Tunnels and Torches
Well, it’s less than two weeks now until we head back aboard the good old cross-Channel ferries for our latest tour - The Underground War.
We've now received the full itinerary, which is as follows:
We begin our tour in Flanders where tunnelling for the British Army began in 1915. At Hill 60, one of the most mined sites near Ypres, we see evidence of the craters and learn the story of the tunnellers, also visiting the mighty Caterpillar Crater. We then travel via the site of Vampire Farm - a massive British dugout built by the tunnellers. Continuing on to Zonnebeke we’ll visit the Passchendaele War Museum and their dugout experience. After lunch at Hooge we look at the story of 177 Tunnelling Company and see the unique RE Grave. We then travel down the Messines Ridge the scene of the ‘big bang’ in June 1917, when 19 mines were blown simultaneously and see the Spanbroekmolen and Peckham cratert. Later at Kemmel we look at the fate of trapped miners and then on the Ploegsteert Memorials to see the only Tunneller VC: sapper William Hackett. We end the day in Ypres for the Last Post Ceremony.
We travel to the Somme for our specially arranged visit to the medieval caves located under the village church at Bouzincourt, which are rarely opened to the public. Approximately 40 feet underground the caves were extended during WWI by British tunnellers and used for troop accommodation. Names, poems, regimental cap badges, drawings and other carvings were made in the chalk walls by the soldiers. Following our cave visit we see the largest British mine crater on the Western Front at La Boisselle.
We lunch at Thiepval and visit the Memorial to the Missing and the visitor centre. In the afternoon we visit tunnellers graves at Becourt, look at the story of the Livens Flame Projector, and visit the scene of the Hawthorn Mine at Beaumont-Hamel; filmed and photographed, the explosion here has become an iconic image of the Great War.
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