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Discovering the Western Front with Ray Martin

personally escorted by Ray Martin & Mat McLachlan

Discovering the Western Front with Ray Martin

personally escorted by Ray Martin & Mat McLachlan
Defence Escapes
Paris to Paris
10 days
From $6,699
Tour code: DE-115
  • Walking tour Ypres 
  • Photography workshop 
  • Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate
  • Passchendaele Museum 
  • Polygon Wood
  • Hill 60
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery 
  • Langemarck German Cemetery
  • Messines
  • Poperinge 
  • Talbot House Tour
  • Sint Bernardus Brewery visit
  • Bruges 
  • Ray Martin interview with Mat McLachlan 
  • Fromelles
  • Bullecourt 
  • Bertangles Chateux 
  • Amiens Cathedral 
  • Newfoundland Memorial Park
  • Thiepval Memorial Park 
  • Ulster Tower
  • Mouquet Farm
  • Pozieres 
  • Lochnagar Crater 
  • Villers-Brettonneux 
  • Australian National Memorial
  • Sir John Monash Centre 
  • Australian Memorial Park, Hamel
  • Naours tunnels
  • Vignacourt Museum 
  • Farewell dinner in the Eiffel Tower

Join acclaimed television journalist, Ray Martin, and leading historian, Mat McLachlan, on this incredible ten-day Western Front tour.

Welcome to this very special tour, personally escorted by Ray Martin and Mat McLachlan. This itinerary has been hand-picked to explore several areas on the Western Front, uncovering stories of the spirit of mateship and sacrifice along the way. Over 10 days we will visit the key Australian battlefields of the Ypres Salient, Flanders and the Somme, all whilst enjoying an array of special inclusions with our wonderful host, Ray Martin.

10 Day Tour

Price from $6699 per person twin share

Departure Date: 7th June 2020

Single Supplement: $800

Deposit $750

Contact our reservations team on 1300 789 824or click on the enquiry button below and advise your need for pre/post hotels, flights, insurance, etc.

Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

What's included?

  • Personally escorted by Ray Martin & Mat McLachlan
  • Services of an expert WW1 Historian
  • 9 nights’ 4-star accommodation
  • Travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach
  • Custom-designed itinerary visiting Mat’s favourite sites in the Ypres Salient, French Flanders and the Somme with behind the scenes access
  • Breakfast daily, 7 lunches and 3 dinners including a special farewell dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary All tipping Copy of Mat McLachlan’s definitive guide to the Western Front, Walking with the Anzacs.


Sunday 7 June, 2020 – Arrive Paris

Welcome to this very special tour! This evening meet Ray Martin, Mat McLachlan, your Historian and travelling companions at our Paris hotel.

We will enjoy a welcome dinner, and the chance to get to know each other better and discuss our upcoming journey in the footsteps of the Anzacs. (D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Welcome Dinner

Monday 8 June, 2020 – Paris to Ypres

After breakfast we depart Paris for Ypres, located just over the Belgian border. Upon our arrival in the historic town of Ypres we will have some free time for lunch followed by a walking tour around the rebuilt town, visiting key sites associated with the town’s wartime history such as the magnificent Cloth Hall, Menin Gate and Ramparts Cemetery. This afternoon, we will have the opportunity to take part in a photographic workshop hosted by Ray who will teach us a few tricks on how to take incredible photos on our trip, all while sharing some amazing stories along the way. This evening, walking distance from the hotel, we will return to the Menin Gate, where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded, for the moving Last Post Ceremony. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day and in all-weather since 1928. The only interruption was during the four years of German occupation during WWII – the ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated.

Two passengers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of our group. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Walking tour Ypres ★ Photography workshop ★ Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate

Tuesday 9 June, 2020 – The Ypres Salient

The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we will explore the Australian battlefields in the Salient where the Anzacs made history in 1917. We will begin our day at the Passchendaele 1917 Museum which features a recreated British dugout. We will then continue to the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood and the Buttes New British Cemetery where we will see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan’s documentary ‘Lost in Flanders’. After lunch at a local café, we will get a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world’s largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Our final stop today is at the German Cemetery at Langemark, where we will learn about the men on the other side of the line. As we drive back to our hotel, we will see the magnificent Canadian memorial at Langemark, marking the spot where poison gas was first used in the war. (B,L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Passchendaele Museum ★ Polygon Wood ★  Hill 60 ★ Tyne Cot Cemetery ★ Langemarck German Cemetery

Wednesday 10 June, 2020 – Ypres

Today will give us the chance to further explore Ypres and its surrounds, painting the complete picture of the fighting in this area and giving us access to some very special historic sites. We begin with a visit to the battlefield of Messines, the scene of a huge Allied attack in 1917 that was heralded by the explosion of 19 massive mines. We then drive to the town of Poperinge, which was an important Allied support base during the war. In Poperinge, we will see the local prison, which features cells where convicted soldiers were held before being shot at dawn. The prison yard contains the original execution post, where the executions were carried out. We will then enjoy an exclusive guided tour of Talbot House, an ‘everyman’s club’ that provided respite to both officers and enlisted men during the war. This afternoon, a change of pace brings us to the Sint Bernardus Brewery in the nearby village of Watou, where we will enjoy a late lunch and a tasting of their famous ‘Trappist’ beer, brewed by local monks for centuries. We will return to Ypres and have the evening at leisure to reflect on an eventful day. (B,L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Messines ★ Poperinge ★  Talbot House Tour ★ Sint Bernardus Brewery visit

Thursday 11 June, 2020 – Bruges

Today we have the opportunity to explore Bruges, one of Europe’s most charming medieval cities. Perhaps start with a cruise on the enchanting canals (optional) and then take some time to wander the cobbled streets, sampling the chocolate shops, lace boutiques and cafes for which Bruges is famous. Today lunch will be at your leisure, the perfect opportunity to savour Bruges’ delicious waffles or the enjoy a meal at the famous De Halve Maan brewery.

This evening, we will come together at an exclusive location in Ypres for dinner where Ray Martin will interview Mat McLachlan to uncover his life story. (B,D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Bruges ★ Ray Martin interview with Mat McLachlan

Friday 12 June, 2020 – Ypres – The Somme

Today we leave Belgium and travel south to the battlefields of the Somme in France. We start with a visit to the very moving 1916 battlefield of Fromelles, where Australia lost 5533 men during its first action on the Western Front. Whilst here we will visit the Australian Memorial Park, VC Corner Cemetery (the only all-Australian cemetery in France) and see the site of the recently discovered Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood. We will also visit the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery, where 250 soldiers exhumed from the mass grave were laid to rest in 2010 along with a visit to the Fromelles Museum. Our next visit is to the location of the battlefield of Bullecourt, where Australia lost 10,000 men in two great battles in 1917. We will pay our respects to them at the Slouch Hat memorial in the centre of town and the Australian Memorial Park on the site of the German front line. We will then visit the former Australian HQ at Bertangles Chateau, where General John Monash commanded Australian operations in the first half of 1918. On arrival into Amiens, a town rich in art and history, we will see the magnificent Notre Dame cathedral which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This gothic masterpiece is larger than Notre Dame in Paris and survived both world wars. Throughout our tour we will see memorials to the Allied nations that defended Amiens in 1918, including Australia.

This evening will be at leisure in the beautiful city of Amiens. (B,L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Fromelles ★ Bullecourt ★  Bertangles Chateux ★ Amiens Cathedral

Saturday 13 June, 2020 – Somme 1916

We will start the day with a visit to the maze of trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The Newfoundland Regiment was almost wiped out here on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. We will then continue to the spectacular Thiepval Memorial, where the names of more than 72,000 British men missing from the Somme fighting are recorded. We will also see Mouquet Farm, scene of a costly advance by Australian troops in August 1916. Whilst in the area, we will drive past the Ulster Tower, modelled on Helen’s Tower in Northern Ireland. This afternoon we will visit the village of Pozieres, the scene of the most costly battle in Australia’s history. 23,000 men were killed or wounded in six weeks of fighting and we will visit the scenes of their heroic sacrifice at the 1st Division Memorial and the Windmill. We will walk the battlefield with our Historian, gaining a better understanding of the fighting that led to more Australian casualties than any other battle in our history. Our final stop for the day will be the impressive Lochnagar Mine Crater, blown by the British on the first day of the battle and heavily fought over in the days that followed. This afternoon we will return to the Somme and come together for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Newfoundland Memorial Park ★ Thiepval Memorial Park ★  Ulster Tower ★ Mouquet Farm ★  Pozieres ★  Lochnagar Crater

Sunday 14 June, 2020 – Somme 1918

Today we will spend the day visiting the sites in and around the very important town of Villers-Brettoneux. We will start with a visit to the Adelaide Cemetery, where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay for 75 years before being returned to Australia in 1993. We will then stop by the Franco-Australien Museum, which shares the unpublished story of war, memory and future between France and Australia. We will also visit the neighbouring remarkable Victoria School, where we will see the sign that entreats the students to “Never Forget Australia.” Our next stop will be the imposing Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, which bears the names of more than 10,000 Australians missing from fighting in France, set in the middle of one of Australia’s most famous battlefields of the war. While here we will also visit the Sir John Monash Centre, a state of the art multimedia musuem which tells Australia’s story of the Western Front in the words of those who served. Leaving Villers-Bretonneux, we will visit the Australian Memorial Park at Hamel, the scene of General John Monash’s famous victory in July 1918. We will also see the site where the Red Baron was shot down by Australian troops in April 1918. This evening is at leisure. (B,L)

PLEASE NOTE: A mobile device with the Sir John Monash Centre App installed is required to fully experience the Centre. Use of the App is required for the majority of the exhibits inside the Centre and allows visitors to tailor the experience to their own interests. We recommend all visitors bring their own fully charged mobile device and headphones to get the most out of their visit.

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Villers-Brettoneux ★ Australian National Memorial ★  Sir John Monash Centre ★  Australian Memorial Park, Hamel

Monday 15 June, 2020 – The Somme - Paris

This morning we travel to the town of Naours to visit the underground tunnels where many Australian soldiers left their mark with graffiti. Their names have become a self-made memorial at a site that has been a tourist attraction since the 1800s. We will enjoy lunch before heading to our final stop on the Western Front; Vignacourt. The town of Vignacourt remained behind the lines throughout the war and therefore a place of refuge for Allied troops on a break from the front line. In 2011, a treasure trove of glass photographic negatives was found in the attic of a local farmhouse, which was used as a makeshift studio for soldiers to have their photo taken during the war. We will visit the new museum onsite which tells their story. This afternoon, we will say ‘adieu’ to the battlefields and depart for Paris, where we will enjoy a spectacular farewell dinner at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant. Located inside the Eiffel Tower we will experience the Paris skyline from a new perspective. (B,L,D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Naours tunnels ★ Vignacourt Museum ★  Farewell dinner in the Eiffel Tower

Tuesday 16 June, 2020 – Depart Paris

Sadly today our tour comes to an end.

The day is at leisure to meet any onward travel arrangements.(B)

The journey may be over but the memories will last a lifetime.

Prices: All rates are specified in Australian dollars and are subject to change without notice.  The expression “from” with respect to price means the lowest price for the travel product we believe is available based on costs and exchange rates as at 8/7/2019. Price Variations: Itineraries and prices in this brochure are accurate at the time of printing and valid until 31/12/2020. Once a passenger has paid in full, the price of the tour is guaranteed, subject to any tax changes or levies imposed by any government, their agencies or any airline or if minimum numbers are not achieved. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier reserves the right to make alterations to itineraries and prices for any reason prior to you booking. Taxes, Charges & Currency Fluctuation: All government taxes and charges imposed by suppliers beyond the control of Defence Escapes and its travel supplier (including ticketing fees and airline fuel surcharges) are payable by you and are subject to change. Prices are also subject to surcharge due to negative currency fluctuations prior to you making payment in full.  Exclusions: The price does not include airfares (unless otherwise stated), passport and visa fees, insurance, laundry, phone calls, beverages, meals not detailed in the itinerary and items of a personal nature, excess baggage, expenses, fees or costs incurred in case of illness, or of refusal of entry to, detention in, or expulsion or repatriation from a country or part of a country. Deposits: A non-refundable deposit of 30% of each tour, is required to secure your place on each tour within 5 days of booking, capped at a maximum of $750 per person, per tour. For tours that include domestic flights or permits, payment in full for these services is required at time of booking and is non-refundable. Some hotels may require pre-payment in peak seasons. You will be advised of this at time of booking. For bookings under the value of $500, full payment is required to secure your place. Final payment: Final payment is due no later than 90 days prior to the departure date of your first tour unless otherwise specified. We are under no obligation to remind you when payments are due. Credit cards: Visa &MasterCard are accepted and attract a merchant fee of 1.1% Cancellations by you: All cancellations must be received in writing and cancellations are subject to the following cancellation fees, which you acknowledge are reasonable to protect the legitimate business interests of Defence Escapes. Any change or substitution of a nominated passenger’s name after the final payment has been made will be deemed a cancellation, and the applicable cancellation fee will apply. The departure date is the date indicated on the Defence Escapes booking confirmation. If a nominated passenger does not join the tour on the departure date the cancellation fee will be 100% of the total booking cost. If a nominated passenger withdraws from the tour after commencement for reasons of illness, the passenger will not be entitled to any refund for unused services. We recommend the passenger obtains a medical certificate in support of any insurance claim which can be submitted independently via the passengers’ travel insurance provider. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier makes no representations or guarantees concerning reimbursement of funds paid by a nominated passenger or paid by a representative of a nominated passenger under any insurance claim. Cancellations by us - Force Majeure: If the tour cannot proceed due to flood, earthquake, war or civil strife, acts of terrorism, hurricane, cyclone, industrial disturbance, strike, fire, lock out, epidemic, pandemic, failure or delays of scheduled transportation facilities, or other Acts of God, or any law, order, decree, rule or regulation of any government authority, or for any reason whether of a similar or dissimilar nature beyond the control of Defence Escapes and its travel supplier (Force Majeure), our contract with you will terminate and there will be no claim for damages by either party against the other, provided that we will refund you any payments made by you that we have not expended (or legally committed to expend) minus an administrative fee of $200 per person. If we provide you with any alternative services or assistance where a tour is cancelled because of force majeure, then you agree the amount to be refunded to you will be reduced by the value of these services and assistance. Cancellations by us - operational reasons:  If we cancel a tour for reasons beyond Force Majeure, then we will refund you all amounts paid at the time of cancellation. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier will not be responsible for any other travel arrangements affected by, or any additional costs incurred as a result of our cancellation. Itinerary variations: Every effort will be made to adhere to the published touring itinerary. Occasionally, circumstances beyond our control will force changes, amendments or modifications to the itinerary and its inclusions. To the fullest extent permitted by law, Defence Escapes and its travel supplier will not be responsible for any omissions or modifications to the itinerary or the inclusions made as a consequence of these circumstances. If you are entitled to any compensation at law for any changes or modifications in these circumstances, then you agree that any compensation you are entitled to will be reduced by the value of any alternative services we provide to you which you accept. Minimum numbers: Unless noted as a ‘Guaranteed Departure’, tours are based on a minimum number of passengers travelling. Special requests: Any special meal requirements will be on a request basis only. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier cannot guarantee special meal requests nor will it assume any responsibility or liability if special meal requests are not able to be fulfilled. Travel documents: Travel documents will be sent to you approximately 21 days prior to departure (providing full payment and all required information has been received). Travel insurance: It is a condition of travel that each passenger is adequately covered by an appropriate travel insurance policy. Please also check the contingencies of your prospective insurance cover and ensure you are aware of its conditions and omissions. We strongly advise travel insurance is purchased at time of booking to provide full cover. You must provide us with the insurance company name, policy number and emergency contact number relating to such a policy within 14 days of final payment being made. Medical Information:  We rely on the information provided in your booking form and as updated as necessary. You warrant that the information you provide is accurate and there are no other medical issues that may impact your ability to participate in the tour without the need for special assistance. We reserve the right to exclude you from a tour if we acting reasonably are of the opinion that you require special assistance for a condition not previously fully disclosed. Baggage: On all tours, passengers are limited to one standard size suitcase and one piece of hand luggage per person. Porterage is not included for any tours. All baggage and personal effects are at all times and in all circumstances the responsibility of the passenger. Baggage insurance is recommended. Please check with your airline for applicable baggage allowances. Single travel: Single Supplements represent a fee passed on to us by hotels and/or operators for sole use of a room and/or any other services included in the tour. Travelling with Minors: We are unable to carry children under the age of 8 years on any group tours. Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult and share their accommodation with an adult. Pre-departure contact: You must provide a telephone number and email address where you can be reached, if necessary, within 24 hours prior to your departure from Australia and whilst travelling. Air travel: Air travel is subject to the conditions and limitations set out in the airline’s conditions of carriage. Airfares are subject to change at any time.

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