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

‘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)

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’
Our Somme 1916 Self-Drive Itinerary (Ypres Itinerary below - click here)   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’,   where   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. 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 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)

Helpful Advice Helpful Advice Get a Quotation Get a Quotation
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