WFA Tours in partnership with Battle Honours Ltd
Tour dates: 9 – 12 July 2015
Price per person: £500:00 (single supplement £90:00)
Hotel: Hotel Beatus, Cambrai & Lensotel, Lens
This year's tour covers the ground where poets of the First World War, some more famous than others, fought (and in some cases lost their lives) on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918.
The intention is to gain some understanding of the nature of the various conflicts in which they took part and the roles they played, and to use this context to explore the verse (and some of the prose) they wrote and its relationship with the times, places and circumstances in which it was written.
The tours are a Western Front Association initiative arranged by their tour partner Battle Honours. This year we explore the battle of Loos in 1915, Cambrai in 1917 &18, as well as a look at the lesser known Givenchy and Cuinchy region where Poets such as Robert Graves and Siegfired Sassoon spent a considerable time in 1915.
Exploring the Region between Arras and the Ypres Salient, The WFA Poets Tour 2015 will provide visits to iconic locations as well as discovering some of the hidden gems of the Western Front, little known locations that inspired some of the most evocative poerty of the last century. As always, the dynamic of creative writing and military history blends this tour into a poignant journey uncovering the context and surroundings that the likes of Sassoon, Blunden, Graves and Tennant drew so heavily upon when carving their names into our own history.
Travel to Loos. We shall follow the actions of the Battle of Loos (25 September – 18 October 1915) through the writings of Charles Sorley of the 7th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment (killed in action 13 October) and Robert Graves, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. We shall visit the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Le Rutoire Farm, St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery, where Rudyard Kipling's son is assumed to be buried, and Dud Corner Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing. Onward travel to Hotel Beatus in Cambrai, where we tour members have free time for an evening meal.
We shall explore the ground of the Battles of Cambrai (20 November – 4 December 1917 and 8 – 10 October 1918), the first a short-lived victory achieved through the first large-scale use of tanks in battle and the second a short and intense period of fighting during the Allied final advance. During the course of the day we shall have the opportunity to see D51 'Deborah', a restored Mk IV tank from the 1917 battle. Our poets on this battlefield will be: Alan Ewart Mackintosh of the 4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, and Patrick Shaw Stewart of Hood Battalion of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, both killed in action in 1917; and Richard Aldington, of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, for 1918. Our second night at the Hotel Beatus. Tour members will be free to dine where they wish in Cambrai this evening.
Returning to the Givenchy region north of Loos, bisected by the La Bassée Canal, we shall use the writings of a variety of poets who were here in late 1915 and 1916 to envisage what it was like to serve in these sectors, when all was 'quiet' on the Western Front.. Those poets include Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, who first met when serving here with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in late 1915, Edward Tennant (killed in 1916 on the Somme) and Osbert Sitwell of the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards and, most of all, Edmund Blunden, who came to the area in early 1916 with 11th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment and whose memoir, 'Undertones of War', describes it vividly.
In the afternoon our visit to the new CWGC Cemetery at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) will allow us to explore the writings of Ivor Gurney of 2/5 Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment; 61st Division fought alongside the Australian Fifth Division in the failed diversionary attack that took place here 19 – 20 July 1916. Our final night will be spent at the Lensotel (Lens), where the city offers a fine selection of restaurants and bars.
We shall concentrate on the area west of Lens and Hill 70, using Richard Aldington's poetry and his powerful novel, 'Death of a Hero' to build up a picture of what it was like to serve in this area during 1917 during the build-up to the Battle of Arras, when Aldington was a private in 11th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, a pioneer unit. The writings of Bernard Trotter, an officer in this battalion who was killed in action in May, will broaden our perspective further. Return to the U.K.
Participants in the tour will receive an anthology of the poetry and prose extracts to be read and studied, as well as notes, with maps, on the areas to be visited. The tours are inclusive of return transport from a designated pick up point on an executive standard coach and bed and breakfast. In addition, there will be two group evening meals – on the first and final nights of the tour. The tours, limited to just 30 spaces, are jointly guided by WFA members Vivien Whelpton, focusing on the poets and their work, and Clive Harris, providing the military history input.
Please use the document downloadable below to make your booking.
Bookings should be sent direct to
Battle Honours Limited
Business & Technology Centre – F31
Herts SG1 2DX
Cheque payments should be made to "Battle Honours Ltd" and a £100.00 deposit secures your place.