Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

Western Front to Normandy Tour on 20 September 2019


Travel Day today from Ieper to Normandy.

Our route took us due west of Ieper through the area around Hazebrouk defended by the 1st Division AIF in March 1918 in the face of the German "Kaiserschlacht" offensive. Having been rushed down south they were brought back and told "you are the only formed body of troops between here and the Channel Ports". They did what was asked of them and stemmed the German advance.

Then via Bolougne we paralleled the Channel Coast and called in at Le Troquet or more specifically, Etaples Military Cemetery. 100 years ago as many as 100,000 troops were stationed here in a raft of hospitals, training and personnel depots with large numbers of troops coming and going to the UK. It is the largest CWGC cemetery in France with 11,400 graves of which almost all are identified because it was a hospital cemetery. Another Division's worth of troops.

Next it was Abbeville (a Battle of Britain German fighter base) preceded by a comfort stop and lunch at a roadside service centre.

Then our trouble started. Traffic tailbacks.

We entered Normandy and enjoyed the landscape. With far less built development than was evident in Belgium, the appeal of Normandy was readily apparent.

We continued on over the spectacular Normandy Bridges, crossing the surprisingly broad Seine Estuary.

Then a stop in the very picturesque fishing port of Honfleur which made a very favourable impression on everyone. Beautiful sunshine helped cast Normandy in a very favourable light. A few soothing libations finished off a most satisfactory interlude, before we boarded our coach for the rest of the journey.

Having failed to recall the drama of last year, skirting Caen we were ensnared in a Friday afternoon peak hour traffic jam. We continued on to our home for the next three days. Arriving at the Campanile Hotel just out of Bayeux’s town centre, we checked in ahead of our forthcoming three day review of the D Day operations. Today had turned into a rerun of the 'Longest Day' without the pyrotechnics.

Steve Larkins


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