World War One Battlefield Tours
First World War: 1914-1918.
When the 19 year old Bosnian Serb student and anarchist Gavrillo Princip, squeezed the trigger of his pistol on 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo, the capital city of the Bosnia-Herzegovina, killing the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, he could not have the imagined the repercussions his actions would have by dragging most of Europe into a war lasting more than four years.
Between 1914 and 1918 France, Belgium and Britain, joined by several other countries, fought against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and their allies. During that time millions of men fought on what was to become known as the 'Western Front', which comprised of a line of trenches stretching almost 500 miles from the coast of Belgium in the north to the Swiss border. As the war spread, campaigns were fought in other parts of the world, including the Middle East and Turkey and new terrifying weapons, such as tanks, flamethrowers and poison gas, were introduced to the battlefield.
Attacks, referred to as 'offensives' were planned and implemented, many of which would cost the lives of millions of men on both sides. The defence of the Belgian town of Ypres by the British army and the city of Verdun by the French army dragged on for many months. The names of other battles fought across Europe, such as Mons, Somme, Cambrai, Neuve Chapelle, Villers-Bretonneaux and many others have become part of the indelible psyche of history from those times.
Today it is still possible to see evidence of those battles, despite many changes due to urban development and road building our highly experienced team of historians employed as tour guides by CGT, many of whom are published authors and have appeared in documentaries, will take you to these battlefields, where they will use their knowledge to explain events and the lives of those men who fought there. You will walk across the very ground where the great armies of France, Britain and Germany fought. From the earliest days of the war in 1914, when the naiveté thought of the troops was that the fighting would be over by Christmas that year, will be examined through to the last big push by the German army in Europe in early 1918, as it unleashed the so-called 'Ludendorff Offensive'.
The fighting even went underground where troops from all sides conducted a subterranean war as they dug tunnels to set mines to destroy strongly-held positions. One of the most powerful examples of this type of warfare was conducted on the feature known as the Messines Ridge, where a series of huge mines were dug by British and Commonwealth troops and detonated to mark the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres. Your guides will take you to see results of these feats of military engineering at the Hooge and Caterpillar craters around Ypres and Lochnagar crater on the Somme. In other theatres of fighting, including the landings at Gallipoli, the Allies took the war to the shores of Turkey and your guide will take you to some of the most poignant features of the campaign.
In all cases your CGT guide will be on hand to explain the weaponry, relate events as they unfolded, the heroism of the men and the outcome of their actions. When walking the ground in the company of your guide you will cross battlefields, visiting many of the locations mentioned in the newspapers of the day as they reported on the fighting throughout the four years of war.