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Our Immortal History: CWGC Landmarks

WW1 Battlefield Tour

Our Immortal History: CWGC Landmarks

(Four day battlefield tour of the Somme and Ypres Salient)

WW1 Battlefield Tours

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission, previously known as Imperial War Graves Commission, was called into being by Royal Charter on the 21 May 1917. Its brief was one of the most ambitious ever undertaken: to commemorate in perpetuity those who had died in the service of the British Empire in the Great War. As Rudyard Kipling said, it was “the biggest single bit of work since any of the Pharaohs and they had only worked on their own country”.

Now after 100 years the Commission cares for graves in 23,000 locations in 150 countries honouring 1,700,000 dead and missing of two world wars.

This unique tour of remembrance visits many of the major memorials and cemeteries located on the Western Front. These include Cambrai Memorial, Menin Gate, Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Arras Memorial, Forceville and Etaples Military Cemeteries to name but a few. As we tour these sites we will discuss the founding of the Commission along with the architects who played such a vital role in the designing of the many memorials and cemeteries.

We also visit the newly opened Commonwealth War Graves visitor centre based at Beaurains south of Arras – the CWGC Experience. At this visitor centre you will see the first hand work of the master craftsmen who create the iconic sites you see in the many cemeteries. Also with an average 40 discoveries of World War remains each year, we will find how the staff of the Commission play a role in their recovery and identification process.

As this is a tour of remembrance, Rifleman Tours would be happy where practical to take you to a relative’s resting place or memorial in order for you to pay your respects.

Itinerary

Day One: Depart from your chosen UK collection point and proceed to Dover for our channel crossing by ferry and then on to Ypres to check in to our hotel (located in the centre of Ypres).  With the rest of the day at your leisure, you can explore this historic and beautiful town visiting St Martin’s Cathedral and St George’s Chapel and finishing at the Menin Gate. Then enjoy a meal and one of the famous Belgium beers in the stunning Grote Markt before taking in the moving Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Day Two: The morning sees us travel down to Arras for our visit to the CWGC Experience.  (A packed lunch is included in price along with museum entrance fees on touring days).

WW1 Battlefield Tours

The afternoon takes us to the northern sector of the Somme battlefield we shall pay our respects to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval Memorial and spend some time at their visitor centre. 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.

WW1 Battlefield ToursDay Three: Covering the Ypres Salient we begin our tour with a visit to

Then we travel on to the German Cemetery at Langemark before taking lunch at the Hooge Crater Café and Museum (lunch and museum entrance fee included in price).

 

We end the day in Ypres where you can again take in the haunting Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Day Four: On the final day before heading for the port we will take a look ‘behind the lines’ and visit Essex Farm Cemetery with its Advanced Dressing Station, Brandhoek Military Cemetery and finish at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery and visitor centre.

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Ruins of the Cloth Hall, Ypres

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The Cloth Hall fully restored

For many people a trip to the battlefields is a personal pilgrimage and the chance to visit a long lost relative’s grave or see their name on a memorial. If you would like to stop at a memorial or specific cemetery to pay your respects we will do everything we can to include this in the tour.