The First World War battlefields still hold a very special place in the hearts of those who are interested in history and those who may have had relatives fighting in the trenches. It’s an emotionally charged trip which is sure to leave an impression, but just what are the key features of touring these iconic areas on a rail holiday?
One way of travelling across this territory is to take one of the Great Rail World War 1 holidays where you’ll be able to travel to these great historical sights accompanied by an experienced and professional guide. These visits often provoke strong emotions, especially when listening to the Last Post at the Menin Gate, so it always helps to be travelling with someone who can offer extra detail on the experience.
This was one of the bloodiest battles of the whole of the First World War and you’ll reach the site leaving from the charming medieval town of Bruges. Until you go on one of these tours it’s difficult to imagine that these battlefields encompass three countries.
The Menin Gate is based in the town of Ypres as are numerous cemeteries and an example of the Bayernvald German trenches. The guide can highlight the actual battle lines and help you understand the plans for the battles themselves.
The battlefield of Verdun is situated in France, but the trip will encompass an exploration of nearby Luxembourg too. The battlefield visits can prove to be very intense, so relaxing in a nearby city is an excellent way of unwinding after this intensity.
Verdun was such a bloody battle that the surrounding devastated villages were never rebuilt. In fact, one soldier went so far as to say: “If you haven’t seen Verdun, you haven’t seen anything of war.”
The poet Wilfred Owen’s death was announced to his parents on Armistice Day 1918, though he had actually died on November 4th. Owen’s poetry sums up the despair of this lost generation of young men and anyone wishing to travel to Ypres for the Armistice Day commemorations may find his work reflects the mood of these brave young soldiers.
One of the most instructive of these tours centres on the commemorations and also visits the sites of the Somme and the infamous ‘Flanders Fields.’ Visits to local museums and trenches are included in the tour and one of the trips also includes a commemorative recital in Lille. Overall, these trips may be of a more sombre nature than other types of holiday, but travellers are given plenty of opportunity to unwind after and the experience is a truly beneficial one for those interested in learning more about this important period of history.