SECOND AUSTRALIAN TOUR  
IN FLANDERS FIELDS


On this full-day tour, 11 hours, starting at 9:30am and ending at 8:30pm, you will discover:

**** MORNING PROGRAM: FRANCE ****

FROMELLES:

Fromelles represents the first battlefield experience for Australia's 5th Division in France. It features the Australian Memorial Park with its major bronze sculpture entitled 'Cobbers' and its official battle exploit plaque directly situated on the old German frontline of 1916. Fromelles is certainly one of the most moving experiences you will have.

Close by is VC Corner Cemetery with its 410 rose bushes and representing the only totally Australian cemetery of the Great War. The old Wall of Honour bears the names of the missing soldiers of this ill-fatted battle; and

Pheasant Wood Cemetery, newly inaugurated on July 19th 2010, holds now the Australian soldiers found in a mass grave on the border of Pheasant Wood, officially re-buried, their identity was given back to them thanks to DNA testing. On 19th of July 2011 another 14 soldiers were given back their identities in a very moving official ceremony.

ARMENTIERES:

The town of Armentières was called "the Nursery" by Australian Soldiers. From there they departed for their first AIF fightings in Flanders. This town is forever remembered thanks to the Australian marching song Mademoiselle of Armentières...



**** AFTERNOON PROGRAM: BELGIUM ****

MESSINES:

Before entering the town of Messines your tour will take you  to the battlefield site with  Christmas truce place of 1914,  followed by the visit to the new and beautiful Island of Ireland Memorial Park, inaugurated in 1998 by their Majesties, Queen Elizabeth II of England and King Albert II of Belgium and Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.

The town of Messines was taken by troops from the New Zealand ANZAC division . They advanced this steep hill to reach and attack Messines. Once there, you will realize how steep  and challenging the climb. Near the top of the hill is the New Zealand Memorial Park  honouring the battle of Messines, from 7th to 14th of June 1917.

HILL 60:

Between Hollebeke and Zillebeke lies Hill 60, a strategic high point in this mostly flat land, which holds a memorial to the 1st Australian Tunneling Company. Because of the nature of the fighting here, Hill 60 is effectively a mass grave for soldiers of all sides. This hill holds the crater, created by the explosion prepared by those Australian tunnellers and still bears all the scars of fighting, as well as a famous pill-box.

POLYGON WOOD:

Close to Zonnebeke is Polygon Wood with its large mound, called "butte", where the official memorial to the 5th Australian Division stands, overlooking the important cemetery. Only 428 headstones out of 2,103 are named. Over three quarters of these graves are men 'known to God' only. After Armistice,  Australian Soldiers began to work here, to construct this imposing memorial. Only afterwards was the land of this memorial formally acquired ...

TYNE COT:

Part of the old battlefield of Paesschendaele is Tyne Cot, worldwide the most important Commonwealth War Cemetery with nearly 12,000 headstones, walls of Honour, three pill-boxes conquered by Australian soldiers and its outstanding and very moving Visitor's Center dedicated to the memory of all fallen soldiers in 1917 here.

YPRES:

The town of Ypres was involved in four great battles which bear its name. Ypres endured German shellfire almost constantly over four years. The old town,  up to then encircled by his middle-aged fortified walls and moat,  was totally destroyed by the end of the Great War, but was beautifully reconstructed, as close as possible to its old image.

CLOTH HALL and MENIN GATE:

In this part of touring Flanders we visit the famous Cloth Hall-  now beautifully reconstructed as is the whole center of the old city and Menin Gate, the most important Memorial for the British Missing of the Ypres Salient, with one aisle totally dedicated to Australia's Missing Soldiers in Flanders. It lists the names of fallen soldiers for Britain, Ireland and the Dominions - apart from New Zealand - up to 16th of August 1917 (all together: 54,332 names). Here every single  night since Armistice Day 1918 at 8.00 o'clock each evening is held the famous LAST POST, to remember the mateship and courage of those soldiers and men, fallen and missing in Flanders,  gathered here by their names on the walls of Honour.

Our special day tour in Flanders Fields ends at the Official Ross Bastiaan battle exploit plaque on top of Menin Gate for Australia.