Whilst the Dawn Service at Gallipoli is famous the world over with both Australians and New Zealanders as the most revered of the overseas Anzac Day ceremonies, the ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux, first initiated in 1998 (situated on the Australian sector of the WW1 Western Front in Northern France) has rapidly gained ground to become "the" ceremony to attend now if you are looking to combine Anzac Day with your overseas trip to Europe or the UK.
On 25 April 2019, it is the 101st anniversary of the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on 24/25 April 1918, where the Australians halted - then smashed through the German advance and retook Villers-Bretonneux, (taken by the Germans on the 23/24th April), saving Amiens and in the process forever changing the course of the war in the Allies favour. This ferocious and historic battle is also famous for being the first tank - tank battle of the war.
For 2019 we will be again operating our very popular special 1 Day/Night tour from Paris to Villers-Bretonneux in France for the world famous Australian Anzac Day service at Villers-Bretonneux. We would be delighted if you could join us for this very special event.
About the 2nd Battle of Villers-Bretonneux: A small village about 20 kilometres from Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux was strategically very important as an observation point for an attack on Amiens. It is famous as the area where the Germans nearly broke through the Allied defences during the German spring offensive of 1918. The German High Command worked out that if they captured Amiens, then pushed quickly to the coast they would split the Allied Forces in two and win the war - or at least sue for peace on their terms. Their first major offensive to take Amiens had actually reached the Villers-Bretonneux area, before being stopped in the first battle of Villers-Bretonneux in early April.
Brigadier General Grogan VC,who saw the 2nd attack on Villers-Bretonneux on 24/25th April, described the successful counter attack by night at short notice across unknown and difficult ground as "perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war". The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, also referred to the "altogether astonishing valiance" (valour) of the Australians with this successful attack.
Date: Departs: Wednesday 24th April 2019: (Exact address confirmed 4 weeks prior)
Date: Returns: Wed. 25th April 2019: (Exact address confirmed 4 weeks prior)
Tour Code: PREMIUM: VB191DPAR
Tour Guide: Fully certified Spirit of Remembrance Battlefield Guide
Price P/Person: €440.00 (Approx A$696.00) (Payment in Euros)
*Note* 05 November 2018: Due March 2019 UK Brexit event price on this tour has now increased by 5% (€22 per person) effective immediately from *previous pre 5 November 2018 price of €418 PP to €440 PER PERSON:
(Note: Any bookings already fully paid at this date (05 Nov 2018) will not be subject to this increase)
* Note: Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
Please NOTE that you *could* be required to register with DVA for SECURITY CLEARANCE if you are attending this event. DVA have yet to advise us on registration procedure - and if it is actually required for this event. We will advise clients once we have been advised by DVA. Check here for previous (2018) registration details.
The new SJM Interpretive Centre
We will also be visiting the new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, opened on the Anzac Day Villers-Bretonneux centenary 2018 by Australia's Prime Minister (then..) Malcom Turnbull.
Wednesday 24 April, 2019: (11.30pm (Approx) Assemble at departure point in Paris.(This will be in the vicinity of Gare du Nord Station. *Exact pickup point to be advised approximately 4 weeks prior to tour departure date)
2400 (Midnight) Coach departs for Villers-Bretonneux.
0230-0300 (2.30-3 am) (25 April 2019) Arrive Villers-Bretonneux AWM. The major part of the service starts at 5.30 am - so once we arrive we will be dropped off by our coach at the memorial about 3-3.30 am. From here we will undergo airport type security screening before we are provided with hot coffee, tea and croissants before seating ourselves ready for the ceremony. It is usually VERY cold before dawn at the memorial so be prepared and wear layered clothing as the day will change from sub freezing temperatures in the early morning to usually quite a warm day.(You will have a Spirit rainproof poncho/thermal blanket in case it rains).
DVA Release for previous Dawn Service Villers-Bretonneux 2018
The Official Anzac Day Dawn Service - Australian National Memorial
Entrance to the site is via the promenade at the front of the memorial, and you will walk 300 metres uphill through the cemetery to the memorial site. The surface is grass and may be slippery if damp. Safety lighting is installed at the entrance and through the cemetery, but you may wish to bring a torch to assist with visibility.
Temporary seating is installed at the site. Seating will be made available for only a limited amount of people so we suggest seats are taken shortly after arrival. Reserved seating is only available for official delegates and for visitors with limited mobility (please advise us if you have limited mobility as space is limited and must be requested in advance - we cannot guarantee seats). If seating is full, there will be standing room on the grassed areas to the side and rear of the seats.
0200 (2am) Pre-Service program starts at 2.00 am. Commemorative program to explore the Australian experience of WW1.
0430 am: (4.30am) Be seated for start of service at 0530 (5.30 am).
5:30 am: Dawn Service commences. A truly historic event.
Should you have relatives buried here please advise us previously - or your guide so he can locate them or consult the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website at www.cwgc.org
(**We can also provide wreaths for you to lay if you advise us in advance)
After the Service: Finish at 0730 am. Please join other group members on the promenade area ready for pickup between 0800-0830. (8 - 8.30am)
What facilities are available during the Dawn Service?
Temporary toilets, including disabled toilets, and hand washing facilities
First Aid Services
Bottled Water (free)
After the Ceremony
Once the service is over (7.30-8 am) we will then wait to board our coach out the front of the memorial before travelling to the delightful Le Moulin des Ecrevisses restuarant nearby for a well deserved and superb hot breakfast/lunch (brunch).
We will then travel back to Villers-Bretonneux and our visit to both the Franco-Australian Museum and the Sir John Monash Centre.
1230 (12.30 pm) Our visit to the newly refurbished *Musee Franco-Australien (museum) and the famous "Lā Ecole Victoria" (Victoria School). ("Never forget Australia")
1400 (2.00 pm) (Approx) Visit to the new and breathtaking technological Sir John Monash Centre
After this, in the late afternoon we will visit Pozieres and the Windmill Memorial, plus 1st Australian Memorial, and Mouquet Farm. Hear the Australian story of the the living hell of bloody Pozieres and how - in this horrific battle - Australia took over 23,000 casualties in 6 weeks with over 6800 men killed in action.
We will then depart for Paris via a short stop in the area of the charming small town of Albert and hear about the 'Statue of Mary' in WW1, and how this lovely but strategic town was nearly shelled into oblivion in WW1.
Note: We will also be including a stop for a light evening snack meal en-route late afternoon.
2230-2300 (1030-11pm) approximate arrival time back at our Paris drop off point.
(This timing is approximate! We strongly suggest you do not book any connecting travel arrangements in conjunction with our arrival time in case of delay.)
The weather in the Somme region in April can be extremely cold (close to freezing). The Australian National Memorial site is exposed to the elements and is normally VERY cold before and after dawn. You should ensure you are appropriately equipped for cold, wet, and windy weather, and take appropriate clothing with you when you disembark from the coach. The ground surface of the National Memorial is grass, so warm socks and waterproof shoes should be worn. * Included in your tour inclusions are a waterproof raincoat/poncho that also doubles as reflective heat blanket and a foldable travel blanket/pillow.
What should I take with me?
Rucksack. (Note: you will receive as part of your tour a commemorative backpack to use as a small bag - it is quite useful to store things in)
Wet weather jacket. (You will also receive in your SOR commemorative tour kit a thick waterproof poncho)
Warm, layered, thermal clothing, jacket, hat or cap, gloves, scarf (* You also will receive a thermal (*Thinsulate) wool beanie (or cap) - AND - a 'zip up pillow' that folds out to a warm blanket) from us as part of your commemorative tour kit).
Comfortable, sturdy walking shoes
Lighter clothing for later during the day when it warms up to ave. temp of around 15-18 degrees.
Drinking water and snack
As detailed, there will be an excellent SOR commemorative souvenir pack (included with your SOR satchel/shoulder bag) for everyone travelling on the tour including your Villers-Bretonneux ANZAC day commemorative tour booklet.
*Please note all timings are approximate and that the itinerary is subject to change at all times due to reasons beyond our control, particularly with French security control measures which do change sometimes now without prior warning. Also, we cannot guarantee the return arrival time in Paris that evening/night so we recommend that you do not make travel plans for that evening.
Services of an EXPERT *highly qualified Battlefield Guide & Historian (*Guild of Battlefield Guides) for the duration of tour with specific knowledge on Australian battles in France & Belgium in WW1
The tour uses the same luxury coach throughout the tour with the services of two experienced
*Full comprehensive HOT BRUNCH
Light evening 'Picnic' snack meal
Attendance at Anzac Day ceremony Villers-Bretonneux
Commemorative high quality Anzac Day gifts:
High quality full colour souvenir book of the tour
Combined Travel Blanket/Pillow
High quality waterproof rain poncho.
Thinsulate® Beanie or cap
Plastic Baggage Tags
Western Front Maps (Incl. in book)
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE
Meals and snacks as not included as above
Museum fees (if applicable) unless specified as above
Items of a personal nature
Please Note: Hand Luggage only: We cannot take large suitcases on this day tour.
NO child rate applies & infants (under 5 years) cannot be taken on this tour unless previously approved.
Please CONTACT US to book or if you require more information regarding our tour to this moving and wonderful ceremony. Space is strictly limited on the tour and at the ceremony.