Belgium/France war graves visit

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Morty, Sep 12, 2006.

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  1. I'm planning a visit to Belgium and France in a few months time to visit the war graves. I was wondering if anyone could suggest an itinery based on staying 4 nights and traveling by car. Also any local campsites that anyone could suggest, and an idea of how much I should be budgeting for the trip.

    Cheers for any help chaps.
  2. which war graves do you wish to visit. Do you have any relatives buried there?

    Holts have some DIY tour guides to the West Front with several itineries.

    Most people want to visit the Somme and Ypres. These are the big two British battles on the West Fornt. (400k & 250k british casualties) You can do the highlights of each in a day- aday and a half.

    Arras and Vimy ridge is another intensly fought over area, (150k britihs casualties) but doesn't get the same attention. Nor does Loos Cambrai or the Hindenberg line battles of 1918.

    Its worth going a little further to visit Mons - the fiorsh BEF battle. the first and last British soldiers to die on the West front are buried close to eahc other at St Symphion cemetary.

    I'd budget for two tanks of petrol + C.£150 for ferry/ shuttle + whatever your campsite costs + 5-10 euros a head for breakfast and whatever you want per meal. You can get very decent food in Belgium and France and spend a lot on it. If you are on a tight budget many cheap and chearful cafes will serve snacks - eggs and chips + coffee beer C 10 euros and many restaurants will seve a decent 10 euro lunch. If you want to picknic supermarket prices roughly comparable but beer and wine is a lot cheaper.
  3. Cheers for that, don't really know what to visit, and no relatives buried there. They're just something i'd like to see. I'll check out the Holts DIY tours immediately. Thanks again for the advice!
  4. Hi there,

    I'm a long time lurker and as I go over there a couple of times a year I researching thought I'd toss in my 2 pennies worth. The Holt books are okay but personally I'd recommend "Before Endeavours Fade: A Guide to the Battlefields of the First World War" by Rose E. B. Coombs MBE, ISBN 0-900913-43-6. It covers the *whole* of the Western Front with photos of all the cemeteries, monuments, places of interest, museums etc, and has detailed maps for multiple routes around all the major points. The text talks you through each route and points out other stuff of interest.

    Personally for a first go I'd go to Ypres which has more stuff than you can shake a stick at in a 10-15 mile radius of the town, and a very good campsite at Kemmel, c.7 miles SW. Alternatively, you might want to consider the French ETAP motel chain, which are c.£24 per night for an en suite room that sleeps three. There are loads of them all over France (I use one at Lille which puts you within easy striking distance of Ypres, Loos, Arras and the Somme), you can get in late with a credit card via a video thingie and you can also book in advance on line.

    If you want more info I'd be happy to help, drop me a PM.

    all the best,


    edited for fat fingers :(
  5. Cheers exMercian, that sounds just what i'm looking for. I was a bit lost when I tried planning the trip myself t'other day, hence this thread. Cheers chaps for pointing me in the right direction!
  6. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Stayed at a campsite near Kemmel, great bar, never seemed to shut! Oh, and handy for both Ypees and the Somme.
  7. You might like to drop in on John Woolsgrove who runs the Shell Hole in Ypres. His place is something of a mecca for cognoscenti visitors — it is a cross between militaria shop, bar and B&B.
  8. Stickybomb, am afraid John has sold up most of his shop. However, the bar, accomodation and medal service is still there! The shop contents have all been sold to another guy who operates out of Boterstraat!
  9. That's a big shame. Still at least the bar is going strong! John's gaffe was frequented by some very interesting people including the original stormtrooper, Ernst Junger (Storm of Steel and Copse 125) until shortly before his death a few years ago. Still worth a look as John is a source of good 'int' for obscure locations/questions.
  10. I agree! Also worth a try is fellow ex redcap, Iain M'c Henry of "Trenchmap tours". He is a mate of mine living and working here. Try googling him? :D
  11. Good luck with this

    I visited some years ago I found it so upsetting I could not go again.

    I think if schools arranged trips like this instead of ski holidays etc it may make more of the younger generations realise what was done for them.

    This government should also visit so they would not continue to remove our freedoms so lightly.
  12. My mate who's joining me on the trip went when he was at school. He said it was pretty humbleing and he's not one to usually speak about how he's feeling. His was, as far as I know, the only school to do this every year.

    I'm made up with amount of info i've got now, cheers all for your helpful advice, i'll spend a lot less time sat in the motor looking at a map now!
  13. I spent a couple of days on the way back from a trip to Brussels and can recommend the Thiepval Memorial. I am doing some research about my village war memorial as a background activity and attempted to vist most of the graves. The best for me was however Knightsbridge Cemetry. You have to leave your car and walk up a muddy track about a click to two isolated cemeteries. The mud was horrrible sticky stuff with the odd shell fragment still to be found. It was very quiet with just a skylark and a slight drizzle for company - very evocative and moving.

    The CWWGC map book that shows all the sites is worthwhile and can be purchased from their website. Ypres Town Hall has an excellent shop and museum for other guides.
  14. You are aboslutely right about how much of an impact these have on school children. Some schools do organise trips to the Battlefields and several tour operators offer them incuding the RBL, who trades under the "Travel and Learn" programme and uses ex soldiers as tour guides.
    If you know of schools whoich don't run battlefield tours, point them at the Legion site.