(Five days four nights)
This tour will follow the story of the Royal Regiment of Artillery through the war on the Western Front and visit some of their major battles and actions. The tour will start at Mons, where the first shots were fired, and where the first and last British soldiers killed in the war are buried. We will visit the battlefields of the Somme, Ypres, Cambrai and Arras and visit to the last post ceremony at Ypres in Belgium.
We see where the Guns were served over open sights against the Germans from the fiorst days of the war at Mons and le Cateau and Cam,brai Ypres. Discover the part that artillery played throughout the war; how the gunners could fire barrages within 50 yards of their own advancing troops.
We will follow the stories of Gunners of all ranks. Meet the Gunner Generals; men like the fighting general Henry Tudor who rose from captain to major general, developing innovative tactics. Canadian failed insurance broker and property developer Arthur Currie who rose to command the Canadian Corps and the future Field Marshal Alanbrooke who as a staff officer played an important role at the Somme and Arras.
Meet Captain Blackadder RGA, and the young Nobel Prize Laureate Lieutenant William (Willie) Lawrence Bragg and hear their stories. Discover the poetry of Herbert Asquith, the son of the prime minister, and the war service of artists E H Shepherd, who illustrated Winnie the Pooh and Gilbert Holiday.
We will look at actions where Gunners won VC's and other medals, including the first and last Gunner VCs on the Western Front.
We will explore the Gunner's experience of the Western Front. Find out what a Lieutenant Colonel Brigade Commander did all day and the daily routine of a Forward Observation Officer, Gun Numbers, drivers and Signallers and of the horses mules and find out what really happened to pigeons!
Thursday: 9th November 2017 Travel to France
Briefing en route by your guide.
Arrive at your Lille hotel for overnight accommodation prior to departure after breakfast the following morning on your tour.
Accommodation: *2 star Arras Hotel
Friday: 10th November 2017 – Ypres
9.00 am – After breakfast we will pick up a picnic lunch and depart hotel for our short drive to the Ypres Salient.
The Belgian city of Ieper, known in WW1 by its French spelling Ypres, and by the British as “Wipers” has a special place the story of the British Army in the First World War. The Old Contemptibles of the BEF defended this last Belgian city. It was fought over throughout the war, and almost every British unit served here. The outlying village of Passchendaele has become synonymous with suffering and the Menin Gate has become a symbol of Remembrance. Our visit will include the Gunner story about the Ypres Salient.
Our visit will include:-
Early dinner before Menin Gate ceremony (own expense).
8.00 pm - This evening we experience the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony. After the ceremony we return to our hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Saturday 11th November 2017 Arras and Somme
Visit the main sites of the 1916 battlefield of the Somme, and look at the story from the Gunner point of view. We will look at how effective the fire plan was and some of the gun positions The tour will include the following :-
Late afternoon/evening retrun to our hotel there is an opportunity ty to
Dinner tonight is not included, and you are free to eat in the modern hotel bistro or take taxi to the town centre Arras has a great choice of authentic French bistros and restuarants for dinner.
Accommodation: *2/3 star Hotel Arras
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Sunday 12th November 2017
The First and the Last Today our tour takes you to at the beginning and end of the First World War; from the opening battles of the Gunners of the Old Contemptibles to the last battles of the war, with artillery, tanks and aircraft. The highlights include:-
The Mons Battlefield, including the story of the Gunners defending the Mons canal, and the first Gunner VC of the war, to Major Alexander of 113 Bty RFA at the battle of Elouges.
Dinner tonight is not included, and you are free to eat in the modern hotel bistro or take taxi to nearby Bethune (10 mins). Bethune has a great choice of authentic French bistros and restuarants for dinner.
Meals breakfast and Lunch
Monday 13th November 2017, Return to the UK
Personal Visits: If time permits it may be possible to allow for a visit to visit a specific grave or memorial.
Lecture and Talks: Although our visit will mainly focus on the human stories, we will also provide optional evening talks on tactics and equipment. We will talk about some of the key tecniques of thwe war. How to range a battery 1914 style. Discover how to cut barbed wire with an 18 pounder gun or plan a creeping barrage. Hear about the great artillery innovators of the war and how artillery was commanded and controlled.
We will be staying in a two star hotel in the north of France and travelling in France and Belgium.
There are plenty of opportunities to sample the food and drink of these regions. The part of northern France where we will be staying, is called Artois and used to be part of Flanders. The food and drink is similar to that of Belgium.
Besides normal tourist fare, look out for ficelles – usually filled with ham and cheese. The cheese of the area Marolles which has a strong and distinctive tatse and smell. Belgium is famous for frites (chips) which can be served with Moules (Mussels) steak. Look out for Flemish beef stew – usually stewed in beer and their “Waterzooi” - stews of fish or chicken.
INCLUDED IN THE TOUR:
* Coach transport throughout tour from the UJC in London return
* Experienced battlefield guide, Major Frank Baldwin, throughout
* Ferry from Dover to Calais return
* 4 night’s accommodation in Arras
* Buffet breakfast daily
* Zonnebeke Passchendaele museum entrance fee
* Poppy wreath (1 for the group)
* Printed tour programme memento
* Baggage tags
* Full licencing and bonding fees for 100% financial protection of your money.