REMEMBRANCE DAY CENTENARY TOUR
At 11am on November 11, 1918 the guns fell silent on the Western Front and the First World War came to an end. Join this special tour to commemorate the 61,000 Australians killed, on the 100th anniversary of the day the fighting ended. This tour includes all the key Australian battlefields, and will spend the centenary of the Armistice at a moving commemorative service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
MAT MCLACHLAN BATTELFIELD TOURS
Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours began in 2007 and it has quickly grown to become the leading specialist provider of battlefield tours in Australia, sending thousands of Australian travellers to battlefields all over the world each year.
The company runs battlefield tours to France, Belgium, the UK, Gallipoli, Germany, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and more. Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is also the official travel provider for the NSW Premier’s Anzac Scholarship program, the Queensland Premier’s Anzac Prize, the Victorian Premier’s Spirit of Anzac prize (2011) and the Northern Territory Anzac Prize. All the company’s tours are personally designed by Mat McLachlan, and the company employs a team of more than 60 historians to escort them.
Mat McLachlan is a leading battlefield historian, author and television presenter and has spent more than two decades following in the footsteps of Australian troops on battlefields around the world. A journalist by profession, Mat was a writer and corporate magazine editor for 15 years before pursuing his passion for history as a full-time career. He is considered a leading authority on the battlefields of the Western Front, Gallipoli, the Pacific battlefields of World War Two, the Vietnam War and the Normandy landing beaches.
DAY 1: 4 November – Paris
Welcome to the Western Front tour! After checking in to the Paris hotel, you will come together for welcome drinks and welcome dinner. (D)
DAY 2: 5 November – Paris
Explore the sights and sounds of Paris, the ‘City of Light’. In the morning, a local guide will escort you 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 a traditional French lunch, you will have free time to further explore Paris. (B, L)
DAY 3: 6 November – Paris to Ypres
The tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs begins today. After breakfast, depart Paris for Ypres, scene of some of the most horrific fighting of the First World War and home for the next four nights. On the way we will stop at Epernay, the birthplace of Champagne, and enjoy a guided tour and tasting at Moet & Chandon. After a tasting of their bubbly we will depart for Reims, the historic city in the heart of the Champagne district. You 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, 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. (B, D)
DAY 4: 7 November – 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. (B)
DAY 5: 8 November – The Ypres 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. (B, L)
DAY 6: 9 November – 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 (B)
DAY 7: 10 November – 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. (B, L, D)
DAY 8: 11 November – Remembrance Day
A Remembrance Day we will never forget! This morning we will drive to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. We will gather here with thousands of other Australians to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war as we pay our respects to our 45,000 countrymen who were killed during fighting on the Western Front. As we gaze at the memorial to Australia’s 11,000 missing from France, the strains of the Last Post will echo across the countryside, peaceful now, but the scene of a monumental Australian victory on Anzac Day 1918. Later we will begin our tour of the 1916 battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop will be the imposing Lochnagar Mine Crater, which was detonated beneath the German lines on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Even though erosion has reduced the size of the crater it is still enormous – more than 100 meters across and 30 meters deep. We will then visit the village of Pozieres, scene of the most costly battle in Australia’s history. 23,000 men were killed or wounded in six weeks’ fighting, and we will visit the scenes of their heroic sacrifice at the 1st Division Memorial and the Windmill. We will also have time to walk the battlefield with our historian, gaining a better understanding of the fighting that led to more Australian casualties than any other battle in our history. We will enjoy lunch at a local cafe, then return to our hotel where our evening is free. (B, L)
DAY 9: 12 November – The Somme to Paris
Our last day in the footsteps of the Anzacs will see us return to the 1916 Somme battlefields, where we will visit the maze of trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The Newfoundland Regiment was almost wiped out here on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. We will then drive past the Ulster Tower, modelled on Helen’s Tower in Northern Ireland, before visiting the spectacular Thiepval Memorial, where the names of more than 72,000 British men missing from the Somme fighting are recorded. We will also see Mouquet Farm, scene of a costly advance by Australian troops in August 1916. We then return to Villers-Bretonneux, where we will visit Adelaide Cemetery, the place where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay for 75 years before being returned to Australia in 1993. We will also visit the remarkable Victoria School, home to a wonderful small Australian museum, and where a sign in the playground entreats that the students ‘Do Not Forget Australia’. We will then return to the Australian National Memorial where we commemorated Remembrance Day the previous day, to spend some peaceful time exploring the memorial, reading the names of the missing Australian soldiers and taking a last opportunity to pay our respects to the original Anzacs. We will also visit the brand new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, which tells the story of Australia’s achievements on the Western Front. We then farewell the battlefields and board our coach for the return trip to Paris. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner while cruising along the Seine River, a wonderful opportunity to see the landmarks of Paris bathed in light. (B, D)
DAY 10: 13 November – Paris
Sadly our Western Front Tour ends this morning after breakfast. The journey may be over but the memories will last a lifetime. (B)
Please note. Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.
Paris to Paris
4 – 13 November, 2018
10 day tour for $4,597*pp
Single supplement $1,397*
- 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
- Visit the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux on Remembrance Day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war (details of commemorative events to be confirmed)
- 9 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, document wallet and luggage tag
- Copy of Mat McLachlan’s definitive guide to the Western Front, Walking with the Anzacs
Extend your Trip
Spend some more time in Paris before of after your tour. Ask us about discounts for pre and post tour accommodation.
Gallipoli Flexi Tour
This tour can be combined with a Flexi Tour of Gallipoli to suit your own dates and itinerary.
*Prices are per person, twin share, land only. Speak with your Orbit World Travel agent about flights for this offer. Single supplement: $1,397. Offer valid for new bookings until sold out. General: Prices correct from publication but is subject to change at the discretion of the tour operator and may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. All offers and prices are subject to availability and can change without notice. Amounts payable to third parties not included. Offers may be withdrawn without notice and are not combinable with any other offers unless stated. Cancellation and change fees will apply. Booking may be subject to compulsory credit card fees and service charges. Other conditions apply. Orbit World Travel reserves the right to correct errors or omissions and to change any and all fares, fees and surcharges at any time. The tour is operated by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours.