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  • Battlefield tours?

    I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations as to who to deal with for battlefield tours? I'm considering Normandy/Belgium later this year.


    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

  • #2
    Have you used them?


    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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    • #3
      There is no 2007 tours mentioned...


      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post
        I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations as to who to deal with for battlefield tours? I'm considering Normandy/Belgium later this year.
        http://www.leetravel.ie/EscortedTours3.asp?destID=24

        There's an ex-Sergeant of 4th Bn organises tours also.
        sigpic
        Say NO to violence against Women

        Originally posted by hedgehog
        My favourite moment was when the
        Originally posted by hedgehog
        red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

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        • #5
          Have they any other similar tours? Thats a bit close for me..


          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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          • #6
            A couple of years back me and 2 others did Normandy

            we just followed the guide books

            because we were our own bosses we could delay where we wanted and speed up the bits

            we didnt want.

            Accomodation was done on the hoof with one night spent asleep in the car,

            but it was a great 4 days

            and extremely educational
            Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
            Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
            The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere***
            The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
            The best lack all conviction, while the worst
            Are full of passionate intensity.

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            • #7
              I did Normandy for the 60th as well as Belgium on a couple of other occasions. We covered all the major WW I and II sites as well as some of the quieter ones. Normandy during the week of the anniversary is great becasue all the reenactors are around as well as the vets. We camped and drove our own cars over on the ferry.

              Im sure the tours are good but you can definitly do as HH says which is what we did and follow the guide books. The Major and Mrs Holtz books are very good off the top of my head. Plenty of planning ahead and you can fit in loads.

              If we ever manage to get another shoot off the gound ill happily bore you to tears with about a thousand photos!!

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              • #8
                I've visited over 20 battlefields in Europe, all without a tour guide. Much better that way. Rent a car and drive yourself around. Much more flexible and enjoyable. Bring a couple of guide books and battlefield guides and maps.

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                • #9
                  If you're doing it yourself Normandy and Belgium is a lot to do in one trip.

                  I find the best route is fly Ryanair to Beauvais and rent a car. Normandy is a longish spin from there and I'd recommend that you avoid the route through Rouen like the plague. Take the Autoroute to Amiens and switch on to the one that takes you to Caen/Bayeux.

                  If you are going to Ieper, Beauvais is also convenient. I recommend the Ariane Hotel in Ieper for accomodation. It's ten minutes walk from the Menin Gate and close to the Cathedral and Cloth Hall. Walk around the back of the Cathedral on your way to the Gate and see the Munster Fusiliers Memorial. With Major and Mrs Holt's Guide and Map (on sale in the hotel) you can't go wrong. Vimy Ridge and the Somme are within spitting distance of Ieper also though the Somme deserves it's own few days and it would be better to stay in Albert to do that tour.
                  Last edited by Groundhog; 9 August 2007, 15:35.
                  sigpic
                  Say NO to violence against Women

                  Originally posted by hedgehog
                  My favourite moment was when the
                  Originally posted by hedgehog
                  red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    On both occasions that I done the tour with the7th Bn Assocation, We used Irish ferries, The guy that organised it from them has good contacts over there, In fact he was able to get us involved in the Menin gate ceremonies on the 2nd tour. Have his name somewhere.
                    it will be long, it will be hard, and there will be no withdrawl
                    Winston churchill

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post
                      I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations as to who to deal with for battlefield tours? I'm considering Normandy/Belgium later this year.
                      Have you considered a more modern battle

                      British Airways are flying into Sarajevo

                      and the city is small enough to walk from one end to another in a day

                      its a gorgeous city

                      PM if you want a loan of a guide book
                      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
                      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
                      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere***
                      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
                      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                      Are full of passionate intensity.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        just a quick question, are there battlefield tours done in Ireland that anyone knows about?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Tracing history
                          GO BATTLEFIELDS: The battlefields of the first World War are only a few hours from Dublin but visiting them will live long in the memory, writes PHILIP WATT

                          A WALK AMONG first World War battlefields in the Somme and Flanders can be an unexpected moving experience, particularly for those visiting for the first time.

                          The main battle sites on the Western Front of the war, including those most associated with soldiers from Ireland, can be reached within three hours of Dublin Airport.

                          The cataclysmic events, which took place less than 100 years ago, had a profound effect on both world and Irish history, and even a long weekend visiting this part of France and Belgium is a rewarding experience.

                          Access to the battlefields is greatly assisted by the proximity of Beauvais airport, north of Paris. From here, the Somme battlefields are a one-hour drive north to the province of Picardie. A further hour’s drive brings you to the Flanders battlefields near Ypres in the Flemish region of northern Belgium.

                          The moon-like landscapes of mud, tree stumps and rubble have long since reverted to sweeping chalk plains and farmland so typical of the Somme and Flanders. The destroyed woods have partially recovered, and the towns and villages have been restored in many cases and considerably expanded. But there are still visible clues to the battles that took place here.

                          Pockmark craters, lakes that were once the site of massive mine detonations and the deep furrows of former trenches are apparent around most of the main battlefield sites.

                          Driving along the narrow Picardie and Flemish roads, the sudden appearance and the sheer quantity of neat and beautifully-kept war cemeteries can both surprise and give a strong sense of where the main conflicts took place, including former front lines.

                          It is difficult in a short visit to get a full sense of the impact of a conflict where trenches stretched from the channel in the north of France to the Swiss Alps in the south. But, as is so often the case in exploring events that are beyond full comprehension, it is the simple or unexpected human detail that can stop you in your tracks.

                          Among the most poignant of these are the inscriptions on the grey-white neat rows of headstones in British and Commonwealth cemeteries. The dedication on the headstone from a mother and father to “Our Lad”; a carefully chosen line from the Bible; an expression of pride in sacrifice and, with God’s will, the hope of meeting again. There are very few French or German cemeteries as their dead were repatriated or, in the case of German troops, interred in mass graves.

                          At the entrance to one small cemetery on the Somme dated July 1st, 1916, some 50 headstones commemorate many more soldiers who are buried in the same trench from which they had begun their attack a few hours earlier, with the epitaph: “The Devonshires held this trench. The Devonshires hold it still.”

                          THREE KILOMETRES from the Devonshire cemetery is the hamlet of Thiepval on raised chalk uplands, held by the German army and beseiged for most of the Battle of the Somme. The massive Thiepval memorial to the missing, designed by Edwin Lutyens, stands adjacent to the hamlet on the former site of a chateau obliterated at the start of the Somme offensive in 1916.

                          The monument to the missing at Thiepval is inscribed with the names of thousands of soldiers without a gravestone who were atomised by artillery fire or drowned in mud. Included are names from Irish regiments, like the Dublin and the Munster Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers and the Ulster Rifles.

                          One of the most well-known names on the Thiepval monument is to Lt Tom Kettle, MP, who grew up near Swords, Co Dublin. One of the youngest and brightest politicians of his day and a nationalist, Kettle was killed in the village of Ginchy, 12km southeast of Thiepval in September 1916.

                          Close to the Thiepval monument to the missing is the Helen’s (Ulster) Tower memorial, a replica of the one on the Clandeboye estate in Bangor where the 36th Ulster Division trained before departure.

                          A cemetery beside Thiepval Wood adjacent to the Ulster Tower now marks the advance trenches of the Ulster soldiers before they went “over the top”.

                          Trenches to the rear of the cemetery in Thiepval Wood are being restored and, when completed, will provide a good sense of living and fighting conditions on the front line. A short distance from the Ulster front line at Thiepval Wood, across a road and up an incline, is another cemetery that marks the former German front line.

                          Unusually, some of the headstones in this cemetery are laid flat, the apparent result of subsidence caused by an immense network of tunnels and trenches that was once a German army stronghold (known as a “redoubt” in military terms).

                          In retracing those 1,000 paces or so it took to reach the German front line from the forward Ulster trenches, I was minded of my grandfather, Samuel Watt, and his description of the drawn blinds in Belfast’s narrow streets through much of July 1916 as the awful truth of the human cost of the Somme became evident in the thousands of telegrams sent to families.

                          Many of the first World War sites along the Western Front are associated with a particular country, a division or even a regiment. For example, Vimy Ridge (Canada), Longueval (South Africa), Mametz Wood (Wales) and Messines (Ireland).

                          Further south on the Western Front, more than 700,000 Frenchmen and a similar number of Germans lost their lives in the attrition and stalemate that characterised Verdun and, indeed, in many of the battles of the war.

                          Overlooking the Mametz Wood battlefield, the Welsh have placed a fiery red dragon to commemorate the 3,500 casualties of the 38th Division, mowed down by machine-gun fire or killed in hand-to-hand combat. The writer Robert Graves was wounded here and after later wrote of what he witnessed in Mametz Wood after the battle: “It was full of dead Prussian Guards, big men, and dead Royal Welch Fusiliers and South Wales Borderers, little men. Not a single tree in the wood remained unbroken.”

                          TRAVELLING NORTH from the Somme to Flanders, it is worth breaking the journey by visiting the site of the Vimy Ridge battlefield with its maze of restored and unrestored trenches.

                          Vimy Ridge rises a few hundred metres above a plain in the Pas de Calais region of France. The site has immense importance to Canada and is cared for as one of its national monuments. Canadian students can apply to take six months off their studies to provide free tours to the site, and thousands of visitors travel from Canada every year.

                          The highlight of a visit to Vimy Ridge is not only the blindingly white memorial there, but also to descend into a preserved section of communication tunnels, built under the trenches and once served by miniature railways.

                          My grand-uncle, who emigrated to Canada from Belfast, served as a Canadian soldier on these munition and provision trains, tending to the horses that pulled the trains.

                          Travelling north from Vimy Ridge, you cross the border into Belgium and arrive at the once flattened city of Ypres (now called by its Flemish name Ieper). Some 12km to the southwest of Ieper is the village of Loker (formerly Locre) where you can find the grave of Maj Willie Redmond, MP for Clare East until his death in 1917, who was in the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).

                          At the insistence of his family, Redmond’s grave is at the spot where he was killed rather than in an adjacent cemetery. An MP for 34 years and brother of John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, his funeral was an important event at the time, despite the carnage of the surrounding battle. A local convent, now a hospice, commemorates his life with a plaque and even a pub in Loker is called Redmonds.

                          Near to Loker is Wytschaete cemetery and the memorial to the 16th (Irish) Division which commemorates their role in capturing this Flemish village in 1917 against strong odds.

                          The village is also known as one of the places that a certain LCPL Adolf Hitler was stationed for two months during the first World War, an area he revisited in June 1940.

                          A short drive away, and an appropriate conclusion to a tour of the area, is the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines, opened by former president Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth and King Albert of Belgium in 1998.

                          The poetry of Francis Ledwidge (known as “the blackbird poet” from Slane, Co Meath), who was killed at Passchendaele in 1917, is featured at the Messines memorial, with its recreation of an Irish round tower.

                          The impact of the first World War was immense, not only the destruction and loss of life, but because its legacy created in large part the conditions that led to the second World War. In fact, some historians contend that the second World War was in many ways a continuation of the 1914-1918 conflict.

                          Parts of the Somme and Flanders battlefields can be visited over a long weekend, either through your own planning or as part of an organised tour.

                          Like me, you will probably find that once you make your first visit you will want to return for further exploration.

                          http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...307434617.html


                          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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                          • #14
                            Have visited several battle sites in france n holland oh n the battle of the boyne site , but the one place I would sell my kids to go visit would have to be Gettysburg . Just amazed by the whole aura and tragic story of the 3 day battle fought tjere.

                            I blame ted turner n 77batt for it .
                            Anyone need a spleen ?

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                            • #15
                              Very nice piece.

                              Different times when MP's went and fought on the front.

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