Picking up at Ebbsfleet International Rail Station and Dover Eastern Docks we take the Dover-Calais Ferry to France. Travel and stop at Lillers CWGC to see several casualties from 1915 including General Capper DSO who died of wounds at Loos before cheking into our Arras hotel.
Day 2 -
AM Neuve Chapelle
From the Indian Corps memorial, we walk the attack of March 1915 when the Indian Corps attacked the German held Village. In this the first set piece attack of the BEF of the War, surprise and “break in” was achieved however poor communication and slow Artillery-Infantry co-operation led to delays and German reinforcement. Following Edgware road we enter the village and see the CWGC cemetery before crossing Layes Brook and Smith Dorrien Trench and end at the Bois de Biez.
PM Aubers Ridge
After lunch we stop at Le Touret memorial and then walk the Northern arm of the Aubers battle. British IV Corps with 8 Division leading attacked at Rouges Bancs towards Fromelles. From Le Trou Aid Post CWGC we pass VC Corner and end our walk at Pheasant Wood.
Day 3 -
We look at the seldom visited battlefield of Festubert just south of Neuve Chapelle. This was a part of the Second Battle of Artois where the British and Canadians attempted smaller advances and for attrition as an outcome. We walk from Post Office Rifles Cemetery to the Canadian Orchard via La Quinque Rue.
PM The French on Lorette Spur.
This afternoon we look at the immense struggle of French 10th Army to take the Lorette spur, next to Vimy Ridge. The local village names are now synonymous with the struggle and loss; Carency, Ablain St Nazaire and Souchez. A short but steep walk takes us from Ablain to the Ossuary at Notre Dame de Lorette and the “Ring of Remembrance”
Day 4 -
AM Loos North
We study the Northern sector of the Loos battlefield and walk from Cuinchy Brickstacks along small tracks and disused railway lines. We pass “Mad Point” and end at the stunning Quarry Cemetery. We discuss the first British use of Chlorine Gas and its effects on the enemy and friendly troops alike.
PM Loos South
In the shadow of the Double Crassier - Starting at Sniper's House we study the combined efforts of 15th Scottish Division & 47th London Division as they advance on the village of Loos. This battlefield changes from open ground to urban fighting and was the scene of numerous heroic acts immortalised by the story of Piper Laidlaw of the K.O.S.B, Patrick Macgill of the London Irish Rifles and the lesser known Major Blogg of the Royal Engineers.
We end with a visit to Dud Corner CWGC cemetery and memorial.
Day 5 -
After some free time in Arras we head to Calais and our onward travel to the UK