Somme 1916 Itinerary (followed by Ypres) S ection A (Serre and Sheffield Park) It   was   here   that   many   of   the   ‘Pals’   battalions   from   towns   such   as Accrington,   Barnsley   and   Chorley   went   ‘over   the   top’   at   0730   hrs on   Saturday   1st   July   1916.   Some   of   the   many   accounts   of   those who were there are included in our guide. Section B (Newfoundland Park and Beaumont Hamel) This   ‘park’   is   in   fact   an   area   of   front   line   left   almost   exactly   as   it was    after    the    battle,    with    no    attempt    having    been    made    to artificially   reconstruct   trenches   etc.   To   stand   in   the   very   trenches of   1st   July   1916,   and   to   then   walk   across   the   exposed   killing   fields of ‘No Man’s Land’, is a very moving experience indeed. Nearby   is   the   massive   Hawthorn   Ridge   mine   crater   where,   at   ten minutes   before   zero   hour   on   the   first   day   of   the   Battle,   more   than eighteen   tons   of   explosive   was   detonated   beneath   the   German trenches,   footage   of   which   is   so   often   seen   on   television.   Your guide   will   direct   you   to   the   exact   spot   where   the   film   was   taken from   so   that   you   may   compare   the   picture   of   the   mine   exploding 'then'   to   the   scene   today,   a   very   easy   comparison   as   the   terrain looks pretty much the same today as all those years ago. Section   C   (Thiepval,   including   the   Thiepval   Memorial   to the Missing/visitor centre and museum) Thiepval   was   the   scene   of   particularly   savage   fighting   as   British troops   battled   throughout   July,   August   and   September   of   1916   to take   the   ridge   that   dominated   the   battlefield.   It   was   here   that   the 36th    Ulster    Division    famously    achieved    such    success    on    the opening   day   (but   at   a   terrible   cost).   It   was   on   this   ridge   that   the massive   Memorial   to   the   Missing   of   the   1916   and   1917   battles   was erected   in   1932,   which   today   bears   the   names   of   nearly   73,000 British and South African soldiers who have no known grave. Section D (La Boisselle) This   section   includes   the   tragic   attack   across   ‘Mash   Valley’,   the attack   on   La   Boisselle   and   Ovillers   La   Boisselle,   as   well   as   a   visit   to the   huge   ‘Lochnagar   Crater’,   the   largest   mine   crater   still   to   be found   on   the   Western   Front   today.   Using   the   maps   supplied   you will   be   able   to   convert   the   valley   today   to   how   it   would   have looked   in   July,   a   task   the   is   almost   impossible   if   one   does   not   have the appropriate maps/diagrams etc to hand. Section E (Fricourt) This   latest   addition   to   the   guide   takes   you   to   Mansel   Copse   and the    Devonshire    Trench    where    the    inscription    at    the    cemetery entrance simply says: The Devonshires held this trench. The Devonshires hold it still. This   section   (like   all   the   other   sections)   includes   an   original   trench map    of    the    battle    to    take    Fricourt    and    Mametz,    as    well    as diagrams   and   present   day   maps.   Your   'guide'   for   this   area   also includes    the    famous    'Tambour    Mines'    (three    mines    detonated beneath   the   German   trenches   at   the   start   of   the   Somme   offensive on 1st July 1916). Section F (Mametz Wood) The    battles    for    Fricourt    and    Mametz    saw    varying    degrees    of success    on    1st    July,    but    once    again    at    a    high    cost.    Fricourt includes   a   visit   to   the   Tambour   Mine   Craters   and   the   famous ‘Devonshire   Trench’   where   the   8th   Devons   were   cut   down   by machine   gun   fire   as   they   left   their   trench   at   Mansel   Copse.   Many were   buried   in   the   trench   they   had   left   that   fateful   morning,   the trench now being a small cemetery. Section G (Delville Wood) Delville   Wood   became   a   cauldron   of   almost   unimaginable   suffering as   South   African,   followed   by   British   and   Commonwealth   troops met   the   German   defenders   head-on.   The   battle   for   the   wood lasted   from   15th   July   through   to   mid   -   September,   as   the   battle raged   one   way   then   the   other.   The   wood,   and   those   who   occupied it   from   both   sides,   were   ground   to   fragments,   a   haunting   fact which   seems   to   permeate   the   wood   today,   which   has   been   left   as it   was   at   the   end   of   the   battle.   This   section   also   includes   the   New Zealand Memorial the Missing of the Somme battlefield 1916. Section H (Pozieres) It   was   here   that   over   22,000   Australian   soldiers   were   lost   in   the taking   and   holding   of   this   small   village   in   July/August   of   1916. Such   was   the   intensity   of   the   bombardment   of   the   Australian ‘positions’   at   Pozieres   that   hardly   a   single   brick   remained   intact   at the   end   of   the   battle.   The   Windmill   Memorial,   which   stood   at   the furthest   edge   of   the   village,   was   the   scene   of   particularly   bitter fighting. The Memorial simply says: “This   spot   was   the   centre   of   the   struggle   in   this   area   and   was captured by Australian   troops   who   fell   more   thickly   on   this   ridge   than   on   any other battlefield of the war” Villers Bretonneux Our   Somme   self-drive   guide   can   be   extended   so   as   to   include   a separate   half-day   (ish…)   guide   to   the   Australian,   Canadian   and British   battlefield   of   Villers   Bretonneux   1918.   This   guide   will   be provided   at   no   extra   cost   for   those   (mainly   Australian)   clients specifically wishing to make a detour to this battlefield. Our Ypres Self-Drive tour itinerary T he Menin Gate The   Menin   Gate   is   located   at   the   eastern   edge   of   Ypres   town centre   and   is   included   in   the   opening   section   of   our   Ypres   guide under   the   introduction   to   the   town,   including   best   places   to   stand etc   when   attending   the   ceremony,   which   is   held   at   8.00   pm   every evening (without exception). Section A  (Hellfire Corner)  Notorious     intersection     of     roads     and     former     railway     where navigating   the   junction   was   very   much   a   matter   of   life   and   death. Our   ‘then   and   now’   photos   and   accompanying   narrative   will   allow you   to   stand   at   this   very   spot   to   see   how   the   busy   roundabout   of today looked back in 1916! Section B (Hill 60) Preserved   area   of   one   of   the   most   violently   contested   areas   of   the Ypres    battlefield,    both    above    and    below    ground.    Tunnelling companies,    including    many    from    Australia,    lost    hundreds    of tunnelers   in   the   underground   battles   as   each   side   tried   to   burrow beneath   each   other’s   defences.      There   is   a   memorial   here   to   all those   soldiers   from   Australia   who   lost   their   lives   on   and   under   this most   heavily   defended   area   of   the   Ypres   battlefield   (a   memorial which   also   has   bullet/shrapnel   marks   from   another   war   to   follow this   ‘war   to   end   all   wars…).         The   surface   of   the   land   still   shows the    shell    holes    and    mine    craters    that    speak    volumes    for    the appalling   battles   that   ravaged   this   'hill'.      At   the   rear   of   the   'hill'   one can   discover   one   of   the   best   German   (and   subsequently   'modified' to    being    British)    concrete    fortifications,    as    witnessed    by    the bunker's   shell-ravaged   exterior.   This   is   an   area   most   large   coach visitors   rarely   get   to   see   due   to   a   weight   restriction   on   an   adjacent bridge. Section C  (The Bluff) Near   to   Hill   60   is   an   part   of   the   battlefield   very   few   people   get   to visit.   The   Bluff   was   a   hotly   disputed   area   of   high   ground   adjacent to   the   Ypres-Comines   canal.   The   British   endeavoured   to   hold   this high   ground   (the   old   spoil   from   when   the   canal   was   constructed) at   a   high   cost.   The   remains   of   the   numerous   mines   detonated here   by   both   sides   can   still   be   seen   today   (if   one   knows   where   to look….) Section D  (Clapham Junction) German   third-line   defences   fought   over   during   the   Third   battle   of Ypres (and other occasions) Section E  (Hooge) Another   hotly   contested   areas   of   the   front   line   where   so   many lives   were   lost   in   the   continuing   ebb   and   flow   of   attacks   and counter   attacks.   At   the   spot   close   to   where   Hooge   crate   once defined   this   hotly   contested   spot,   there   now   stands   an   excellent though   small   museum,   including   many   artefacts   from   the   battle (including        a    well    preserved    German    bunker    a    short    distance further up the Menin Road)  Section F  (Sanctuary Wood, museum and Hill 62) Famous   preserved   battlefield   and   trenches   open   to   visitors   to   the adjacent museum  Section G  (Royal Engineer’s Memorial) A   most   poignant   memorial   to   just   a   few   of   the   many   servicemen who   died   undertaking   mining   operations   on   the   Ypres   battlefield (many    of    whom    stand    beneath    your    feet    where    you    stand surveying   the   battlefield).   Your   self-drive   guide   will   allow   you   to contrast   and   compare   the   farmland   of   today   with   the   very   same spot   as   so   clearly   shown   when   one   studies   the   gripping   reality   of the battlefield as depicted in the trench maps of 1916 Section H (Passchendaele) This   is   the   biggest   section   of   our   Ypres   Self-Drive   guide.   The   final and   most   tragic   phase   of   the   Third   battle   of   Ypres   191   where soldiers   from   the   UK,   Australia,   New   Zealand   and   Canada   suffered losses   in   such   unimaginable   numbers.   A   battlefield   whose   name, like   the   Somme   and   many   other   battlefields,   still   casts   a   shadow over   the   legacy   of   the   Great   War.   This   section   includes   Tyne   Cot, Zonnebeke(and     an     option     to     visit     the     recently     opened Passchendaele Museum Section I  (Vancouver Corner) The   battlefield   of   April   1915   where   the   Germans   first   used   gas   and where   there   now   stands   the   striking   'Brooding   Soldier'   Canadian Memorial    to    over    2000    of    their    servicemen    who    died    here defending the eastern flank of the German advance. Section J  (Langemark)   The   largest   German   cemetery   in   the   area   and   new   visitor   centre.   A very sombre and forboding cemetery. Section K  (Yorkshire Trench and Dug-Out Following   excavations   back   in   the   late   nineties   an   area   of   the   old Front   Line   dating   back   to   1915-1917   was   excavated   and   made available for visitors to explore today Section L  (Essex Farm) The   cemetery   and   striking   remains   of   a   First   Aid   station   just behind   the   Front   Line   where   the   Canadian   physician   John   McCrae penned   his   memorable   poem   ‘In   Flanders   Fields’.      It   is   here   where many   believe   the   origins   of   the   poppy   can   be   traced,   which   today acts as an enduring symbol of remembrance for all wars.

Our Somme (1916) & Ypres 

Self-DriveTour

Itineraries

‘Then and Now’

Above: Paul Nash - ‘The Menin

Road’Below: The Menin Road today

The Minin Gate 1912, 1917-1918

and now (below)

The famous Cloth Hall in the

centre of Ypres

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Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd  Wimborne  Dorset BH21 1EJ  Tel: +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com

One of the first battlefield

tour buses about to depart

from the remains of the

Cloth Hall 1919

(click both images)

The road from Guillemont to

Delville Wood (Somme)

‘then and now’

1919
1917
1922
2018
Somme 1916 Itinerary (followed by Ypres) S ection A (Serre and Sheffield Park) It   was   here   that   many   of   the   ‘Pals’   battalions   from   towns   such as   Accrington,   Barnsley   and   Chorley   went   ‘over   the   top’   at   0730 hrs   on   Saturday   1st   July   1916.   Some   of   the   many   accounts   of those who were there are included in our guide. Section B (Newfoundland Park and Beaumont Hamel) This   ‘park’   is   in   fact   an   area   of   front   line   left   almost   exactly   as   it was   after   the   battle,   with   no   attempt   having   been   made   to artificially    reconstruct    trenches    etc.    To    stand    in    the    very trenches   of   1st   July   1916,   and   to   then walk   across   the   exposed   killing   fields   of ‘No    Man’s    Land’,    is    a    very    moving experience indeed. Nearby   is   the   massive   Hawthorn   Ridge mine    crater    where,    at    ten    minutes before   zero   hour   on   the   first   day   of   the Battle,    more    than    eighteen    tons    of explosive   was   detonated   beneath   the German   trenches,   footage   of   which   is so   often   seen   on   television.   Your   guide will   direct   you   to   the   exact   spot   where the   film   was   taken   from   so   that   you   may   compare   the   picture   of the   mine   exploding   'then'   to   the   scene   today,   a   very   easy comparison   as   the   terrain   looks   pretty   much   the   same   today   as all those years ago. Section   C   (Thiepval,   including   the   Thiepval   Memorial   to the Missing/visitor centre and museum) Thiepval   was   the   scene   of   particularly   savage   fighting   as   British troops   battled   throughout   July,   August   and   September   of   1916 to   take   the   ridge   that   dominated   the   battlefield.   It   was   here that   the   36th   Ulster   Division   famously   achieved   such   success   on the   opening   day   (but   at   a   terrible   cost).   It   was   on   this   ridge that   the   massive   Memorial   to   the   Missing   of   the   1916   and   1917 battles   was   erected   in   1932,   which   today   bears   the   names   of nearly   73,000   British   and   South   African   soldiers   who   have   no known grave. Section D (La Boisselle) This    section    includes    the    tragic    attack across    ‘Mash    Valley’,    the    attack    on    La Boisselle   and   Ovillers   La   Boisselle,   as   well as   a   visit   to   the   huge   ‘Lochnagar   Crater’, the   largest   mine   crater   still   to   be   found on   the   Western   Front   today.   Using   the maps   supplied   you   will   be   able   to   convert the   valley   today   to   how   it   would   have looked    in    July,    a    task    the    is    almost impossible    if    one    does    not    have    the appropriate maps/diagrams etc to hand. Section E (Fricourt) This   latest   addition   to   the   guide   takes   you   to   Mansel   Copse   and the   Devonshire   Trench   where   the   inscription   at   the   cemetery entrance simply says: The Devonshires held this trench. The Devonshires hold it still. This   section   (like   all   the   other   sections)   includes   an   original trench   map   of   the   battle   to   take   Fricourt   and   Mametz,   as   well as   diagrams   and   present   day   maps.   Your   'guide'   for   this   area also    includes    the    famous    'Tambour    Mines'    (three    mines detonated   beneath   the   German   trenches   at   the   start   of   the Somme offensive on 1st July 1916). Section F (Mametz Wood) The   battles   for   Fricourt   and   Mametz   saw varying   degrees   of   success   on   1st   July,   but once   again   at   a   high   cost.   Fricourt   includes a   visit   to   the   Tambour   Mine   Craters   and   the famous   ‘Devonshire   Trench’   where   the   8th Devons   were   cut   down   by   machine   gun   fire as   they   left   their   trench   at   Mansel   Copse. Many   were   buried   in   the   trench   they   had left   that   fateful   morning,   the   trench   now being a small cemetery. Section G (Delville Wood) Delville    Wood    became    a    cauldron    of    almost    unimaginable suffering     as     South     African,     followed     by     British     and Commonwealth    troops    met    the    German    defenders    head-on. The   battle   for   the   wood   lasted   from   15th   July   through   to   mid   - September,   as   the   battle   raged   one   way   then   the   other.   The wood,   and   those   who   occupied   it   from   both   sides,   were   ground to   fragments,   a   haunting   fact   which   seems   to   permeate   the wood   today,   which   has   been   left   as   it   was   at   the   end   of   the battle.   This   section   also   includes   the   New   Zealand   Memorial   the Missing of the Somme battlefield 1916. Section H (Pozieres) It   was   here   that   over   22,000   Australian   soldiers   were   lost   in   the taking   and   holding   of   this   small   village   in   July/August   of   1916. Such   was   the   intensity   of   the   bombardment of   the   Australian   ‘positions’   at   Pozieres   that hardly   a   single   brick   remained   intact   at   the end   of   the   battle.   The   Windmill   Memorial, which    stood    at    the    furthest    edge    of    the village,   was   the   scene   of   particularly   bitter fighting. The Memorial simply says: “This   spot   was   the   centre   of   the   struggle   in this area and was captured by Australian   troops   who   fell   more   thickly   on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war” Villers Bretonneux Our   Somme   self-drive   guide   can   be   extended   so   as   to   include   a separate   half-day   (ish…)   guide   to   the   Australian,   Canadian   and British   battlefield   of   Villers   Bretonneux   1918.   This   guide   will   be provided   at   no   extra   cost   for   those   (mainly   Australian)   clients specifically wishing to make a detour to this battlefield. Our Ypres Self-Drive tour itinerary T he Menin Gate The   Menin   Gate   is   located   at   the   eastern   edge   of   Ypres   town centre   and   is   included   in   the   opening   section   of   our   Ypres   guide under   the   introduction   to   the   town,   including   best   places   to stand   etc   when   attending   the   ceremony,   which   is   held   at   8.00 pm every evening (without exception). Section A  (Hellfire Corner)  Notorious    intersection    of    roads    and    former    railway    where navigating   the   junction   was   very   much   a   matter   of   life   and death.   Our   ‘then   and   now’   photos   and   accompanying   narrative will   allow   you   to   stand   at   this   very   spot   to   see   how   the   busy roundabout of today looked back in 1916! Section B (Hill 60) Preserved   area   of   one   of   the   most   violently contested   areas   of   the   Ypres   battlefield,   both above      and      below      ground.      Tunnelling companies,   including   many   from   Australia, lost      hundreds      of      tunnelers      in      the underground   battles   as   each   side   tried   to burrow     beneath     each     other’s     defences.       There    is    a    memorial    here    to    all    those soldiers   from   Australia   who   lost   their   lives   on and   under   this   most   heavily   defended   area of     the     Ypres     battlefield     (a     memorial     which     also     has bullet/shrapnel   marks   from   another   war   to   follow   this   ‘war   to end   all   wars…).         The   surface   of   the   land   still   shows   the   shell holes   and   mine   craters   that   speak   volumes   for   the   appalling battles   that   ravaged   this   'hill'.      At   the   rear   of   the   'hill'   one   can discover   one   of   the   best   German   (and   subsequently   'modified' to   being   British)   concrete   fortifications,   as   witnessed   by   the bunker's    shell-ravaged    exterior.    This    is    an    area    most    large coach   visitors   rarely   get   to   see   due   to   a   weight   restriction   on   an adjacent bridge. Section C  (The Bluff) Near   to   Hill   60   is   an   part   of   the   battlefield   very   few   people   get to   visit.   The   Bluff   was   a   hotly   disputed   area   of   high   ground adjacent   to   the   Ypres-Comines   canal.   The   British   endeavoured to   hold   this   high   ground   (the   old   spoil   from   when   the   canal   was constructed)   at   a   high   cost.   The   remains   of   the   numerous mines   detonated   here   by   both   sides   can   still   be   seen   today   (if one knows where to look….) Section D  (Clapham Junction) German   third-line   defences   fought   over   during   the   Third   battle of Ypres (and other occasions) Section E  (Hooge) Another   hotly   contested   areas   of   the   front   line   where   so   many lives   were   lost   in   the   continuing   ebb   and   flow   of   attacks   and counter   attacks.   At   the   spot   close   to   where   Hooge   crate   once defined   this   hotly   contested   spot,   there   now   stands   an   excellent though   small   museum,   including   many   artefacts   from   the   battle (including      a   well   preserved   German   bunker   a   short   distance further up the Menin Road)  Section F  (Sanctuary Wood, museum and Hill 62) Famous   preserved   battlefield   and   trenches   open   to   visitors   to the adjacent museum  Section G  (Royal Engineer’s Memorial) A    most    poignant    memorial    to    just    a    few    of    the    many servicemen   who   died   undertaking   mining   operations   on   the Ypres   battlefield   (many   of   whom   stand   beneath   your   feet   where you   stand   surveying   the   battlefield).   Your   self-drive   guide   will allow   you   to   contrast   and   compare   the   farmland   of   today   with the   very   same   spot   as   so   clearly   shown   when   one   studies   the gripping   reality   of   the   battlefield   as   depicted   in   the   trench   maps of 1916 Section H (Passchendaele) This   is   the   biggest   section   of   our   Ypres   Self-Drive   guide.   The final   and   most   tragic   phase   of   the   Third   battle   of   Ypres   191 where   soldiers   from   the   UK,   Australia,   New   Zealand   and   Canada suffered   losses   in   such   unimaginable   numbers.   A   battlefield whose   name,   like   the   Somme   and   many   other   battlefields,   still casts   a   shadow   over   the   legacy   of   the   Great   War.   This   section includes    Tyne    Cot,    Zonnebeke(and    an    option    to    visit    the recently opened Passchendaele Museum Section I  (Vancouver Corner) The   battlefield   of   April   1915   where   the   Germans   first   used   gas and   where   there   now   stands   the   striking   'Brooding   Soldier' Canadian   Memorial   to   over   2000   of   their   servicemen   who   died here defending the eastern flank of the German advance. Section J  (Langemark)   The    largest    German    cemetery    in    the    area    and    new    visitor centre. A very sombre and forboding cemetery. Section K  (Yorkshire Trench and Dug-Out Following   excavations   back   in   the   late   nineties   an   area   of   the old   Front   Line   dating   back   to   1915-1917   was   excavated   and made available for visitors to explore today Section L  (Essex Farm) The   cemetery   and   striking   remains   of   a   First   Aid   station   just behind    the    Front    Line    where    the    Canadian    physician    John McCrae   penned   his   memorable   poem   ‘In   Flanders   Fields’.      It   is here   where   many   believe   the   origins   of   the   poppy   can   be traced,     which     today     acts     as     an     enduring     symbol     of remembrance for all wars.

Our Somme (1916) & Ypres

Self-Drive

Tour Itineraries

One of the first battlefield tour

buses about to depart from the

remains of the Cloth Hall 1919

(click small & large images)

Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd  Wimborne  Dorset BH21 1EJ  Tel: +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com
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Unexploded shells and shell casess found by a farmer when clearing just a small part of the notorious High Wood (Somme) DO NOT TOUCH!!