Just over 100 years ago the four year struggle for the control of a piece of ground to the east of the small Belgium city of Ypres began when the German Imperial Army and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) clashed in October 1914. That initial clash lasted for just over a month, from the 19th October to the 11th November 1914, and was to lead to the formation of a bulge into the German frontline; a bulge which we now know as the Ypres Salient. For the next four years the two sides fought for control of that small piece of ground in some of the most ferocious fighting of the Great War. Join our Expert guides on this coach tour of the Ypres Salient visiting some of the iconic places associated with that fighting.
06.30 hrs — Pick up at South Mimms Services.
07.30 hrs — Pick Up at Fords Sports & Social Club, Aldborough Road South, Ilford, Essex IG3 8HG.
09.00 hrs — Pick-up at Maidstone Services. Short break to buy refreshments.
11.36 hrs — Eurotunnel to France.
Lissjenhoek Cemetery - at this first stop we will examine the work of the medical services in the First War. Lissjenhoek stands on the site of Remy Farm where there were a number of casualty clearing stations during the war. The site gives us the opportunity to examine the medical developments which came out of the First War – some of which are still being used today.
The cemetery also contains the grave of a female nurse – Nellie Spindler who was killed near here. In discussing her story we will recall the work of female nurses during the war and also consider how their contribution and those of other women during the war years advanced the cause of female emancipation.
The cemetery also contains the grave of a top sportsman whose name would be known to all of us should he have been alive today. There is also a General buried here giving lie to the Blackadder theory that the generals lived miles behind the lines and never exposed themselves to danger. Here too are a VC winner, a 'shot at dawn' as well as the graves of individuals from 30 different nationalities.
Brandhoek - continuing the medical theme we will briefly call in at Brandhoek Cemetery as we pass by. Here lies Captain Noel Chavasse of the Royal Army Medical Corps – the only man in the First War to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice for bravery.
Proceed to Ypres town centre where you will have some free time to wander.
Check into our hotel, the Flanders Lodge.
Evening meal at 19.30 hrs.
The tour today will look at some of the major battlefield sites around the Ypres Salient. This patch of land was the scene of three major battles during the First War and thousands of men from both sides died here.
We will start at Essex Farm – site of an advanced dressing station and famously where Canadian Surgeon John Macrae wrote 'In Flanders Fields' – a poem which was the inspiration for the adoption of the poppy as the flower of remembrance. We will also visit the grave and tell the story of Valentine Joe Strudwick, a lad from Dorking in Surrey who was only 15 when he died in battle.
Passing by the new Welsh memorial to the Welsh soldiers that died on the Salient and telling the poignant story of Hedd Wynn as we do, we will then drive to the German Cemetery at Langemark and look at how the Germans remember their dead. We will also discuss the First Battle of Ypres and in particular how 3000 German students came to be buried in the cemetery. With only rudimentary training these boys came up against the fighting skills of the professional soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force.
We will then stop at Vancouver Corner – the monument to the Canadian actions which held the line here during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. It was here that gas was used for the first time on the Western Front and when the French defenders broke and ran from it, the Canadians stood firm with only rudimentary gas protection.
We will then proceed to Tyne Cot – the largest British military cemetery in the world. Here we will discuss the Third Battle of Ypres also known as Passchendaele – a name synonymous with the horrors of industrial warfare, of mud and death.
At Tyne Cot you may visit the grave of Arthur Conway Young who's grieving parents put the epithet 'Sacrificed to the Fallacy that War can end War' on his headstone – a rare anti-war message. We will also consider how Susanna Moorhouse from Yorkshire must have felt when she received news that her husband Harry and her son Ronald were both killed on the same day during the battle – a story of sacrifice and heartbreak.
Lunch at the Kazmatten Brasserie (booked for 12.30pm)
After lunch we will make our way over to Hill 60 and consider the battle that took place here in 1915. We will look at the work of the tunnellers and see the craters which resulted from their efforts.
As we pass through Zillebeeke we will briefly stop at what has become known as the Aristocrats Cemetery. Here lie some of the officers from the cream of the Regiments of the British Army in 1914. We will consider the inscription on one in particular: 'Life is a city of crooked streets; death is the market place where all men meet'
We will then head for Sanctuary Wood where we will visit the museum with its eclectic mix of First War memorabilia and the series of reconstructed trenches which will give us the opportunity to look at life in the trenches and the routines which were established.
We will then head back to our hotel to freshen up.
On the Saturday evening we will head to Ypres to attend the Menin Gate ceremony. This takes place every night under the Menin Gate which is the memorial to those who died on the Salient but have no known graves.
Evening meal at approx. 8.30 pm will be at Pacific Eiland, a restaurant within walking distance to the town square.
On Sunday morning we will start the day by making our way down to Messines Ridge scene of the successful assault in 1917. We will look at the New Zealand memorial and the remains of the German blockhouses in the old front line.
We will then go on to Ploegsteert or Plug Street as the Tommies knew it. Here we will look at the imposing memorial and then go on to the Khaki Chums Cross. This memorial commemorates the 1914 Christmas Truce when men from each side met in no-man’s land and briefly forgot about the war.
Packed lunches from Het Beleg.
Heading back towards Ypres we will make our way to Poperinghe – behind the lines and a place of rest and recreation for the men on the front line. It was from here that the leave train departed for 'blighty'.
In 'Pop' we will look at the Death Cells and execution post and reflect on the 300 or so men that met their end in front of a firing squad composed of men from their own units.
Our final location is to stop by to visit Tubby Claytons – Talbot House or Everyman's Club. Here we look at the facility developed by the Reverend Tubby Clayton for the fighting men. Open to all, the motto over the door read: 'Abandon rank all ye that enter here.'
We will make our way back to Calais for our return Eurotunnel at 18.20 hrs.
We expect to arrive back at Maidstone Services at approximately 18.30 hrs, Ilford at 19.30 hrs and South Mimms at 20.30 hrs (local times).
The cost of our 3-days / 2-nights In the Footsteps® of the Ypres Salient Coach Tour is £320.00 per person based upon two people sharing a twin/double room.
A supplement of £30.00 GBP applies where single occupancy is required.
A deposit of £100.00 GBP per person is payable on booking.
Booking indicates your acceptance of our Tour Terms and Conditions.
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