Arrival from the UK.
“the torn rags were wrapped around a damp mummy which was emitting a terrible stench. There was no head visible, only something that resembled a lump of chalk. On the knee the kneecap was shining through the torn shreds while the surrounding flesh was white, similar to that of a haddock. A sinew stretched itself like a ribbon through a decaying flesh. Turning my view to the right the area was littered with even more. Some half buried, but most just like they fell when the deadly lead hit them weeks or even months ago (…) To say it clearly, it was an eerie, frightening spectacle. A dance of death of a quality which no medieval imagination could have invented…” – Ernst Jünger, diaries, 25 April 1915
Storm of Steel ‘drink of the day’ : ‘Lütje Lage’ – Regimental drink of FR73
On our second day we will head towards the northern edge of the St. Mihiel Salient, to Vieville and Hattonchattel, where we will have a closer look how Jünger and his unit, Füsilier-Regiment Nr. 73, were accommodated behind the lines, in the Etappe. After visiting the rather beautiful German military cemetery, which was initially set up by and for the use of the 33. Reserve-Division in November 1914, our next destination will be the strategically important Combres Heights where the deep scars of war stand as proof of the heavy and merciless fighting for every single yard of ground and as witness to the brutal and gruesome fighting Jünger was involved in during his first major battle at Les Eparges. Our next couple of stops will lead us along the Tranchee de Calonne, former frontline and part of sector that serves as a kind of a meeting point of the great writers of the First World War. Alain Fournier, Louis Pergaud, Ernst Jünger and Maurice Genevoix, author of the fantastic account ‘Ceux de 14’ (Those of ‘14) all served in along this historic road. Continuing our journey into the Champagne we will look at a decisive engagement in which Jünger himself did not participate, but where his regiment earned its second nickname: The Lions of Perthes. A few miles further to the west you will see the spot where Ernst Jüngers war actually began and where “Storm of Steel” picks up with the famous lines: “Full of awe and incredulity, we heard for the first time the slow grinding pulse of the front, a rhythm we were to become mightily familiar with over the years (..)” After learning more about the Füsiliers’s early operations against the French Army, we move on to our hotel for the night.
“As we dug ourselves in we found them in layers stacked one upon the top of another. One company after another had been shoved into the drum fire and steadily annihilated. The corpses were covered with the masses of soil turned up by the shells, and the next company advanced in the place of the fallen. The sunken road and the ground behind were full of German dead; the ground in front, of English. Arms, legs, and heads stuck out stark above the lips of the craters. In front of our miserable defences there were torn-off limbs and corpses over many of which cloaks and ground sheets had been thrown to hide the fixed stare of their distorted features. In spite of the heat no one thought for a moment of covering them with soil” – Storm of Steel
Storm of Steel ‘Drink of the Day’ : Cherry Water
We’ll start the day by heading to Villers and Assevillers New British Cemetery, where we will take a glance at an patrol engagement which resulted in the death and subsequent burial of a British officer of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. From there we will take you to the city of Peronne where you will be given ample of time to explore the fantastic collection of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, one of the best First World War museums in France. Later our journey will take us to the battlefields of the Somme where we will visit a number of places and engagements that became defining for both Jünger and the 73rd Fusiliers. Among them, Monchy and Douchy, so-called ‘quiet’ sectors of the front, where the regiment nevertheless lost 210 men killed in less than a year. Guillemont and the ‘Sunken Road’ – focal points of FR73’s war against the British at the Somme and engagement which Jünger described in great detail in both his diaries and Storm of Steel – “¾ of the men will probably snuff it, but always in a cheerful mood!” – and Fresnoy, which has an entire chapter in Storm of Steel devoted to it. After a visit to Vimy Ridge we will head to the German military cemetery of Neuville St. Vaast on which a great number of Gibraltar-Fusiliers found their final resting place and which today holds the memorial of the 164th Infantry Regiment from Hameln, the sister regiment of the 73rd Fusiliers. We’ll then head towards Flanders, Belgium where we will check into our fantastic 4-Star hotel in Ypres.
“There, down at the Steenbeek, the time had come. At about 21:00 h the English attacked in the cover of nightfall. The Fusiliers greeted them with rapid fire, keeping it up until blood ran from their noses. Filled with immoderate hate they fired into the enemy ranks, not only from a prone position, but also while kneeling and even standing up. Red signal flares rose whistling into the sky and immediately, a well aimed German defensive barrage crashed down….” Regimental History of the 73rd Fusiliers
Storm of Steel ‘Drink of the Day’ : ‘National Drink’
Having plundered the breakfast buffet at the Ariane Hotel we will take you to one of the most iconic places on the former Western Front, the German military cemetery of Langemark. We will take a look at a number of burials and will address some of the myths that persist about this cemetery. During the Dritte Flandernschlacht, the Third Battle of Flanders, Jünger and FR73 served in the area and it was there where he, in command of only 35 men, fought a most successful delaying action in defence of the so called Steenbeek Line. We will take you to the Ratten- and Mäuseburg, Rat and Mouse Castle, fortifications held by the regiment during the battle and will introduce you to the Egg of Columbus, the Kolumbus-Ei – locations heavily entwined with the story of Jünger’s brother Friedrich-Georg, whose life was saved by Ernst during the battle – a story which is described in detail in the writings of both brothers. Depending on his availability we will be joined at this place by Flemish battlefield archaeologist Simon Verdegem, who will give us a glimpse of the battlefield as it survives beneath the soil. From there we will head to the fabulous Hooge-Crater Cafe where we will have the chance to enjoy some Flemish meat and cheese specialties and have relaxing drink. Hooge Crater is not only the place of the first ‘liquid fire’ attack of the First World War, it also home to one of the best war museums in Belgium and you will have enough time to explore it. In the second half of the day we will explore some things related to the German Army that deserve a closer look. Heading down to Plugstreet Memorial we will look at the story of a German officer buried on a British cemetery after which we will explore the myth and reality of the Christmas Truce of 1914 before heading back to Ypres to attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
After another hearty breakfast, we will head back to the UK.
Rob is a full-time German military historian, public speaker and published author who has made his specialist study the life of the German soldier in wartime. He has acted as a historical consultant for television companies and is a regular contributor to a number of British and German specialist military history magazines. He acted as historical consultant for the Department of Media, Culture and Sports and the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme of the UCL Institute of Education and Equity. He has also worked as an historical advisor and contributor for a number of British television programmes including the BBC’s ‘Great War War Interviews’, ‘Voices 16 – Somme’ and Channel 4’s ‘Battle of Britain: The Last of the Few’ and Channel 4’s ‘Last Heroes of the Somme’. His latest book ‘Fritz and Tommy: Across the Barbed Wire’ written in conjunction with Professor Peter Doyle was published by the History Press.
Christoph is a former combat medic in a ‘Gebirgsjäger’ (elite mountain/alpine hunters) unit of the German Bundeswehr. After basic infantry training, Christoph specialized in ABC decontamination with the forward dressing station of his battalion. During his studies of ABC warfare he became fascinated by the development and use of chemical agents on the battlefields of the First World War. After being introduced to the “Grünkreuz” offensive of June 21 1916 during his German Army training, he visited the Verdun battlefield for the first time. He has returned many times since and he continues to study the battle both on the ground and in German archives. He is a member of his hometown regimental association, the Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment No.20. He also studies the other places of engagement of the regiment all along the Western Front.
What's Included and How to Book
Included in the Storm of Steel tour package:
- Return Channel crossing.
- Five days touring the Western Front via coach.
- Four nights full board accommodation in three hotels enroute (accommodation excludes drinks – other than the special Storm of Steel “Drink of the Day”).
- The services of two expert guides who will join the coach on arrival at the hotel on the evening of Day One.
- Storm of Steel “Drink of the Day” – alcoholic beverages as mentioned in Ernst Jünger’s book will be served on 3 of the days.
- All tips, taxes and admission charges.
- A detailed TourPal – an extensive booklet that will help you to better understand the First World War as seen through the eyes of Ernst Jünger.
- The services of a tour manager who will accompany the coach for the duration of the tour.
- The fully equipped executive coach features air conditioning, seat belts, ample leg room, WC, tea and coffee making facilities, over seat reading lights, a USB charging point for every seat, alternative entry via right hand side for safety when alighting on the continent, and the ability to lower the front of the coach to make access easier when boarding or exiting the coach.
- The coach departs from Bedford with a second pick up at Maidstone. Alternatively, passengers may choose to meet the coach at the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal.
The full board accommodation provided will be of a 3-star standard or higher. We will be staying in three different hotels over four nights: first night in Verdun, second night in Soissons and the third and fourth nights in Ypres.
Breakfast and dinner will be taken in the hotel, while the midday meal will consist of a quality packed lunch taken at a suitably chosen location along the day’s route.
Prices and Booking Procedure:
- Double/Twin Room, 2 people sharing – £1,175 per person (total price £2,350)
- Double/Twin Room, single occupancy – £1,385
When booking this tour select your room choice from the drop down “Room Type” menu at the top of the page, then click “Add to Basket”.
If booking a combination of shared and single occupancy rooms please add to basket separately. The “Continue Shopping” button in your basket will return you to this page.
A deposit of 30% of the total amount is required on booking, with the remainder due no later than 8 weeks prior to the departure date.
Please see the Terms & Conditions page for further details.
The number of people in your party is governed by rooms booked:
1 shared double/twin = 2 people
1 single occupancy = 1 person
Please have to hand the names and contact details of all members of your party when making your booking as these will need to be entered on the checkout page.