Battle Guide Tours
The BEF in 1914
A special Tour in partnership with Battle Guide Tours
A three-night, four-day tour following the British Expeditionary Force in the opening weeks of the war on the Western Front. Join Dr Spencer Jones and Dan Hill as they explore the iconic engagements at Mons, Le Cateau and the First Battle of Ypres.
Dan Hill & Dr Spencer Jones.
£515 per person (£120 single supplement)
Please note that the cost covers Bed & Breakfast, but not lunch and dinner.
Thursday 5th – Sunday 8th May 2022
After picking up our guests we make our way to Dover for the channel crossing to Calais and then follow in the footsteps of the BEF as we head into Belgium towards the town of Mons. We make our first stop of the tour north of the city to explore the actions in the days and hours leading up to the battle. Our focus this afternoon will be on the famous opening engagement of the war in Europe between British and German forces on the road to the village of Casteau. A quick visit to Mons itself is followed by a short journey to our accommodation to settle in and enjoy an evening meal.
This morning we head towards the famous ‘Nimy Salient’ where we spend the day exploring the Battle of Mons along the Mons-Conde Canal which was the site of some of the most famous actions of the Great War. We also explore the story of incredible acts of individual bravery that day (on both sides), which saw the award of the first two Victoria Crosses of the Great War. Lunch today is taken in the famous town square of Mons before we head south to spend the afternoon studying the rearguard actions around Audregnies in which the BEF fought desperately against enormous odds. Our day ends with a visit to the stunning St Symphorien Military Cemetery, which commemorates the first and last British casualties of the Great War.
The focus of today’s tour will be the actions of the BEF immediately following the Battle of Mons. Traversing the imposing Foret De Mormal, we spend the morning following Douglas Haig’s Corps as they fought delaying actions at Landrecies and Etreux, with mixed success. We make a short stop for lunch in the ancient town of Bavay before turning West to visit the spot where Horace Smith Dorrien’s Corps would ‘stand and fight’ in an incredibly high-risk battle on plains to the west of the town of Le Cateau. Walking the battlefield, we will explore the battle in detail, ending our day with a visit to the medieval town of St Quentin, through which an exhausted BEF passed following the battle. Our accommodation this evening is back westwards in the beautiful town of Diksmuide, the perfect place for Belgian beer and an evening meal.
Our final morning on the battlefields will be spent exploring the 1st Battle of Ypres in and around the small village of Gheluvelt. It was here in October 1914 that the BEF finally held the German advance on Ypres, and set the scene for what was to become the ‘race to the sea’ and eventually the formation of the ‘Western Front’, running from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. Our tour ends, fittingly, beneath the world-famous Menin Gate, which today holds the names of over 55,000 British and Commonwealth Servicemen who fell in the salient and have no known grave.
After lunch in Ypres we return to Calais for our Ferry and eventually back to the UK to end our tour.