There is something uniquely special about seeing where great events in history occurred, and there can be no more evocative places in Europe than the battlefields of the two great conflicts which unfolded during the twentieth century. BackRoads Touring Co Ltd have been running small group tours to France and Belgium for many years now and have a wealth of experience in taking customers not only to the popular and well visited sites, but also to the less familiar and more difficult to find spots, many of which have specific resonance for those travelling with us; on more than one occasion, a BackRoads group has been privileged to take a relative to visit one of the many well tended graves that are spread out along the lines of the battlefields. This is even more significant when the visitors come from countries far away, such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand, and all too often they are the first family members ever to visit the grave. It is this personal approach which gives visitors travelling with BackRoads everlasting memories to cherish.
Not everyone has that personal connection; some visitors just want to see the lay of the land, hear stories of bravery, heroism and folly and use their imagination, supplemented by the knowledge and story telling abilities of their guide to picture scenes which no one would really want to experience. Others marvel at the military hardware left behind, now displayed in a score of museums or in the sheer vastness of the concrete structures built to provide shelter and defensive protection for men and guns. No one can fail to be impressed by the colossal engineering skill and military planning and execution that resulted in the successful Normandy landings in June 1944. Equally, every visitor is humbled by the beautifully well maintained war cemeteries that contain the dead of so many nations - each with his own final resting place. Equally impressive, but no less magnificent are the stunning Memorials to the Missing which contain rows and rows of names for those whose resting place is, in Kipling's phrase 'Known unto God'.
BackRoads Touring Co run a variety of battlefield tours. Our most popular are our three one day tours covering the British and Commonwealth involvement in the First World War. Each day covers a set area; the Somme, the Ypres Salient and the Arras/ Vimy Ridge area and customers can select how many days they remain on the tour. The most fulfilling is obviously the full three days, but many customers have come away enriched in knowledge and understanding having been with their guide for only a day. Comfortable overnight accommodation is provided in a typically family run guest house, situated right on the front lines. These tours can vary the itinerary slightly, especially if a personal request to visit a certain spot is known of in advance.
For those wanting a fuller experience, BackRoads offer extended tours with a specific theme. ANZACS on the Somme covers the contribution made by the Aussies and Kiwis who fought so bravely and with such distinction from 1916 - 1918. The Forging of a Nation Tour covers the involvement of our Canadian cousins in both World Wars, from their first key defence of Ypres in 1915 through to their vital contribution to the Normandy landings and the liberation of North Western Europe. We also cover the involvement of the American forces in Europe as part of our Battle for France 1940 -1945 tour. Each tour will give you memories to cherish and recall for many years.