Our Somme 1916 Self-Drive Itinerary Section 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. The preserved ground includes what is left of the old Front Line from where one can look over the area of no mans land where so many soldiers from Kitchener’s New Army would perish that morning back in 1916. Our Self-Drive guide includes accounts of those who were there (including German), as well as ‘then and now’ images and comparative maps. Section B (Newfoundland Park and Beaumont Hamel) This ‘park’ and visitor centre comprises an area of front line left almost exactly as it was after the battle, with just the passage of time having rounded off the scared features. To stand in the very trenches of 1st July 1916, and to then walk across the treacherous ‘No Man’s Land’, where so many feell, is a very moving experience indeed. Nearby is the massive Hawthorn Ridge mine crater which has recently been made more accessible 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. Our guide will direct you to the exact spot where the film was taken, so you may compare the picture of the mine exploding 'then' to the precise terrain today. 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 from 1915 to 1917 (mainly 1916) 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 1916, 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 our 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, with the straggling Mametz Wood seeing some of the fiercest fighting. Our Self-Drive guide will take you to the 38th Div. Welsh Memorial from where one has a commanding view of this foreboding wood, so eerily silent today. 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 many of 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 (cleared pathways of old allow you to walk throughout the wood). This section also includes the nearby 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 Pozières 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 (my underline) 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 Somme (1916) & Ypres

Self-Drive Tour

Itineraries

Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918
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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)

Our Ypres Self-Drive Itinerary The 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 Last Post ceremony, which is held at 8.00 pm every evening (without exception). Section A (Hellfire Corner) A 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 all those years ago. Section B (Hill 60) This (thankfully) preserved area was one of the most violently contested areas of the Ypres battlefield, both above and below ground. Tunnelling companies, including many from Australia, lost countless tunnellers 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 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’, which was in fact the a pre- WW1 pile of spoil from the adjacent railway cutting. At the rear of the hill one can discover one of the best German (and subsequently 'modified' by the 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 contested 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….) with a recent wooden walk-way which allows visitors to walk through the sometimes water-logged craters. 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. An excellent though small museum now stands close to where mine craters once pock-marked the landscape (including a well preserved German bunker a short distance further up the Menin Road). A walk supported by a smartphone app has recently opened allowing visitors to follow the old Front Line to the west of the Menin Road. Section F (Sanctuary Wood, museum and Hill 62) This notorious battlefield has been preserved, alongside a cafe and museum crammed full of artefacts from the Great War. 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 still lye entombed beneath your feet where you now stand surveying the battlefield). Our 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 1917 where soldiers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada suffered losses in such unimaginable numbers and such unimaginable conditions. Passchendaele became a battle the name of which, like the Somme and many other battlefields, still casts a shadow over the legacy of the Great War. This section includes the much- filmed Tyne Cot Cemetery on the slopes of the Passchendaele ridge and visitor centre, as well as the excellent ‘trench experience’ museum to be found at nearby Zonnebeke. Section I (Vancouver Corner) This is 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 foreboding cemetery with a history which also reflects decisions made following the second world war.. 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.
Please click the poppy to hear one of the most moving readings of Col John McCae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918

Above: Paul Nash - ‘The Menin

Road’Below: The Menin Road today

Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918

The Minin Gate 1912, 1917-1918

and now (below)

The famous Cloth Hall in the

centre of Ypres

Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918 Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918

Fricourt German Cemetery - Somme

Over 17,000 burials, most in mass

graves and included in your Self-Drive

Somme guide.

Full menu
Our Somme 1916 Self-Drive Itinerary (Ypres Itinerary below - click here) Section 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. The preserved ground includes what is left of the old Front Line from where one can look over the area of no mans land where so many soldiers from Kitchener’s New Army would perish that morning back in 1916. Our Self-Drive guide includes accounts of those who were there (including German), as well as ‘then and now’ images and comparative maps. Section B (Newfoundland Park and Beaumont Hamel) This ‘park’ and visitor centre comprises an area of front line left almost exactly as it was after the battle, with just the passage of time having rounded off the scared features. To stand in the very trenches of 1st July 1916, and to then walk across the trecherouus ‘No Man’s Land’, w here so many fell, is a very moving experience indeed. Nearby is the massive Hawthorn Ridge mine crater which has recently been made more accessible 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. Our guide will direct you to the exact spot where the film was taken, so you may compare the picture of the mine exploding 'then' to the precise terrain today. 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 from 1915 to 1917 (mainly 1916) 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 1916, 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 our 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, with the straggling Mametz Wood seeing some of the fiercest fighting. Our Self-Drive guide will take you to the 38th Div. Welsh Memorial from where one has a commanding view of this foreboding wood, so eerily silent today. 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 many of 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 (cleared pathways of old allow you to walk throughout the wood). This section also includes the nearby New Zealand Memorial the Missing of the Somme battlefield 1916. S ection 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 Itinerary The Menin Gate The Menin Gate (left with Ypres centre images below) 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 Last Post ceremony, which is held at 8.00 pm every evening (without exception). Section A (Hellfire Corner) A 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 all those years ago. Section B (Hill 60) This (thankfully) preserved area was one of the most violently contested areas of the Ypres battlefield, both above and below ground. Tunnelling companies, including many from Australia, lost countless tunnellers 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 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’, which was in fact the a pre-WW1 pile of spoil from the adjacent railway cutting. At the rear of the hill one can discover one of the best German (and subsequently 'modified' by the 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 contested 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….) with a recent wooden walk-way which allows visitors to walk through the sometimes water- logged craters. 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. An excellent though small museum now stands close to where mine craters once pock-marked the landscape (including a well preserved German bunker a short distance further up the Menin Road). A walk supported by a smartphone app has recently opened allowing visitors to follow the old Front Line to the west of the Menin Road. Section F (Sanctuary Wood, museum and Hill 62) This notorious battlefield has been preserved, alongside a cafe and museum crammed full of artefacts from the Great War. 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 still lye entombed beneath your feet where you now stand surveying the battlefield). Our 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 1917 where soldiers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada suffered losses in such unimaginable numbers and such unimaginable conditions. Passchendaele became a battle the name of which, like the Somme and many other battlefields, still casts a shadow over the legacy of the Great War. This section includes the much-filmed Tyne Cot Cemetery on the slopes of the Passchendaele ridge and visitor centre, as well as the excellent ‘trench experience’ museum to be found at nearby Zonnebeke. Section I (Vancouver Corner) This is 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 with a history which also reflects decisions made following the second world war.. 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 both images)

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