1916 witnessed the onset of attritional warfare on an unimaginal scale with two of the bloodiest battles ever fought. At Verdun, with no overall objective other than to "bleed the French white", the German's committed 1916 to the death of the French Army. The French response was, "ils ne passeront pas!". On the Somme, where ground won was measured in yards, the British and Empire divisions committed the Germans to fight in an attempt to relieve the pressure at Verdun. It was no longer the "Old Sweat" of the British Expeditionary Force who faced the enemy on the Somme; it was the citizen's of the Empire. Within six months 125,000 lay dead, over half in unknown graves.
Our first tour of 2016 visits the battlefields of the French Army from Artois to the Chemin des Dames to Champagne and finally to Verdun, undoubtedly the largest of the French Great War commemorations. In June we visit the battlefields of the Somme. Although the emphasis will be on the first day of the battle, the tour will include the preliminary bombardment and the logistical preparations. The tour includes two full day walks.
In April 1916 the Austalian and New Zealand Forces began to arrive on the Western Front. We propose to combine the commemorations at Fromelles and Pozieres in to a comprehensive Australian battlefield tour, which will also include Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele, Villers Bretonneaux, and Hamel.
Our final tour of 2016 will see a return to the Somme and will feature a series of walks tracing the "footsteps" of the tanks and the later attrional battles including Thiepval, Mouquet Farm, Morval, Transloy Ridge and the Butte de Warlencourt.