Tailor-made programmes

BATTLEFIELDS OF WORLD WARS I & II (FRANCE AND BELGIUM)

We recommend April - October as the best time for visiting these sites

Overall cost will depend on individual requirements

A JOURNEY OF REMEMBRANCE "The War to end all Wars" was followed 22 years later by the Second World War : this programme (designed in modular form) gives you the opportunity to visit sites sacred to the memory of those who fought in some of these terrible battles on French and Belgian soil. The basic itineraries (each of two days) are : The Somme and Belgium The Ardennes, Maginot Line and Verdun Normandy Landing Beaches Four or six day versions are possible upon request

Of interest to :
Anyone interested in visiting the sites of major battles in France (and Belgium) during two World Wars

The example given here is designed to be of specific interest to AUSTRALIAN visitors

         We are able to organise tailor-made tours of the Battlefields.             These three 2-day modules are given as suggestions only.

Modified programmes can be offered according to personal requests, in particular for NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH AFRICAN, CANADIAN as well as AUSTRALIAN visitors who may well wish to include (or substitute) other places of remembrance of more direct historical and personal relevance

Module 1 : THE SOMME AND BELGIUM

Day 1 : First to Amiens to meet up with your guide then to Peronne to visit the Historial de la Grande Guerre, "an international museum of comparative history". Life on the the front, behind the lines, and the involvement of the civilian populations. Linking the past to the present, the Historial testifies to the impact the war has had on the 20th century. (The town of Peronne was liberated by Australian soldiers on 1st August 1918.)

Then on to Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux (The Australians put an end to the German offensive here in April 1918) to visit the Australian Memorial and the Victoria School Museum before having lunch in Albert.

The afternoon will be spent exploring this part of the Somme which was the setting of so many horrors and which Siegfried Sassoon immortalised in his famous  evocation of a "sunlit picture of hell" : Albert, Beaumont-Hamel and the "Danger Tree", Thiepval, Pozières, Courcelette, Delville, Colincamps.

At the end of the afternoon drive to Ypres in Belgium to attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, performed every night since 1929 except during World War II. (The names of more than 6000 Australians are inscribed on the Memorial)

Day 2 : Specialist guided visit of Ypres and the Belgian battlefields : the town itself, the Flanders Fields Museum, the Passchendale disaster, Sanctuary Wood, the Yorkshire Trench, the Tyne Cot cemetery.

At the end of the day, return to Lille to take the TGV to Paris.

Module 2 : THE ARDENNES, THE MAGINOT LINE, VERDUN

Day 1 : From Paris to Metz by TGV to meet up with the guide. The day is devoted to the "most formidable fortification system ever built with the exception of the Great Wall of China" - the Maginot Line. The Line, built between 1929 and 1942 stretched along the German border from Belgium to Switzerland, and comprised 108 fortresses. How could this "impregnable" fortification fall, and so quickly? The answer lies in an understanding of the famous Ardennes Breakthrough. During the day you will visit two of these Maginot Line forts both of which were involved in action against German Panzer divisions : one of the small ones, Villy la Ferté, and one of the colossal forts, the Hackenberg with its underground train. Various itineraries are possible for the day. Into Verdun for the evening.

Day 2 : An all-day discovery of Verdun : The Battle of Verdun was the longest in the Great War and destroyed more lives than any other of the battles in that war.

During the day you visit the Fort of Douaumont, at the time the strongest fort in the world, the Ossuary of Douaumont - an unforgettable experience - the Memorial of Fleury, the Bayonet Trench. And in particular the Butte de Vauquois, taken and retaken many times, where each side built deeper and deeper tunnels : in the end twelve miles of tunnels honeycombed the knoll. It was at Vauquois that minefield warfare really came into its own.

Return to Paris by TGV in the evening.

Module 3 : THE NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES

Day 1 : By train from Paris to Caen, to meet up with the specialist guide. Drive first to Pegasus Bridge before continuing along the coast route - Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, to Arromanches.

Arromanches, that part of Gold Beach which had to be taken by the landing forces as it had been chosen as the future site of the main Mulberry - an objective the British troops achieved on the first day of the landing. Without the Mulberry harbour the allies would never have been able to land their armies, equipment and weapons.

Watch a short 360° film presented on the landing and compiled from filmed records made by journalists on the spot at the time : one is immersed in the terrible feelings of disorientation and fear that must have been experienced by those young men trying to set foot on the coast of France.

Late afternoon drive into the small city of Bayeux, with time to see the celebrated tapestry : a delightful contrast!

Day 2 : along the coast from Arromanches to the Pointe du Hoc. You will see some of the defences which the Germans established along the coast, known as the Atlantic Wall, and readily appreciate that without the fantastic deception thanks to which the secret had been kept, the Landing would never have succeeded for the Germans had created a fortress right along the coasts of Europe which they held.

Along to Omaha Beach where, overlooking the beach itself, you will discover the gigantic and beautiful memorial and cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer. An extraordinarily moving experience...You will also realise why the Landing at Omaha was nearly a failure, a difficult terrain, each pillbox having to be taken out by direct assault, while along at the terrifyingly celebrated Pointe du Hoc, evidence of the ferocious allied bombing of German defences in preparation for the landing is still vivid...

Late afternoon, return to Caen to catch the train back to Paris.

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WE STRESS THAT THIS THREE-MODULE PROGRAMME IS OFFERED AS A SUGGESTION ONLY.

    CONTACT US TO EXPLAIN YOUR INTERESTS AND REQUIREMENTS, WE WILL    COMPILE AND COST AN ITINERARY AND DAY-TO-DAY PROGRAMME   ESPECIALLY FOR YOU!

Just Email Annie & David Bancroft at cpederf@gmail.com

 

 

BATTLEFIELDS OF WORLD WARS  I & II (France and Belgium)

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