The Somme with Carrickfergus Chapter One
Thompson Travel Holidays
Depart Dublin at 7am. Arrival in Brussels at 10.30 am approximate times.Arrival at Brussels International Airport (Zaventem) at about 10.30 am. The guide will meet the group in the arrivals hall at the airport.
From Brussels you’ll drive to Ypres. Group lunch in Ypres. Rustic ham & cheese sandwich served with tea & coffee or a soft drink. Your lunch will be taken at the Hooge Crater where you will also ahve time to tour the museum before check-in at your hotel.
This evening the group will go to the Menin Gate for the Last Post and wreath laying ceremony circa 7pm. Evening at leisure. Overnight in the new Regina hotel in the centre of Ypres (Ieper).
Day 2 Ypres & the Mine Battle of Messines Ridge
Morning free to explore Ypres. There is a local cathedral and a small church that were used by the troops. From Ypres we drive via the Locre area (where the Irish troops were encamped and where headquarters for the corps and divisions could be found) to Kemmel to see the remains of the concrete shelters of the Lettenberg and watch the introduction film on Zero Hour. We will also visit the temporary exhibition ‘Irish blood on Flemish soil’ in the Heuvelland Visitor Centre. From Kemmel we continue to the Spanbroekmolen Crater – known as the Pool of Peace – to see where the Irish troops attacked the German lines on 7th June 1917. We will also look at the two memorials for the Irish divisions along the Kemmel – Wijtschate road. Next onwards to Messines to visit the local museum on the Mine Battle of Messines Ridge and the Island of Ireland Peace Park. From Messines we will also make a small detour to Plugstreet to see the site of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Our last visit will be Hill 60, one of the few sites in the Ypres area that have been left untouched since 1919. We also find the best preserved mine crater there: the Caterpillar Crater. Evening at leisure.
Day 3 | The Battle of the Somme
Depart from your accommodation in Ypres at 8.30 am. We’ll drive along the motorways to the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel. The story of the Newfoundland Regiment being annihilated on the 1st of July is even more remarkable because you can still see the actual trenches from where they attacked. Onwards to Thiepval to visit the Ulster Tower and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing with the very interesting Visitor Cemetery. Service at Thiepval. From Thiepval we drive to Albert for lunch.
After lunch we continue to the Lochnagar Crater, one of the most impressive remains of the underground war. From La Boiselle we drive through Fricourt (where you can see the German military cemetery) to Devonshire Trench Cemetery at Mametz. Next onwards to Longueval to visit the South African Memorial and Museum at Delville Wood. From Longueval we continue along High Wood to Pozières to see the memorial to the 1st Australian Division, the Australian Memorial Park and the Tank Memorial. Driving along the Canadian Memorial of Courcelette and the battlefield of the Butte de Warlencourt. Back in Ypres by around 6.30pm. Evening free. Overnight at Regina
Day 4 | Ypres Salient & Departure
After breakfast drive to Poperinge to hear the story of the soldiers’ life behind the lines. We will visit the Shot At Dawn site and hear the story of famous place like La Poupée and Talbot House. Next onwards to Essex Farm Cemetery, where the Canadians set up their advanced dressing stations and medical posts when the battle started on 22nd April 1915. We visit the John McCrae Memorial and learn about the reason for writing his famous poem. Next, we move on to Steenstraete and Bikschoote for a view of the territory where the Germans released the gas. Via Carrefour des Roses, a French memorial site, we drive to the Francis Ledwige Memorial and the poet’s grave at Artillery Wood Cemetery. Next onwards to Langemark to see the German military cemetery.
For lunch we drive to Polygon Wood. At the Dreve, the tavern owned by amateur archaeologist Johan Vandewalle, we will not only be able to get a Tommy Tucker meal, but also see the private exhibition on the underground warfare. It is also home to the Brothers-In-Arms Memorial Project.
Via Zonnebeke and 's Graventafel Ridge we drive up to Tyne Cot Cemetery. From Tyne Cot, we follow in the footsteps of the Canadians that cleared the village of Passchendaele, with enormous losses...
Morning free in Ypres to visit Flanders Museum if you wish or Saint George’s Memorial Church. From Passchendaele you’ll drive to Brussels International Airport.