Western Front Battlefield Tour 2024 – Comprehensive Small Group Tour
Join us for an opportunity to follow the journey of the AIF in WW1
This tour is Part Two of the story and is designed to complement our Gallipoli Tour, following our soldiers as they re-deployed from Egypt to the Western Front in 1916.
8 Night Fully Escorted Battlefield Tour
01 – 09 May 2024
Twin Share – $5,560 per person
Single Room Supplement – $1,260 per person
Escorted by Australian military history expert and battlefield guide, Rod Margetts.
In keeping with our established role of presenting the very best battlefield touring experiences, we are pleased to offer another opportunity to follow the journey of the AIF in WW1. This tour is Part Two of the story and is designed to complement our Gallipoli tour, following our soldiers as they re-deployed from Egypt to the Western Front in 1916. As with all our battlefield tours, the itinerary covers what was planned to happen, what did happen and why it happened. There is plenty of time to explore the sites and to walk where our men walked, making this both a commemorative and educational journey into our military past and, for some, a personal pilgrimage.
The tour is scheduled to follow directly on from the April Gallipoli tour. If you are a first-time battlefield tourist, with connections to both theatres of war, the tours, together, provide the complete story of the AIF in the main WW1 areas of interest. If you have already been to Gallipoli, this tour will answer your questions about what happened after that campaign.
The tour will begin in Paris, on the afternoon of Wednesday 1 May. After check-in to the hotel, you are invited to join your local tour guide, expert battlefield guide, and fellow tour members for a briefing and welcome drink. The remainder of the tour accommodation has been planned to minimise bumping in and out of hotels. The Somme explorations are based in Amiens for three nights. Capital of the Somme Department, and a city with an important historical and cultural heritage, Amiens was very familiar to men of the AIF. Moving to Flanders, your home for three nights is Ieper – formally Ypres – and affectionately known to the Australian troops as Wipers during the war. Both locations are historically interesting and very appealing, and the itinerary offers opportunity to enjoy and explore them.
On the first full tour day, as you drive north to the Somme, join in a discussion on the restructuring of the force after Gallipoli and the new situation confronting the troops on arrival in France. After arriving at Villers Bretonneux, a place with enduring close ties with Australia, there is free time to explore the village. You spend the afternoon at the Australian National Memorial, which includes the highly informative and immersive experience provided by the Sir John Monash Centre – the perfect introduction to your tour.
The next two days provide a detailed understanding of the AIF experience on the Somme. First, you explore the Pozieres area, including The Windmill and Mouquet Farm, locations that caused three of our Divisions very high losses. Then Bullecourt, to learn of the costly attacks there in April/May of 1917. The following day, complete your exploration of the Somme sector with a visit to Hamel, to learn about what is considered Monash’s ‘Masterpiece’ battle, before following the Australian Corps through the ‘Advance to Victory.’ Stop at Mont St. Quentin and learn of the action that was considered by some British commanders to be the finest feat of arms by the Australians in the entire war. Lunch in Peronne allows time to visit the Historiale de la Grande Guerre, a modern museum in a historical setting, portraying conditions on the Western Front during the war. Then, head further east to the Bellicourt Tunnel, a key part of the German Hindenburg Line defences and the site of a major Australian attack in 1918. Finally, drive to the village of Montbrehain, site of the last major Australian action on the Western Front.
Next, you travel further north to Flanders, and a rest day. Wander the picturesque medieval city of Brugges, with its wonderful art, architecture, canals, chocolate and lace shops. Perhaps enjoy lunch or ice-cream and waffles in one of the many little cafes or a scenic boat cruise along the canals. Later, you move to the ancient town of Ieper, your base for the next two days.
Exploration of the Flanders sector begins at Fromelles. Learn about the Australian 5th Division’s disastrous action on 19/20 July 1916, the AIF’s first major action on the Western Front. Time at VC Corner, and the “Cobbers” Memorial, precedes reflection at Pheasant Wood Cemetery, where the men whose remains were found in a mass grave in 2010 now rest. After lunch in Armentieres, you make a stop at Messines Ridge, to discuss the 3rd Australian Division’s first major action of the war and the preliminary phase of the third Battle of Ypres. That evening you attend the traditional Last Post Ceremony beneath the Menin Gate Memorial and participate in the wreath laying service in remembrance of those who died in the Ypres Salient during WW1.
The next day completes your exploration of the AIF’s involvement in the third Battle of Ypres. First, walk on Hill 60 and see the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company memorial. Then, travel down Menin Road to Polygon Wood, where the 5th Australian Division Memorial stands, and learn of the new ‘bite and hold’ strategy employed there. Explore the Passchendaele Memorial Museum with its reconstructed trenches and dugouts and interesting collections from the battles of 1917, before a break for lunch. Then visit the enormous Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest commonwealth forces cemetery in the world. It contains over 11,000 burials including 1369 Australians, two of them VC recipients. Here learn of the battle on Broodseinde Ridge and the plan to capture Passchendaele. Return to Ieper with a stop at the huge German war cemetery at Langemark, and discussion of other significant events that occurred nearby.
The following morning you return to Paris, with a stop at the Armistice Museum at Compiegne, site of the signing of the agreement to end all fighting, on 11 November 1918. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free for any final sightseeing in Paris.
The tour will be escorted by Rod Margetts, a retired Australian army Colonel and one of our most experienced Australian military experts. Rod served for thirty-one years in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, and later Staff Corps, of the Regular Army, filling a variety of command, instructional and staff appointments. Rod’s interest, now, is in helping others to understand and appreciate Australia’s rich military history. Prior to departure, tour members are invited to advise Rod of any particular interest, such as relatives who took part in the campaign. He will then research the relative to ensure, where possible, that you visit the site and that detailed information on the actions there are provided for further discussions. If you would like to discuss your personal interests and connections to the Western Front, or any aspects of the touring, you are most welcome to call Rod anytime, on 0435 517 991.Enquire Now
Visit the World War One Somme and Flanders battlefields OF France and Belgium where the AIF suffered thousands of casualties during 1916-1918.
- Participate in the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate – a never to be forgotten experience
- Visit the main Somme battlefields where the AIF suffered thousands of casualties in several short weeks
- Visit the Sir John Monash Centre and the Australian National Memorial Villers Bretonneux
- Explore the picturesque medieval town of Brugges
- Visit the Fromelles battlefields, the site of the disastrous action 19/20 July 1916
- Retrace the steps of the terrible Third Battle of Ypres and the former battlefields of Hill 60, Menin Road, Polygon Wood and many other sites of key interest.
- A stop at Compiegne, where the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.
Your Battlefield Tour Includes:
- Fully escorted by an expert Australian historian and battlefield guide.
- All battlefield sites, scenic drives and museums as described in the itinerary.
- Ground transport in luxury air-conditioned coaches
- All meals as listed on the itinerary
- Services of a local Tour Director throughout the tour.
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary.
- Boronia Travel Centre tour cap, ticket wallet and luggage tags
- Tour reference book with plenty of maps and relevant information
- Single Supplements are available
- Boronia Travel Centre uses Singapore Airlines for all their tours, and has access to the most competitive discounted Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class airfares available from Australia.
- International Travel Insurance, is strongly recommended and never more so than now
- Spend more time in Paris with one of our accommodation packages available at discounted rates. AWM tour member discounts available.
Meals Included: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Day 1 – Following a mid-afternoon check-in to the hotel, you are invited to join your local Tour Guide, expert Battlefield Guide and fellow tour members for a briefing and welcome drink in the hotel. Afterwards you are free to explore the city or turn in for an early night. Overnight: Paris
Day 2 – This morning you begin your exploration of the AIF experience on the Western Front. Driving north, join in a discussion on the restructuring of the force after Gallipoli and the new situation confronting the troops on arrival in France. You arrive at Villers Bretonneux, a place with enduring close ties with Australia resulting from the effort by our troops to recapture the village after a short period of German occupation in April 1918. The Victoria School, rebuilt after WW1 with funds largely raised by school children in Victoria, hosts the Franco-Australian Museum and a visit there helps you understand the connection between the two countries. After free time to explore the village, and lunch, you move to the Australian National Memorial, the site of the official Dawn Service, before visiting the highly informative and immersive experience provided by the Sir John Monash Centre. Commemorating the Australian men and women who served on the Western Front, this is the perfect introduction to your tour. Afterwards, you drive to Amiens and check in to your accommodation for the next three nights, making a stop on the way 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. B
Day 3 – This morning you begin at the Lochnagar mine crater at La Boiselle, formed by one of the mines blown by the British on 01 July 1916 to mark the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. Then move on to Pozieres where the AIF suffered 23,000 casualties in several short weeks. Visit the 1st Australian Division Memorial, and the remains of the German ‘Gibraltar’ blockhouse. Then you move to the poignant Windmill Memorial with its chilling acknowledgement: Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war. Next, stop at Mouquet Farm, where nine separate attacks by 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions cost over 11,000 casualties. Finally this morning, make a stop at Thiepval, where the great British Memorial to the Missing of the Somme stands. Lunch will be at le Tommy café and museum, in Pozieres village. Next you drive to the battlefield of Bullecourt, where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties. In Bullecourt village visit the Jean and Denise Letaille War Museum and the local memorials, including the Slouch Hat Memorial. At the famous Bullecourt “Digger” statue learn the details of the costly attacks in April/May 1917. Afterwards, return to Amiens. B
Day 4 – This morning, you learn of the major Australian actions of 1918 on the Somme. You begin at the village of Hamel, where the Australian Corps under the command of Lieutenant General Sir John Monash carried out a brilliant attack that had wider implications for the conduct of future operations on the Western Front. Discuss the action overlooking the battlefield from the impressive Australian Corps Memorial commemorating over 100,000 Australians who served with the Corps in France during the First World War. You then follow the Australian actions in the Advance to Victory, during the last one hundred days of the war. Travel to Mont St Quentin, the capture of which was considered by some British commanders to be the finest feat of arms by the Australians in the entire war. Discuss the action there, before viewing the distinctive 2nd Australian Division Memorial. After lunch, visit the Chateau de Peronne, which houses the Historiale de la Grande Guerre, a modern museum portraying conditions on the Western Front during the war. To end the day you head further east, to the Bellicourt Tunnel on the St Quentin Canal, a key part of the German Hindenburg Line defences and the site of a major Australian attack in 1918. Then drive to the village of Montbrehain, site of the last major Australian action of the war. Later return to Amiens. B
Day 5 – This morning you travel further north to Flanders, and a break from the battlefields. Wander the picturesque medieval city of Brugges, with its wonderful art, architecture, canals, and chocolate and lace shops. Perhaps enjoy lunch or ice-cream and waffles in one of the many little cafes or a scenic boat cruise along the canals. Later, you move to the ancient town of Ieper (Ypres – affectionately known to the Australian troops as Wipers during the war). Ieper is a fascinating, historical 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. Here you check in to your accommodation for the next three nights. B
Day 6 – Today you concentrate on the Australian experiences in Flanders. First you make an important stop at Fromelles to see where the Australian 5th Division fought a disastrous action on 19/20 July 1916, the AIF’s first major action on the Western Front. Visit the battlefield, VC Corner, the “Cobbers” Memorial, and Pheasant Wood Cemetery where the men whose remains were found in a mass grave in 2010 now rest. After lunch in Armentieres, you make a stop at Messines Ridge, to discuss the 3rd Australian Division’s first major action of the war and a prelude to the third Battle of Ypres, where the AIF suffered over 38,000 casualties in eight weeks – its greatest losses of the war. This evening at exactly 8pm, you attend the moving Last Post Ceremony beneath the Menin Gate Memorial and participate in the wreath laying service in remembrance of those who died in the Ypres Salient during WW1. B
Day 7 – You conclude your exploration of the AIF’s involvement in the third Battle of Ypres today. First, walk on Hill 60 and see the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company memorial. Then travel down the Menin Road to Polygon Wood, where the 5th Australian Division Memorial stands, and learn of the new ‘bite and hold’ strategy employed there. Explore the Passchendaele Memorial Museum with its reconstructed trenches and dugouts and interesting collections from the battles of 1917, before a break for lunch. Then visit the enormous Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest commonwealth forces cemetery in the world. It contains over 11,000 burials including 1369 Australians, two of them VC recipients. Here learn of the battle on Broodseinde Ridge and the plan to capture Passchendaele. The day concludes with a stop at the huge German war cemetery at Langemark, and discussion of other significant events that occurred nearby. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore the Town – you may wish to visit the In Flanders Fields Museum located inside the famous Cloth Hall. This evening take the opportunity to try one of the many restaurants in the town square. B
Day 8 – Today you depart Flanders and return to Paris. Enroute, you will visit the Armistice Museum at Compiegne, containing the replica of the train carriage where the Armistice to end all fighting was signed on 11 November 1918. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free for any final sightseeing in Paris. B
Day 9 – This morning after breakfast, your tour concludes. B
Please Note: Itinerary subject to change according to prevailing circumstances.Enquire Now
Le Meridien Etoile, Paris
Le Meridien Etoile is just across the street from Le Palais des Congrès de Paris convention centre and mall. This sleek hotel is 1.3 km from the Arc de Triomphe. In this stylish property with modern decor, all air-conditioned rooms have private bathrooms, Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs.
The rooms are soundproof and room service is available for all meals. The Jazz Club Etoile is on the ground floor of the Méridien Etoile. It is a well-known Paris jazz club and hosts some of the world’s best musicians. The club overlooks the interior courtyard. It also has a terrace in the interior garden, where you can enjoy snacks and cocktails.
Mercure 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.
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.
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…
Western Front – Anzac Day Tour 2018
“Firstly we must apologise for the time it has taken us to thank you for such a great adventure. As you knew we came home via Amsterdam and Singapore and we are now only getting our feet back under the desk after catching up on stuff that occurred whilst we were away. Well, what can we say, the experience far exceeded our expectations. We have travelled with Insight before and their level of service, coaches and commitment to service can not be faulted. But this trip had two extra bonus, Nick Fletcher on one bus and Graeme Beveridge, one our bus, and what an absolute gentleman. His knowledge of the Australian/Commonwealth involvement within the Western Front is second to none, his compassion and commitment in ensuring that everyone was able to be involved, yet was sensitive enough to allow people to have their own special time.
From the minute we stepped off the plane in Paris till the time we said our goodbyes at the conclusion, the trip was fantastic, a once in a lifetime experience. Both the two tour directors, John in our bus and Brad in the other ensured that we travelled as a group with a little bit of banter and fun between the two groups which made for a great journey.
Peter seemed to be there but not be there if that makes any sense. He made sure if we needed any assistance in any way, he was the go to man, he was a joy to travel with. All we can say is that we are very glad we chose Boronia Travel for this trip as the memories will remain with us for as long as we live. You have a very well organised travel adventure and we can not find a single recommendation for improvement. Well done to the whole team.”
Colin Bird & Sue Buckingham
Western Front – Anzac Day Tour 2018
“I’d like to thank the Boronia Travel Centre team for having organised such a wonderful tour. My original intent in committing to go was to “fill in” what I had missed in July 2016 and attend the Villers Bretonneux 100th commemorations. What you provided was all of those and more and for that I am very grateful. The planning and execution was spot on for which you, Brad and Nick are to be congratulated. Nick Fletcher’s input was just outstanding. His knowledge and preparedness to provide responses to all of the questions thrown at him made for fantastic background information for all those on the bus.”
“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.”
“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”.
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