‘… the atmosphere that was created was very moving’ – comment by a year 9 pupil after a trip to the Somme, July 2016
The Hundredth Anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Givenchy – when the 55th (West Lancashire) Division fought off a massive German attack – will occur on 9th April 2018. It will be a good moment to visit the ground upon which so many soldiers from the North-West of England fought and are commemorated.
We will explore the landscape by either minibus or small coach (depending upon numbers) and on foot, taking in remnants of the battlefield and the many associated memorials and cemeteries. Real soldiers’ stories will be woven into our visits, giving many opportunities for discussion, reflection and commemoration.
The tour will be as stimulating for people who have never visited the Western Front as it will be for experienced battlefield pilgrims. Givenchy does not feature on many of the popular battlefield tours, despite the battle having been one of the most important of 1918 and one which contributed to the final defeat of the Germans in November of that year. It is described by historians as ‘a soldiers’ battle’, as decisions were made on the ground by officers in territorial battalions of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), The King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, The South Lancashire Regiment, the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment amongst others. Many of the men had been pre-war part-time soldiers from Lancashire and Wirral, whereas others had been drafted in later from all over Britain. Their stories are fascinating and poignant and shed light on contemporary social and military history. You might even have family members whose footsteps you would like to trace. If you would like me to help you research them in advance of the tour, I will be glad to do so. Speak to me about your needs.
Before studying the Battle of Givenchy, we will get an overview of the war in Flanders by exploring the Belgian part of the Front and finishing up in Ypres, where there will be time for dining and attending the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. On our last full day, we will visit sites relating to soldiers from all over the world, especially from the French and British Empires and from Germany.
Summary of the Tour:
Saturday 7th April: Depart by minibus or small coach (depending upon the size of the group) from the Lancaster/Kendal area and travel down the M6/M1/M25/M20 corridor, picking up passengers en route. Arrive at the hotel in France in the evening.
Sunday 8th April: Tour of the Ypres Salient with time in Ypres for exploration, dining and attending the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate before returning to the hotel.
Monday 9th April: Exploration of the Givenchy area in the vehicle and on foot in order to understand the contribution of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division and individual soldiers.
Tuesday 10th April: Tour of sites associated with French, German, Portuguese, Indian, North African and other soldiers as well as further British cemeteries and memorials.
Wednesday 11th April: Time available in the morning for further visits as required before travelling home.
How Much Will It Cost?
I aim to keep costs down whilst ensuring that we enjoy good quality accommodation and transport. The final sum will also depend upon the eventual size of the group. At this point, I can tell you that it will be somewhere between £310 and £375. In order to secure a place, please pay a £50 deposit, which will be refunded if the trip does not run due to lack of numbers.
After 10th December 2017, the trip’s final cost will be calculated, based on the number of participants and the price of accommodation at that time. I will then ask you to pay the remainder by a certain date in advance of the trip.
What will I get for my money?
- Return travel in an appropriately sized vehicle with a qualified driver
- Channel Crossing (either tunnel or ferry)
- Clean and comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation for four nights
- Expert guidance and preparatory research by a very experienced Great War historian
Where will we stay?
This will depend upon the size of the group and hotel availability after 10th December, but I have drawn up a short-list of reasonably-priced, pleasant hotels with good reviews within a twenty-mile radius of Givenchy.
As usual, it will be good if you are prepared to share either a twin or a double room, but if you would really prefer a single room, let me know and I will see what I can do, probably for a small extra charge.
How will we travel?
Again, this depends upon the size of the group. If we recruit a party of 15 or less, we will travel by minibus. If the party numbers between 15 and 25, we will go for a small coach. I have a short-list of companies from which I will select after 10th December.
Where can I be picked up?
The coach or minibus will start in the Lancaster area and head down to the Channel on the M6/M1/M25/M20 corridor. When we know who is coming, we will make arrangements to pick you up along this route.
What will we eat?
Breakfast will be provided by the hotel. Other meals can be obtained in restaurants, cafes or supermarkets, of which there are many in the area.
Will I have to do much walking?
This is entirely up to you. There will be opportunities to explore the area on foot, either alone or guided, but you can stay in one place if you prefer. Sometimes people like to do this in order to dwell on things in their own way and at their own speed. But I strongly recommend walking in order to gain a feel for the landscape and its history.
Can we visit my ancestor’s grave?
Yes, as long as it is in the area in which we will be staying.
If you would like me to help you find out about family members who served in the Great War, do let me know.
How do we know that we can trust you and that it will be a good trip?
If you have a look at the rest of this website, you can find out about my qualifications, experience and interests, but, to summarise, I have been organising tours of the Western Front since 1994; I was a history teacher for over thirty years and am currently working on a PhD about Wirral in the Great War. Here are some recommendations from satisfied participants on previous trips:
‘Steve: Great to go round so many places and to have a personal touch, searching for our man, Cecil King’ – Jane, February 2012
‘Thank you for such a great trip. I learned so much’ – Christina, February 2012
‘Proud to be a member of the R.E.F. (Roberts’s Expeditionary Force) – Pauline, February 2012
‘We came to the Somme for three days and I have learned more about WW1 than I did in any lesson. It was amazing seeing the craters and trenches; seeing all the different cemeteries really makes you think about the men who died. Loved every minute of this trip’ – Jack, July 2016
‘The atmosphere that was created was incredibly moving, all thanks to Mr. Roberts. The history was very well researched and the way you delivered the information was sensitive, yet true to the facts. Nothing was underplayed or exaggerated. Thank you for this experience. We enjoyed every second and will never forget. We will also recommend you to our friends and family’ – Jordan, Lucy and Tara, July 2016
I am committed to providing you with an enjoyable, relaxed and friendly experience which will increase both your knowledge and motivation to learn more.
What do I do next?
if you want to know more, please contact me via: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 07763 860340
If you decide to come on the trip, I will ask you for some details and a cheque for £50 to act as a deposit. If the trip is cancelled, your cheque will be returned.
Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope to hear from you soon.