2018 Armistice 100th Anniversary
Canadian Battlefield Tour
The End of The Great War
2018 Armistice 100th Anniversary Canadian Battlefield Tour
The Centenary of the End of the Great War 1918-2018
Also includes Juno Beach, Vimy Ridge and more
October 31 - November 15, 2018
France - Belgium - England (16 days)
November 11, 1918 at 11:00 in the morning. The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. So came to an end "the war to end all wars." The guns finally fell silent, bringing to a close four long years of unspeakable war. The Canadians will suffer gas attacks, infested trenches, misery. Yet through it all the Canadian Expeditionary Force will prove to be the fighting force which will earn them the nickname Shock Troops as they achieve important victories at Vimy, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens and more. And Canada will earn its place as a signatory to the Treaty of Versailles.
Wednesday October 31
Depart from Canada for your overnight transatlantic flight to Paris, except for those who may choose to leave for Paris sooner to extend their trip. Where available, guests will enjoy the luxury of a premium airport departure lounge (an exclusive benefit of Liberation Tours).
Thursday November 1
Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport we will proceed to downtown Paris. Your hotel room is available for immediate check-in, providing the opportunity for rest for those who wish it (an exclusive benefit of Liberation Tours). In the afternoon we board our coach and are joined by a local expert guide who will take us for a sight-seeing drive of the city. The day concludes with a Welcome Dinner in the city of Paris followed by a sightseeing cruise on the River Seine. Overnight Paris - hotel tba.
Friday November 2
Enjoy a full free day at your leisure in Paris. Overnight Paris- hotel tba. Breakfast.
Saturday November 3
This morning we depart for the Normandy coast where we will consider pre- D-Day, looking at the 'Atlantic Wall' defenses facing the Allies in the coming invasion. We visit Pegasus Bridge and the Memorial Pegasus Museum where you will learn the story of the pre-dawn paratrooper landings in the region by the British 6th Airborne and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. We make a must-see visit to the first house liberated on D-Day, the Café Gondrée, a special place filled with history and charm. We then pause to enjoy lunch with wine at a local brasserie, offering wonderful food including a glass of wine/beer (with advanced menu selection). Our final stop is Longues-sur-Mer, a coastal artillery position of four large naval guns which posed a serious threat to Allied ships off-shore and the landing beaches themselves. Overnight Normandy - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Sunday November 4
Today is extra special, as we mark the 74th Anniversary of D-Day by walking the sands of Juno Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer, with story telling and much reflection. A tour inside the Juno Beach Centre is included. For lunch we invite our guests to walk with us across the canal into Courseulles to explore the local restaurants. We then move to eastern sectors of Juno Beach to hear the stories of the Canadian assaults at Bernières-sur-Mer and Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, including a special invitation to visit inside the iconic "Canada House." In the afternoon we visit the hallowed grounds of Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the burial place of 2,044 Canadians who died in the liberation of Normandy. Overnight Normandy - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Monday November 5
Today is a scheduled free half day, allowing you time in the morning to rest and explore. In the afternoon we visit l'Abbaye d'Ardennes near Caen, and then say goodbye to Lower Normandy and continue our journey northeast along the coast to Dieppe for the night. Overnight Normandy - hotel tba. Breakfast.
Tuesday November 6
We begin the day with a morning stroll along the main beach to consider Operation Jubilee - the plans, the execution and the after-math of the August 1942 raid that went horribly wrong. The operation entailed three Canadian attack zones and we next move northeast to the beach at Puys, followed by a visit to Pourville to the southwest. We then pause for lunch, allowing time to explore the many restaurants lining the inner harbour. Our final stop is the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, tucked away up the hill and beyond the edge of town which beckons Canadians to visit. Listen here to CBC's Robert Bowman and his broadcast from Dieppe the day after the raid. We then depart the coast and resume our journey into northern France as we move back in time to World War I to begin our preparation for the centenary events. Overnight Amiens region - hotel tba. Breakfast.
Wednesday November 7
Day Nine is steeped in history as we wind our way into the countryside to consider the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest and bloodiest battles of World War One. You will be intrigued with a guided tour at Beaumont-Hamel - it is here that the Newfoundland Regiment was nearly wiped out in the first few hours of the attack. This proudly Canadian battleground is one of the best preserved sites in all of the WWI western front. Our lunch stop is in the midst of the Somme battlefield region, at a local high restaurant hidden from view which serves excellent food, with wine/beer (with advanced menu selection). Next is a visit to see the impressive Thiepval Memorial, the largest Commonwealth memorial in the world and on which are inscribed the names of over 72,000 soldiers who have no known grave (including one native son who doesn't belong!). We also visit the Canadian WWI memorials at Le Quesnel and Courcelette, and the Newfoundland memorial at Gueudecourt, as we begin our tour of all fourteen Canadian first war memorials. The day includes a visit to Lochnagar Crater. Overnight Arras region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Thursday November 8
Today we continue our exploration of the WWI memorials in the French countryside, learning of the importance of the battles involving the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Masnières and Monchy-le-Preux, and the Canadian contingent at Bourlon Wood and Dury. In the afternoon we make a visit to the Arras Memorial. Overnight Arras region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Friday November 9
Each Canadian ought to visit Vimy Ridge once in their lifetime and today is your day. We will take a guided tour of the underground tunnels which reveal how soldiers lived and prepared for battle beneath the earth. We also walk the above-ground trenches for a first-hand feel of trench warfare. Ample time is then given to be at, on and around the Vimy Memorial, one of the most impressive of all the war monuments in Europe. A short distance down the ridge takes us into Souchez for quick stops at points of interest, along with a delicious lunch with wine at a well-known establishment filled with charm (advanced menu selection). We then make a visit to the newly-erected, privately-funded Hill 70 Memorial in Loos-en-Gohelle, the impressive new national Canadian war memorial in Europe which marks Canada's forgotten victory of 1917. We also make a respectful visit to the thousands of young German soldiers who find their final resting place at the Neuville-Saint-Vaast Cemetery just down the ridge from Vimy. Overnight Arras region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Saturday November 10
Our tour begins with an 'au revoir' to France as we drive north across the border into Belgium. This is a very special day as we accept an invitation from the town of Ville-sur-Haine to be present for the unveiling of a new monument to commemorate Canadian soldier Private George Lawrence Price, the last soldier of the British Empire to die in the Great War (memorial to be erected by local townspeople near the spot where Private Price died at two minutes before the end of the war). We then travel a short distance to Mons to attend a very special commemoration event at St. Symphorien Cemetery, the burial location of the first (John Henry Parr, Britain) and last (George Lawrence Price, Canada) soldiers to die in WWI, an occasion where dignitaries are expected to be in attendance. We also visit the Newfoundland Regiment's memorial at Kortrijk, completing our 'Trail of the Caribou.' The day concludes with a very special evening remembrance ceremony at the Crest Farm Memorial to mark the 101st anniversary of the capture of the Passchendaele - events include a solemn remembrance followed by a candlelight walk into the village, ending in an open-air reception. Overnight Ieper region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Sunday November 11
Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of The Great War. The schedule is kept open to allow for flexibility to accommodate special centenary commemoration events as yet to be announced. Details may include events at Vimy Ridge and/or the Menin Gate in Ieper, Belgium. Information to be posted as soon as government details are announced. Overnight Ieper region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Monday November 12
Ieper (Ypres) was the center of fierce, prolonged, bloody fighting in World War I and the remnants of this are all around. On Day 13 we explore the Ypres Salient, beginning with a drive past Hellfire Corner on our way to the monument at Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood). Our day includes The Brooding Soldier at St. Julien. We will visit Essex Farm ... it is here, in the province of West Flanders, that Canadian LtCol John McCrae penned his famous poem. We also visit the monument to the Battle of Passchendaele (Crest Farm), thus concluding our tour to all of Canada's Great War memorials. We wind down the day with a visit to nearby Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world where nearly 12,000 soldiers find their final resting place. We return to Ieper for free time in the afternoon and an opportunity to attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. This unique ceremony takes place at 8:00pm, as it has every evening since 1928. Selected travelers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the tour in honour of the centenary of the end of WWI. Overnight Ieper region - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Tuesday November 13
As we near the conclusion of our battlefield tour we bid goodbye to Flanders, heading for the Channel Tunnel to make our way to the United Kingdom. Upon arrival on English soil we gather for our Farewell Lunch at a local restaurant, to reflect upon our unique and inspiring journey. Before we depart the coast we make a final visit to a special location near the cliffs of Dover, a WWI location with a Canadian connection which is seldom visited but which beckons us to call. We then journey to the amazing cosmopolitan city of London. Overnight London - hotel tba. Breakfast, Lunch.
Wednesday November 14
Enjoy a full free day at your leisure in the fantastic city of London, England. Overnight London - hotel tba. Breakfast.
Thursday November 15
Morning departure for those returning home, while others may extend their stay at their option. Buffet or box breakfast depending on departure time.
Note: This itinerary is tentative, to be finalized in late fall 2017. Clients should keep in mind that minor variances are always possible during the actual tour based on the need to adapt to circumstances we encounter during our travels.