This tour follows the story of some of the many thousands of soldiers from south Asia who served in France and Belgium in the Great War. In October 1914 an army corps of 20,000 soldiers from the Indian sub continent landed to fight for the British on the Western Front. Over 8,000 did not go back and are buried or commemorated in Britain, Belgium and France.
The itinerary is in two parts. One is for the UK and requires a UK Visa. The second is for France and Belgium, and requires a Schengen Visa. It is possible to see a lot with a tour which just visits Belgium and France. Both parts of these tours could be combined with a visit to other cultural sites
Day 1 – London
Focus on the background to the
Indian Army and the Great War
National Army Museum – The British Army, India and the Indian Army
Imperial War Museum – The Great War and India’s role in it
Indian Army Memorial – Green Park
Potential for cultural event with an appropriate London Community
Day 2 The Indian Army in Britain
Brighton Pavilion – the Indian Army Hospital in the Great War. 14,000 wounded Indian soldiers passed through the hospitals in Brighton
Patcham Down Chattri Memorial
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Indian Army Memorial Room
Brookwood Commonwealth War Cemetery, the resting place of the Muslim Indian Army soldiers who died in the UK
Three days – Belgium and France
Day one – The Indian Army at Ypres.
Flanders Fields Museum. Orientation to the Western front
The story of the Indian Army in the 1st Battle of Ypres in 1914. Stories of Indian soldiers who distinguished themselves including Khudadad Khan VC and Subedar Thakur Singh MC
Preserved Trenches on Messines Ridge,
close to where
the young Adolf Hitler
The Indian army at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and
the first use of poison gas. Story of Mir Dast
Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate and opportunity to
lay a wreath at this ceremony
Day two – Neuve Chapelle and Loos
• The Battle of Neuve Chapelle • The Battle of Loos and the role of the Indian Corps. the story of Kulbir Thapa VC • Zelobes Indian Cemetery • Indian Army memorial and memorial to the Missing Neuve Chapelle
Day Three – The Indian Army Cavalry at Somme, Arras and Cambrai
Technology and the Great War – The Historial Museum of the Great War (1914-1918) Peronne.
The Indian Cavalry on the Somme, the charge of the Deccan Horse horses versus machine guns.
The Indian cavalry at Arras
Cambrai – The Indian Cavalry and Army and Tanks
“One dead for every kilometre home” Anonymous comment in the visitors book, Neuve Chapelle, Indian Army Memorial France
from a well organised familiarisation tour to Flanders and the Somme organised
and hosted by Tourism Ieper. You might think that a year after the end of
the centenary of the First World War that no one would be investing in
developing First World War heritage. But that is far from the case.
We saw a slew of new projects that enhance the experience for visitors.
often that you see something on a tour around a familiar area that makes you
change the way you plan a visit. The
high point (literally) of my trip was the visit to the Church Tower at Zonnebeke, which is open to the public.
The website says it is free of charge, but you need a ticket from the
Passchendaele Museum to operate the turnstile.
This offers an outstanding view of the Ypres Salient and is a good
option to start a tour of the area. Only
worth doing if visibility is over two miles/ three km as there are 200 stairs
The Museé Somme Albert has a very fine and large
collection of exhibits. A little unfashionably for modern museums these are
mostly on display. An app is being written to allow visitors to find out more
about the objects. It is planned that
visitors can download the app on smartphones.
visited the Hooge Crater Museum for several years. The owners have developed the museum to make
it a one stop shop for visiting schools.
There are trenches demonstrating British and German trench designs on
the site of the German 1916 front line and a good view over Ieper. There is a gallery focused on medical
services and a private room for a group. We were well looked after with a
specimen student lunch (plus beer!)
a new museum dedicated to aerial warfare over Flanders and the great French air
ace George Guynemer. This is the Guynemer Pavillion Polecapelle
Yper Museum. The Yper Museum is situated at
the other end of the Cloth Hall from the In Flanders Fields Museum. In Flanders
Fields tells the story of Ieper in four years of war. The Yper Museum tells the story of Ieper for
the other 2,000 years of its history.
How the city grew and shrank with the wool trade, the sieges by the
English and French. Well supported by
interactive exhibits, it is a reminder that the area is more than just a
feature of familiarisation tours is that they provide an opportunity for cafes
and restaurants to show what they can do. The Depot did a great three course
supper and Poppies Hostel at Albert and roof top terrace bar at the St. Bernardus
Brewery Watou did a great buffet. I
hadn’t been to the brewery before. The view from the rooftop was also very worthwhile
offering a panorama of the area west of Poperinge.
recent development is the local wine industry. Heuvelland is one of five
Belgian regions recognised by a AOP Quality label. The region claims to be the most northern
wine growing region in mainland Europe.
the latest of a series of tours for representatives of the British travel
trade. The driving force has been the hotel businesses led by Stefaan Vanderstreate, the Ieper
based entrepreneur who runs The Menin Gate accommodation business in Ieper and
set up the Poppies hostel in Albert.
These are particularly well-run familiarisation tours.