11 Day Fully Escorted Battlefield Tour
From: 3 – 13 November 2018
Single Supplements Available
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World War I, 1914-1918, was the ‘Great War’, the ‘war to end all wars’. In that conflict, the most important battleground was the ‘Western Front’ in France and Belgium where great battles were fought with names that were once household words in Australia — Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele and Villers–Bretonneux. Of the more than 295,000 Australians who served in this theatre of war in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 46,000 lost their lives and 132,000 were wounded. Then at 11am on November 11, 1918 the guns fell silent on the Western Front and the First World War came to an end.
It is the centenary of the end of the Great War which will be commemorated with this in depth battlefield tour in 2018. Your battlefield trip will begin and end in Paris, with a spectacular farewell dinner on the river Seine. Our tour focuses on a unique range of activities and the venues have been carefully selected to enable you to experience the best local French and Belgium cuisine and the provincial charm of the areas visited. Our tour also includes all the key Australian battlefields, and will spend the centenary of the Armistice at a moving commemorative service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.Enquire Now
Day 1, 3 November – Those members travelling on our group flight will be met by your tour director and transferred to the hotel. Late afternoon, join your tour director and battlefield guide for a welcome reception and an opportunity to meet fellow tour members.
Day 2, 4 November – After breakfast we travel north by coach to visit the first of our Australian battlefields at Fromelles where the 5th Australian Division fought the disastrous action of 19/20 July 1916. We visit the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery and the nearby museum. After lunch we visit the battlefield, including the “Cobbers” Memorial, built on top of ruined German bunkers, and VC Corner cemetery, the only all-Australian war cemetery in France. Later we continue our journey to Ypres (now Ieper) in Belgium. After settling into the hotel, this evening explore your new surroundings.
Day 3, 5 November – Today we concentrate on the Australians’ experiences in the terrible Third Battle of Ypres (or simply “Passchendaele”); here we had 38,000 casualties over several weeks in the second half of 1917. For the AIF this was the most costly year of the war. We begin at Messines Ridge, the 3rd Australian Division’s first major action, then move via Hill 60 and Menin Road to Polygon Wood, where the 5th Division Memorial stands. We stop at the Passchendaele Memorial Museum to see the unique recreated dugout and trenches followed by lunch in the café. We then travel north to visit the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing. The largest Commonwealth War Cemetery, Tyne Cot contains over 11,000 graves including two Australian VC recipients. We then return to Ieper via the village of Passchendaele. This evening take the opportunity to try one of the many restaurants in the town square.
Day 4, 6 November – A leisurely day spent exploring the medieval city of Ieper, which was obliterated during the war and completely rebuilt in the years following. Begin with a unique experience by creating your own sculpture in remembrance of the 600,000 soldiers and civilians who died in Belgium during the Great War. We will enjoy lunch together in a restaurant located in the old casements of the city in what were formerly barracks used by British troops in the Third Battle of Ypres. We then visit the In Flanders Fields Museum, located inside the famous Cloth Hall. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town and its many cafes, book stores and of course chocolate shops. This evening we have dinner together before participating in the moving “Last Post” ceremony and wreath laying at the Menin Gate Memorial.
Day 5, 7 November – We leave Ieper this morning and travel south to the Somme battlefields of 1916, paying particular attention to the area around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, where the AIF suffered 23,000 casualties in several short weeks. See the poignant Windmill Memorial with its chilling acknowledgement: Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war, the 1st Australian Division Memorial, and the remains of the “Gibraltar” blockhouse. Lunch will be at nearby Albert, a town once familiar to every soldier serving on the Somme, where we will visit the museum situated in the tunnels beneath the Basilica. Other significant sites we will see are the Lochnagar mine crater at La Boiselle and Thiepval, where the great British Memorial to the Missing of the Somme stands. Late afternoon check into the hotel and freshen up for dinner.
Day 6, 8 November – Today we explore the main Australian battlefields of 1917. We travel to Bullecourt, via the Somme winter region around Butte de Warlencourt and Flers (where “trench foot”, the wet and the freezing cold was remembered by many old soldiers as the worst experience of the war). We then move via Bapaume, the town captured on 17 March 1917, and the Hindenburg outpost line villages to Bullecourt. Tour the battlefield where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties in capturing part of the notorious Hindenburg Line defences in April/May. We visit the local memorials, including the Bullecourt “Digger” and Le Taille Museum, which contains many battlefield artefacts from this area. Later return to the hotel.
Day 7, 9 November – We begin today with a visit to the village of Villers Bretonneux. Recaptured by our troops after a short German occupation in April 1918, it displays many signs of the local people’s appreciation of Australian efforts there. Our first stop is at Adelaide cemetery, the original resting place of the Unknown Australian Soldier now entombed in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Then visit the Franco-Australian museum situated in the Ecole Victoria (the Victorian School), rebuilt in the 1920s with funds donated by the Australian public. We also visit the Australian National Memorial, site of the official Dawn Service on the Western Front, and the newly opened Sir John Monash Centre. Nearby is the small village of Le Hamel, where we will discuss General Monash’s carefully planned and brilliantly executed attack which became the model for operations during the Allies’ final offensive of the war. Tonight enjoy the atmosphere of the canal waterfront.
Day 8, 10 November – We conclude our battlefield touring travelling east to visit the sites of Australian actions during the final months of the war. We begin at the town of Peronne, attacked by Australian forces in early September 1918. The capture of Mont St Quentin, on the outskirts of the town, was regarded by some British commanders as the “finest feat of arms by the Australians in the entire war”. We will also see Clery where Monash’s troops successfully crossed the Somme River to mount the attack, and the famous 2nd Australian Division Memorial. A visit to the Historiale de la Grand Guerre , a modern museum portraying conditions on the Western Front during the war, and our lunch break, ends the visit to Peronne. We then visit the tunnel on the St Quentin Canal at Bellicourt, part of the German Hindenberg Line defences breached by Australian forces in September 1918. Finally we travel to Montbrehain, scene of the last Australian action on the Western Front. This evening is free to enjoy dinner at leisure.
Day 9, 11 November – Today we attend the official service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The Armistice was an agreement concluded by representatives of France, Britain and Germany to end the fighting of the First World War, as a prelude to formal peace negotiations. Signed in General Foch’s personal railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne at 5.00 am on the 11th of November 1918, the document directed that hostilities would cease at 11 am that day. The armistice ran for 30 days but was regularly renewed until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 officially ended the war. The first modern conflict, World War 1 had seen the mobilisation of over 70 million people and had left between 9 and 13 million dead, many with no known grave. For Australia, a country of less than five million people, the human cost was particularly heavy, 416,809 men, representing 39% of 18 to 44 year olds enlisted, of whom over 61,000 were killed and almost 160,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. The anniversary of the armistice is marked each year on Remembrance Day, by one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11 November.
Day 10, 12 November – We head south today with a stop at Compiegne to view the location where the Armistice document was actually signed on 11 November 1918, before continuing to Paris. The afternoon is free for sightseeing and later join our farewell dinner for a cruise along the Seine, seeing the beautiful sights of Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral by night.
Day 11, 13 November – This morning our tour ends with a transfer to the airport.
Please Note: Itinerary subject to change according to prevailing circumstances.Enquire Now
Our tour members depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. We do our best to meet and exceed their high standards, which is what you’d expect from Australia’s leading battlefield tour company. Here’s what our past passengers say about our efforts…
“Howard and I have been very remiss in not contacting you to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to the Western Front with Boronia Travel this year. It was all we were hoping for, and more. The “more” was because of the people. Graeme and John, the tour historian and tour leader, were so generous with their time and knowledge and were the ultimate professionals, making our travel experience one of ease and extraordinary interest. Jean-Michel, our bus driver, was a legend and our fellow tour companions completed the experience. Thank you.”
Rae King and Howard Gibbon
“Thank you for your organisation of the best, and I do mean the best tour I’ve ever been on.”
R Thompson, Stradbroke Island
“Thanks so much for making it such a memorable trip for my mum. She was ecstatic about all the lengths you went to for her to celebrate her father’s life.”
K Holz, Melbourne
“I am writing to simply thank you for a wonderful experience that I will never forget. It was a privilege to be on the Tour… The Australian War Memorial should be congratulated for making these tours possible with such outstanding historians and leaders.”
L Brear, Blackburn South
“Working through Boronia Travel provided a proven platform to leverage off. They were professional at all stages and provided a tour package and guide well matched for the demographic. The itinerary was flexible and was negotiated each day by the tour manager and OIC, and provided participants a balanced experience”.
Matthew Lamerton, Australian Defence Force Academy
“I can honestly say that it was one of the most amazing and enjoyable experiences of my life! Every aspect of the tour far exceeded my expectations.”
R Masters, Koo Wee Rup
Our customers depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. Visit our page full of client testimonials.Enquire Now