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Themed Tours

Ypres & the Somme

War Poets

Typical one day war poets tour in the Somme

After an early start, arrive in the Somme area at Serre No. 2 Cemetery near where

Wilfred Owen’s platoon held a dug-out in No Man’s Land, as described in his poem,

The

Sentry

. From here, travel the short distance to Newfoundland Park and walk to the end

near to Y-Ravine in the vicinity of Hawthorn Crater. Wilfred Owen was in the front line

here in January 1917. Carry on to Thiepval, the memorial to the missing, a very

emotional place. From here, drive to the Fricourt area, where Robert Graves wrote his

poems

Two Fusiliers

and

David & Goliath

. Siegfried Sassoon was also serving in this area in

the spring of 1916 prior to the Battle of the Somme. Drive to Delville Wood, where the

savage fighting inspired Sassoon’s poem

The Road

and Graves’ poem

The Dead Boche

.

En route back to Calais, stop south of Arras at Agny, to visit Edward Thomas’ grave and

go into Arras to the Arras Memorial.

Ypres Salient

Edmund Blunden saw action in the Ypres Salient from November 1916 until January

1918 and was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres at Passchendaele. Blunden wrote

many pieces whilst in the Ypres area, including

The Zonnebeke Road

,

Les Halles d’Ypres

,

Trench Raid near Hooge

and

Vlamertinghe, passing the château

. The latter three are on

plaques at the Cloth Hall, Hooge military museum and outside the château gates at

Vlamertinghe. There are plenty of reminders of Blunden’s war experiences, and a whole

tour could be constructed around these. Siegfried Sassoon also spent time in the Ypres

Salient. There is reference to his time here in

Sick Leave

written at Craiglockhart. John

McCrae, the Canadian surgeon, wrote

In Flanders Fields

whilst stationed at Essex Farm

dressing station.

The Pals at War

The story of the keen young men who volunteered for Kitcheners ‘New Army’ in late

1914 and trained through 1915, ready to fight at Loos or on the Somme.’Join together

and serve together’ – a great recruiting slogan, but unfortunately, many would also die

together. Most of the Pals came from the industrial north of England – Sheffield, Leeds,

Bradford, Hull, Manchester, Liverpool and Accrington. For many, the 1st of July 1916 was

their baptism and their funeral. We examine the exploits of the 31st Division at Serre, the

36th Ulsters at Mill Road, the 32nd on the Leipzig salient and the successes of the 30th

at Montauban.

Medics, Vets & Padres

If you were wounded in the Great War your chances of survival were high – if you could

be evacuated into the casualty system quickly, from Regimental Aid Post to Advanced

Dressing Station, to Casualty Clearing Station, to Base Hospital, to Hospital Ship and

England. The sad, silent cemeteries still remain at each stage to remind us of those that

did not make it. We look at the tasks of the Royal Army Medical Corps, the stretcher

bearers, orderlies, nurses, doctors and surgeons. The Great War also saw the start of a

formalised Veterinary Corps, which transported, treated, convalesced and returned to

duty, many thousands of horses and mules. What of the Padres and Clerics? How could

they reconcile their religion with the slaughter surrounding them?

Empire Troops on the Western Front

At the start of the Great War in August 1914, it soon became clear that Great Britain’s

existing Regular Army and Territorial Reserves would need a huge injection of manpower

to fight a continental or global war. Volunteers in their hundreds of thousands responded

from the home countries to form Kitchener’s New Armies, but the call was also

answered from more distant shores, from India, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand,

Australia and other parts of the Empire. How were these new formations raised, trained,

transported and used in battle? Where did they fight? What was the cost? Each nationality

claimed to have the best and bravest soldiers and each was willing to make huge sacrifices

to support the ‘Mother Country’.

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Top to bottom:

Delville Wood; WW1

nurse; Barnsley Pals

Tours can be arranged in both the Somme and

Ypres Salient to cover the main ‘War Poets’, ‘Pals

Battalions’, ‘Medics, Vets & Padres’, ‘Empire Troops

on the Western Front’ and Geography. These tours

can be tailor made to suit your requirements and

can be from one to three days.

Talbot House