WWI tour to Ypres and Somme by coach: 2 days, 1 night

WWI tour to Ypres and Somme by coach: 2 days, 1 night

This is an action packed tour suitable only for schools in the South East of England due to time constraints, and is designed for schools that can only gain permission for a short period of time out of the school week. This tour is a perfect choice to aid students’ understanding of this significant period in history. Visits to the war museums, memorials, amongst other sites, will give the students first-hand experience of the living conditions and destructiveness of war.

Suggested itinerary

  • Day one
  • Depart school early am
  • Connect with channel crossing to Calais
  • Drive to Ypres
  • Visit Tyne Cot Cemetery
  • Essex Farm
  • If time permits visit Langemark Cemetery before heading into Ypres town centre
  • Visit In Flanders Field museum.
  • Dinner at local restaurant before seeing the Last Post at Menin Gate at 8pm
  • Day two
  • Early breakfast
  • Depart Ypres for Somme region
  • Vimy Ridge
  • Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park
  • Ulster Tower
  • If time permits visit Lochnagar Crater
  • Head to port for your channel crossing
  • Arrive back in the UK and travel back to school

Excursion locator map

WWI tour to Ypres and Somme by coach: 2 days, 1 night

  • Town Trail

    Subject range: Cultural, Language

    What you’ll experience:

    'Hunt Fun' treasure hunts are a great fun way to get your students out and about and exploring a town whilst on your tour, learning so much along the way. The treasure hunts will guide you past historical buildings, statues and monuments encouraging problem solving, team work, navigation skills and much more. Your treasure hunt packs contains treasure hunt booklets to complete. 

    Select says:

    A treasure hunt will normally last about 2 hours but could be made longer by incorporating a lunch stop or another local visit. Available for selected towns within Belgium and France - speak to one of our travel advisors for further details.

  • Ulster Tower, Thiepval

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:
    The tower is the memorial both to the 36th division and all Ulstermen who fought in the Great War and is an exact replica of Helen’s Tower, County Down, near the 36th Division's training ground in Belfast. The monument is located near to the Schwaben Redoubt which the Division attacked on July 1st, 1916.
    Select says:

    A visitor centre is on the site displaying artefacts, including items recovered from the battlefields around the Memorial Tower, and personal items related to the soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division.

  • Vimy Ridge

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    Vimy Ridge is a the site is maintained as a memorial to the Canadian Forces who fought in the Great War.The successful attack at Vimy Ridge was undertaken by the Canadian Corps on the 9th of April, 1917. The ground in the memorial park has been left undisturbed, and there are trenches and shell holes still visible. In one area, the trench outlines have been made more permanent by the addition of concrete sandbags. 

      

    Select says:

    Due to the strategic importance of this high land high, the trench lines were close together and it is possible to stand in either the German or the Canadian trenches, and see how close the enemy trenches were in this sector from the infantry soldier’s perspective. You can also visit the underground tunnels where the troops lived.

  • In Flanders Fields Museum

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    A superb museum with hundreds of authentic objects and images from WWI which are presented in a modern, experience-orientated layout. Multimedia interactive installations and lifelike characters give the visitor an authentic experience of life on the front, emphasising the personal stories as well as the larger conflict. Visitors will find no glorification of war; rather the museum suggests the futility of war especially as seen in Flanders during WWI. Following closure for refurbishments, the museum reopened in June 2012 - it is well worth a return visit if you haven’t been back since.

    Select says:

    There are educational workshops available in conjuction with the museum:

    10-12 years workshop - Andrew's Dream Museum. The theme of the package is the book 'Andrew’s Dream Museum'.

    10-15 years workshop - Coming World Remember me. A unique opportunity for students to create a statue as part of the land art installation which will be set up in a part of former no-man's land in 2018 commemorating 600,000 soldiers and civilians who died or became fatally wounded in and around Ypres between 1914 and 1918.

    13-15 years worshop - Home by Christmas...or how 'the big picnic' evolved into the world's first industrial war.

    Downloadable education packs also available via the website.

  • Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    The largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world and resting place of nearly 12,000 soldiers. Many of those who died in 1917 fighting to capture the village are buried here. The long stone wall of the Tyne Cot Memorial carries the names of servicemen from the United Kingdom and New Zealand who died between 15 August 1917 and the end of the war with no known grave.

    Select says:

    This visit is excellent for giving students some sense of the sheer scale of loss during WWI as the Memorial Wall carries nearly 35,000 names.

  • Langemark German Cemetery

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    More than 44,000 soldiers are buried in this German war cemetery. The village was the scene of the first gas attacks by the German army, marking the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. A great comparison with Tyne Cot Cemetery

    Select says:

    Within the cemetery is a sculpture of four mourning figures by the Munich sculptor Professor Emil Krieger. Added in 1956, they are said to watch over the fallen. 

  • Menin Gate

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    The Menin Gate memorial bears the names of over 54,000 officers and men from United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces (except New Zealand and Newfoundland) who fell in the Ypres Salient before 16th August 1917 and have no known grave. Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches.

    Select says:

    Have a look at the nearby Indian Memorial honouring the 130,000 Indian soldiers who fought during WWI in the Ypres Salient and Northern France. Also consider the value of the model of the Gate with brail to consider how we all need a means of remembrance.

  • Essex Farm Cemetery

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    The cemetery was used by several British divisions holding this sector from 1915 to August 1917. 1,200 servicemen from several divisions are buried or commemorated here. At the rear of the cemetery there is a concrete bunker - the site of a British Army Advanced Dressing Station (A.D.S.). The location is believed to be the place where the Canadian army doctor, Major John McCrae, composed the famous poem In Flanders Fields. The cemetery is the final resting place of Rifleman Valentine Joe Strudwick - aged only 15 he is one of the youngest British casualties of the Great War to die in action.

    Select says:

    Link your visit with Rebecca Steven’s novel Valentine Joe and John McCrae’s famous poem In Flanders Fields.

  • Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    Located near Beaumont Hamel, this park is one of only a few sites on the Western Front where the ground has remained largely untouched since the end of WWI. The great caribou memorial stands at the highest point of the park, emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Something of the terrible problem of advancing over such country can be appreciated by visitors as the actual frontline trenches are still visible. There is also a visitor's centre featuring a copy of the Newfoundland Book of Remembrance, memorabilia and short video clips.

    Select says:

    Free guided tours are possible but must be pre-arranged.

  • Lochnagar Crater

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    The Lochnagar Crater at La Boiselle is almost 91m in diameter and 21m deep. The result of a mine explosion on 1st July 1916, this is the largest surviving crater on the Western Front, and one of the most affecting sites on the Somme Battlefields. It is a unique memorial to all those who suffered in the Great War. It is dedicated to peace, fellowship and reconciliation between all nations who fought on the Western Front.

    Select says:

    The site website has a schools page for pre-tour. You may also be interested in their annual competition for young people aged between 10-17 yrs designed to encourage interest in this unique Great War Memorial (Entries for the £200 award can be in any medium including Art, Prose, Poetry, Photography or Music).

  • Thiepval Memorial to the Missing & Museum

    Subject range: History WW1

    What you’ll experience:

    The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a major war memorial to 72,191 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme of the Great War between 1915 and 1918 with no known grave. The names of the missing are etched into the memorial along with a large inscription reading 'Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death'. The Thiepval Visitor Centre is located a short distance from the Thiepval Memorial and now has a museum with new galleries themed on the battles of the Somme and the memory of lost soldiers. The permanent exhibition presents a large collection of artefacts, archaeological finds, multimedia displays and life-sized installations.

    Select says:

    It is also possible to visit the Thiepval Wood Trenches (accessible by guided tour only), providing insights into life in the trenches as well as the preparation for the attack by the men of Ulster on 1 July 1916. It should be remembered that munitions are still being found and it is important to keep to the designated paths and to touch nothing. 

WWI tour to Ypres and Somme by coach: 2 days, 1 night

Learning areas:

KS3
Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
The First World War and the Peace Settlement
A study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments

KS4
Conflict and tension, 1894–1918 (AQA)
The British sector of the Western Front, 1914–18: injuries, treatment and the trenches (Edexcel)
War and British Society c.790 to c.2010 (OCR)
Britain in Peace and War, 1900–1918 (OCR SHP)
The Development of Warfare, c.1250 to the present day (WJEC 2017)
Empire, Reform and War: Britain, 1890-1918 (WJEC 2016)
The Development of Warfare, c.500 to the present day (WJEC 2016)
Historical Study: European and World (SQA)

KS5
International Relations and Global Conflict, c1890–1941 (AQA)
Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition, 1906–1957 (AQA)
The British experience of warfare, c1790–1918 (Edexcel)
The changing nature of warfare, 1859–1991: perception and reality (Edexcel)
Britain 1900–1951 (OCR)
International Relations 1890–1941 (OCR)
The Changing Nature of Warfare 1792–1945 (OCR)
Europe In An Age Of Conflict And Co-Operation c.1890-1991 (WJEC)
Historical Study: European and World (Higher) (SQA)
Clash of Ideologies in Europe 1900–2000 (CEA)
The Causes and Consequences of Great Power Conflict 1848–1945 (CEA)

 

Select Extras:

Have you thought of selecting a relevant movie for the coach journey? We recommend War Horse (classified 12).We also recommend these stories set during WW1 for pre-tour/during tour/post tour:

Stories of WW1 – Tony Bradman

An engrossing anthology comprising of twelve moving tales by prize-winning authors. The short story format makes it a great option for use in the classroom and if your students prefer to dip in and out! Find out more and purchase here.

Valentine Joe – Rebecca Stevens

When fifteen-year-old Rose visits Belgium, she can feel the deep scars left there by the Great War. But when she hears the sound of marching late at night, she does not expect to see the ghosts of the past from her window … This moving tale brings the past alive through a time slip and gives students an excellent way of empathising with the young soldiers serving at the front in WWI. Find out more and purchase here.

WWI tour to Ypres and Somme by coach: 2 days, 1 night

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    Menin Gate Youth Hostel

    Our rating:

    Location: Ypres

    Capacity: 55

    This youth group hotel is in a great location right by the Menin Gate itself! Sole occupancy is possible if the group has more than 35 people.

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    Salient Youth Hostel

    Our rating: PLUS

    Location: Ypres

    Capacity: 102

    This youth group specific hotel is situated just off the main square of Ypres. Sole occupancy is possible for groups with a minimum of 70 people.

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    Ieper Lodge

    Our rating:

    Location: Close to Ypres

    Capacity: 365

    This hotel is great for school groups - the location is just outside Ypres but is still within walkable distance (approximately 15-20mins).

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