WW II Tour:
11. 1940 Esquelbecq massacre
After their surrender, a large group of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th battalion Cheshire regiment, and Royal Artillery as well as French soldiers in charge of a military depot were taken to a barn in
La Plaine au Bois, Esquelbecq on 28 May 1940 and executed.
The British troops had become increasingly alarmed at the brutal conduct of the SS soldiers en route to the barn, which included the shooting and bayonetting of a number of wounded stragglers. On arrival at the barn the only British officer in the group, Captain James Lynn-Allen, protested but was immediately rebuked by an SS soldier.
When there were nearly 100 men inside the barn, soldiers from the
Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, threw stick grenades into the building killing many.
The grenades failed to kill everyone, largely due to the bravery of two British NCO´s, Sergeant Stanley Moore and CSM Augustus Jennings, who hurled themselves on top of the grenades using their bodies to suppress the force of the explosion and shield their comrades from the blast. Upon realising this, the SS called for groups of five who were once outside, lined up and shot. Concluding that these methods were too slow, the SS troopers then simply fired into the barn with rifles and automatic weapons.
Despite being shot, Gunner Brian Fahey survived, unknown to the SS men at the time. After a couple of days, Fahey and several others were found by regular German Army medics and taken to hospital. Their wounds were treated before they were sent to prisoner of war camps in occupied Europe.
Above left and right:
The reconstructed barn sited on the original massacre site of many British soldiers and a French soldier near Esquelbecq in Northern France. The barn stands within a dedicated & themed memorial park today.
We also visit the nearby action site memorial & graves of some of those men KIA or massacred upon surrender by soldiers of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in May 1940.
65.00 euro pp
Minimum 2 persons - Maximum 4 persons
12. Prague, Czech Republic
Day public transport/walking tour
Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination of
SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office, RSHA), the combined security apparatus of Nazi Germany, and acting Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
The operation was carried out in Prague on 27 May 1942 after having been prepared in cooperation with the British Special Operations Executive and with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Although only wounded in the attack, Heydrich soon died of his wounds on 4 June 1942. His death led to a wave of merciless reprisals by German SS troops, including the destruction of village of Lidice (See below Lidice tour) and the killing of civilians. Heydrich was recognised by many as being the third man of the Third Reich, after Hitler and Himmler.
As a Nazi potentate, he was given overall charge of the Final Solution and the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe. Despite the risks, the primary purpose of Anthropoid, from the Czech perspective, was to confer legitimacy on Edvard Beneš´s government-in-exile in London.
The tour guide will be Milena Kolarikova-Lock BA, with the tour being offered in English or Czech wherever required. The tour will start and conclude in Prague city centre or at Prague airport.
Please contact us for full itinerary details and cost.
Included within tour costs are the public transportation, visit to the St Cyril and Method church and its crypt/museum entrance fee, and lunch - this being a classic Czech cuisine dish of the WW2 period.
Above left and right:
The location today where the assassination of Heydrich took place, on site memorial and info board.
Above left and right:
Jumping into the abyss. Both military personnel and civilians knew that successful or not, only death awaited them all.
Above left and right:
St Cyril and Method church in Prague, where the paratroopers would fight to their deaths with all either been killed in the fighting or by taking their own lives to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Gestapo.
Above left and right:
Milena places her poppy tribute at the memorial located at the mass grave which contains the remains of the paratroopers and likewise, the hundreds of civilians and other undesirables tortured to death or executed in the immediate aftermath of Heydrich's assassination.
Please see below Lidice tour for further details.
13. Lidice, Czech Republic
Continuing on from "Operation Anthropoid"
Day public transport / walking tour
This is a tragic story. One of great brutality, treachery and without doubt one of the greatest war crimes of WW2. This terrible event shocked the free world at the time and still continues to do so to this day.
On 10 June 1942, the whole village of Lidice near Prague was completely burned down and leveled with the ground, its entire population shot or transported to concentration camps in retribution for the Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.
See also here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidice
The tour normally begins & concludes in Prague utilising Prague's wonderful and reliable public transport system.
On arrival at the new Lidice village, constructed after WW II, your walking tour takes you through the village to the New Lidice Gallery and Museum, where you start by watching a suitable introduction film.
Milena will then escort you through the spectacular "Rose Garden of Remembrance" with hundreds of rose shrubs donated to Lidice in remembrance from all over the world, before visiting the superb "Lidice Memorial Museum" on the site of the destroyed village. It houses a splendid compact exhibition with historical films and photographs related to the tragic fate of Lidice.
Afterwards you walk through the original location of the war time village, paying homage at the mass grave containing the bodies of the 173 executed village teenage and adult men and the sobering memorial to the village 82 children who were mostly gassed at Chelmno.
You will locate the village school and church foundations and the site of the original village cemetery location, which was itself completely desecrated by the German RAD units. Even the course of the village brook was amended to ensure that Lidice was forever and completely erased from the map.
Both or either tour normally begins and concludes in central Prague but can also start or conclude at Prague airport if requested.
Both tours offered in Czech or English whatever requested.
Please enquire for tour fees, accommodation and travel details.
14. Hotel Regina, Ypres, Belgium; otherwise known by the few as the "House of the Broken Wings"
In honour of their memory
Hotel & CWGC Ypres Town Cemetery Extension walking tour
The Hotel Regina was known by the end of the war as the "House of the Broken Wings" and was used by the resistance, assisted by patriot citizens, to hide downed pilots and aircrew before passing them into the care of the Comète escape line organisation, who would spirit the men away on their long and dangerous journey back to the UK.
The hotel in 2016.
USAF B17 Flying Fortress & B24 Consolidated Liberator multi engine bombers with RAF single engine Spitfires made up the majority of aircraft types included within this amazing story.
Chris interviews Mr André Vandenameele, the last remaining member of the resistance alive today known to have operated out of the hotel during the German occupation in the company of author and translator Mr Dirk Decuypere and hotel manager Kris Claessens.
Chris, André and Dirk learn of the location of the rarely used hotel secondary staircase and the today's guest room number 37, during WW II used as the secret transit room.
Andre reveals the secret hiding space accessed via an adapted wardrobe in the transit room in times of emergency. The wardrobe no longer exists and the secret hiding place is today the hotel laundry cupboard.
The "In Honour of their Memory" plaque installed on the hotel wall since 2011.
Includes the RAF "Operation Circus 157" walking tour;
Above; left - right; the four pilots killed in the RAF Operation Circus 157:
F/Sgt Jones, British; F/Lt De Hemptinne, Belgian; Sgt Pavlík, Czechoslovak;
Sgt Ribout, Canadian
Please copy and paste the below link for access to the report with images concerning the 5th May 2015 RAF Operation Circus 157 remembrance ceremony.
We visit the CWGC Ypres town Cemetery Extension where we learn of the RAF Operation "Circus 157" mission and its disastrous consequences before we pay our respects to some of the RAF Spitfire pilots who were shot down, killed and buried in this cemetery.
We also visit the graves of some of those gallant Belgian resistance members & citizens who made the final sacrifice on behalf of others in the name of freedom.
We conclude the tour with the "Toast of Remembrance" in the hotel.
25.00 euro pp
Minimum 2 persons
*Includes coffee at the Hotel Regina
15. LIBERATION OF YPRES
September 6th 1944
Half day walking tour
Major General Stanislaw Maczek. Commanding Officer 1st Polish Armoured Division.
ORBAT 1st Polish Armoured Division.
This half day town walking tour visits key action sites confirmed with action reports, then and now images and in part, still on site battle damage.
Polish soldiers, members of the resistance later known as "Secret Army" and citizens of Ypres would fall that day alongside defending German soldiers. Graves & memorials of some of those who fell are visited as are war memorials likewise.
Annually on Sept 6th at 7pm, Chris & Milena place poppy tributes at the dedicated IPAD war memorial, the Belgian town war memorial and also during a dedicated inclusion within the daily town's 8pm Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial.
All are welcome to join us for these tribute placements.
Please be aware of the forthcoming book -
The Liberation of Ypres on 6th September 1944 by Chris Lock, which will be published in time for the 75th anniversary of the liberation. Much wonderful assistance was received by the Ypres town documentation centre, the town archives, eye witnesses and by the dedicated Polish, British, Belgian civil/military institutions.
None of the above would have been possible without the translation skills of my wonderful wife Milena & likewise my mentor Janusz Jarzembowski, son of the late 2nd Armoured Regiment RSM Jarzembowski, who took part in the liberation of Ypres. Janusz is author of Armoured Hussar 1 and co-author with David T Bradley of Armoured Hussar 2.
Both of the above superb books are currently available via the normal book suppliers.
50.00 euro pp
Minimum 2 persons
Includes coffee at the Hotel Regina