“For King & Kaiser” – The Great War from both sides
21.5.2018 – 25.5.2018
This Tour starts in
From £1074 Per Person – All Inclusive
Max. Walking Distance
Under 1 mile
For King & Kaiser – The Great War from Both Sides
This unique tour, designed and guided by our German military historian Robin Schäfer and British re-enactor and historical interpreter David Allton, takes a look at the (often) shared frontline experience of the British and German soldier of the Great War. Together, Rob and David will let you have a closer look at the lives of the men in the trenches, concluding that those serving in khaki and in field grey were not that far apart, neither geographically, physically, nor emotionally. Both sides went to war with high ideals while experiencing horror and misery, comradeship and Kameradschaft.
This tour draws extensively from Rob’s personal collection of letters and diaries of German soldiers of the Great War, giving you a unique insight into the mindset and thoughts of the Kaiser’s men while at the same time dispelling a lot of the myths relating to the German Army that still persist today.
Fritz and Tommy
‘On the other bank of this waterway stood the battered and burning railway station where in a small square, like dogs chained to a house wall, squatted the first English prisoners we had seen so far in this war. There was an old corporal and about eight men. In a semicircle around them there were some of our enlisted men, looking with astonishment at the defenceless English soldiers. I have to confess that they made a very good impression upon me, being deeply suntanned, well uniformed people. I very much regretted that I was not fluent in English. However a young Kriegsfreiwilliger noticed my helplessness and offered himself to act as my interpreter, as he spoke perfect English. And now this young German soldier told me something most remarkable. ‘Herr Oberleutnant’ he said, ‘I know the second prisoner on the left very well as he we used to be schoolfriends. I lived in England for 20 years and I have shared a desk with him in school. Now we have met again, though in different circumstances” The world is truly a small place and in war, the strangest things happen! The further we advanced the more signs of war became noticeable. Large factory buildings had been holed and smashed by German shells and rifle fire had pockmarked the red brick houses. As we rounded a corner the first dead Englishman lay in our path. He was an old soldier, dressed from head to foot in yellow-green Khaki. In the stationmasters house there was a whole bunch of dead Englishmen. It was a habit of the of the English colonial soldiers to try to get all the wounded and even the dead into the safety of houses (…) The powerful surging fire on guns and rifles left us shaken, but it soon slackened and finally died down towards sunset. I will never forget how we felt, we had given everything we had. There was an irrepressible pleasure that the hated English foe had felt the weight of German blows and had been shaken by them. At the same time though we had to recognize that these English soldiers, who before the war many of us had looked down upon with scorn and disrespect, as we did on other soldiers like the Belgians, had in each case fought bravely and stubbornly, which was attested by the losses our German soldiers had to suffer here’
Oberleutnant Heinrich Heubner, Infanterie-Regiment- Nr. 20
Hotel Ariane – Ypres, Belgium
At the Ariane Hotel, you can enjoy family hospitality in the leafy suburbs of the historic town of Ieper.
Just two blocks away from the market square, with the In Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate.
The Somme region is also easy to get to from here. A warm welcome, modern facilities, a restaurant with conservatory, garden terrace, flawless service and tastefully arranged rooms with every comfort.
Arrival from the UK
After breakfast we will head out into the rich, green fields of Flanders. We’ll begin by visiting the German cemetery of Langemark, where we will have a closer look at its history and some of the design elements common to all German cemeteries, before turning our attention to the story of some of the individuals buried there. After that we will make our way to Messines, where you will learn about the German capture and the British defence of the city in 1914 before we have a closer look at myth and reality of the Christmas Truce. After stopping at Gheluvelt to look at the Charge of the Worcesters we will head to Hooge Crater Cafe and Museum for a relaxing lunch break. On finishing lunch we will take a look at the Battle of Hooge that took place on 30 July 1915 and saw one of the first major employments of the flamethrower, one of the most feared weapons introduced during World War I. At Bayernwald we will visit a restored German trench system and a surviving mine shaft before taking a closer look at the bloody fighting for the infamous Höhe 60/Hill 60. Finally, before heading back to our Hotel in Ypres, we will have a look at the unique and tragic story of a German officer buried in a British cemetery.
On this day we will head out into the beautiful and open landscape of the Somme. Arriving near Montauban we will look at the actions fought there on 1 July 1916 and will tell you the story of a Bavarian infantryman who was decorated for a heroic ‘last stand’ action against British and French attackers. From there we will make our way to Hawthorn Ridge, west of the village of Beaumont-Hamel. The attack on the German fortifications there on 1 July by part of the 29 Division became a costly failure. We will look at the reasons for that failure and take a close look at the German defenders of the 119th Reserve Infantry Regiment from Württemberg. After our lunch break we head towards the iconic and stunning Thiepval Memorial for the missing of the Somme discussing again the repeated British attempts to wrest the village from German possession while at the same time looking at the German defenders and their defence of the cornerstone of Thiepval.
At La Sars we will have a look at a forgotten German regimental memorial. From there a short trip will take us to Delville Wood or ‘Devil’s Wood’ as it was also known, taking a close look at the fierce fighting there in July 1916 while our final stop will be a German cemetery lost in time.
We begin the day at Louverval, where we will visit to the missing of The Battle of Cambrai. Heading to Flesquières, the site of fierce fighting during The Battle of Cambrai and place where a large number of tanks were destroyed we will look at a number of tank crews which are buried in Flesquières cemetery, while telling you about the German perspective of the Battle of Cambrai, German adaptation to the tank threat and the strategies and tactics developed by the Germans to counter it. We will then give you ample time to explore the newly opened Cambrai Tank Museum with its impressive center piece – the wreck of D51 ‘Deborah’. After lunch we will head to Bourlon Wood taking you to the memorial to the missing of 1918. We then move on to the village of Bourlon and Bourlon Wood, talking you through the the later stages of The Battle of Cambrai in 1917 and the highly successful German counter offensive which implemented many new and innovative strategies which would become the norm in the battles of the final year of the war.
Travelling back to the UK.
YOUR GUIDES : ROBIN SCHÄFER & DAVID ALLTON
Rob is a German full-time German military historian, freelance battlefield guide 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 authors, and television companies. He recently 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 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’. His first book ‘Fritz and Tommy: Across the Barbed Wire’ written in conjunction with Professor Peter Doyle was published by the History Press in October 2015
Book Your Tour Now!
The Special Launch Offer price starts from £864 per person for two people sharing a double/twin room – a saving of £210 on the normal price! All meals are included. You will also receive the Zeitgeist TourPal, an extensive booklet that will provide you with a wealth of background information about the sites we will be visiting.
71a High Street
T: 07541 981417
Why travel with Zeitgeist Tours?
Your comfort matters to us. An army marches on its stomach so we pride ourselves in sourcing for you high quality food, drink and accommodation for reasonable prices. Not just a 'tour' - go on a battlefield holiday.