11 May 2018 00:00
Beneath the Western Front Tour
A three-day, two-night unique tour lifting the lid on many unseen aspects of the Great War on the
Western Front. This tour will visit tunnel systems, souterrains and private museums, each offering a
fascinating glimpse into an aspect of the First World War that you simply cannot see anywhere else.
Guided by military historian Dan Hill with additional guiding from Durand Group historians.
Departing from Hertfordshire, we make our way to Folkestone before crossing to Calais via Eurotunnel, heading south towards the ‘Loos Salient’ where our tour begins with a visit to the Le Touret Memorial on the Rue Du Bois. We then visit the village of Givenchy and the nearby Tunnellers memorial, dedicated to the incredible bravery shown by men of the Royal Engineers Tunnelling Companies who fought their own private war beneath the Western Front. Finally, onwards to our Hotel in Lens to check in followed by free time in town for an evening meal.
Today we join the DURAND Group for a day of underground exploration, beginning with a visit to the fascinating Maison-Blanche Souterrain system, occupied by Canadian troops at the time of the Vimy Ridge offensive in 1917.
This location is unique on the Western Front, with thousands of pieces of graffiti made by the servicemen that sheltered here throughout the Great War. This will involve a fully guided tour of the system by a guest military historian.
Lunch is taken with the Durand team on-site at their newest exploration project, close to the village of
Auchy-Les-Mines. After lunch we begin above ground, exploring the little-known Hairpin craters,
nestled away in the copses and woods around the area before descending again this time, into the
incredible Hulluch tunnel system. Where we have a fully guided tour through subways, mine-laterals, trench mortar positions and fighting tunnels, descending to depths of up to 10m below the site of German trenches. This opportunity is quite literally a first, with no group, until now, having visited this newly
discovered complex, one of the most extensive on the Western Front.
Following our guided tour, we return to the surface for a commemoration service at nearby St Mary’s Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, the resting place of many interesting characters including Lieutenant John Kipling, only son of the writer Rudyard.
Return to hotel in Lens for evening meal.
On our final morning we head back up the line to visit a local private museum - a real hidden gem of the Western Front.
Following lunch, we make our last stop of the tour at the magnificent Notre Dame De Lorette with its stunning ‘Ring of Remembrance’, necropolis and French Cemetery before once more returning to Calais and making our journey back to Hertfordshire.
Note: This tour will not be a ‘standard’ Western Front battlefield tour. Given the tunnelling aspects
involved, you must be confident going underground and have a suitable level of fitness and mobility
to safely take part in all aspects of the tour. With a tour of this nature, comprehensive personal
insurance is essential. Proof of insurance must be provided in order to travel.