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Battlefield Select Tours will take you on an unforgettable journey from the Fields of Flanders to the Beaches of Normandy. With very high quality accommodation assured and meaningful paced, flexible itineraries, you can be assured that we will do everything we can to make your trip a truly memorable one.

Fact sheets along with Maps and General Information will be given to each client along with the itinerary prior to departing on a Battlefield Select Tour, for each Battlefield to be visited during the selected tour.

The Somme

The Somme today is a place of great beauty and tranquility and a million miles removed from all the horrors of that battle which saw many of its lovely towns and villages levelled and the landscape destroyed beyond comprehension.

Going over the top 01It is the final resting place for millions of soldiers who fought and died over this piece of country. Their cemeteries can be seen all over the horizon and almost follow the front line. It is estimated that nearly 2 million soldiers from all the nations that fought in the Great War are missing and is estimated that if you walk six paces in any direction on the Front Line, you will be walking on a soldier's grave. There are still over 350,000 British and Commonwealth troops missing. Some are still being found every year and have a full Military Funeral and are laid to rest along side their comrades.

The Somme is most famous for the 1st of July 1916 when it witnessed the worst day in the history of the British Army. Within a day, 19,000 lay dead and 36,000 wounded, most of whom came from Lord Kitchener's New Army. Over four million combatants engaged in battle over a 40 kilometer front. The battle continued until 18th of November 1916, with only 8 miles advanced and at the cost of 420,000 casualties sustained in the four months of fighting.

The Somme is one of the most visited Battlefields of the Great War, once you have seen the landscape, you will find it hard to believe that so many gave their lives for it.

Flanders

In Flanders fields lie the remains of soldiers from more than 30 nations. Some five million British and Commonwealth soldiers pass through the town of Ypres on their way to the front lines. The Ypres Salient was the infamous bloodbath that saw three major battles.

During the battles there were more than one million casualties, and half of these fell during the most famous of these - "The Third Battle of Ypres" commonly known as Passchendaele, with over 400,000 casualties in 100 days.

This battleground contains Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery on mainland Europe. This is one of the most moving visits on Battlefield Selects Tours and where most of our clients like to place the Poppy Cross (which each client receives) on one of the many Graves.

In Ypres, at the Menin Gate, the Last Post is played every night at 8pm. This is a daily tribute to honour the memory of the soldiers who fought and died in the Ypres Salient. The Menin Gate has the names of 54,896 soldiers who have no known grave. On the night of our visit to Menin Gate we pick two members of our party to lay a wreath at the gate on behalf of our party.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.


Arras

Vickers IWWThis area of France is sometimes known as the "forgotten battlefields" because Flanders and the Somme get more visitors.

There were battles in this region between May and September 1915 and the Battle of Arras taking place on 9th April 1917. The town of Arras has underground tunnels which housed thousands of troops before the assault. These underground tunnels are one of the highlights on the visit to Arras and should not be missed.

The Arras battlefields contain the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge along with an intact trench system. This is one of the most interesting and stunning memorials to the Great War.

Verdun

Among all the battlefields of the Great War, the largest is world famous - Verdun. The battle was so fierce that it became the mother of all the great battles of the Great War. Fought over 300 days and nights with no let up in the fighting whatsoever, there were more than 300,000 dead and missing and 400,000 wounded. To truly understand the profound horror of the Great War and understand the sacrifice of this war, a visit to Verdun is one that can not be missed.

Normandy - D-Day - Operation Overlord

See the "Coast of Heroes where the famous landings took place and the effort to break out from the beach head. Visit the sites of the Airborne Landings and the famous Rangers attack on the Pointe-du-Hoc.

D-day Normandy Nara 26-G-2343In December 1943 President Roosevelt appointed General Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander, with orders to "Enter the Continent of Europe, and in conjunction with other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces" The original codename for this invasion was "Operation Roundup"
This was eventually changed to "Operation Overlord"
The enormity of this task cannot be over stated; by the early months of 1944 Britain was a virtual army camp with 3.5 million troops, soldiers, sailors and airmen all training for the mammoth task that lay ahead. British, American, Canadian, Australians and New Zealanders, French, Belgians, Norwegians, Poles and Czechs along with the Dutch, all with the same objective: the Liberation of Europe from the evil clutches of Hitler's occupation.

American troops, weapons and vehicles were shipped across the Atlantic to Britain for almost two years, this operation was code named "Bolero". Imagine an airforce consisting of 13,000 aircraft and 3,500 gliders! This was assembled for the great assault.1,200 fighting ships, 1,600 merchant ships and 4,000 assault craft of various descriptions were at anchor in ports all over the southern coasts of England, including Cardiff in South Wales. 

To keep the build up of all these men and their equipment a secret from the German spy network was an achievement in itself, but a secret it remained, many south coast towns were closed to the public, to prevent spying eyes…

Operation Market Garden

On 17 September 1944 thousands of paratroopers descended from the sky by parachute or glider up to 150 km behind enemy lines. Their goal: to secure to bridges across the rivers in Holland so that the Allied army could advance rapidly northwards and turn right into the lowlands of Germany, hereby skirting around the Siegfried line, the German defence line. If all carried out as planned it should have ended the war by Christmas 1944.

Unfortunately this daring plan, named Operation Market Garden, didn't have the expected outcome. The bridge at Arnhem proved to be 'a bridge too far'. After 10 days of bitter fighting the operation ended with the evacuation of the remainder of the 1st British Airborne Division from the Arnhem area.

 

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