DAY 1 - After joining your holiday coach, you travel to Dover for the short sea crossing to Calais, then continue the short distance to Arras. En-route you will visit Notre Dame de Lorette, the largest French military cemetery in the world. It is located on the heights above Souchez, an area which saw much of the determined resistance to the German advance from Autumn 1914. A stop will also be made at Neuville St Vaast, the largest German cemetery in France for casualties for WW1. Continue to Arras and check into your centrally located hotel for your 3-night stay. There are restaurants, cafes and amenities close by. Bed & buffet breakfast.
DAY 2 - Your guided circuit of remembrance today starts at Pozières, the highest point on the Somme battlefield, where the Australians suffered enormous loses during the German bombardment on 26 July 1916. Continue to Ovillers and Mash Valley, site of the 8th division attack and then onto the village of La Boiselle and the Glory Hole and Lochnegar Crater, the largest man made mine crater of the First World War. After time for lunch, continue to Froissy for a trip aboard the P'tit Train de la Haute Somme, the last remaining section of the WW1 military rail network. The line was built in 1916 for the Somme offensive to supply artillery and the trenches and restored by enthusiasts in the 1970s. There will also be time to visit the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum before returning to Arras.
DAY 3 - Tour the northern area of the battlefield stopping first at Serre, where the northern Pals battalions fought on 1st July 1916. Then to the famous 'Sunken Lane' at Beaumont Hamel from which the Lancashire Fusiliers 'went over' on the morning of the attack. Nearby is the famous Hawthorn mine crater. It's then a short drive to Newfoundland Park, a memorial to Newfoundland's fallen men who died attacking Yravine on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Here there is also a memorial to 29th Division. Continue to the Ulster Tower, dedicated to the men of the 36th Ulster Division before completing the day at the renovated trenches in Thiepval Wood and Thiepval Memorial and the extensive visitor centre.
NB November departure - the itinerary on this day will vary in order to attend the Remembrance Sunday commemorations at Thiepval Memorial. An early start may be required from the hotel in order to arrive in time. Exact details are subject to change.
Thiepval Memorial Remembrance Sunday Commemoration Information (November departure only)
The coach will try and drop you as close to the memorial as possible but this will still require a walk of approximately 150m. The coach park is located at the Thiepval Visitor Centre which is approximately 350m away from the memorial. The service starts at 10.45 with the last post at 11.00 followed by the wreath laying procession and the whole ceremony lasts about 30 minutes. Please be aware that there is no seating during the service which takes place outside on grass. Obviously November can be wet and cold, so it is advisable to take warm, waterproof clothes and appropriate footwear. If you would like to lay a wreath or place a poppy cross in remembrance of a lost soldier, then please let us know and we can then advise the RBL accordingly.
DAY 4 - Before departing for Calais visit the Arras Memorial which commemorates 34,785 soldiers of the forces of the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand, with no known grave. Late morning, travel back through France to Calais for the return to England.