100th Anniversary of World War I -1917
THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF WWI – 1917 IS GOING OVER THERE, OVER THERE! WE ARE HEADING TO FRANCE TO WALK THE GROUND THAT THE MARINES & DOUGHBOYS FOUGHT ON. IF YOU MISSED THIS YEAR PLAN ON NEXT MAY FOR “THE YANKS ARE COMING!”
It has been called THE GREAT WAR and THE WAR TO END ALL WARS. We know it as WORLD WAR I. It began in 1914 and ended with an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The cost…37 million casualties, including 117,000 dead and 205,000 wounded Americans. After war was declared on 4 April 1917 the U.S. began preparations to enter the morass of European trench warfare. In June 1917, transport ships carrying 14,000 U.S. troops in the American Expeditionary Force approached the shores of France, these soldiers would join the Allied fight against the Central Powers. They disembarked at the port of Saint Nazaire. The landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were said to be untrained and ill-equipped, untested for the rigors of fighting along the Western Front.
As U.S. troops landed in France, Americans were mindful of an old debt owed that nation. France had been the colonists’ most important ally during the Revolutionary War. The Marquis de Lafayette had fought beside Patriot soldiers, equipping some of them at his own expense. He won the affection of George Washington and became a hero to the young nation. Urged on by Lafayette, France had sent ships, troops, and arms that played a key role in the Patriots’ victory. In early July 1917, the newly arrived American Expeditionary Force troops marched under the Arc de Triomphe, cheered by the people of Paris. In a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb, where the Frenchman lies buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, an American officer lay down a wreath of pink and white roses. Another officer stepped forward, snapped a salute, and declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”
Military Historical Tours, Inc. is pleased to offer our legacy tour of the battlefields of this world-changing war and we are happy to have two of the finest leading you “Over There.”
Our MHT Tour Leaders: James White is the son of noted WWI historian Col Bill White, USMC who originated this legacy tour for MHT and a WWI expert in his own right having done this tour multiple times and has extensive knowledge of the French WWI battlefields .
CLICK HERE FOR GREAT WWI COMMERCIAL (Sainsbury Chocolates in conjunction with the Royal British Legion who receives all profits have commemorated the 1914 Christmas Truce from over a century ago. Enjoy!)
CLICK HERE FOR GREAT NY TIMES ARTICLE ON WWI BATTLE MONUMENTS (MHT always provide you a way to walk the ground where a century ago The War to End All Wars was fought...join us this May and enjoy France in the springtime!)
Tour Price: $ 3,475*
Tour Price Includes:
Airfare Not Included: Optional MHT Round-trip economy airfare from your hometown airport to CDG Paris available upon request (price subject to confirmation at time of booking.) Business class is also available.
Fri 19 May (Day 1) Departure. Individual departures from USA to France.
Sat 20 May (Day 2) Arrive CDG Paris. Group assembles at airport hotel. Early evening wine reception and tour overview briefing. Overnight: Paris CDG. Hotel: Paris Hilton CDG Airport.
Sun 21 May (Day 3) Flanders & Battles of Ypres. Depart Paris for Waregem, Belium. Here we will meet Gil Bossuyt, our Belgian guide for the next three days. Gil is an experienced guide with a comprehensive knowledge of the WWI battles, terrain and the personal stories of the men who fought here 100 years ago. He offers a unique insight to the epic battles in this area with aerial views, trench maps and vintage photographs. The perfect place to start is the Flanders Fields American Cemetery in Waregem. It is the only American WWI cemetery in Belgium and the smallest of the permanent American military cemeteries in Europe. The intimate setting is resting place for the 411 American soldiers memorialized here, including 21 unknowns and 43 names inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing. We will visit the Audenarde American Monument to learn of the little-known service and sacrifice of the 40,000 American troops who fought in Belgium in 1918. Moving westward into what has been called the Ypres Salient, the first stop is Hill 62, where in 1916 the Canadians suffered high casualties during the German assault to take this important high ground overlooking Ypres. We move on to the site of the first gas attack by the Germans and Essex Farm with the grave of the youngest British soldier and the place where John McCrae penned the famous "In Flanders Fields." Next is Tyne Cot British Cemetery – the world’s largest British Commonwealth Cemetery with 11,957 buried (nearly 70% of whom are unknown). This evening, we will gather in Grote Market Square to attend the moving performance of “Last Post,” by the Ypres Fire Brigade at the Menin Gate Memorial, a nightly occasion since 1929, interrupted only by the German occupation during WWII. Overnight: Ypres. Hotel: Novotel Ypres. Meals: (B/L)
Mon 22 May (Day 4) Ypres Salient and the Somme. We depart Ypres and tour southern battlefields of Flanders including: Hill 60 (site completely restored for visitors in 2015) and the “Pool of Peace” crater at Wijtshate, where the “underground war” will be explained. The last stop in Belgium is at Ploegsteert where the famous “Christmas Truce” took place in 1914. On the way to Amiens we will have a stop at the impressive Canadian Memorial to the missing at Vimy. We will also visit the French military cemetery, Notre Dame de Lorette. Next to this cemetery we find the “Ring of Remembrance” (2014), a monument with bronze plaques listing 600,000 names of men and women who were killed in Northern France. Overnight: Amiens. Hotel: Mercure Amiens Cathedrale. Meals: (B/L)
Tue 23 May (Day 5) The Somme. Full day tour of the Somme battlefields, to include: Albert and its cathedral with underground museum; Lochnagar Crater created by a huge mine explosion under the German lines; Thiepval, the largest British War Memorial in the world and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park containing preserved trenches and war-scarred landscape. The Somme is infamously remembered for the British disaster of 1 July 1916 where they suffered 60,000 casualties in less than one day. We will visit various sites representative of that attack: Serre, Devonshire Trench, Carnoy Cemetery, Mash Valley and Sunken Lane. At each, Gil will explain the events and recount the moving stories of men caught up in that disastrous attack. Overnight: Amiens. Hotel: Mercure Amiens Cathedrale. Meals: (B)
Wed 24 May (Day 6) Reims. This morning we bid farewell to Gil, we will strike out for Reims. However, our immediate destination is the famous June-July battlefield of Belleau Wood, a “mecca” for US Marines. The victory there by the 4th Marine Brigade of the 2d Division possibly saved Paris and unquestionably proved to the Germans that the Americans could and would fight well. The positive morale implications for the Allies and negative ones for the Germans cannot be overstated. We'll stop at the spot where the famous phrase, “Retreat, hell. We just got here.” was uttered and visit the major sites of action during the battle. We'll visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, adjacent to Belleau Wood and the legendary “Bulldog Fountain” at the Chateau de Belleau where those who desire, may sample what is said to be among the purest water in Europe. Overnight: Reims. Hotel: Holiday Inn Reims Centre. Meals: (B)
Thur 25 May (Day 7) American Battle Operations in the Champagne Region and Argonne Forest. This morning, we'll travel east along the old French and German front lines from 1914 to 1918 to Blanc Mont Ridge, a critical objective for the French in 1918, in order to break the German siege of Reims. The American 2d Division, on loan to the French, seized the ridge in a matter of hours in October 1918, something the French had been trying to do for years. The 2nd Division was commanded by General John Lejeune, the first Marine ever to command an Army division in combat. The American monument on top of the ridge offers superb views on clear days as far as Reims to the west and the Argonne Forest to the east. We'll then turn north, along the eastern edge of the forest and stop at the site in the Argonne Forest of the US Army’s world-famous “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Division and view the area where the Army’s legendary Sgt Alvin York earned his Medal of Honor. Next, it is on to the famous, or infamous Battle of Verdun. This 1916 attack by the Germans to “bleed the French Army white” happened at the same time as the bloodshed in the Somme was occurring. We will set the scene at the excellent Verdun Museum, recently reopened after a two-year renovation for the battle’s 100th anniversary. Overnight: Verdun. Hotel: LJdM. Meals: (B)
Fri 26 May (Day 8) Battle of Verdun (1916) and American Battle Operations in the Meuse-Argonne Region (1918). This morning we finish the Verdun battlefields travelling through the vast areas of shell craters (some areas are still off-limits due to thousands of unexploded munitions). We will see the Douaumont Ossuary, where the skeletal remains of 130,000 dead, from both sides, are entombed, the village of Fleury, hauntingly designated a “village that died for France” and Ft Vaux, the smallest fort of the ring surrounding Verdun, where the understrength French garrison put up a heroic defense before being overwhelmed. We will spend the remainder of the day exploring the Meuse-Argonne battlefield, America's largest battle in history until WW II. We'll pay our respects at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, our largest military cemetery in Europe. Just outside the Cemetery is a little-known, private museum containing artifacts found on the American Montfaucon (1918) battlefield arrayed in very thoughtful displays to tell the story of the battlefield, soldiers and townspeople. The owner is an excellent host and is an expert on the battles. We’ll have lunch at his café. Overnight: Verdun. Hotel: LJdM. Meals: (B/L)
Sat 27 May (Day 9) Sat 27 May (Day 9) Reims. We depart Verdun heading west to Reims in the heart of the world-famous Champagne-producing region of France. Reims is an ancient city founded circa 80 BC and there are a multitude of cultural things we can do individually or as a group…Champagne cellars, the magnificent Reims cathedral and Eisenhower’s HQ where the Germans surrendered in 1945, and so on….We will have our Farewell Dinner in a former French Officers’ Club and enjoy a festive Saturday night in the center of Reims. Overnight: Reims. Hotel: Holiday Inn Reims Centre. Meals: (B/D)
Sun 28 May (Day 10) Memorial Day Ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. We depart this morning to return to Belleau Wood, where we'll participate in the annual Memorial Day observance at the cemetery. Traditionally, either the Commandant or Assistant Commandant of the United States Marine Corps is the guest of honor, usually accompanied by a Marine musical unit which performs along with a similar band unit from the French Marines. The moving ceremony reminds us of the great losses suffered in the futile “War to End All Wars,” and of the great sacrifices made by these young men and their families. After the ceremony on our way to Paris we will visit the “Armistice Clearing” in the Compiegne Forest where the negotiations that essentially ended WW I were held in 1918 and where Hitler made the French capitulate to Germany in 1940. In a small museum there is an identical railroad car to that of Marshal Foch's “Surrender Carriage,” which contains the actual furnishings from the original coach that was removed by the Germans to Berlin during WW II and later burned by Nazi SS troops to prevent its recapture by the Allies. This site gives our tour appropriate “closure” to all we have experienced in our exploration of THE GREAT WAR….THE WAR TO END ALL WARS. Evening at leisure. Overnight: Paris. Hotel: Concorde Montparnasse. Meals: (B)
Mon 29 May (Day 11) Paris in the Springtime. Today, you experience Paris, quite arguably the most beautiful city in the world. Past tour participants have suggested more unstructured, free time to explore Paris on their own. You will have today, as well as the next day, at leisure. Your tour leaders will be available to offer suggestions of things to do and places to visit, as well as how to use the excellent Paris public transportation system. Your choices are endless and a Paris guidebook of your choice, obtained before the tour would be most helpful. You can ride one of the hop-on/hop-off tour buses for an excellent driving tour. Want more military history? Visit Napoleon's Tomb at Les Invalides, where Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces is also entombed and which also houses the National Army Museum, a fabulous collection of French militaria. Had enough military history for the moment? Visit the incomparable art treasures of the Louvre, Orsay Museum, Rodin Museum, Pompidou Center, take in the architectural wonders of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera, the Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, the Marais, or take an optional tour to Versailles. Or, you can just sit on a bench on the Champs Elysees or at a table at the Cafe de la Paix on the Place de la Opera and watch the world go by. Overnight: Paris. Hotel: Concorde Montparnasse. Meals: (B)
An Optional Tour. We highly recommend the superb Museum of the Great War in Meaux, a 30 minute train ride from Paris, accompanied by one of your tour leaders. Open in 2011, it is an excellent museum that takes you through history from the roots of WWI in the Franco-Prussian War through the 1918 battles.
Tues 30 May (Day 12) Tour ends. Check out for the flight home or extend your stay in the city of light. Meals: (B)
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