12 Day Fully Escorted Battlefield Tour
From: 15 – 26 July 2020
Fully Inclusive at $4,997* per person twin share (Land package only)
Single Supplements available at $1,340

Your tour will be fully escorted by Mr Lambis Englezos AM & Major General (Retd) Mike O’Brien CSC

The Battle of Fromelles, the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front, occurred in France between 19 and 20 July 1916. Directed against a strong German position known as the Sugar Loaf salient, the attack was intended primarily as a diversion to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive then being pursued further to the south. But by 8am on 20 July the battle was over. The worst 24 hours in Australian history had just occurred nearly 100 years ago. Not the worst in Australian military history, the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history. The Australians suffered 5,533 casualties in one night. The Australian toll at Fromelles was equivalent to the total Australian casualties in the Boer War, Korean War and Vietnam War put together. It was a staggering disaster. To learn more about the battle visit our historical highlights section from our blog.

Boronia Travel is privileged to create a special Battlefield Tour Itinerary to commemorate the 104th anniversary of the battle of Fromelles, which will be fully escorted by Mr. Lambis Englezos AM & Major General Mike O’Brien CSC, both of whom were intimately involved in the exhumation, identification & re-interment of The 250 ‘Lost’ Soldiers of Fromelles.

The discovery of these lost soldiers was largely due to Lambis’s tireless research which resulted in the identification of the mass grave site. This involvement coupled with their in depth knowledge of The Battle of Fromelles and other actions Australians fought on the Western Front, mean they are ideally placed to lead this tour.

About Your Tour Guides

Mr Lambis Englezos AM is a Greek born Australian art teacher and amateur historian who has devoted many years to uncovering truth and developing strategies to move officialdom to support this work. He was responsible for discovering mass war graves of 250 lost Australian soldiers from the disastrous Battle of Fromelles, France, during the First World War. His extraordinary efforts have changed the lives of many people and the process continues…..

Major General Michael O’Brien, CSC, MDA, BSc graduated from Australia’s Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1968 into the Royal Australian Infantry, Mike served as a platoon commander and intelligence officer in the Vietnam War. He later wrote the history of his battalion (Conscripts and Regulars: with the Seventh Battalion in Vietnam 1967-68 and 1970-71) that was published in 1995 and short-listed for a British military history prize. His extensive military career included regimental, staff training, equipment acquisition engineering and logistics postings culminating in his appointment as Support Commander-Army. He was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross for services to Defence procurement. He also ran an antiquarian bookshop in Melbourne for 17 years and continues to write local history. Mike supervised the Australian government undertaking (as a serving Army Reservist) to co-ordinate the recovery and identification of more than one hundred Australian soldiers killed in action at the Battle of Fromelles.

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  • Attend the memorial service commemorating the Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles at Pheasant Wood Cemetery.
  • Attend the memorial service commemorating the Anniversary of the Battle of Pozieres at the 1st Australian Division Memorial
  • Tour areas where Australian troops fought during the Battle of Passchendaele including Menin Road, Polygon Wood, and Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing (the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world),
  • Participate in the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate – a never to be forgotten experience.
  • Private visit and discussions at the newly opened Commonwealth War Graves Commission office in Beaurains.
  • Visit the sites of actions which took place in early 1917, including the Battle(s) of Bullecourt.
  • A visit to the Vignacourt 14-18 Interpretive Centre which is located within the original farmhouse and displays recently discovered photographs.
  • Visit the main Somme battlefields of 1916.
  • Visit the famous villages of Villers-Bretonneux, recaptured by our troops after a short German occupation in April 1918.
  • Visit the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers Bretonneux

Your Battlefield Tour Includes:

  • Fully escorted by Mr Lambis Englezos AM & Major General (Retd) Mike O’Brien CSC.
  • All battlefield excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary.
  • The best available accommodation in each town.
  • All meals as listed on the itinerary, which have been specially selected to enable you to experience the best local cuisine.
  • Plenty of Free Time to explore and dine at the beautiful towns visited throughout France and Belgium.
  • Services of a local english speaking guide throughout your tour.
  • Ground transport in deluxe air-conditioned coaches with toilet and DVD player
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary.
  • All tipping for hotels, restaurants, coach driver and local tour director
  • Boronia Travel Centre cap, ticket wallet and luggage tags.
  • With the exclusive resources available to us, we are also able to assist with any family research you may be doing.

Extras:

  • Single Supplements are available at $1,340.
  • Boronia Travel Centre uses Singapore Airlines for all their Western Front Tours, and has access to the most competitive airfares available from Australia.
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Meals Included: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Day 1, Wednesday 15 July – ARRIVE PARIS
For those members travelling on our designated group flight you will be met by our Tour Director and transferred to the hotel, then late afternoon, join our Tour Director and expert battlefield guides for a welcome reception with fellow tour members. Afterwards you will be free to explore the city or turn in for an early night.
Overnight: Marriott Rive Gauche Paris, France

Day 2, Thursday 16 July – TO IEPER, BELGIUM
This morning travelling north, we cross the border into Belgium and onto Ieper (Ypres as it was known during the war), our base for the next few days. Ieper is a fascinating and ancient town, known to have been raided by the Romans in the first century BC and renowned for its linen trade with England. Since its almost total destruction during WW1, the medieval Cloth Hall has been reconstructed to its original and imposing magnificence. The afternoon is free for you to explore the town square, and perhaps visit the In Flanders Fields Museum, located inside the famous Cloth Hall. This evening dinner is together in a restaurant located in the old casemates of the city in what were formerly barracks used by British troops in the Battle of Third Ypres. B D
Overnight: Novotel Centrum, IEPER, Belgium

Day 3, Friday 17 July – FLANDERS BATTLEFIELDS
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 during late 1917. For the AIF this was the most costly year of the war. Firstly we explore the former battlefields at Hill 60 to see the Australian Tunnelling Corps Memorial then onto the village of Passchendaele to visit The Memorial Museum Passchendaele with its reconstructed trenches and dugouts and interesting collections from the battles of 1917. Lunch will be in the lovely onsite café. We then travel a short way to Zonnebeke and the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery, it contains over 11,000 graves including two Australian VC recipients. It’s then to Polygon Wood, where the 5th Division Memorial stands and a break for refreshments at Cafe de Dreve, whose owner Johan Vandewalle conceived the ‘Brothers in Arms’ project and is a local expert on WWI particularly in relation to the ‘Underground War’. We return to Ieper via the Menin Road, to freshen up and then together, we will attend the Last Post Ceremony at the nearby Menin Gate Memorial during which we will participate in the wreath laying. Every evening since 1928, traffic around the imposing arches of the Menin Memorial is stopped while the Last Post is sounded beneath the gate by the local firemen. This tribute is given in honour of the memory of British Empire soldiers who fought and died there. The remainder of the evening is free to wander the local restaurants and pubs. B L
Overnight: Novotel Centrum, IEPER, Belgium             

Day 4, Saturday 18 July – FROMELLES BATTLEFIELDS
Today we visit the battlefield and cemeteries of Fromelles where the AIF’s first major action on the Western Front which took such a terrible toll on the Australian 5th Division in the disastrous action on 19/20 July 1916. We will visit “Cobbers” Memorial, VC Corner Cemetery and explore the war museum, then visit Pheasant Wood Cemetery specifically established to house the remains of those disinterred from the nearby site of the mass graves discovered in recent years. It is significant that both our escorts had the key roles in the discovery, recovery, burial and identification of the bodies at Pheasant Wood. Lunch will be shared with friends at a café in Aubers and dinner will be own arrangements upon returning to Ieper. B L
Overnight: Novotel Centrum, IEPER, Belgium

Day 5, Sunday 19 July – COMMEMORATING THE BATTLE OF FROMELLES
A quiet morning in Ieper for a lay in or perhaps a stroll along the 17th century ramparts and charming city moat, before we return to Fromelles to attend the memorial service at Pheasant Wood Cemetery. When the troops of the 5th Australian and 61st British Divisions attacked at 6 pm on 19 July 1916, they suffered heavily at the hands of German machine-gunners and artillery. It was a bloody initiation for Australian soldiers to warfare on the Western Front with more than 5,500 Australian casualties. It is believed to be the greatest loss by a single division in less than 24 hours during the entire First World War. Some consider Fromelles the most tragic event in Australia’s history. Dinner will be at a local cafe and afterwards, we return to the battlefield for an evening walk over the Australian battle lines and the Sugarloaf Salient at 9.00pm, following in the footsteps of the 15th Brigade. B D
Overnight: Novotel Centrum, IEPER, Belgium            

Day 6, Monday 20 July – ARRAS & COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
Following breakfast and check out, we cross the border back into France making our way to the town of Beaurains for a private visit and discussions at the newly opened Commonwealth War Graves Commission office. We then continue to the nearby town of Arras, located only 10kms from the frontline throughout much of the war, it was extensively damaged from the German artillery shelling and aerial bombing. The afternoon is free to explore the town squares with the ancient buildings, and view the belfry and medieval gabled house fronts which were rebuilt after the war. B
Overnight: Mercure Hotel Atria, ARRAS, France     

Day 7, Tuesday 21 July – BULLECOURT & WELLINGTON TUNNELS  
Today 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), Bapaume, the town captured on 17 March 1917, and the Hindenburg outpost line villages around which several battles were fought. Tour the battlefield of Bullecourt where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties in capturing part of the notorious Hindenburg Line defences in April/May. Visit the Jean and Denise Letaille War Museum and inspect the local memorials including the Bullecourt “Digger” and the Slouch Hat Memorial. Lunch today is a special occasion, presented by the local people in the town hall, it is a wonderful display of the unique friendship between Australians and the locals in villages throughout the Somme battlefields, always a highlight! Later we return to Arras and pay a visit to the Wellington Tunnels, 20km of tunnels 22m below Arras, they were used to protect the troops from incessant bombing and troops were billeted there prior to the start of the Arras offensive in April 1917. Tonight is free to wander and enjoy a summer evening in the town square. B L
Overnight: Mercure Hotel Atria, ARRAS, France 

Day 8, Wednesday 22 July – VIGNACOURT, NAOURS & AMIENS  
After checking out, we have an interesting morning ahead. We begin with a visit to Vignacourt 14-18 Interpretive Centre, located within the original farmhouse, the exhibition displays some of the thousands of photos taken of Allied troops during the war by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier and only discovered in recent years.  We will then explore The Underground City of Naours, an interesting network of caves marked with thousands of graffiti drawings made by soldiers during the Great War. It’s then onto Amiens, located on the Somme River and overshadowed by the largest UNESCO world Heritage listed Cathedral in France, we’ll stop for lunch in a local restaurant followed by guided walk of the town including a tour of the Cathedral. B L
Overnight: Mercure Cathedral, AMIENS, France

Day 9, Thursday 23 July – COMMEMORATING THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
Today we commemorate the 104th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Pozieres, Australia’s first action in the Battle of the Somme. During the subsequent 7 weeks, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Division suffered more than 23,000 casualties in the battles fought in the village and heights of Pozieres, and at Mouquet Farm. This morning we attend the memorial service at the 1st Division Memorial and then, afterwards we’ll have lunch in nearby Albert before exploring the main sites of the Somme Battlefields. We’ll see the Lochnagar Crater, created by one of the many mines blown on 01 July 1916 to mark the beginning of the Battle of Somme, the Windmill site, with its chilling pronouncement, Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war and Mouquet Farm onto Thiepval, where the great British memorial to the ‘missing’ stands. Returning to Amiens you might like to wander the cobblestone streets and enjoy dinner at a restaurant located on the picturesque canal waterfront. B L
Overnight: Mercure Cathedral, AMIENS, France

Day 10, Friday 24 July – VILLERS BRETONNEUX & LE HAMEL
Today explore the sites of many Australian battles during 1918. We begin at the tiny village of Hamel, where General John Monash planned and executed the brilliant operation which set the scene for the Allies’ final offensive of the war. Located on the site of the final objective of the Battle of Hamel, we visit the impressive Australian Corps Memorial commemorating over 100,000 Australians who served with the Australian Corps in France during the First World War. Then it’s onto the Australian National Memorial to wander the cemetery and perhaps climb to the top of the memorial for an overview of the land and battlefields below. Located underneath the memorial, we’ll also visit the Sir John Monash Centre. This newly opened museum is a modern interpretive centre depicting Australia’s involvement throughout the Western Front campaign. Following lunch in a cosy café, we make our way into 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. We’ll visit the Franco-Australien museum situated in the Ecole Victoria (the Victorian School), rebuilt in the 1920s with funds donated by the Australian public. Our final stop will be on the outskirts of town to visit 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. Tonight is free to enjoy the atmosphere of summer time by the canal waterfront. B L
Overnight: Mercure Cathedral, AMIENS, France

Day 11, Saturday 25 July – THE FINAL OFFENSIVE & RETURN TO PARIS
Following breakfast check out of our hotel and travelling further east we visit the sites of Australian actions during the final months of the war. We travel to Mont St Quentin, which was regarded by some British commanders as the ‘finest feat of arms by the Australians’ in the entire war and see the 2nd Australian Division Memorial and then to the town of Peronne, held by the Germans for most of the war, it was captured by Australian forces in early September 1918, for free time to visit the ‘Historiale de la Grand Guerre ’, a very modern museum portraying conditions on the Western Front during the war and for a bite to eat at a local boulangerie or cafe before our drive back into Paris. After settling into the hotel, we’ll join together for our farewell dinner at a local Parisian restaurant. B D
Overnight: Marriott Rive Gauche Paris, France          

Day 12, Sunday 26 July
The tour comes to an end following breakfast and for those tour members departing to Charles de Gaulle for the designated group flight, a transfer to the airport is provided (time to be confirmed by your Tour Director). B   

** Itinerary subject to change due to prevailing circumstances.

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Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel

This modern hotel is located in Paris near the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-Des-Prés. It offers views over Paris, and a fitness center that is open 24/7. All air-conditioned rooms at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center are elegantly designed. They have soundproof windows, a satellite flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities and a private marble bathroom. Le RYves restaurant, bar and lounge is a contemporary brasserie that serves traditional French cuisine, coffee and cocktails. It is open for all meal times. There is a 24-hour reception with concierge and VIP services at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel.

In the nearby area, make the most of Parisian life with the local shops, cheese makers and wine bars. Metro stations Saint Jacques and Glaciere is around 250 m from the Marriott Hotel, which offer easy access to the city’s famous sites.

Novotel Centrum, Ieper

Novotel Centrum Flanders Fields is a 3-star city centre Ypres hotel, a stone’s throw from Ypres Market Square and In Flanders Fields Museum. You’ll also be within 5 minutes of Cloth Hall and Menin Gate Memorial. The hotel has a restaurant and free WiFi along with an elevator (lift). There is also a bar/lounge where guests can enjoy drinks, plus there is a fitness centre and steam room for guests to take advantage of also.

Mecure Atria Motel, Arras

Opposite the TGV train station and close to the historic center of Arras, this 4-star hotel boasts comfortable rooms and is ideally located close to the Louvre-Lens museum and the Notre Dame de Lorette and Vimy memorial sites. The restaurant offers contemporary and innovative cuisine.

Mercure Arras Centre Gare hotel is ideally situated right into the city center, in front of the Railway station. Nearby “Les Places”, Belfry of Arras, Fine Arts Museum, Museum Letaille Bullecourt and Wellington quarry. The Hotel is also well situated from Louvre-Lens Museum and Stadium Bollaert-Delélis, the memorial of Vimy, Notre-Dame de Lorette. It’s also just a short walk from the city’s pedestrian streets and the Town Hall belfry which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mecure HotelMercure Cathedral, Amiens    

Located in the heart of Amiens, just 50m from the cathedral, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Mercure Amiens hotel is the perfect destination for leisure. The historic Saint Leu district, the floating gardens and Jules Verne’s house are all just a stone’s throw from the hotel. Airy, modern rooms include free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, as well as work desks. Upgraded rooms and suites have Nespresso coffeemakers, iPhone/iPad docks and/or pull-out sofas, while some suites add private terraces and cathedral views. Amenities include a contemporary French restaurant and an all-day cocktail bar.

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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…

“Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the Western Front Tour with Aaron Pegram and John. The itinerary was well planned, Frank the bus driver was exceptional and the accommodation fine.

As the Tour Director, John did a terrific job managing us all in a very friendly manner and his insights and commentary on the local areas was very good.

A special mention for Aaron. His historical knowledge made it all came alive for me and it was terrific how he was able to meet everyone’s needs and requests on the tour. Nothing was ever too much trouble and he got the balance just right between enough information and information overload. A great experience I will never forget.”
Mark Luby

We had the most marvellous trip through the Western Front through France to Belgium, we were in the front row at the Menin Gate Ceremony, what more can I say, again Rob our tour guide rose to the fore and those of us with pilgrimages were not disappointed, I know that my husband and I have come home with more of an understanding of the whole war and where our ancestors fitted into the overall picture, I can’t thank Boronia Travel enough for the planning, hotels, sight seeing, wonderful special dinners and the standard of the whole experience that you had a part in organising, many, many thanks Peter, I can’t thank you enough either with your help from our first booking to our return to Oz.  We will definitely refer Boronia Travel to our friends, many thanks again for  all your help in making this trip one of a lifetime. (We did actually get to all the Battlefields that we requested).”
Margaret Weston

We really enjoyed our Battlefield Tour thanks to Aaron and John being so organised and calm. We learnt so much from you and it was wonderful to share the stories from other descendants.  I congratulate you on the very efficient manner in which you remembered everyone’s special battlefield place, and how you helped us to pay our respects. It made it very special. I do hope that you had a safe trip home. Many thanks for looking after us so well and for all the wonderful times we had on our tour. Regards and all the best.”
Sandra Walker

“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

“I write to commend and thank you for the marvellous Guide we had in Aaron Pegram on the recent Western Front tour in April. Aaron was not only extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the War but he ensured that everyone who had a personal interest in a battlefield, cemetery or memorial had the opportunity to visit the site and was given time for quiet reflection.

Although the Tour participants had a collective interest in the Western Front, we were a diverse group of people and Aaron managed us all with great sensitivity and aplomb. Once again, thank you for such a great Tour”.
Lesley Kerr

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.

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