans by the tough and battle hardened Aussie troops. Today - Peronne - like Villers- Bretonneux - is a village in honour of the Australians - that is firmly 'Australia-centric'. After our afternoon here we return to our hotel for relaxed dinner nearby. Remainder of evening free.
Accommodation: To be advised. 3-4 star hotel - in or near to Arras
Meals: B L D
DAY 4 – Monday
After breakfast we leave the hotel to visit the 'jewel in the crown' of Australia's presence here on the Western Front, the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Here we will learn about this famous small town that is the now the centrepiece of the Australian sector of the Western Front in WW1. This morning we will also have a chance to wander around the memorial and visit the new $100M 'Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre' (SJM Interpretive Centre) – the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the Australian Remembrance Trail that opened on Anzac Day 25 April 2018.
We will also visIt the newly refurbished Musee Franco-Australien (museum) and the famous "Lâ€ Ecole Victoria" (Victoria School). After our visit we then travel to nearby Amiens for lunch (not included) and early afternoon at leisure to wander this lovely historic town with its famous UNESCO listed Amiens Cathederal. We will leave here mid afternoon for our trip back to Lille where the tour will finish. You can also if required leave the tour here in Amiens. Arrival back in Lille will be approximately 6pm where the tour finishes
Note! We also intend to visit today (*time and owner approval permitting*) Sir John Monash's beautiful Command HQ for the war - the beautiful Château de Bertangles. During World War I, the château was the Australian Forces Headquarters commanded by Australia's most famous General - Sir John Monash.
** Spirit of Remembrance meeting: M. Stanilas de Clermont-Tonnerre Chateau Bertangles, Sept 2017
On August 12, 1918, Monash was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath at the chateau by King George V, the first time a British monarch had honoured a commander in such a way in 200 years. On the evening of Anzac Day April 24th 2016, The Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove visited Bertangles to pay tribute to this amazing man and his men. It was here that Monash planned his defence of Amiens, his 92 minute battle masterpiece at Le Hamel and the tough tenacious fight that finally took Mont St Quentin - earning the Aussie lads 3 VCs. *This is an amazing and historic new addition to all our new 2018 tours.
• Highly experienced and knowledgeable Military Historian/ Battlefield Guide throughout
• Executive airconditioned transport
• 1 nights' 3-4* accommodation in Ypres area
• 2 nights' accommodation 3-4* in Arras area
• Breakfast daily whilst on tour (4 Breakfasts)
• 3 lunches
• 3 dinners
• Museum entrance fees
• Ploegsteert visitor centre
• Passchendaele Museum, Zonnebeke
• Fromelles WW1 Museum
• Bullecourt War Museum
• Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre – Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
• 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
(Please note: the itinerary is subject to change at the total discretion of the guide or events before or during the tour that are - or could be beyond our control.)
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE
Lunches, dinners, refreshments and beverages not detailed above
Tips, porterage and all personal extras
Transport/Trains to and from start and end point
Travel/Cancellation / Medical Insurance. (*YOU must have travel insurance for us to carry you on the tour)
Passport & related fees
Any optional excursion(s) not specifically stated
Items of a personal nature
Terms & Conditions of Booking:
(*Tour prices are subject to a minimum number of passengers travelling together )