PRIVATE FAMILY WW1 AUSTRALIAN TOURS
Small private WW1/WW2 custom made tours are ideal for for families retracing family and genealogy/history ties. On your private custom made tour our Driver/Guides meet you in London, Amiens, (France - WW1) Arras (France-WW1) or Lille (Belgium - WW1-WW2) Europe Station either with a private *car (*1-4 persons) or mini-coach (*for numbers over 8 persons). From experience, Arras is the perfect centre for us to commence your tour from as our experienced Australian history guide(s) can meet you here to start your tour and drop you back here or in Amiens or Lille. Arras is within striking distance of all three major battlefields and we know it extremely well. We think the ideal tour for Australians is a minimum of a day on the Arras & nearby Australian Battlefields, a day on the Somme and a day in the Ypres area, a total of 3 days & 2 nights in total - or 3 nights and 4 days for a more leisurely experience!
One day tours from London (as well as 2, 3 and 4 day tours) to the Somme, (Pozieres, Villers-Bretonneux, Mouqet Farm) Loos and Arras WW1 Australian WW1 battlefields are reachable from London in one day providing the Eurotunnel runs to schedule as we take this from Folkestone to Calais to cross to France and return. Pick up time at a London hotel is around 7am ( approx) and drop off time of approx. 9 - 10pm - depending on traffic, however this is a very long day.
A one day tour tour of Ypres region is also possible from London - but involves a very early start (6 am) and late return (1 am) if the essential Menin Gate Memorial service is to be included. This is NOT possible in winter (Nov-April) as it is dark at 3-30-4pm. If Ypres is to be included from any location pickup - especially London - we would strongly suggest an overnight stay in France/Belgium and make it a 2 day overnight tour.
It is not possible to operate either 1 or 2 day tours from London for WW2 tours in France and Europe. We can HOWEVER arrange 3 day+ plus tours and pickup and drop off from Paris or Amsterdam hotels to cover 'custom made' Normandy and France WW2 actions - and also the liberation of the Netherlands (Holland) WW2 battles.
Please email us for further information (& an outline of your requirements) so we can provide you with your 'no obligation' private itinerary and price quote.
Note that costs for these tours are on application as to including any Genealogy research, meals and accommodation and any other client requested inclusions - as these costs are always separate to our direct transport costs.
Points of Australian Interest to visit for WW1: YPRES
The Menin Gate Memorial: Ypres Sir Reginald Blomfield's iconic British and Commonwealth memorial which commemorates the 55 THOUSAND 'missing of the Ypres salient men'. The last post ceremony is held here every night at 8pm. Not to be missed. Never to be forgotten.
The Cloth Hall: Ypres A beautiful example of Flemish/European architecture in the Grote Markt in Ypres. This incredible building contains the 'In Flanders Fields Museum' A visit to the belfry offers you a view over the city and the surrounding battlefields. Destroyed during the Great War, totally rebuilt by German funds and now surrounded by many top restaurants, bars & shops where you can buy world-famous Belgian Chocolate and Belgian Wheat Beer.!
Essex Farm British Cemetery and Dressing Station - Is nearby to Ypres. This is where John McCrae wrote the most famous poem of the war 'In Flanders Fields.' A truly sacred site. Surgeon John McCrae did not live to see the end of the war, and died on January 28, 1918, of pneumonia and is buried in Wimereux Cemetery in France.
Tyne Cot Cemetery: is the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world and within a short walk of the battlefields for the battle of Passchendaele 1917. (It is actually part of the Passchendaele battlefield.) This remarkable and truly memorable cemetery is the largest British cemetery in the world with 11,956 Commonwealth war dead, including 1,369 Australians (791 of them unidentified) making Tyne Cot the war cemetery with the most Australians burials in Europe. On the cemetery walls are engraved the names of 34,957 soldiers who have no known grave and died after August 15, 1917 - because they simple ran out of space on the Menin Gate to record further soldiers deaths. Buried here are also 2 Australian VCs: the VC graves of Captain Clarence Jeffreys and Sergeant Lewis McGee.
Battlefields of Fromelles & Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery and the Fromelles museum.
This commemorates the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 when the Australian 5th Division and British 61st Division lost over 7000 men in a diversionary attack ordered by Haig, that went terribly and horribly wrong, and became Australia's worst ever loss of men in a day in any battle. There are interesting memorials and cemeteries nearby including VC Corner. The newly built Pheasant Wood Cemetery contains 250 graves of which 22 are Australian recovered from nearby burial pits.
VC Corner Fromelles. One of the saddest places on the Western Front which is an Australian mass-grave of 410 bodies found on the battlefield after the war and could not be identified. The stunning 'Cobbers' memorial by Peter Corlett, stands in the nearby memorial park, where there are remains of concrete block houses.
Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and Berks Cemetery extension which contains 876 graves mostly Australian, which were moved to this location from Rosenberg Chateau cemetery in 1925.
Mud Corner Cemetery Ploegsteert Wood. The cemetery was used from 7 June 1917, when the New Zealand Division captured Messines, to December 1917. All of the 85 burials, save one, are of New Zealand or Australian forces.
Messines Ridge & Hill 60. Explore one of the 19 mine craters of Messines and the Ridge Captured on 7 June 1917. Visit the memorial dedicated to the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company at the notorious Hill 60.
Polygon Wood & The Buttes Cemetery. Where the memorial to the 5th Australian Division stands and the memorial to the New Zealand Division Missing of the local fighting. An annual Dawn Service is also held here on ANZAC Day - as well as at Villers-Bretonneux, the WW1 Australian War Memorial. This is a cemetery in a beautiful location, which contains over 2000 graves - the majority Australian.
Points of Australian Interest to visit for WW1: SOMME
Villers Bretonneaux Australian National Memorial was the last of the Commonwealth Memorial to be completed in 1938 and was unveiled by King George VI. It records the names of 10,720 Australians missing in France. The 6191 Australians Missing in Belgium have their names recorded on the Menin Gate. The memorial stands in a beautiful location and now contains the brand new Sir John Monash Centre which is a brilliant experience. The famous Villers-Bretonneux Anzac Day service is held here every year on Anzac Day. Villers Bretoneaux Village which was lost and won back on 24-25th April 1918, is only 1 mile from the memorial and is twinned with Robinvale in Australia. The local school contains the newly refurbished Franco-Australian Museum which tells the story of Australia's involvement in the area and the special ongoing Australian relationship with the town through a large collection of objects, letters and memorabilia.
Australian Corps Memorial Le Hamel. This memorial park is on the trench site which was part of the The Battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918 when the Australian Corps was commanded for the first time by Sir John Monash.
Pozieres Windmill. The ruins of the mill now forms the memorial to the Australian 2nd Division and stands on the highest point of the Somme Battlefield. It reminds us that the Australian dead 'fell more thickly here' than on any other battlefield. It cost 22,000 Australian casualties to take Pozieres during the savage July & August 1916 fighting. The Tank Memorial Pozieres, stands at the edge of the Albert-Bapaume road opposite the Windmill and commemorates the first use of Tanks in warfare on 15 September 1916.
First Australian Division Pozieres. Stands at the head of the village opposite the ruins of a block house "Gibraltar' where a new park and viewing platform has been made and financed by the Australian Government.
Second Australian Division Memorial St Quentin stands on the 'Avenue Des Australiens' near the Rue D'Allaines intersection Peronne and can be seen from the road. The original memorial was a statue of a digger, killing an eagle with his bayonet. It was destroyed by the Germans in World War II. In 1971, it was replaced by a bronze statue of a Digger after the war.
Points of Australian Interest: ARRAS
Bullecourt Battlefield. This lays in open farmland and is evocative in every sense, particularly when one knows of the ferocious blood letting which took place there in April & May 1917. It is only a small area and can be viewed easily. Many hundreds of Australian soldiers without any known grave still lie here - under the now gentle pastures The village contain an excellent museum about the battle and the Canberra café serves VERY cold beer.
Mouevres Cemetery Extension This contains the grave of Lieutenant Charles Pope VC 11th Battalion AIF, who was killed at Lagnicourt on 15 April 1917, who died a real 'hero's death' 'facing fearful odds.'
The Ring of Remembrance at Notre dame de Lorette, (Nr Vimy Ridge) French cemetery contains the names of 558,000 Germans, French & British Commonwealth Soldiers killed in the area in 1914-18, which by far the greatest number are British Commonwealth with 298,000. There are many Australian & Canadian names here also.