BATTLEFIELD TOURS - FLANDERS - LEST WE FORGET



 YPRES MC CdG



On conclusion of the Great War, the ruined town of Ypres was awarded the 
French Croix de Guerre & the British Military Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The actual medals along with their dedicated diplomas may be viewed in the In Flanders Fields museum. 

The official Ypres town coat of arms includes the two medals, as does the foot bridge which spans the Lille Gate entrance/exit to the town.  

The above Ypres coat of arms is made in plaster, painted and overlaid with gold leaf and is part of the building fabric found opposite the cloth hall in a clothing store.













THE YPRES SALIENT
 
 
The YPRES SALIENT was a battle area in and around the town of YPRES 
( French & English spelling )  which saw some of the most prolonged and bitter fighting during the Great War.
In military terms, a salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. Therefore, the salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant (an angle pointing inwards). A deep salient is vulnerable to being "pinched out" across the base, forming a "pocket", in which the defenders of the salient become trapped, isolated and easier to overcome. This gives attackers an overwhelming advantage: defenders can be attacked from all sides with artillery and/or machine gun fire. Also, since the defenders are surrounded, they cannot easily be re-supplied (with food, ammunition and medical supplies etc.) or escape. The "pocket" progressively reduces in size as the defenders are worn down and the attackers advance.
The decreasing size of the pocket allows even more concentrated gunfire to be aimed at the defenders. Eventually, the defenders are overwhelmed by this onslaught and the pocket collapses.
The Ypres salient was formed by British, French, Canadian  and  Belgian defensive efforts against German incursion during the 1914 "Race to the Sea", culminating in the Battle of the Yser and the First battle of Ypres.
These opening battles created the Ypres salient and the corner of Belgium around Veurne from occupation, but also led to the beginning of trench warfare in the salient as both sides "dug in" around the line.
The area of the salient is mostly flat, with few rises or hills. Those that did exist became the focus for the 1915 2nd Battle of Ypres, which saw the first use of gas and the almost total destruction and evacuation of Ypres, and the 1917 3rd Battle of Ypres.
After the third battle, the Ypres Salient was left relatively quiet until the 4th Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Lys, when the Spring Offensive threatened to overwhelm the entire area. This offensive was stopped at the point the allies were closest to being forced to abandon the salient.
By August 1918, the allied advance (part of the Hundred Days Offensive) pushed the German forces out of the salient entirely and they did not return.
For more information on the battles and more please visit the CWGC site here:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
Ypres 1918 on conclusion of the war.
 
Above right:
Hooge looking back along the Menin Road back to Ypres 1915.
 
 
 
BELOW: YPRES TODAY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left and right:
The Cloth Hall and the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
 
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Recovered soldiers´ burial services

Tuesday 5 April 2016
















Above: Three British "Known Unto God" and one "Known Unto God" soldier (included within another soldier's coffin) all buried with honours in New Irish Farm CWGC cemetery.
















Above: Three "Known Unto God" soldiers´ collective grave in Derry No 2 CWGC cemetery.
















Above: Collective grave of recovered "Known Unto God" soldier´s remains reinterred within Cement House CWGC cemetery.

Chris, whilst on tour with 2 British clients Peter & Ron, was able to include an attendance at the above blessing service on behalf of these soldier´s remains recovered nearby.
It is possible that this grave included the remains of a soldier who Chris personally discovered in 2015 whilst walking the nearby battlefields. Never forgotten!

This poignant experience enhanced our clients´ Great War  pilgrimage tour greatly.


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The Iron Harvest
 
 
All tours which take place within the Ypres Salient and elsewhere will at some point bring you into close contact with unexploded munitions. 
The majority is safe provided you do not touch or interfere with them in any way.
The Belgian bomb disposal service (DOVO) deal with this stuff on a day to day basis and are well versed in handling with this so-called "iron harvest"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 


















DO NOT TOUCH: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
 
2 dead, 2 injured by WW1 shell detonation in Ypres, March 2014
 
 
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WORLD WAR I TOURS:
 
Please note
 
All tours include selected venues from the list of tour battlefield highlights. Unfortunately not all can be included in the designated tour time.
 
Please confirm beforehand with the company any venues you wish to have included within your dedicated tour. If no requests received, a standard tour representing key points of the area concerned will be offered.
 
 
1.Ypres Salient North -
 Pilckem & Passchendaele ridges
 
Classic half-day tour












Above left & right:
Classic images forever connected with the 3rd Battle of Ypres otherwise simply known as "Passchendaele"














Above left & right:
Essex farm Dressing Station & CWGC cemetery. Site of:
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row" poem.















Above left:
Langemark German cemetery revealing new graves of recently recovered soldiers.

Above right:
Tyne Cot CWGC cemetery which contains the largest amount of soldiers from the former British empire in the world.

This tour mostly looks at the 3rd Battle of Ypres, commonly known as "Passchendaele" however elements of the 2nd Battle of Ypres and especially the much commemorated "Gas Attack" when the Germans would launch the 1st major use of chemical weapons on the Western front in April-May 1915.
 
This battlefield area includes, amongst others, the following sites:
 
- Essex Farm CWGC Cemetery & Dressing Station: site of 'In Flanders Fields' poem;
- The story of the British unknown warrior. Visit to Bluet farm CWGC cemetery, site of 1 of 6 body recovery locations.
- Reconstructed/preserved trench & dug out system/preserved battlefield;
- Site of the first en masse gas attack;
- Harry Patch´s private memorial;
- Langemarck German Military Cemetery;
- Tank Memorial Ypres Salient;
- George Guynemer Memorial - France's most beloved fighter ace of WW1;
- The Brooding soldier: Canadian Memorial at Vancouver Corner.
- ANZAC memorials at Broodsiende and within Tyne Cot CWGC cemetery, this being the largest CWGC military cemetery in the world today.

 
50.00 euro pp
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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2.Ypres Salient South -
Messines ridge
 
Classic half-day tour














Above left & right:
The infamous "Hellfire Corner" and today.















Above left & right:
The infamous "Menin Road" very same location as seen driving from Hellfire Corner.














 
 
                    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 
 
 






















Above left & right:
The St Eloi crater belt as photographed during the Great War and the same location today.
Craters, bunkers, memorial to the British 3rd and Canadian 2nd Divisions,
Royal Engineers 172th Tunneling Company & Belgian 7th Field Artillery may be visited.
This location also includes the Chaplains´ story such as the first VC to the Chaplaincy,
Chaplain E N Mellish VC and Chaplain G S Kennedy MC, aka "Woodbine Willie".















Above left:
The German reconstructed trenches with original bunkers and mine shafts at Bayernwald. 

Above right:
The crypt below Messines church. Resting place of Countess Adela, daughter of King Robert of France, wife of Baldwin of Flanders and mother to Mathilda, wife of William the Conquerer, Queen of England. Coincidentally, the badly wounded young Pte Adolf Hitler received life saving treatment in this very room in the winter of 1914.














Above left & right:
The beautiful in late spring time, Bedford House CWGC cemetery.


This battlefield tour includes amongst others the following sites:

- Hellfire Corner & Menin Road;
- St Eloi. The tunnellers war revealing the story of the British 1916 - 17 deep mining operations. Several craters from 1916 remain as does part of the massive crater created on June 7th 1917 Battle of Messines, this being the largest deep mine detonated by the British Army during the entire war.
- The Chaplains war: Chaplain E N Mellish VC, 1st VC to the Chaplaincy, Chaplain & poet Geoffrey Studert Kennedy MC, AKA "Woodbine Willy"
- Bayernwald German reconstructed trenches/original bunker system;
- Christmas Truce site of 1914;
- Unexploded deep mines locations;
- Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing;
- German Dressing Station (Messines Church Crypt)
- The Irish Tower and Island of Ireland Park;
- ANZAC Memorials Messines.
 
50.00 euro pp

Please add €uro 2.50 pp reduced entrance fee 
if Bayernwald German reconstructed trenches visited.
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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3. Combination of Ypres Salient North
and Ypres Salient South

Day tour

100.00 euro pp

Please add €uro 2.50 pp reduced entrance fee 
if Bayernwald German reconstructed trenches visited.

Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons

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4. The Battle of Mauser Ridge
26th - 27th April 1915
 
The "Lahore" Division's Assault
Half-day car/walking tour
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left & right:
The Lahore Division consisted of Indian, Gurkha, English, Scottish & Irish battalions.
The British counter attack was hastily put into place to stem the German advance on Ypres. The Germans never reached the town and Ypres was saved, but the casualty count crippled the Lahore Division along with other supporting British and French battalions for weeks to come. 

2 VCs & a host of other decorations were awarded to men of the Lahore, 2 Brigadier-Generals would also die that day. Their Army Commander would be sacked on conclusion of the operation.

This very intimate walking tour circumnavigates the entire Lahore Division battlefield and visits its on-site cemeteries where some of the Indian and British fallen rest in peace today. We conclude this particular tour with a poppy tribute placement at the dedicated memorial to those British, Indian and Gurkha soldiers who have no known grave and the Indian Memorial nearby, which honours those warriors from the Indian Army,who fought and fell so far from home.

This half day walking tour explores the entire Lahore Division's battlefield and offers incredible unchanged views as seen from the former German front line and British as well as Indian jump off locations.

Cattle graze, sky larks sing and crops grow on this quiet and peaceful former battlefield today. This tour is a must for those who wish for a crowd free tour and to visit a battlefield, which has changed little since the action itself. 
 
 
50.00 euro pp

Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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  5. 1916 Battle of Fromelles

Half-day tour
 
 
The tours covers either the British 61st Division or the the 
Australian 5th Division's joint disastrous attack at Fromelles on July 19th-20th 1916.
The British Division will suffer more than 1500 casualties with the Australian 5th Division over 5500 casualties.
Your tour can also be constructed to include both Divisions´ dedicated actions if requested, as revealed below:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Above left:
The center sector of the Fromelles 1916 battlefield.
 
Above right:
British & Australian Brigade locations at the start of the battle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
British 61st Division troops prior to the battle.
 
Above right:
Australian 5th Division troops prior to the battle
 
 
The British 61st Division tour itinerary includes:
 
-Laventie: British 61st Div HQ location; 
-British 61st Division memorial, Laventie;
-Laventie CWGC cemetery used by the British to bury their fallen from this battle;
-Aubers ridge CWGC cemetery created on conclusion of the war and contains many 61st & 5th Divisions KUG burials;
-Front line locations
 
 
The Australian 5th Division tour itinerary includes:
 
-AIF 5th Div HQ location;
-Front line locations;
-The Australian VC Corner CWGC cemetery & Memorial to the Missing; 
-The Fromelles Australian National Park
 
Both Division's tour itinerary will also include:
-Other CWGC cemeteries applicable to this battle;
-Visit to the site of the "Sugar Loaf" redoubt which destroyed both Divisions attacks;
-Site of original Pheasant Wood British/Australian mass graves;
-The brand new CWGC Pheasant Wood cemetery seen below.






Please note: We can conclude your tour, if requested!, with a visit to either the nearby German military cemetery at Fournes-en-Weppe or Beauchamps Ligny where many of the German dead from this battle were buried and rest today. 










 






65.00 euro pp
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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6. 1916 Battle of Fromelles with included
 
Hill 60 & Polygon Wood
 
Day tour
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Above left & right:
The Butte with AIF 5th Div memorial in Polygon Wood CWGC cemetery.














Above left & right:
Hill 60 today with a twist.....



 
 
Above:

 
On conclusion of the half-day Fromelles tour (as listed above) we break for lunch.
We then visit Hill 60 where we study the underground work carried out by British & Canadian tunneling companies before finally being executed so successfully by the Australian 1st Tunneling Company. Please see above link:
 
We conclude the day with a visit to Polygon Wood, it's cemeteries and the AIF 5th Division Memorial.

 
 
110.00 euro pp
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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7. TANK ACTION - Ypres Salient 1917
 
Day tour
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
Lonely are the brave.
 
Above right:
Lest We Forget! The lot of the tank crews.
 
 
  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
F41 FRAY BENTOS at Gallipoli farm.
 
Above right:
Walking in their footsteps & tank tracks. Lest We Forget!
 
A set of 3 dedicated Tank Corps action battlefield tours are now available.

1. The Cockcroft & Maison du Hibou block house actions.
One of tthe most successful British tank/infantry joint actions to take place within the Ypres Salient during the Great War.

2. Gallipoli Farm & F41 FRAY BENTOS. This particular tank action pilgrimage comes straight out of "Boys Own" This particular tank crew along with their Section Leader would become the most decorated British composite tank crew for a single action when
2 x Military Crosses, 2 x Distinguished Conduct Medals & 4 Military Medals were awarded during this action.

3. The 1st VC to the Tank Corps.
 This particular tour is very intimate and covers part of the battlefield which has hardly changed since 1917. The tour itself reveals extreme gallantry, self sacrifice and pure bloody mindedness on behalf of the VC recipient, that being Captain Clement Robertson VC himself. The action also includes his assistant, Gnr Cyril Sheldon Allen and his award of the DCM. 

The above car/walking tours all follow in the tank tracks and footsteps of the men and their tanks, they include images of the day, British period trench maps, Tank Corps and private family documents as applicable. 

Where & when required, attendances to the graves and memorials of the associated Tank Corps fallen will also be included.
 
 
100.00 euro pp
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
 
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8. Behind the Lines
 
Half-day tour
 
This half day tour has been constructed to reveal the story of Poperinge, the famous military rest town, where "Tommy" would find respite from the trenches and the war, if only for a few days or so. It would include the egg and chips, weak wine, beer and of course the brothels and those enterprising young and old ladies who plied their trade in the bars just behind the front. 
Pops became a Mecca for the men, but look under the surface and another grim story appears. We visit the death cells, where soldiers were held before being shot at dawn. We visit the cemetery, which holds more shot-at-dawn soldiers than any other.
We also visit the Rev Tubby Clayton's Talbot House ("Every Man´s Club") with the most special and unforgettable "Chapel in the Attics".
We visit the locations of the former medical "Casualty Clearing Stations", which once ensured the area around Pops would become one of the largest medical treatment/clearance areas during the Great War. The hospitals themselves are long gone but those who arrived dead or died of wounds before they could continue their journey back to the base hospitals or "Blighty", are still very much here, including the double VC winner Capt Noel Chavasse MC VC & Bar, Major Tub VC and the highest ranking soldier buried here today, that being Major General Mercer, Commanding Officer of the Canadian 3rd Division KIA during the Battle of Mount Sorell in 1916.
We also visit a brand new memorial commemorating the "service animals" who were killed/died or injured in the Ypres Salient area during the war. The Memorial is called "Agony" and especially commemorates the huge number of horses and mules, who offered such sterling service here. Thousands would die either by gas, shell fire or disease with many thousands being injured or maimed. Theirs was not a happy lot and their memorial was long overdue! The below images illustrate this tour's itinerary:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
The Revd Tubby Clayton & Revd Neville Talbot's "Talbot House" located in the heart of the fascinating old town of Poperinge, simply known as "Pops" by the men. 
We visit this once oasis of calm and especially the original chapel still in situ today, where tens of thousands of Tommies received their final blessings before continuing their journey to the front and often to their deaths.
Admission cost of € 8.00pp applies.
 
Above right:
Captain Noel Chavasse VC & Bar buried in the village of Brandhoek near Ypres.
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left:
Agony......This new memorial commemorates all animals who saw military service and suffered in the horrendous battlefields of the Ypres Salient. 
The memorial itself reveals a pair of wounded and terrified "War Horses" rearing out of a shell fire shattered farm building.
 
50.00 euro pp
 
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
 
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9. USA 27th and 30th Divisions 1918 Ypres

Half-day tour including pilgrimage visit to Flanders Fields
United States Cemetery, Wareghem.
 
















Above left:
Walker Farm today. HQ of the 105th Infantry where Lt Col Liebmann, CO of the 105th Infantry would be fatally wounded by enemy shell fire. The farm to this day  bears the scars of that fateful day.

Above right:
Walker Farm looking forwards across the very battlefield where the US 27th Div would fight their way across, in order to capture the Vierstraat Ridge alongside their comrades of the US 30th Div, at the location where their joint War Memorial is located today.
The Kemmelberg located on the extreme right flank of the US 27th Div can be seen centre right in the distance. 








 





Above left & right:
Our wonderful clients from Pennsylvania at the US 27th/30th memorial situated alongside the Vierstraat Ridge between Ypres & Kemmel.










 




Above left:
A long way from home but no less cared for and honoured today.

Above right:
The highest ranking officer within the cemetery today: Lt Colonel Morris Liebmann, Commanding Officer of the 105th Infantry.

















Above left;
Milena places her floral tribute at her officially adopted grave of "A Known But To God" soldier. Whoever he is, his name is engraved on the Wall of the Missing within the nearby Chapel of Rest.

Above right;
Chris places our company wreath at the Chapel of the Missing, which also contains the name of another missing soldier, Ralph J. Elrose Jr., whom Chris has officially adopted, who sadly has "No Known Grave" and who most probably rests close to the 27th/30th Memorial today.











































Above:
Milena & Chris placing flowers at their adopted US soldiers´ grave & Wall of Missing on Memorial Day 2016.

Ralph Elrose Jr and Known But To God soldier whoever you are, you have not been forgotten. Lest we forget.

This particular tour is most symbolic and begins in Ypres where the overall big picture is achieved.

The tour then visits Essex farm CWGC Cemetery & Dressing Station, site of "In Flanders Fields, the Poppies Blow" poem leading onto "America's Answer" and others.

Walker farm is then visited, death site of Lt Colonel Morris Liebman, CO of the 105th Infantry Battalion before we move in the footsteps of the men and advance across the very battlefield in their wake, stopping at their memorial where we learn of some of the men who fought & fell here before taking part in a poppy tribute placement.

Finally we drive 35 kms or so in order we can visit the US Flanders Fields US Cemetery before returning to Ypres and concluding the tour.



65 euros pp
Min 2 persons, max 4 persons.

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WW1 Tours & tariffs:
 
 
- All tours are private and dedicated to you or your party only.
- All tours start and conclude in Ypres.
- Payment in euro/sterling cash only and payable at commencement of the tour.
- Bottled water (summer) and hot soup (winter) for full-day tours only, free.
- We reserve the right to alter tour itineraries/costs without prior notice.
 
Battlefield touring fees
 
1Ypres Salient North: half-day tour (50.00 euro pp)
2. Ypres Salient South: half-day tour (50.00 euro pp)
3. Ypres Salient (North and South): day tour (100.00 euro pp)
4. Mauser Ridge 1915: half-day car and walking tour (50.00 euro pp)
 
5. Fromelles 1916: half-day tour (65.00 euro pp)
6. Fromelles 1916 / Hill 60 / Polygon Wood: day tour (110.00 euro pp)
7. Ypres Salient Tank actions 1917: day tour (100.00 pp)
8. Behind the lines: half-day tour (50.00 euro pp)
9.USA 27th and 30th Divisions 1918 Ypres: half-day tour (65 euro pp)



*******Please also note for the Great War Centenary*******

 
Due to the many coach groups touring and visiting the battlefields this year and filling the dedicated café/comfort stops, we have decided to go with the packed lunch option during the day tours.

Packed lunches normally include either a white or wholemeal baguette with cheese, ham or ham and cheese, garnished with tomato, sliced hard boiled egg and lettuce plus soft drink and a small Belgian wafer and can be included at cost.

However, clients are also welcome to bring their own packed lunch, if they so wish. 
Free bottled still water is always available from the cool box on day tours only.

Please see below images with report concerning dedicated lunch stop/comfort break locations at our disposal for 2015.
 
 
Packed lunch/comfort stop Ypres Salient day tour locations only

 
The below comfort stop includes clean public toilets and open or covered picnic areas.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

 
 
 
 
 


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