Day 1 – Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 & Menin Gate Memorial
Fly from Dublin to Brussels. Meet your Tour Manager on arrival and transfer by executive coach to Ypres. Visit the world renowned Memorial Museum Passchendaele devoted to the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). It displays relics of the Great War including an extensive collection of impressive photos & in carefully replicated trenches visitors can imagine themselves in WW1. Continue to your hotel for check-in.
This evening hear the Last Post performed at the Menin Gate Memorial. This is one of the most visited memorials on the Western front and stands in commemoration to the 54,896 missing soldiers who lost their lives during battles in the area. Every evening at 8pm the noise of traffic ceases and a stillness descends over the memorial as the emotive “Last Post” is sounded in honour of these lost soldiers. Return to your hotel for overnight.
Day 2 – The Somme Battlefields
Breakfast at your hotel. Depart for the battlefield sites of the Somme. First visit the site where Father Francis Gleeson preformed The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers at Rue du Bois & Le Touret Memorial commemorating over 13,400 soldiers who were killed in this sector. You will then visit Loughnagar Crater, blown along with 16 others on the morning of 01 July 1916 as a two-minute precursor to the start of the Battle of the Somme offensive. The crater measured 300ft across and 90ft deep while debris from the explosion rose some 4,000ft into the air. Continue to the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Guillemont marking some of the bloodiest fighting of the whole Somme campaign.
Next visit The Ulster Tower, a memorial to the men of the 36th Ulster Division. Inside the tower is a small chapel with a number of paintings and plaques from the various towns and boroughs of Northern Ireland while at the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the division who won the Victoria Cross during the Somme.
Continue to Thiepval Memorial. Standing in an isolated windswept position on the Somme, Thiepval is the largest and one of the most emotive “Memorials to the Missing” from any war. Then visit Newfoundland Park Memorial. Here you will remember the opening day of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel where 733 of 801 men, of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, were killed or wounded. Finally stop at Pozieres Memorial before returning to your hotel for overnight.
Day 3 – Flanders Battlefields – commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Messines
Breakfast at your hotel. Today visit the battlefield sites of Flanders where the Battle of Messines was fought. First stop at Hill 60 where at the start of the Battle of Messines the British fired mines buried in tunnels under the hill. Continue to the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Wytschaete, commemorating the 16th Division’s capture of Wytschaete on 07 June 1917, the opening day of the Battle of Messines.
Next visit Meadelstede Farm mine crater and memorials to 16th Irish and 36th Ulster Divisions. This mine is the second largest mine ever blown by the British Army in WW1. It was blown in support of the 16th Irish Division. The view from here overlooks where Major William Redmond was mortally wounded on 7th June 1917.
Continue to Kemmel Chateau cemetery and see the graves of many miners killed whilst digging the mines under the 16th Irish Divisions battlefield, including the graves of 11 miners lost during the biggest underground rescue attempt carried out by the British army in WW1.
After lunch visit Bedford House cemetery where 5,139 Commonwealth casualties from the First World War are buried. Next on the itinerary is the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines & the Irish Round Tower at its centre. This memorial is of particular significance as it was the first time Irish Catholic and Protestant soldiers united together to fight side by side against a common enemy. Also visit the Messines visitors centre, an exhibition in the town hall highlighting the destruction of the village during the war.
Your final stop today is Willie Redmond’s Grave in Locre. Willie Redmond was the brother of John Redmond, leader of the Irish parliamentary party. Return to your hotel for overnight.
Day 4 – Tyne Cott cemetery, Ghent & Departure
Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer to Tyne Cott cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, the sheer number of graves making it difficult to take in. Inside the cemetery two mourning angels kneel on top of dome-covered pavilions at either end of the memorial wall, highlighting the harrowing nature of the conflict in the surrounding area of Passchendaele.
Continue to the beautiful medieval city of Ghent where you will have some free time to explore before returning by executive coach to Brussels for your return flight to Dublin.