Flanders & Somme Battlefields                           Contact Telephone 01 656 725000        E-Mail info@merlinwonders.com
 

 

Flanders Battlefields

Self Drive Car Tour

We offer you to stay in the heart of Ieper (Ypres)

3 Days 2 Nights from just £108.00p. per person

based on Car + 4 sharing & 2 rooms bed & breakfast

  • Return ferry crossing from Dover to Calais with P & O Ferries.  Hull to Zeebrugge available with supplement.
  • 2 Nights accommodation in the Albion Hotel, Ieper
  • Inclusive of Breakfast
  • Travel pack with suggestions for visits and historical notes

Supplements

  • Single room supplement applies
  • additional nights subject ot availability
  • Car + 2 sharing a twin/double room additional £20.00p. per person
  • Travel from Hull

 

 

The 100 year milestone for outbreak of World War I was marked in 2014. The 'Great War' the War to end all Wars. Let's not forget all the Soldiers who gave their today for our to-morrow and the sacrifice that all who fought made, their generation have now all gone, and the generation who remembered them as Fathers, Brothers & Uncles is also drawing to a close and memories of the living man are mainly left with their grandchildren.

Travel Offer

3 Days 2 Nights from just £110.00p. per person

Merlin Wonders are offering you a self-drive experience of visiting Flanders with freedom to choose your own itinerary.  Staying in the iconic city of Ieper (Ypres) and experiencing its history and amaze rise from ruins to a modern centre respecting and offering you its historic past ...... 

  • Return Cross Chanel ferry Dover to Calais (Hull-Zeebrugge available with supplement)
  • 2 Nights Stay in Ieper (Ypres) choice of Hotel - The Albion, The Ariane, Flanders Lodge and the Novotel all subject to availability
  • Inclusive of Breakfast
  • Offer is based on Car + 4 Sharing and 2 Twin/Double Rooms
  • We provide a Flanders Itineary Pack to help guide you if this is your first visit

 

If you have visited Flanders before and have a favourite haunt to stay we would be happy to arrange your trip to your personal preferences.

 

 

They shall grow not old,

as we that are left grow old,

Age shall not wary them,

nor the years condemn,

at the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them . '

Lawrence Robert Binyon 1869-1943

Historical dates World War I

8th June, 1914 the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary.  Declarations of war followed in sequence, Germany, Russia, France, Great Britain, Belgium. Austria-Hungary, Serbia etc.,

20th September, 1914 the first Battle of the Somme, in October the front line became stabilised it stretched 470 miles from the Yser river in Flanders to the Swiss border.

1915 the war raged with no major breakthroughs and the

battlefields stretched into Dardanelles (Turkey)

1st July 1916 the battle of the Somme with some one million soldiers and 200,000 horses in position the first battle was the Battle of Albert.  58,000 men fell, 20,000 killed, the Newfoundlanders lost 700 men in thirty minutes

1917

April America joins the War two and a half years after the sinking of the Lusitania

June the Battle of Messines (Flanders)

July to October 1917 the Third Battle of Ieper (Ypres)

November 1917 saw the first British mass tank attack (381 tanks) at the battle of Cambrai (France)

1918 battles continued with great loss of life but at long last the War ends on the 11th November 1918.  Military and Civilian casualties were over 37 million.  With more than 16 Million deaths and 20 Million wounded.

 

 

 

Flanders 

In the forefront is the Cloth Hall with St. Martins

Cathedral to the rear right

 

War torn Ieper 1914-18

 

Menin Gate just a short distance from the market square, each night at 20.00hrs. (8.00pm) the Ieper Police close it to traffic for the buglers of the Ieper Fire Brigade to sound the last post in honour of the fallen, never a night goes by all seven nights of the week, fifty two weeks of the year come rain hail or snow that there isn’t pilgrims showing their respect and gratitude for the sacrifice given. The gate was designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield and unveiled in July, 1927 and remains to this day British Territory. It records the names of some 55,000 with no known grave.

There was much discussion after the war on what was a fitting monument to the fallen.  Churchill for one wanted the City to remain in ruin for the devastation not to be forgotten.

Eventually agreement was reached and the British and Commonwealth Memorials are the Menin Gate and St. Georges Chapel.

 

Buglers Ieper Fire Brigade, Menin Gate

The 9th July, 2016 marked the 30,000th sounding of the Last Post at the Menin Gate

The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper is held every evening of the year come rain, hail or snow at 20.00hrs. (local time which is + 1 UK time) 

Celtic Cross

rear of St. Martins Cathedral Ieper

in memory of the fallen in the

Irish Munster Regiments

 

Artillery Wood Cemetery

Artillery Wood Cemetery just a short distanceis the resting place of two Celtic poets killed in the 3rd battle of Ieper (Passendale) the Welsh Bard Hedd Wynn (Ellis Humphrey Evans) and Edward Ledwidge from Ireland, both gave their lieves 31st July 1917 in the 3rd Battle of Ieper (Passendale-Passchendaele)

The Flanders  memorial erected in 2014 is close to where the Welsh Bard Hedd Wynn (Ellis Humphrey Evans) was wounded and later died – the battle of Pilckem Ridge which was part of the Third Battle of Ieper and more often called the battle of Passendale.

The Third Battle of Ieper was one of greatest military disasters  of British High Command. 

In 2002 plans were announced to extend the A19 dual carriageway which ends on the outskirts of Ieper to go onwards to the coast.  The path was to along Pilckem Ridge were many bodies still remain, after much protest from the UK Government for the road to be re-routed plans were abandoned and the road still ends at Ieper

It is a regular occurrence when the farmers are ploughing for them to unearth an old bomb and artefacts from the first World War I.

Canadian Memorial Crest Farm

This site is well worth a visit and isn't far from Tyne Cote Cemetery

and close to the village of Passendale.

The Memorial is on high ground, planned for you to look out

acrossa peaceful Salient, farms dotted around the countryside.

Your view is over the ground were the Third Battle of Ieper was

fought one of greatest military disasters of British High Command. 

The loss of life was greater than the number of soliders that now

serve in the British Army, many did not die by the bullet, bayonet

or shell fire they just sank and drowned in the mud !

 

 

Poperinge

Poperinge a few miles away from Ieper is where the troops arrived following posting to Flanders. Often on their arrival German shelling would increase many thought that the Station Master was a German sympathiser.  Poperinge was also their place of rest when given short leave from the trenches and where the death at dawn shootings took place. British and Commonwealth military command executed 306 of its own men during the Great War.

 

                           Death Poll Memorial Poperinge

                         inscribed with the words of Rudyard Kipling, 

                         Kipling tragically lost is son Jack in the War

The Coward

Rudyard Kipling

                                   I could not look on Death

                                          which being know,

                                         Men lead me to him,

                                           lindfold and alone,

 

On the outskirts of Poperinge is the Lijssenhoek Cemetery this is the site of the largest hospital-cemetery of the Great War.  Chinese convicts, French, Americans, a British nurse, Germans prisoners of war and soldiers of the Commonwealth are commemorated under 10,779 uniform headstones.  The Cemetery was prime witness of more than four years of violent warfare from 1915 to 1920 the hamlet of Lijssenthoek became the venue for the biggest evacuation hospital in the Ypres Salient.  Today the cemetery evokes daily reflections of the Great War. 

 

 

Merlin Wonders

Telephone UK 01 656 725000

Overseas 00 44 1656 725000

E-Mail info@merlinwonders.com

Albion Hotel, Ieper

Albion Hotel Ypres

 

Brooding Solider - Sint Julian

The Brooding Solider stands on a cross roads at Sint Juliaan on the outskirts of Ieper (Ypres) that of a Canadian solider it is 12 metres high with its head bowed and hands resting on its rifle butt, looking out over the site of 18,000 fallen comrades and marks the area of the first mustard gas used by the Germans in the Ypres salient.

 

 

Demarcation Stone

Demarcation stones can be found along the battle line of the Western Front in Belgium and France. Introduced in 1920 to commemorate the line from which the Allies launched their offensive against the Germans. During World War II many of the stones were intentionally damaged by the Germans.

 

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the World. The wall at Tyne Cot currently records some 35,000 names of the fallen with no known grave.  The wall was built when there was no longer room on the Menin Gate to record names the number of names on the Menin Gate stands at 55,000.

There are 11,956 graves at Tyne Cot 8,369 are unidentified.

 

 

 

       In Flanders Fields Museum

Flanders Field Museum the Flanders Field Museum is situated in the Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) on the main Ieper Square.

 

 

St. Georges Chapel

St. Georges Memorial Chapel is just a short walk from the Cathedral - the Church opened for worship March, 1929, it is an essential visit, and nearly every item in the Church has been given in memory of an individual or regiment. Eton College paid for the building of a school for the children of the British community alongside the vicarage and Church and in 1938 there were ninety-eight children in the school (they had to flee with the German advance in World War II). Since 1945 the church has served as the memorial church for all who fought and all who died in Flanders in both world wars. Remembering that many thousands of British & Commonwealth soldiers passed through Ieper in the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940 and also in the period following liberation on the 6th September, 1944. The church belongs to the Church of England under the diocese of Gibraltar.

 

 

John McCrae Essex Road CemeteryMemorial

Essex Cemetery on the road from Ieper to Boezinge is where the memorial stone to John McCrae the author of In Flanders Field Poem stands.   John McCrae is buried Vimereux-Pas-Calais but there is a Memorial to him at Essex Commonwealth Cemetery Ypres he died in 1918 and was a Doctor with the Canadian Medical Corps.  Travel on into the village of Boezinge and you well see a good example of an original Demarcation Stone - many of these stone were damaged in World War II by the Germans on their advance and occupation of Belgium.

 

 

In Flanders Field

John McCrae

 

 

The Trench of Death (Diksmuide)

please click link for Wikipedia information on Diksmuide

The trench of death on the banks of the river Yser where Belgian regiment after regiment failed until glory was gained on the 28th September, 1918.  60,000 soldiers lost their lives in the trench. There is a visitor centre on site.

The trench of death was active from 1914 to 1918 Belgian Regiments one after another struggled in unbearably conditions.

 

 

Monument to the fallen Irish

Soldier Messines Ridge

Battle of Messinnes

On the way to Messinnes you will past through the village of Loker, you might be shocked to see an Irish Bar on the corner of the road.  The bar has been there long before anyone ever thought of Irish Theme Bars. During World War I it was the Irish Regiments that took the heavy toll in the battle(s) of Messines.  One Irishman who fought and gave his life in the battle was Willie Redmond, Redmond was a Major in the British Army and Member of the British Parliament, but was ultimately a republican but believed in Irish participation in the War. He is strongly remembered in Loker where he is buried and in Wexford (Republic of Ireland) where there is a square named in his memory and Redmond Memorial Park.

 

The battle of Messines was said by some to be the first Armageddon of modern warfare  Prior to the major allied offensive in the Ypres Salient, the southern frontline stretching around Wijtschate and Mesen required straightening.  To assist this effort the German advanced positions on the high ground were mined with 24 charges deep underground.  The Germans found out about the work, however, and attempted to interfere by using shafts and tunnels up to 40 metres deep.  Eventually on 7th June 1917, 19 mines with a total of half a million ton of high explosives were detonated.  The impact on the Germans was so devastating that in few hours they abandoned the entire

 

Messines Ridge.  The Battle of Messines is considered the greatest military success of the entire war. '

The Governments of the North & Republic of Ireland funded the building of a Peace Village which was opened in 2006. The aim of its building was to bring the children of Ireland together in Messines, the place where their ancestors fought side by side during the First World War.

 

It was during the battle of Messines that Adolf Hitler was temporary blinded !

 

For bookings call or e-mail

Merlin Wonders

Telephone UK 01 656 725000

Overseas 00 44 1656 725000

E-Mail info@merlinwonders.com