Touring World War One battlefields

On the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the First World War ended. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and it redrew the map of Europe. As the 100th anniversary of the start of the war approaches in 2014, there’s been an increased interest in visiting the places where it was fought.

War historian Mike Hanlon is leading three tours next year that investigate the Great War. Hanlon is the editor of Trenches on the Web, the definitive site on the subject. He’ll be leading guests of Valor Tours on visits of the battlefields of Europe, including some that aren’t seen very often.

From April 30-May 7 he leads The Great War Experience, starting in Brussels at the Royal Military Museum (one of the best military museums in the world, and I’ve seen a lot of them) and continuing through some of the most important battlefields of the Western Front. From July 18-31 he’ll offer a rare opportunity to visit the Italian Front. High in the Alps, the Italian army held off the Germans and Austro-Hungarians until their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Caporetto, immortalized in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Included in the itinerary is the Isonzo river valley, scene of no less than eleven bloody battles. As my post on military museums in Rome shows, it was a tough fight. Frozen bodies are still being found to this day. The third tour looks at how warfare has changed in the past 500 years. From August 3-11 guests will see Agincourt, Waterloo, the Somme, and the beaches of Normandy.

While these tours aren’t cheap (they start at $2,950) you’re sure to learn a lot. I’ve been reading Hanlon’s work for years and he’s undoubtedly one of the top experts in military history today, especially about World War One.


[Photo courtesy Library of Congress]