Reveille Battlefield Tours

Tours : The Somme

Four days, three nights

About this tour

This tour concentrates on the events from July 1 to November 18, 1916. We visit the principal sights - Lochnagar Crater, Delville wood, Beaumont Hamel, Serre Road and the Thiepval Memorial, as well as some of the 'behind the line' sights, such as the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. We shall also focus on the battles of Arras and Vimy Ridge in early 1917.

More about touring the Somme

It was to have been the 'Big Push' to end the war by Christmas. It was to have been a mighty battering that would have crushed the Germans into defeat. Instead, it was a singular failure, both in terms of loss of life and ground gained. The road from Albert to Bapaume was, as Richard Holmes says, 'the longest ten miles in British military history'.

From our base in Arras, some eleven miles north of Bapaume, we shall trace the front line from Mametz in the south to Serre in the north, and reflect upon the events of 1st July to November 18th, 1916. We shall walk the battlegrounds of Delville Wood, we shall survey the colossus of the Thiepval Memorial, and we shall listen to young Canadian students as they tell us the story of their heroic forbears at Beaumont Hamel and Vimy.

Our tour takes us to small front line cemeteries, where the men were buried where they fell, to dressing station cemeteries and to the vast impressive cemeteries of Caterpillar Valley and Serre Road.

As well as appreciating the major events and sites of the Somme, we shall also pay tribute to some of the personalities and poets that lie buried there. These include Raymond Asquith and Edward Tennant, who lie a few metres from each other, and Noel Hodgson and Victor Ratcliff, both killed on 1st July. We shall also visit the grave of Roland Leighton, the fiancé of Vera Britain, and listen to some of his trenchant words on the nature of dying for one's country. On the last day, we visit Vimy Ridge and the great Canadian memorial.

In the evenings, we shall be relaxing and assimilating what we have seen, as well as learning more about the Somme battles. We shall take a look at Haig and his strategies and attempt to gain an insight into the character of the most important military figure of the war. We shall also review the role of women in the war and the dramatic impact this had on subsequent history.

At the end of a Reveille visit to the Somme, you may still lack answers to the political and military strategies that gave rise to the carnage. But the sites of the carnage itself, and the social ramifications it gave rise to in every home in the land, will create a lasting impression of the suffering and sacrifice endured by those who fought and died in the Great War.

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Accrington Pals Memorial
The 1991 memorial to the Accrington Pals in the Sheffield Memorial Park is built of bricks from Accrington.

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