Day 1 – Saturday 20 April
For those members travelling on our group flights you will be met by your tour director and transferred to the hotel. You will then have free time for shopping or sightseeing, or rest before meeting your battlefield guide and tour director late afternoon. This evening attend a spectacular ‘welcome dinner’ upon the Eiffel Tower.
Overnight: Paris D
Day 2 – Sunday 21 April
After breakfast enjoy an escorted morning coach tour of the main sites of Paris including a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The afternoon is at your leisure with an opportunity to see the shops, grand arcades, museums (perhaps Napoleon’s tomb and the army museum, the Louvre and so many others), galleries and restaurants.
Overnight: Paris B
Day 3 – Monday 22 April
After breakfast board the coach and travel to the city of Amiens, on the way visiting the park and museum at Compiegne, where the Armistice ending the fighting was signed on 11 November 1918. Settle into our accommodation with time to see the important city sites including the world heritage-listed cathedral and the Australian Memorial. Walk down the “street of the Three Peebles”, once trod by thousands of soldiers on leave only a short distance behind the front-line.
Overnight: Amiens B D
Day 4 – Tuesday 23 April
Today we go to the main Somme battlefields of 1916 paying particular attention to the area around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm where the AIF suffered 23,000 casualties in several short weeks. See the poignant Windmill Memorial with its chilling pronouncement, Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war, then the 1st Australian Division Memorial, and the remains of the famous ‘Gibraltar’ blockhouse. Lunch is at nearby Albert, a town once familiar to every soldier serving on the Somme. Other sites of great importance we will see are La Boiselle (the astonishing mine crater is still there), Thiepval, where the great British memorial to the ‘missing’ stands, and Newfoundland Park with its preserved trench lines.
Overnight: Amiens B L
Day 5 – Wednesday 24 April
Today we look at some of the main Australian battlefields of 1917. Travel to Bullecourt, via the Somme winter region around Butte de Warlencourt and Flers (where “trench foot”, the wet and the freezing cold were remembered by many old soldiers as the worst experience of the war), Bapaume, the town captured on 17 March 1917, and the Hindenburg outpost line villages around which several battles were fought. Tour the battlefield of Bullecourt where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties in capturing part of the notorious Hindenburg Line defences in April/May. Attend a reception and lunch with the locals. Inspect the local memorials, including the Bullecourt “Digger”, and the War Museum. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel allowing for an early night to prepare for Anzac Day.
Overnight: Amiens B L D
Day 6 – Thursday 25 April ANZAC DAY
ANZAC Day; a special day. We have an early rise to join thousands of fellow Australians for the Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux. The ceremony conducted at the Australian National Memorial, surrounded by the graves of soldiers killed in the local 1918 fighting, is a never to be forgotten experience. Following the ceremony we will travel to Bullecourt, joining the local villagers to attend the special Anzac Day ceremony before walking to the Digger Memorial for a special wreath laying service. We will then go to Bapaume for lunch before returning to Bullecourt for the formal re-opening of the Bullecourt Museum.
Overnight: Amiens B L D
Day 7 – Friday 26 April
Following breakfast we make a visit to the Anzac Museum at Villers-Bretonneux before returning to the Somme battlefields, to discuss the sites of heavy fighting in 1918 where the AIF confirmed its outstanding reputation as fighting troops, including the famous battleground of Hamel, and the subsequent ‘advance to victory’ under Sir John Monash, and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. We go to the Le Hamel Australian Memorial, the Richthofen (‘the red Baron’) crash site, and the 3rd Australian Division Memorial, before a lunch stop at Peronne. This major town was liberated by Australians on 1 September 1918. Afterwards, we visit Mont St Quentin where we see the famous 2nd Australian Division Memorial, then on to the Hindenburg Line to view the Bellicourt tunnel, the 4th Australian Division Memorial and, finally, Montbrehain where the Australians fought their last infantry action of the war. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local waterfront restaurant.
Overnight: Amiens B D
Day 8 – Saturday 28 April
Depart Amiens and leave the Somme region heading for Flanders and the ancient town of Ypres. On the way we make an important stop at Fromelles to see where the Australians fought the disastrous action on 19/20 July 1916. We visit the old battlefield, the museum, and go to the “Cobber” Memorial, VC Corner and the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery. We have a reception and lunch with the locals. We then travel via Armentieres and the old 1917 Messines battlefield. Settle in at hotel, and take the chance to visit some fine restaurants in the town square.
Overnight: Ypres B L
Day 9 – Sunday 28 April
Today we concentrate on the Australians’ experiences in the terrible Third Battle of Ypres (or simply “Passchendaele”); here we had 38,000 casualties over several weeks during late 1917. For the AIF this was the most costly year of the war. We go to the former battlefields at Hill 60 (see the Australian Tunnelling Corps Memorial), Menin Road, Polygon Wood where the 5th Division Memorial stands, Zonnebeke, Broodseinde, Tyne Cot Cemetery (the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery and which contains two Australian VCs), and Passchendaele village. This evening we have dinner together before participating in the moving “Last Post” ceremony and wreath-laying at the Menin Gate Memorial.
Overnight: Ypres B D
Day 10 – Monday 29 April
After breakfast we have a trip to historic Brugge, with its wonderful art, architecture, canals, and lace shops. In the afternoon special visits are arranged to requested local war Cemeteries, Museums and Memorials and an opportunity to see the Essex Farm dugouts where the poem “In Flanders Fields” was penned.
Overnight: Ypres B
Day 11 – Tuesday 30 April
Depart the battlefields region for our return to Paris via Vimy Ridge, the spectacular Canadian Memorial. Settle in at hotel, with some time to have a last look at the city. This evening we have a farewell dinner cruise on the Seine.
Overnight: Paris B D
Day 12 – Wednesday 01 May
After breakfast your tour comes to an end with a transfer to the airport (if departing Charles de Gaulle airport).
Breakfast will be served in the morning. B