* This special QUALITY 5 night 6 day mainly all-inclusive tour includes a number of premium inclusions such as most meals, a dedicated battlefield/historian guide as well as a dedicated driver, high quality tour mementos and a carefully researched and balanced itinerary that covers most of the areas and battles where the Australians fought along the Western Front. It also includes the *official Australian *DVA centenary ceremony for the Battle of Polygon Wood
IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE: 02 February 2017
Revised Security Arrangements France & Belgium: Pre-Registration is now MANDATORY!
We have just received new advice from the Australian DVA (Dept of Veteran Affairs) regarding revised French security arrangements for all future official DVA Australian Remembrance events for WW1 in France and Belgium.
These security arrangements are ONLY for official DVA events: Anzac Day Villers-Bretonneux 2017 (25 April), Bullecourt Centenary 2017 (25 April), Polygon Wood Centenary 2017 (26 September), Villers-Bretonneux Anzac Day Centenary 2018, (25 April) Le Hamel Centenary 2018 (4 July) and the 2018 Armistice Centenary ceremony (11/11) Further details:
Please NOTE that you MUST register DIRECTLY with DVA for SECURITY CLEARANCE if you are attending the Polygon Wood Centenary. registration link is HERE:
*Remembering the three huge battles that the Australian 1st & 2nd Anzac Corps fought in this area:
(20 September 1917: Battle of Menin Road (Australian 1st & 2nd Divisions of 1st Anzac Corps)
(26 September 1917: Polygon Wood: Australian 1st Anzac Corps- 4th & 5th divisions)
(4 October 1917: Broodseinde: Australian 1st & 2nd Anzac Corps: 1st, 2nd & 3rd divisions & the NZ Division, with the 1st Australian Corps taking Broodseinde & 2nd Corps capturing Tyne Cot.)
(9-12 October 1917: Passchendaele: The terrible 'Mud and Blood' of the infamous and horrific battle of Passchendaele where on 12 October 1917 NZ suffered its worse loss in its military history in their attack alongside the Australian 3rd and 4th Division on 9 & 12 October.)
(Our 2017 Centenary Passchendaele Tour is now released: click here).
The exhausted Australians and NZ troops were then relieved by the Canadians who finally took Passchendaele on 10th November - a month later - at a cost of 9 Victoria Crosses, and over 4000 Canadians killed and 12,000 wounded. 12,749 Australians died in Belgium during World War One, many in the Third Battle of Ypres around Polygon Wood. A 'victory'?
Militarily, the ANZAC reputation stood sky-high at the end of WW1 and along with the Canadians, they were regarded as among the most elite fighting troops in the British Expeditionary Force – tough, battle hardened and ruthless, they were greatly feared by the Germans and grudgingly admired even by their nemesis - the British High Command. On this very special Polygon Wood Centenary Tour we follow in their footsteps to the places where the Australian reputation was established on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918.
"Our artillery opened in a single magnificent crash and thousands of shells screamed through the air and burst in a long, straight line of flame and destruction about 200 yards [180 metres] ahead of the waiting infantry … the 4,000 men of the six attacking battalions dashed forward at a run. Somewhere behind the line of destruction lay their victims, shuddering in their pillboxes, staggered by the sudden commotion, dazed by the concussion of the shells … then, slowly, very slowly it [the barrage] crept forward. A long line of skirmishers disengaged itself from the dense mass of men and followed the advancing screen of shells …
"Above their heads thousands of machine gun bullets cut the air as they whistled shrilly past on their destined way, and the strident din of many Vickers guns throbbed through the troubled morning air. But these were but the tinkling wood–wind notes in the hell's orchestra that played about them. For the deafening crash of the rapid firing 18–pounders, the hoarser roar of the scores of heavy guns behind them and the stupefying concussion of shrapnel and high explosive shells in the barrage in front were by now all mingled in the hideous rhythmical clamour of the perfect drum–fire barrage. Thus, at 5.50 a.m. on the 26 September 1917, was the Division launched into the Battle of Polygon Wood"
( Captain Alexander Ellis - "The Story of the Fifth Australian Division" London, 1919, pp.244-245)
At a Glance...
Tour: Best for Australian, NZ participants
Your guide: SOR Australian WW1 Expert Battlefield Guide
Dates: Sunday 24 – Friday 29 September 2017
Duration: 5 Nights/6 Days
Starts: Lille (France) Finishes: Arras/Lille
Tour Code: POL176LIL
Tour Cost: Euro €1620.00 (Approx A$2250.00) Per Person Share Twin/Double (*Payment in €)
Single Room Supplement: Euro €490.00 (Approx A$680.00) (Payment in €)
CRUISE BONUS! AWARD WINNING AMADEUS CRUISES!
Early Bird 3% Discount on all cruise prices! More Information
Day 1 – Sunday 24 September 2017
Arrive at your Lille hotel for overnight accommodation prior to departure after breakfast the following morning on your tour.
Accommodation: *4 star Lille Hotel
Day 2 – Monday 25 September 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 visit to:
• Essex Farm Cemetery - Dressing station where a Canadian surgeon wrote the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" and the story of the Poppy was born. (*Time permitting)
• Langemarck German Cemetery – A contrast in styles. (*Time permitting)
• Messines Ridge – 3rd Australian Division attack
• Ploegsteert Visitor centre ("Plugstreet") (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 (*depends on following day)
• * Special Bonus!* Lunch at our our wonderful (secret) provincial French restaurant en route.
• Broodseinde NZ Memorial Scene of ANZAC success in October 1917.
• Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke – entry included
• Tyne Cot War Cemetery The largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world. 2 Australian VC winners are buried here.
• Late afternoon/evening check-in to our 3-4* Ypres area hotel.
• Early dinner before Menin Gate ceremony or late dinner after ceremony (own expense).
8.00 pm - This evening we experience the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony. After the ceremony free to wander around this beautiful Flemish market town completely rebuilt after WW1. Note that tomorrow is a VERY early start for the Dawn Service at Polygon Wood.
Accommodation: *3-4 star Ypres Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 – Tuesday 26 September 2017 (Polygon Wood Centenary)
We will leave our hotel VERY early this morning - probably about 2-3 am (*exact timings yet to be confirmed) in time for today's Dawn Service which will be conducted at the Buttes New British Cemetery- location of the 5th Australian Divisional memorial, located about 2 km south of the Belgian village of Zonnebeke and approximately 9 km east of the city of Ieper (Ypres). We will be using the new 'park and ride service' from a nearby assembly area, which will feature full airport style security screening before we board the shuttle coaches to and from the site of the service. More info here
After the ceremony and time to reflect and walk this hallowed ground we will leave for a hearty breakfast nearby. After breakfast we will return to Ypres to rest up and enjoy the rest of the day which is at leisure. This could be a good opportunity to visit any relatives graves nearby or to revisit at leisure any of the major historical areas we visited yesterday. Remember this area besides the Battle of Polygon Wood also encompassed the battle of Menin Road (prior to Polygon Wood) Broodseinde, and the bloody terrible battle of Passchendaele. (* Today's activities will be flexible and we could amend our itinerary - however at this stage we do not intend to.) Tonight we will enjoy a lovely group dinner and then a free evening in this delightful market town.
Accommodation: *3-4 star Ypres Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – Wednesday 27 September 2017
Check out and depart hotel after breakfast with packed lunches for the Fromelles area in France.
Battle of Fromelles - 19 July 1916 - 20 July 1916. Fromelles, in Northern France, was the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front. It was intended primarily as a feint to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive then being pursued further to the south. In the early evening of 19 July 1916, near the village of Fromelles, two infantry divisions newly arrived on the Western Front, the 5th Australian and British 61st (South Midland) attacked a 4,000 yard section of the German frontline centred on a notorious strongpoint called the "Sugar Loaf".
Advancing over unfavourable ground, in clear view of resolute and expectant defenders, the attackers suffered terrible casualties in a matter of minutes. The action turned into a bloody catastrophe - the Australians had over 5,500 killed, wounded and missing; the 61st Division reported over 1,500 killed, wounded and missing. No tactical advantages resulted from the action and it still remains today as the worst day in Australian military history.
We will visit the 1916 Fromelles battlefield, including:
• VC Corner Australian Cemetery and the famous "*Cobbers" Memorial (*Sergeant Simon Fraser - killed at Bullecourt a year later) - commemorating the rescue of Australian wounded soldiers from 'no-man's-land
• Pheasant Wood cemetery - Completed in July 2010, Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery is the first new war cemetery to be built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in fifty years. The cemetery contains 250 Australian and British soldiers, whose remains were recovered in 2009 from mass graves behind nearby Pheasant Wood, where they had been buried by the Germans following the battle of Fromelles. Further identification has now resulted in the commemoration of a further 6 Australian soldiers - made at a moving centenary ceremony on 19 July, 2016.
• Visit to Fromelles Museum (admission included)
• Packed picnic lunch provided
After lunch we then travel towards the ancient town of Arras, all but shelled into oblivion in the war and now complety rebuilt as a very lovely medieval town. Before Arras we detour to visit the inspiring Canadian Vimy Park and the stunning Vimy Memorial - built to commemorate the famous Canadian Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9-12 1917, where the Canadians, fighting together for the first time as one military force, pushed the German defenders off Vimy Ridge at enormous sacrifice, and in the process achieving the beginning of the establishment of Canada as an independant nation. (Vimy Ridge day on 9 April is to all Canadians as Anzac Day is to all Australians). We then move onto Arras and our visit to the Wellington Quarry which was an old Roman underground quarry and played a pivotal role in WW1. Today it is a superb museum detailing the work of the NZ tunnelers in WW1 and the battle of Arras. (Admission included) Dinner tonight is included at a lovely Arras restaurant right on the picturesque Arras city square.
Accommodation: 3-4* Hotel: Arras area:
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 – Thursday 28 September 2017:
Leave our hotel after breakfast this morning and travel south to the bloodbath that was the principal 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 restaurant 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. Dinner tonight is free for you to wander this delightful town.
Accommodation: 3-4* Hotel: Arras area:
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 – Friday 29 September 2017:
Today is the last day of our tour. After breakfast and checking out of our hotel we travel 20 klm eastward from Arras towards Bullecourt to visit the battlefield and remember 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. We will 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 an early 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
We then return to Arras aboout 5pm (passengers can leave here at Arras train station - Arras is 1 hour by fast train from Lille or Paris) or stay on the coach and return to Lille, where the tour will finish here after 7pm this evening..
• Highly experienced and knowledgeable military historian/guide throughout
• Executive standard coach used throughout the tour
• Dedicated experienced coach driver throughout tour
Attendance DVA Polygon Wood Centenary Ceremony
• 1 night 3*+ accommodation in Lille
• 2 nights' 3*+ accommodation in Ypres
• 2 nights' 3*+ accommodation in Arras area:
• Breakfast daily whilst on tour
• 4 lunches
• 2 dinners
• Museum entrance fees:
• Ploegsteert visitor centre
• Passchendaele Museum, Zonnebeke
• Fromelles WW1 Museum
• Wellington Quarry
• Franco-Australian Museum (Memorial School), Villers-Bretonneux
• Bullecourt War Museum
• Special deluxe souvenir colour tour booklet
• High quality commemorative clothing: incl: polo shirt, hat and backpack
(Note: 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/(airfares/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 Euro €300 per person (AUD $440 (approx) per person to confirm booking
• Final Payment 100 days prior to departure
• Please see website for full Terms & Conditions
• Note baggage is generally restricted to 1 large suitcase and 1 item of hand baggage per person.
* Further information for baggage on tours are shown in our Terms and Conditions
For all enquiries or booking please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1634 233785