Some helpful advice

Quite simply, nothing can beat the freedom of exploring the battlefields without the rigid timetable of a coach/minibus group dictating when and where you can travel. How frustrating must it must be to see the battlefields passing before your very eyes without being able to stop wherever you want to stop, for however long you want to spend, exploring what you want to explore. The freedom to explore the battlefields at your own pace is what I always wanted since I first visited the battlefields over 40 years ago, so after having personally guided over 300 conducted tours since 1997 as a professional guide, I set about the long and detailed task of producing our Somme 1916 and Ypres Self-Drive guides to allow anyone to jump in their car to explore the battlefields for themselves, free of all the constraints imposed by coach tours. Our Self-Drive guides will equip you with everything you need to convert what will in most cases be French or Belgium countryside back to the time of the Great War (if one drives through the battlefields today without a detailed guide there is little or nothing to help you comprehend what happened where. This is one of the biggest frustrations experienced by casual visitors who arrives unprepared). We very much appreciate that our Self-Drive tours are not the cheapest way to explore the battlefields as producing and maintaining our comprehensive Somme 1916 and Ypres guides is a costly exercise for us but it is without doubt the most rewarding way to explore the battlefields! So. . .in a nutshell our nationally acclaimed Self-Drive Somme 1916 and Ypres battlefield tours allow you to travel when you want for as long as you want. You just take your vehicle and we’ll do the rest! We arrange your hotel accommodation, Channel crossing (for UK travellers) and provide all the maps, directions etc you’ll need, and of course, our all-important Self-Drive Somme and/or Ypres Battlefield Guides - your ‘window to the past’ . No other guide has so much detail and is so easy to follow! Please   also   note   that   our Self-Drive     guides     are     only     available     when     combined     with     hotel accommodation    (and    optional    Channel    crossing)    and    as    such    cannot    be provided separately . GENERAL GUIDENCE Below are some general points to consider should you be thinking of booking a Self-Drive tour to the Somme and/or Ypres battlefields. Once again, I’m sorry it’s a bit on the long side but I’ve tried to address all the things you may be unsure about. Here and there you’ll find links underlined in blue for you to click for more information. Booking well in advance is strongly   recommended as the few hotels we personally recommend, which are hotels we’ve been working with for many years, soon get fully booked. BACKGROUND We are not a big commercial company offering everything to everybody. We are a small but professionally-run company who have established a proud reputation based on our client testimonials and national awards . I founded my tour company back in 1996 having had a life-long interest in the Great War, and just the Great War, so everything we do is focused on the tours we provide. Just as you may have found, I too have read many, many books about the Somme and Ypres battles over the years but none have ever explained precisely and clearly how to explore these two battlefields so as to enable one to find the precise spot where actions took place. This has been my biggest frustration and was the spur for me to set about producing clear, friendly, unstuffy written guides packed with ‘then and now’ comparisons, which anyone, whether a history buff or a first-timer, could simply ‘pick up and go’ with as much or as little pre-existing knowledge as may be the case. To make things even simpler, we combine our Self-Drive tour with a Channel crossing (optional), hotel accommodation, and all the directions you’ll need, including a separate navigational section for your passenger to use to ensure an argument- free journey of exploration! We understand that you don’t know us so you may have understandable reservations as to whether a self-drive tour is for you. Our advice is to please have a closer look at our client testimonials . Unlike some companies, we don’t just cherry-pick the ones we want you to read. The testimonials you see on our website are exactly as we received them. None have been excluded or edited (other than when referring to private or confidential matters). We are here just about all hours seven days a week to take calls from clients who have booked with us. It’s all part of the personal service we endeavour to provide. Why a Self-Drive Tour? One of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to explore the battlefields of the Great War is to do so by yourself, or in the company of friends/relatives. Conducted tours, whether small or large, understandably require you to comply with a fairly strict itinerary. If you travel as part of a group you may well be frustrated by not being able to explore the landscape and 'follow your nose' to uncover for yourself the legacy of the Great War (which is what I and so many others have always so enjoyed doing!). There is nothing more exasperating than being sat in a coach or minibus watching the battlefields pass by, when you would so love to have the freedom to stop and explore unhindered by others. This is why our Self-Drive tours are so popular. Our Self-Drive Guides As I mentioned above, despite all the many excellent books that have been written about the Great War, few provide sufficient detail to allow you to locate the exact places where any particular action took place. If you do not travel properly prepared you could well end up just staring at French/Belgium countryside without knowing precisely what took place where and when (most often beneath your very feet!). This is what happens with so many battlefield visitors who travel without comprehensive written explanations/diagrams/maps/photos etc. To see the terrain of today for what it was like all those years ago requires a combination of present day and original WWI ‘Trench Maps’, as well as a clear narrative of precisely what took place and where, and how to get to these places. One also needs clear directions as to where to drive, where to stop, what to look for and how to relate the landscape of today to how it was back in the Great War. This is just what our self-drive guides provide. Our written guides are not just any old collection of briefing notes or cobbled together maps as offered by some as ‘self-drive’ companies. Our self-drive battlefield guides are professionally produced and regularly updated colour booklets which have been carefully designed to take you on a journey of exploration, so you know exactly where to stop, where to walk and, most importantly of all, what to look for. It’s the time and effort we have spent in producing our guides that has resulted in our national press recommendations and awards and why we have received such positive feedback from those who have undertaken one of our self-drive battlefield tours. PLANNING YOUR TOUR How much time should I allocate? First and foremost, you can travel whenever you wish, for as long or short as you wish! We’ll organise everything around YOUR dates, which is one of the biggest attractions for choosing a ‘made to measure’ Self-Drive battlefield tour. ‘I wish we had allocated more time’ is a comment we hear many times from our clients on returning from one of our self-drive tours. You’ll be surprised how time seems to fly by when you are exploring the battlefields of the Great War. Our self-drive Somme and Ypres guides can take about two full days each to complete (may be even more including museum visits), so as a general rule we recommend that you try and spend at least three nights (just two ‘clear’ days) visiting either the Somme or Ypres battlefields, plus whatever time you can spare from your arrival and departure days. If you have in mind to explore both the Somme and Ypres then may be try and earmark a minimum of four nights divided 2:2 between these two most poignant battlefields of the Great War 1914-1918. If you have five nights to spare then may be divide your time 3:2 between the Somme and Ypres, your time away being weighted towards the Somme as this battlefield is more open and easier to explore, using our self-drive guide. Six nights divided 3:3 is best of all. If time is really limited then at a push consider spending two nights visiting the Somme and one night at Ypres. If you have in mind to visit both the Somme and Ypres battlefields then one other option to consider is basing yourself in Ypres for all three or four nights and to travel south to the Somme battlefield for one or two days (about 90 minute drive each way). Ypres is a vibrant and more English-speaking town with far more restaurants/bars etc than Albert, coupled with having the Menin Gate in the centre of the town. This way you’ll not have to change hotels but may possibly spend more time ‘on the road’. It’s a matter of personal choice. Getting around the battlefields As previously mentioned, you’ll need to have a car to follow our self-drive guide(s) I’m sorry but we can’t at present help with the Eurostar passenger train service from London to France Belgium, nor car hire, though there are the usual cluster of rental outlets to be found at most major rail stations and airports close to the battlefield, particularly Lille International Rail Station which sits roughly half way between the Somme and Ypres battlefields. Most people travelling from the UK take their own vehicle, crossing the Channel by either ferry or tunnel, which we are happy to include as part of our Self-Drive battlefield tour ’package’. We can easily extend your Channel crossing so as to include any additional days you may wish to add on to your battlefield tour to be arranged by yourself, such as combining with a holiday or business trip. Please also note that we are only able to offer ferry and tunnel crossings from Dover/Folkestone-Calais. If you wish to travel a different route (such as from Portsmouth or Hull) then please make your own arrangements and we will deduct the Channel crossing cost from your quotation. The Battlefields Visiting the battlefields of the Great War takes more time than one may at first imagine. When exploring the legacy of the First World War there is an understandable tendency to slow down and reflect upon these tragic and most thought provoking past events, coupled with a natural desire to explore the terrain (as a battlefield detective…) using our popular Self-Drive guides. Wandering off to explore this or that is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable consequences of being a free agent armed with our written guide! Which battlefield to visit if just time for one? Ypres is a vibrant town with an abundance of restaurants, fine museum and the famous ‘Last Post’ ceremony held at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing every evening. The Ypres battlefield has seen development over the years but can still be explored, especially using or Self-Drive guide which will take you to places many visitors never get to see. The Somme however is still open rolling countryside which can easily (using our guide that is…) be compared ‘then and now’. Albert, the nearest Somme ‘battlefield town’, and where you will most likely be staying, is much less commercialised compared to Ypres with just a few basic restaurants and fewer museums. The Somme’s even larger Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval sits on a lonely but hugely poignant ridge right in the centre of the Somme battlefield and at night sits in darkness compared to the Menin Gate in Ypres which has a town wrapped around it. Here’s more. The Somme Battlefield We strongly recommend that your stay in either Albert or Peronne for the Somme battlefield, as opposed to either Arras or Amiens, as both these smaller towns lie just a mile or so from the old front line, and so were very much part of the battlefield, especially as final staging posts for troops coming up to the battlefield (both towns were almost totally destroyed by the end of war). The Somme battlefield lies in an area of the Somme department of northern France called Picardie. This battlefield is easier to explore as there has been relatively little domestic and commercial development over the intervening years which, coupled with the gentle rolling countryside, makes comprehending the events of the battle so much easier. Our Self- Drive Somme guide takes a good two days to complete (taking in to account time spent visiting the small museum in the centre of Albert). The biggest Commonwealth Memorial in the world is the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, which stands high above the Somme battlefield and which can be seen from miles around. Please see our Somme itinerary below for details of where our self-drive guide will take you and see our hotels page for accommodation options. The Ypres Battlefield Ypres lies in the heart of an area known as Flanders, with infamous villages such as Passchendaele, Hooge, Messines, Hill 60 and so many others that have become so synonymous with the Great War, making up the ‘salient’ that lies just a few kilometres to the east of the town. The Ypres area (now spelt the Flemish way 'Ieper') has a flatter terrain when compared to other battlefields such as the Somme and has seen some degree of development over the intervening years. Ypres is a most vibrant town with a particularly strong legacy of the battles that almost encircled the town throughout 1914- 1918. The second largest Memorial to the Missing, the Menin Gate Memorial , located close to the town centre, is perhaps the most visited memorial on the Western Front, due largely to the famous 'Last Post' ceremony which takes place at 8.00 pm each and every evening. See our hotels    page for accommodation options. The superb ‘In Flanders Fields’ museum, house in the old Cloth Hall in the centre of Ypres is a must to visit. The museum was completely refurbished and enlarged in 2012 and is ideally suited for both adults and younger visitors (say 8+). Please see our Ypres itinerary below for details of where our self-drive guide will take you and see our hotels page for accommodation options. Australians in WW1 The principal Australian battlefields are to be found on the Somme (Pozieres 1916) battlefield and the area around Villers Bretonneux (1918) which forms part of the greater Somme battlefield. Our Somme guide can easily be extended so as to a separate guide for Villers Bretonneux. (Our Self-Drive Somme guide does not include the 1917-1918 actions further east in the area of the Hindenburg Line). Our guide to the Ypres battlefield includes the 1917 ANZAC battlefields of Passchendaele. There are of course many other important Australian battlefields which are not included in our printed Self- Drive Somme and Ypres guides such as Fromelles, Messines etc. These battlefields are best explored by using the services of a personal guide.
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
Battlefield tours - a surviving soldier from the photo above returning to the same spot in 1928.
Image shows a group of soldiers, commonly believed to be a company of the Public Schools Battalion (16th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment) at "White City", opposite Beaumont Hamel prior to the Battle of the Somme, 1916. (Alternatively, the men may be from the 1st Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment on 1 July, 1916.) Middle: One of those soldiers standing in the same spot 1928. Bottom: The same place today (all places shown here included in our Somme itinerary).
Delville Wood today (see the adjacent Delville Wood Cemetery 360 deg link)
Top: The desolation and carnage of Delville Wood after the costly battle to take the wood July-August 1916. Bottom: Children play in the shallow remains of trenches in Delville Wood, unaware of all those who still lie beneath their feet. Also 360 deg panoramic image of adjacent Delville Wood Cemetery
Click the above Guardian link to see some excellent ‘then and now’ comparison images.
‘’Hellfire Corner’, one of the most notoriously dangerous road intersections on the Ypres battlefield for troops and supplies coming up to the front line just half a mile or so ahead The middle picture of the same junction (note original supply narrow gauge railway) was taken about 1921. The bottom photo is Hellfire Corner today - a roundabout!
A sculpture by German artist Kathe Kollwitz, titled "The Grieving Parents" at Vladslo German Cemetery, Belgium. The cemetery contains the graves of over 25,000 WW1 German soldiers. The artist’s son, Peter Kollwitz, who was killed in the war when he was only 18 years old, is buried in a grave directly in front of the statue. In the 1930s Kathe Kollwitz was criticised by the emerging Third Reich as they viewed such sentimentality as ‘un German’. They held the view that Kollwitz’s sculpture should have shown the parents as standing, being proud that their son had died for the Fatherland.
The Menin Road is a large oil painting by Paul Nash completed in 1919 that depicts a First World War battlefield. Nash was commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee to paint a battlefield scene for the proposed national Hall of Remembrance. The photo beneath is the same road today.
The Menin Road as depiced by Nash today Battlefield tours - soldiers waiting to advance to the front line (just over the ridge to the right of the photo) 1 July 1916.  Our self-drive guide will take you to this exact spot.
Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918
Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd Wimborne Dorset BH21 1EJ Tel: +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com
Happy times while they lasted... The remains of a Company (240+). The Somme 1916 Battlefield tours - 'White City'  today DO NOT TOUCH!!!
This leathal pile of hand grenades, trench mortars, gas and high explosive shells awaiting collection by the authorities (Somme battlefield 2017). NEVER, ever touch any unexploded ordinance. I have been amazed at seeing visitors pick up unexploded grenades and shells as if a harmless relic of the war.
terms & Conditions terms & Conditions Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918
Please click the poppy to hear one of the most moving readings of Col John McCae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
We recommend Eurotunnel Channel crossing (included with our Self-Drive tours). YouTube If this is your first time using Eurotunnel then just click the above YouTube link to see a 9-minute dash-cam video showing the procedure for arriving at the Eurotunnel complex near Folkstone. My special thanks to Craig Rogers for creating this most helpful video. Also, checkout YouTube for a mixed bag of other short videos uploaded by travellers.
Full menu
Quite simply, nothing can beat the freedom of exploring the battlefields without the rigid timetable of a coach/minibus group dictating when and where you can travel. It’s so frustrating to see the battlefields passing before your very eyes without being able to stop wherever you want to stop, for however long you want to spend, exploring what you want to explore. The freedom to explore the battlefields at your own pace is what I always wanted since I first visited the battlefields over 40 years ago, so after having personally guided over 300 conducted tours since 1997 as a professional guide, I set about the long and detailed task of producing our Somme 1916 and Ypres Self-Drive guides to allow anyone to jump in their car to explore the battlefields for themselves, free of all the constraints imposed by coach tours. Our Self-Drive guides will equip you with everything you need to convert what will in most cases be French or Belgium countryside back to the time of the Great War (if one drives through the battlefields today without a detailed guide there is little or nothing to help you comprehend what happened where. This is one of the biggest frustrations experienced by casual visitors who arrives unprepared). We very much appreciate that our Self-Drive tours are not the cheapest way to explore the battlefields as producing and maintaining our comprehensive Somme 1916 and Ypres guides is a costly exercise for us but it is without doubt the most rewarding way to explore the battlefields! So. . .in a nutshell our nationally acclaimed Self-Drive Somme 1916 and Ypres battlefield tours allow you to travel when you want for as long as you want. You just take your vehicle and we’ll do the rest! We arrange your hotel accommodation, Channel crossing (for UK travellers) and provide all the maps, directions etc you’ll need, and of course, our all-important Self-Drive Somme and/or Ypres Battlefield Guides - your ‘window to the past’ . No other guide has so much detail and is so easy to follow! Please also   note   that   our   Self-Drive   guides are    only    available    when    combined with     hotel     accommodation     (and optional    Channel    crossing)    and    as such cannot be provided separately . GENERAL GUIDENCE Below are some general points to consider should you be thinking of booking a Self-Drive tour to the Somme and/or Ypres battlefields. Once again, I’m sorry it’s a bit on the long side but I’ve tried to address all the things you may be unsure about. Here and there you’ll find links underlined in blue for you to click for more information. Booking well in advance is strongly recommended as the few hotels we personally recommend, which are hotels we’ve been working with for many years, soon get fully booked. BACKGROUND We are not a big commercial company offering everything to everybody. We are a small but professionally-run company who have established a proud reputation based on our client testimonials and national awards . I founded my tour company back in 1996 having had a life-long interest in the Great War, and just the Great War, so everything we do is focused on the tours we provide. Just as you may have found, I too have read many, many books about the Somme and Ypres battles over the years but none have ever explained precisely and clearly how to explore these two battlefields so as to enable one to find the precise spot where actions took place. This has been my biggest frustration and was the spur for me to set about producing clear, friendly, unstuffy written guides packed with ‘then and now’ comparisons, which anyone, whether a history buff or a first- timer, could simply ‘pick up and go’ with as much or as little pre-existing knowledge as may be the case. To make things even simpler, we combine our Self-Drive tour with a Channel crossing (optional), hotel accommodation, and all the directions you’ll need, including a separate navigational section for your passenger to use to ensure an argument-free journey of exploration! We understand that you don’t know us so you may have understandable reservations as to whether a self- drive tour is for you. Our advice is to please have a closer look at our client testimonials . Unlike some companies, we don’t just cherry-pick the ones we want you to read. The testimonials you see on our website are exactly as we received them. None have been excluded or edited (other than when referring to private or confidential matters). We are here just about all hours seven days a week to take calls from clients who have booked with us. It’s all part of the personal service we endeavour to provide. Why a Self-Drive Tour? One of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to explore the battlefields of the Great War is to do so by yourself, or in the company of friends/relatives. Conducted tours, whether small or large, understandably require you to comply with a fairly strict itinerary. If you travel as part of a group you may well be frustrated by not being able to explore the landscape and 'follow your nose' to uncover for yourself the legacy of the Great War (which is what I and so many others have always so enjoyed doing!). There is nothing more exasperating than being sat in a coach or minibus watching the battlefields pass by, when you would so love to have the freedom to stop and explore unhindered by others. This is why our Self-Drive tours are so popular. Our Self-Drive Guides As I mentioned above, despite all the many excellent books that have been written about the Great War, few provide sufficient detail to allow you to locate the exact places where any particular action took place. If you do not travel properly prepared you could well end up just staring at French/Belgium countryside without knowing precisely what took place where and when (most often beneath your very feet!). This is what happens with so many battlefield visitors who travel without comprehensive written e x p l a n a t i o n s / d i a g r a m s / m a p s / p h o t o s etc. To see the terrain of today for what it was like all those years ago requires a combination of present day and original WWI ‘Trench Maps’, as well as a clear narrative of precisely what took place and where, and how to get to these places. One also needs clear directions as to where to drive, where to stop, what to look for and how to relate the landscape of today to how it was back in the Great War. This is just what our self-drive guides provide. Our written guides are not just any old collection of briefing notes or cobbled together maps as offered by some as ‘self-drive’ companies. Our self-drive battlefield guides are professionally produced and regularly updated colour booklets which have been carefully designed to take you on a journey of exploration, so you know exactly where to stop, where to walk and, most importantly of all, what to look for. It’s the time and effort we have spent in producing our guides that has resulted in our national press recommendations and awards and why we have received such positive feedback from those who have undertaken one of our self-drive battlefield tours. PLANNING YOUR TOUR How much time should I allocate? First and foremost, you can travel whenever you wish, for as long or short as you wish! We’ll organise everything around YOUR dates, which is one of the biggest attractions for choosing a ‘made to measure’ Self-Drive battlefield tour. ‘I wish we had allocated more time’ is a comment we hear many times from our clients on returning from one of our self-drive tours. You’ll be surprised how time seems to fly by when you are exploring the battlefields of the Great War. Our self-drive Somme and Ypres guides take about two full days each to complete (may be even more including museum visits), so as a general rule we recommend that you try and spend at least three nights visiting either the Somme or Ypres battlefields, plus whatever time you can spare from your arrival and departure days. If you have in mind to explore both the Somme and Ypres then may be try and earmark a minimum of four nights divided 2:2 between these two most poignant battlefields of the Great War 1914-1918. If you have five nights to spare then may be divide your time 3:2 between the Somme and Ypres, your time away being weighted towards the Somme as this battlefield is more open and easier to explore, using our self-drive guide. Six nights divided 3:3 is best of all. If time is really limited then at a push consider spending two nights visiting the Somme and one night at Ypres. If you have in mind to visit both the Somme and Ypres battlefields then one other option to consider is basing yourself in Ypres for all three or four nights and to travel south to the Somme battlefield for one or two days (about 90 minute drive each way). Ypres is a vibrant and more English-speaking town with far more restaurants/bars etc than Albert, coupled with having the Menin Gate in the centre of the town. This way you’ll not have to change hotels but may possibly spend more time ‘on the road’. It’s a matter of personal choice. Getting around the battlefields As previously mentioned, you’ll need to have a car to follow our self-drive guide(s) I’m sorry but we can’t at present help with the Eurostar passenger train service from London to France Belgium, nor car hire, though there are the usual cluster of rental outlets to be found at most major rail stations and airports close to the battlefield, particularly Lille International Rail Station which sits roughly half way between the Somme and Ypres battlefields. Most people travelling from the UK take their own vehicle, crossing the Channel by either ferry or tunnel, which we are happy to include as part of our Self-Drive battlefield tour ’package’. We can easily extend your Channel crossing so as to include any additional days you may wish to add on to your battlefield tour to be arranged by yourself, such as combining with a holiday or business trip. Please also note that we are only able to offer ferry and tunnel crossings from Dover/Folkestone-Calais. If you wish to travel a different route (such as from Portsmouth or Hull) then please make your own arrangements and we will deduct the Channel crossing cost from your quotation. The Battlefields Visiting the battlefields of the Great War takes more time than one may at first imagine. When exploring the legacy of the First World War there is an understandable tendency to slow down and reflect upon these tragic and most thought provoking past events, coupled with a natural desire to explore the terrain (as a battlefield detective…) using our popular Self-Drive guides. Wandering off to explore this or that is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable consequences of being a free agent armed with our written guide! Which battlefield to visit if just time for one? Ypres is a vibrant town with an abundance of restaurants, fine museum and the famous ‘Last Post’ ceremony held at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing every evening. The Ypres battlefield has seen development over the years but can still be explored, especially using or Self-Drive guide which will take you to places many visitors never get to see. The Somme however is still open rolling countryside which can easily (using our guide that is…) be compared ‘then and now’. Albert, the nearest Somme ‘battlefield town’, and where you will most likely be staying, is much less commercialised compared to Ypres with just a few basic restaurants and fewer museums. The Somme’s even larger Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval sits on a lonely but hugely poignant ridge right in the centre of the Somme battlefield and at night sits in darkness compared to the Menin Gate in Ypres which has a town wrapped around it. Here’s more. The Somme Battlefield We strongly recommend that your stay in either Albert or Peronne for the Somme battlefield, as opposed to either Arras or Amiens, as both these smaller towns lie just a mile or so from the old front line, and so were very much part of the battlefield, especially as final staging posts for troops coming up to the battlefield (both towns were almost totally destroyed by the end of war). The Somme battlefield lies in an area of the Somme department of northern France called Picardie. This battlefield is easier to explore as there has been relatively little domestic and commercial development over the intervening years which, coupled with the gentle rolling countryside, makes comprehending the events of the battle so much easier. Our Self-Drive Somme guide takes a good two days to complete (taking in to account time spent visiting the small museum in the centre of Albert). The biggest Commonwealth Memorial in the world is the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, which stands high above the Somme battlefield and which can be seen from miles around. Please see our Somme itinerary below for details of where our self-drive guide will take you and see our h otels     page for accommodation options. The Ypres Battlefield Ypres lies in the heart of an area known as Flanders, with infamous villages such as Passchendaele, Hooge, Messines, Hill 60 and so many others that have become so synonymous with the Great War, making up the ‘salient’ that lies just a few kilometres to the east of the town. The Ypres area (now spelt the Flemish way 'Ieper') has a flatter terrain when compared to other battlefields such as the Somme and has seen some degree of development over the intervening years. Ypres is a most vibrant town with a particularly strong legacy of the battles that almost encircled the town throughout 1914-1918. The second largest Memorial to the Missing, the Menin Gate Memorial , located close to the town centre, is perhaps the most visited memorial on the Western Front, due largely to the famous 'Last Post' ceremony which takes place at 8.00 pm each and every evening. See our hotels   page for accommodation options. The superb ‘In Flanders Fields’ museum, house in the old Cloth Hall in the centre of Ypres is a must to visit. The museum was completely refurbished and enlarged in 2012 and is ideally suited for both adults and younger visitors (say 8+). Please see our Ypres itinerary below for details of where our self-drive guide will take you and see our hotels page for accommodation options. Australians in WW1 The principal Australian battlefields are to be found on the Somme (Pozieres 1916) battlefield and the area around Villers Bretonneux (1918) which forms part of the greater Somme battlefield. Our Somme guide can easily be extended so as to a separate guide for Villers Bretonneux. (Our Self-Drive Somme guide does not include the 1917-1918 actions further east in the area of the Hindenburg Line). Our guide to the Ypres battlefield includes the 1917 ANZAC battlefields of Passchendaele. There are of course many other important Australian battlefields which are not included in our printed Self-Drive Somme and Ypres guides such as Fromelles, Messines etc. These battlefields are best explored by using the services of a personal guide.
Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd Wimborne Dorset BH21 1EJ +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com
We recommend Eurotunnel Channel crossing (included with our Self-Drive tours). YouTube If this is your first time using Eurotunnel then just click the above YouTube link to see a helpful 9-minute dash-cam video showing the procedure for arriving at the Eurotunnel complex near Folkstone. Also, checkout for a mixed bag of other short videos uploaded by travellers.
Top: The desolation and carnage of Delville Wood after the costly battle to take the wood July-August 1916. Bottom: Children play in the shallow remains of trenches in Delville Wood, unaware of all those who still lie beneath their feet.
Top image shows a group of soldiers, commonly believed to be a company of the Public Schools Battalion (16th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment) at "White City", opposite Beaumont Hamel prior to the Battle of the Somme, 1916. (Alternatively, the men may be from the 1st Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment on 1 July, 1916.) Middle: One of those soldiers standing in the same spot 1928. Bottom: The same place today (included in our Somme itinerary).
A sculpture by German artist Kathe Kollwitz, titled "The Grieving Parents" at Vladslo German Cemetery, Belgium. The cemetery contains the graves of over 25,000 WW1 German soldiers. The artist’s son, Peter Kollwitz, who was killed in the war when he was only 18 years old, is buried in a grave directly in front of the statue. In the 1930s Kathe Kollwitz was criticised by the emerging Third Reich as they viewed such sentimentality as ‘un German’. They held the view that Kollwitz’s sculpture should have shown the parents as standing, being proud that their son had died for the Fatherland.
The Menin Road is a large oil painting by Paul Nash completed in 1919 that depicts a First World War battlefield. Nash was commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee to paint a battlefield scene for the proposed national Hall of Remembrance. The photo beneath is the same road today.
'White City' 1916 and today

Some helpful advice

Menu