Thursday 6th - Monday 10th April 2017
After an early start we arrive in Ypres early afternoon. We start the tour with a visit to the battlefields of the P.P.C.L.I, whose arrival pre-dated the Canadian First Division but whose story is very much part of the C.E.F. We will then tour the battlefields associated with the arrival of the Canadian First Division and the First Battle of Ypres; the German Gas Attacks.The remainer of the day will be spent in and around the battlefields of St. Julien, including Vancouver Corner, the site of Kitchener Wood and Mousetrap (Shelltrap) Farm. At 8.00pm we will attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
In the morning we will visit the battlefields around Hill 62 and the actions of the Third Canadian Division at Mount Sorrel, including the Canadian Memorial and Maple Copse Cemetery. Around lunch time we head south to the Somme battlefields of Courcelette. Here from September 1916 the C.E.F participated in many of the attritional battles that together formed the Battle of the Somme: Flers - Courcelette, Thiepval Ridge and the Ancre Heights. We will also visit the sites of the Zollern Graben, Regina Trench,the Canadian Memorial at Courcelette and some of the Commonwealth Wargrave Cemeteries linked to the Canadian fighting.
Today coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Arras and the Canadian Corps capture of Vimy Ridge. Canadian commemorations will undoubtedly centre on the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge and our intention is to be there. Interwoven through the day will be a walk across the battlefields, a visit to the underground galleries that brought the C.E.F to their jumping off positions and the cemeteries where many Canadians are buried.
In July 1917 as Haig awaited the War Cabinets decision on his "break-out battle", the Canadian Corps (now under the command of Currie) relieved British divisions in the Lens sector with orders to prepare for the capture of Lens should the War Cabinet's decision go against the C-in-C. Haig won the day, however the offensive against Lens would still go ahead, now in an attempt to hold reserves on the Canadian Corps front and away from Ypres. Currie successfully argued for a modification of the objectives, prefering to capture the high ground of Hill 70 north west of Lens. In September 1915 the 15th (Scottish) Division suffered heavy casualties here during the Battle of Loos. The attack here on the 15th August 1917, is not a particularly well known battle and the battlefields are now swamped by out of town retail. However, in the context of the Canadian Corps it was a significant victory, not least of all for the new Canadian Corps Commander, Arthur Currie. En-route to Ypres, we will visit Hill 70 and the small museum in Loos which retraces the actions of the Canadian Corps and features many artefacts from the underground tunnels used to bring the Candian battalions to their jump off positions.
We arrive in Ypres for lunch for an afternoon spent on the slopes of the Passchendaele Ridge. We will walk in the footsteps of the Canadian Corps from their positions from where they relieved the exhausted Australians in October 1917. We will walk towards Crest Farm and then beyond to the village of Passchendaele. It's ruins were captured on the morning of the 6th November.
We complete our Canadian tour with a visit to the battlefields of 1918 and the Canadian Corps advance towards Cambrai. We will visit the sites around Bony, the Canal du Nord, the crossing of the Hindenburg Line and finally Bourlon Wood; Curries preferred location for the Canadian Memorial in France.
To enable the tour to follow the Canadian Corps chronologically it is necessary to retrace our steps back to Ypres and to extend the touring day to permit us to start the following day early.
We depart Victoria Coach Station at 6.00am and return on our last day at 8.00pm. First and fourth night accommodation is in Ypres and the second and third night in Arras.