11 Day Hamel Centenary 2018 (MMHC11)

In July 1918 Australian General John Monash orchestrated one of the great attacks of the First World War at the Somme town of Hamel.
Destinations:

United Kingdom & Europe

$5,215.00 Member Price From

$5,247.00 Non-Member Price From

Includes

  • The best guides in the business – Mat McLachlan has hand-picked WWI’s leading Historians to escort this tour
  • All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
  • Full day at Hamel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle.
  • 10 nights’ 3 and 4-star accommodation (example hotels: Pullman Paris Bercy in Paris, Albion Hotel in Ypres and the Mecure hotel in Amiens)
  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches and 4 dinners including a farewell Seine river cruise with dinner and entertainment
  • Welcome drink in Paris
  • Champagne tasting in Epernay
  • Services of a Tour Manager, Driver, WWI War Historian and experienced Local Guides
  • Full day in Paris with sightseeing and free time
  • Extensive touring of the WWI battlefields
  • All entrance fees are as per the itinerary
  • Travel by First-Class air-conditioned coach
  • Local taxes and end of tour tips to your Tour Manager, Historian and Driver are included
  • Commemorative cap
  • Copy of Mat McLachlan’s definitive guide to the Western Front, Walking with the Anzacs

 

In July 1918 Australian General John Monash orchestrated one of the great attacks of the First World War at the Somme town of Hamel. Today this great victory is remembered at the Australian Memorial Park on the heights overlooking the town. Join visiting Australians and local French people to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this Australian triumph on the ground where it took place.

 

Do I require an attendance pass?

Yes. Attendance passes will be required for the Hamel Centenary Service and will be issued by DVA. Obtaining an attendance pass is your responsibility as a passenger. 

Itinerary Details

Day 1

Day 1 – 27 June Paris Welcome to our Western Front tour! After checking in to our Paris hotel, we will come together for welcome drinks. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know our fellow passengers, Tour Manager and War Historian. After drinks, we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel.

Day 2

Day 2 – 28 June Paris Today will be spent exploring the sights and sounds of Paris, the ‘City of Light’. In the morning, a local guide will escort us on a Panoramic Tour of the city’s iconic sights. The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre Dame will all be seen. After enjoying lunch, we will have free time to further explore Paris.

Day 3

Day 3 – 29 June Paris to Ypres Our tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs begins today. After breakfast we depart Paris for Ypres, scene of some of the most horrific fighting of the First World War and our home for the next four nights. On the way we will stop at Epernay, the birthplace of Champagne, and enjoy a guided tour of one of the town’s famous champagne houses. After a tasting of their bubbly we will depart for Reims, the historic city in the heart of the Champagne district. We will have free time for lunch and to explore the historic old town – don’t miss the magnificent cathedral, where the Kings of France were once crowned. After leaving Reims we will visit the inspiring Australian 2nd Division Memorial and see the remains of trenches captured by Australian troops on the 1918 battlefield of Mont St Quentin. On arrival in Ypres we will enjoy dinner in our hotel.

Day 4

Day 4 – 30 June Ypres Between 1914 and 1918 the town of Ypres was the center of four great battles, and was completely destroyed by shellfire. Today the rebuilt town is one of the iconic places on the Western Front. This morning, join your Historian for a walking tour around the town, visiting key sights from the war such as the magnificent Cloth Hall, St George’s Chapel, St Martin’s Cathedral, the Menin Gate and Ramparts Cemetery. After some free time for lunch, we will visit the outstanding In Flanders Fields Museum, a provocative collection of relics and displays that chronicles the fighting in Flanders and the personal stories of the people involved. This evening we will return to the Menin Gate, where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded, for the moving Last Post ceremony. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day and in all-weather since the memorial opened in 1927. The only interruption was during the four years of German occupation during the Second World War – the ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated. Two of our passengers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the group.

Day 5

Day 5 – 1 July Ypres to Salient The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we will explore the Australian battlefields in the Salient, places where the Anzacs made history in 1917. Our first stop will be the Passchendaele Museum which features a recreated British dugout. We will then visit the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood and see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan’s and Michael Molkentin’s documentary ‘Lost in Flanders’. Lunch is included at Cafe de Dreve, where the owner, Johan Vandewalle, will tell us about his discovery of the bodies of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder in a Belgian field. We then get a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world’s largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Tyne Cot sits in the heart of one of the most horrific battlefields of the war – Passchendaele. Our final stop today is at the German Cemetery at Langemarck, where we will learn about the men on the other side of the line. As we drive back to our hotel we will see the magnificent Canadian memorial at Langemarck, marking the spot where poison gas was first used in the war.

Day 6

Day 6 – 2 July Bruges We will spend time today exploring Bruges, one of Europe’s most charming medieval cities. Wander the cobbled streets, take a cruise on one of the city’s enchanting canals, ride through the picturesque squares in a horse and cart or sample the lace boutiques, chocolate shops and cafes that make Bruges famous. On the drive back to Ypres we will stop at Essex Farm Cemetery, where in 1915 Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae composed ‘In Flanders Fields’, the most famous poem of the war. We will also visit the ominously named Trench of Death, where the preserved trenches give a frightening impression of the four bitter years of war.

Day 7

Day 7 – 3 July Ypres to The Somme Today we leave Ypres and travel south to the battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop is the battlefield of Messines, scene of a huge Allied attack in 1917 that was heralded by the explosion of 19 massive mines. We will then travel to French Flanders, and the very moving 1916 battlefield of Fromelles, where Australia lost 5533 men during its first action on the Western Front. While here we will visit the Australian Memorial Park, VC Corner Cemetery (the only all-Australian cemetery in France), the site of the recently discovered Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood and the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery, where 250 Australian and British soldiers were laid to rest in 2010. We will also visit the new Fromelles museum, opened in 2014, which tells the story of Australia’s disastrous involvement in the battle of Fromelles in 1916. Our final stop of the day is the battlefield of Bullecourt, where Australia lost 10,000 men in two great battles in 1917. We will pay our respects to them at the Slouch Hat memorial in the center of town and the Australian Memorial Park on the site of the German front line. A packed lunch is included today, and we will enjoy dinner in our hotel on our arrival in the Somme.

Day 8

Day 8 – 4 July Hamel Centenary Today we will travel to Hamel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle. We will spend a full day exploring the battlefields with our Historian and joining local people and visiting Australians in commemorations to mark the centenary of the attack. At the end of this moving day we will return to our hotel for dinner.

Day 9

Day 9 – 5 July The Somme Few names carry as much infamy as the Somme, and today we will explore the region that became synonymous with the carnage of the First World War. Our journey begins at the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux where we will see the sign that entreats the children of Villers-Bretonneux to ‘Never Forget Australia’. We will also visit Adelaide Cemetery, where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay for 75 years before being returned to Australia in 1993. Next we will travel to the imposing Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, which bears the names of almost 11,000 Australians missing in France. The memorial, set in the middle of one of Australia’s most famous battlefields of the war, is where the Anzac Day Dawn Service is held each year. We will also visit the brand new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, which tells the story of Australia’s achievements on the Western Front. After a delightful traditional lunch, we will begin our tour of the 1916 battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop is the huge Lochnagar Crater, blown by the British beneath the German lines on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. We will then visit the killing fields of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, where Australia lost 23,000 men in six weeks of fighting in 1916. We will also visit the Thiepval Memorial, where the names of 72,000 British soldiers missing from the Somme fighting are recorded. Later we will explore the trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park. Returning to our hotel, our evening is free.

Day 10

Day 10 – 6 July Somme to Paris We will farewell the battlefields this morning and return to Paris. In the evening we will join a cruise along the Seine River, where we will enjoy a farewell dinner and musical entertainment. This will be a wonderful opportunity to share the memories of our special tour with our travelling companions while cruising past the landmarks of Paris bathed in light.

Day 11

Day 11 – 7 July Paris Sadly our Western Front Tour ends this morning after breakfast. The journey may be over but the memories will last a lifetime.

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