The Somme: Once more into the Breach…
First and Second Battles of the Somme
(Four day battlefield tour of the Somme)
The Somme, the name resonates through World War One military history. It was here on 1st July 1916 that the British Army suffered possibly its worst day receiving almost 55,000 casualties. But many people forget that a second battle took place in 1918 which led to the beginning of the end of the Great War with the Advance to Victory.
This four day battlefield tour looks at both great battles of 1916 and 1918 and covers all the key sites and memorials including Thiepval, Villers-Bretonneux and Arras memorials. We look at and consider the actions involved and the various characters including the famous World War One poets who bravely fought in this region of France.
Day One: From your UK collection point we will travel to Dover and upon crossing the channel make our way from Calais to Arras where we will where we will book into our three star hotel just a short stroll from the centre of town.
Day Two: Starting at the extreme right of the British line, we tour across the battlefield to Delville Wood, ground that was hard fought over by the South African Brigade. We then travel along the Longueval Ridge to Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, past High Wood and on to the smallest wood on the Somme; Mametz Wood, contested by the 38th Welsh Division, visiting the spectacular Welsh Dragon Memorial which faces the wood.
Before stopping for lunch we move on to Devonshire Trench, a place that is forever England. Lunch is taken at a local tea room (lunch included in price).
The afternoon takes us to the northern sector of the battlefield where we can stand in the Sunken Lane where the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers waited to advance on the morning of the 1st July 1916.
A walk around Newfoundland Park with its preserved trenches brings the futility of the battle to one’s senses.
After stopping at Ulster Tower we shall pay our respects to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval Memorial and spend some time at their visitor centre. The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world.
Finally we view the largest British mine crater on the Western Front; Lochnagar. As well as the above sites there will be a number of impromptu stops along the way where the guide will bring the battle so vividly to life.
Day Three: Today we look at the actions that took place on the southern section of the Somme including the Battles of Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux, Le Hamel and Albert as well as following the general Commonwealth advance in this region through to Mont St Quentin.
We visit many of the cemeteries and memorials that mark these events including the Sir John Monash Centre set in the grounds of Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and only opened in 2018.
Day Four: Before our return homeward journey to Calais we will visit Fromelles and look at the two battles that were fought in this area in 1915 and 1916. We’ll visit Le Trou Aid Post Cemetery, VC Corner, the Australian Memorial Park with the famous ‘Cobbers’ statue and Pheasant Wood Cemetery containing the graves of Australian soldiers discovered in four large burial pits at the rear of the wood.
Please see the links below for our other 2018 tours that visit the Somme:
The Somme: Heroism & Horror – Three Day Battlefield Tour of the Somme with visits to Vimy Ridge and Etaples Military Cemetery (based in Arras)
From the Ypres Salient to the Crucible of the Somme – Four Day Battlefield Tour of the Somme and Ypres (based in Ypres)
Advance to Victory – The last 100 days of World War One – Five Day Battlefield Tour (based in Arras and Amiens)