Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 91 / Beer & Battlefields 1918 Spring Offensive Anniversary Tour

Friday 16 March – Wednesday 21 March 2018

This Tour extends to a five night stay at Novotel In Flanders Fields in Ypres and focusses on the 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser’s Battle), also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, as it affected Belgium. It was a massive series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914.

This full detailed and timed itinerary is below. We still have a couple of rooms if you want to join Podge and Siobhan on this Tour. Please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677 to find out how to pay the deposit or if you have any questions about this Tour.

The Grote Markt in Veurne today and...

The Grote Markt in Veurne today and...

The Grote Markt in Veurne Grote Market in the First World War

The Grote Markt in Veurne Grote Market in the First World War.

Beer & Battlefields 1918 Spring Offensive Anniversary Tour

Day 1 – Friday 16 March 2018

Very early! Galloways Coach departs from Galloways coach depot at Denters Hill, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5RR.

06.15hr Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.

07.45hr Coach pick up Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone, Kent CT21 4BL.

09.20hr Eurotunnel Train crossing from Folkestone.

11.00hr Arrive Calais. We make our way across northern France into Flanders.

12.00hr Our first stop is at the excellent Beer-Café-Restaurant Hof van Hemel in the beautiful town of Veurne. We will have our first pre-arranged group meal here and a crack at their beer list which extends to over 100 choices including an assortment of rarities. This is one of Veurne’s oldest houses and you can see the recently discovered fire break passage to enable water to reach crowded buildings at the rear, the width of a man carrying two buckets. Opposite the café is the bust of Veurne's famous son Karel Cogge who was in charge of the inland waterways which were used to flood the land and keep the Germans out of this little corner of Belgium in the 1914-1918 war. Next door is the house where double Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie stayed during the First World War when she brought her experimental medical radiology (x ray) equipment to the aid of soldiers at the front at the hospital in Veurne and later organized the use of 20 mobile radiology vans, known as 'petites Curies' to travel around Field Hospitals. 14.00hr Following lunch we leave ‘t Hof van Hemel on foot and cross the pretty Flemish main square (Grote Markt) to visit to the Town Hall (Stadshuis) which was the Belgian Army Headquarters for much of the Great War. We will visit the exhibition ‘Free Fatherland – Life Behind the Front’ (Vrij Vaderland – “Leven achter het Front)* which explains about life in Veurne during the war, focussing on the leadership of King Albert, the only European monarch to lead his own armies in the First World War.

15.30hr Leave Veurne.

15.40hr Arrive at Café Kunstemaecker in Steenkerke on the outskirts of Veurne for a beer or two and a quick visit to the nearby Steenkerke Belgian Military Cemetery. Siobhan will tell us about the Belgian gravestones here and also the 30 British soldier burials at the rear, and why they are here. She will also show us the famous ‘Heldenhuldezerkjes’ or little heroes gravestones, why they look different to the official Belgian gravestones and why there used to be 49 of these controversial memorials here, but are now only nine.

16.40hr Leave Café Kunstemaecker.

16.50hr Arrive at Café Tuur Djes in Beavoorde near the beautiful castle for a quick beer chosen from their 50-strong list which favours Trappist beers. Siobhan will take those who wish to join her on a short walk round the corner to have a look at a still-existing detention cell next to the road which was used to keep errant Belgian soldiers overnight during the Great War. A rare survivor, and of interest to Siobhan as it was almost certainly used to sober up drunken Belgian soldiers.

17.50hr Leave Café Tuur Djes in Beauvoorde.

18.00hr Arrive at ‘t Klein Plezier in Houtem, an odd little ancient village café for a quick beer and a look at a rare photo of King Albert of the Belgians awarding military decorations in this village during the First World War and also a very old piece of bar top equipment which was familiar in wartime Flemish estaminets.

19.00hr Leave ‘t Klein Plezier in Houtem.

19.30hr Arrive at our base for the next five nights Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields. The evening is free in Ypres armed with a copy of Podge’s Ypres Bar Guide and map*.

20.00hr Travellers can take in the moving last post ceremony at the Menin Gate. This is an imposing white memorial gateway inscribed with the names of more than 54,896 men whose have no known grave and who died in the salient up to 16 August 1917. There was not enough room on this gate to record all of the names of the missing so the names of those who were known to have died after that date appear on the panels at Tyne Cot Cemetery, a further 35,000. This site was chosen because of the thousands of men who passed this spot on their way to the battlefields. It is most famous for the last post ceremony that takes place every evening at 20.00hrs performed by the Belgian Fire Service.

Cafe Restaurant 't Molenhof, Oostvleteren

Cafe Restaurant 't Molenhof, Oostvleteren.

Day 2 – Saturday 17 March 2018

10.00hr Leave from outside Novotel Ypres by coach for a day looking at the part of the front occupied by the German army in the Great War, and the American contribution to Allied victory in 1918.

10.15hr Arrive at an original, unrestored German Command Post at Zandvoorde in the Ypres Salient. This is a special treat for Siobhan who is very interested in First World War concrete on the Western Front and who has not visited this before! It has several rooms which can be entered, and we know that it was constructed in 1916 by men from the 3rd Company of Armierungsbatallion No. 27 as these Imperial German Army labourers, or pioneers as they were known, left an inscription in the concrete which is still there.

10.30hr Leave the German Command Post at Zandvoorde.

10.45hr Arrive at the German Military Cemetery in Menen, a town occupied by the German army for the whole of the war. We will visit the largest German Military cemetery in Western Europe which commemorates a staggering 47,911 men who died in the First World War. We will have a look at the eight-cornered building in the centre and hear from Siobhan why German cemeteries in Belgium look the way they do.

11.10hr Leave the German Military Cemetery in Menen.

11.55hr Pay a visit to the family Contreras Brewery in Gavere. The brewery started life as many in Belgium did, as a farm brewery in 1818. In 1898 the brewery was sold to René Contreras, who was of Spanish descent. Before the Second World War they brewed Contra Pils and Raf Export (named after the nearby Royal Air Force base) but the beer that made their local name was Tonneke, originally called Special. It was an amber top fermented beer in the style of ‘Spéciale Belge’, a beer popularised following the 1904 competition to improve Belgian beer against increasing imports. Contreras Special was initially sold in wooden barrels, filled without carbonate saturation. Customers who came to collect the beer didn’t ask a barrel of Special but asked for “another Tonneke”, which is Dutch for “small barrel”. This is how the name gradually changed. Since 2008 Tonneke is a protected regional product. The brewery also make the Valeir range of beers and here we will have a brewery tour* and a taste of their beer*.

13.30hr Leave Contreras Brewery, Gavere.

14.00hr Arrive at the United States In Flanders Fields American War Cemetery at Waregem, dating from 1918 and the only American cemetery for the Great War in Belgium. Here we can compare national differences in war remembering and memorialisation. Though the USA declared war on Germany in April 1917, they were not fully mobilised and ready to fight until late 1918, but their assistance was crucial. In particular the 91st and 37th Divisions were involved in the liberation of Flanders in October 1918. By the end of the war over 2 million USA soldiers were fighting for the Allies. Out of the 368 burials here only 21 soldiers are ‘unknown’ which is typical of the return to mobile warfare in 1918. Nine days after his famous transatlantic flight in 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew over this cemetery dropping poppies in honour of his fallen countrymen.

14.45hr Leave United States In Flanders Fields American War Cemetery at Waregem.

15.00hr Arrive at Gaverhopke Brewery in their new home at an ancient farmstead in Waregem. Bruno and Gudrun run the brewery and a café and keep small animals in this lovely location which has evidence of Stone-Age occupation. We will have a brewery tour* and have a taste of their beer*. We can also have a substantial snack of a local ‘Gaverbroodje’ oven-bottom (a big filled roll) and hopefully get to see the tiny pony, small pig and mini-goats.

16.30hr Leave Gaverhopke Brewery, Waregem.

16.45hr Arrive at the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Caribou Memorial on the Kortrijk ring road. This is an unusual war memorial, one of five bronze Newfoundland Caribou on the Western Front, the most famous being at Beaumont Hamel on the Somme where the Newfoundland Battalion were all but destroyed on the 1 July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. We can hear from Siobhan about the Newfoundlanders who fought in the Great War, especially here in 1918.

17.00hr Leave the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Caribou, Kortrijk.

17.10hr Arrive at café Staminee Boulevard in Kortrijk. This marvellous cafe is one of the best in Belgium (a Tim Webb quote). He's not wrong. Found at the back of the park where the Battle of the Golden Spurs took place in 1302, it has a stylish domestic interior, and is cosy and candlelit. The superb beer list extends to 120 of the better beers of Belgium including such luminaries as 3 Fonteinen, Vicaris, Boelens and De Graal. Oh! and there is a changing draught beer list too. For those who fancy joining Siobhan for a little exercise she will walk to the nearby field of the famous Battle of The Golden Spurs where the lowly Flemish beat the mounted French. The Belgians are very proud of this martial feat and this can be seen from the giant golden spur sticking into the ground which marks the spot of the battle and the excessively opulent, golden commemorative Groeninge Monument, a statue of the Virgin of Flanders triumphant over a fallen stone French knight and his horse.

18.30hr Leave Staminee Boulevard, Kortrijk.

19.00hr Arrive back at Novotel Ypres.

Contreras Brewery Beers

Contreras Brewery Beers.

Day 3 – Sunday 18 March 2018

10.00hr Leave from outside Novotel Ypres by coach for a day looking at the Royal Navy contribution to the First World War on the Belgian coast against German submarines.

11.00hr Arrive at the Zeebrugge Mole. Here Siobhan will tell us about the little known Zeebrugge Raid of 24 April 1918 and Ostend Raids of 1918. We will visit the infamous Mole (sea wall) and follow the story of the Zeebrugge Raid, the role of Mersey Steamers Iris & Daffodil, the exploding of Submarine C3 and the limited successes of the block ships. We will have a look at the usefully graphic Zeebrugge Memorial and follow the fate of missing officer Frank Brock who was last seen on the Mole fighting Germans with his fists.

11.30hr Leave Zeebrugge Mole.

11.35hr Arrive Zeebrugge Churchyard CWGC. Here are buried those British sailors and marines who in a collection of monitors, destroyers, motorboats, launches, old cruisers, old submarines and Mersey ferry-boats attacked the mole at Zeebrugge. This was an attempt to block the canal leading to the sea from Bruges which was German submarine headquarters. There are 30 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this little churchyard of whom 17 are unidentified. There are also a number of German Navy personnel who were stationed on the Mole at the time of the attack. Within the churchyard is the Zeebrugge Memorial to the missing which commemorates the three officers and one mechanic of the Royal Navy who died on the mole at Zeebrugge and have no known grave, one of which is Frank Brock. Siobhan will explain why this mission was undertaken and the effect it had in the course of the war.

11.55hr Leave Zeebrugge Churchyard CWGC.

12.00hr Call in at the oldest café in Zeebrugge, the Café Werftje. This old Fisherman’s café is right on the old seafront wharf and was beautifully remodelled in 2016 to make it into a comfortable, fishy café. They have a modest beer list but often feature Rodenbach speciality beers and are famed for matching beer with local seafood.

13.00hr Leave Café Werftje at Zeebrugge and make our way down the coast to Ostend.

13.30hr Arrive at the coastal town of Ostend where we visit the newly moved monument incorporating the actual prow of the blockship HMS Vindictive and hear its fate from the first daring raid at Zeebrugge to its role in the First and Second Ostend Raids.

14.00hr Leave HMS Vindictive, Ostend.

14.15hr Arrive at the new Trappist Café & Beer Restaurant Heerlijk at Raversijde near Ostend which opened in 2017 having moved from further down the coast. Here we will have a group meal and we’ll have a beer or two. The owners are very keen on Trappist beer and offer all the world’s Trappist beers on their menu as well as most Lambics and a great selection of other quality beers.

16.15hr Leave Heerlijk, Raversijde.

16.25hr Arrive at the brand new Jus de Mer Brewery (Juice of the Sea, or perhaps “essence of the sea” sounds better) in Middelkerke for a brewery tour* and a taste of their beer*. This new brewery was opened in 2017 by Alexander Verlinde and Bart Mortier and they spent two years in a garage perfecting their only current beer, Jus De Mer Blond, a fruity triple of 7.2%abv. The building has been completely renovated and includes a brewery. Interestingly, this building was formerly the Le Lion d’Or Brewery (The Golden Lion) run by the Logier brothers in the nineteenth century but which closed in the 1970s. The brothers ran two businesses which did well out of rising coastal tourism – a brickworks and a brewery. In the First World War the Logier’s continued to brew here until 1916 when the brewery was destroyed, and the family temporarily moved away.

17.30hr Leave Jus de Mer Brewery, Middelkerke.

18.00hr Arrive for a brilliant last stop of the day at the beautiful Cafe Molenhof in Oostvleteren, one of Belgium’s top beer cafes. Bjorn serves an impressive beer menu of over 120 choices and we can have a crack at their draught Struise Brouwerij beers from the brewery across the road. Do not leave here without trying a Black Albert, Black Damnation or, quite frankly, any De Struise Brewers beer. A sublime experience.

19.10hr Leave Café Molenhof, Oostvleteren.

19.30hr Arrive back at Novotel Ypres.

HMS Vindictive after the assault on Zeebrugge Mole (IWM Collections)

HMS Vindictive after the assault on Zeebrugge Mole (IWM Collections).

Day 4 – Monday 19 March 2018

10.00hr Leave from outside Novotel Ypres by coach for a day around the Mount Kemmel area south of Ypres, where the USA soldiers fought in 1918 and which is today the pride of the ‘hilly Flanders’ tourism. First stop is just south of Ypres to stretch our legs and have a look at the Nieuweleyehof Farm Bunker near the road, in a field with a donkey. This farm with its concrete fortifications was typical of the fate of farms in this area in the latter half of the war and was taken from the Allies by the German Army in their surge forward in April 1918 but was taken back by the Americans on 31 August 1918. This is still a farm and the structure is still built into it. Many of these structures have been destroyed since the war. Our next call is at Voormezele Enclosure No.3 CWGC. The village and this cemetery were captured by the Germans after very heavy fighting on 29 April 1918. Sir Edwin Lutyens designed this cemetery and Siobhan will tell us about this odd character and his importance to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and his influence in why these iconic places look like they do. Siobhan has also brought us here to show us the grave of Peter Pan who is buried here. We carry on up Kemmel Hill, in Allied hands for most of the war, and a crucial observation point over the flat Flanders lands. During the Battle of Mount Kemmel in April 1918 the French holding this area were hard pressed by the Germans and this important hill was lost to the enemy on 25 April 1918 and Ypres was almost captured. Kemmel hill is also home to the U.S. Army monument Kemmel which we will visit and Siobhan will tell us about the American army on the Western Front and their part in the Great War here in 1918. The monument, one of only three in Belgium, is in the form of a stone altar and commemorates the 27th and 30th American Divisions who fought in this sector in August and September 1918. We will call in at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery CWGC to have brief look at a group of eleven Sapper’s headstones here and one of a Danish Count serving in the Saskatchewan Regiment.

11.45hrish We pop into the little village of Kemmel and have a comfort/beer break at the Café De Lockedyze. We head up the Lettenburg Hill which is a spur of the much larger Mount Kemmel to visit the Lettenberg Bunkers. Towards the end of 1916 British engineers began to excavate underground into the side of this hill to provide unit headquarters in this area of vital observation over German lines. The extant concrete structures were built as Brigade HQ in spring 1917 by the 175th Tunneling Company. These concrete bunkers were only the initial access structures which led to larger underground spaces. These have recently been restored. They are made from reinforced concrete poured in over ‘elephant iron’ (corrugated sheeting) and three bunkers are open – the fourth is closed and is inhabited by protected bats. We proceed up Kemmel Hill to follow the 1918 battles which have been somewhat overshadowed by those of Third Ypres 1917 (Passchenedaele) but which were just as heavy in casualties. We visit the French Ossuary at the top of Kemmel Hill and the imposing 60ft high Memorial to French Soldiers, the so-called ‘Angel’ monument, looking sadly over the fields of Flanders. These two sites commemorate the French soldiers who died here in the Spring Offensives 1918. Though the huge female statue is known as the angel she in fact represents the winged Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike and was unveiled in 1932 by French Marshal Petain. This is a very different style to any found in Commonwealth memorials as the ‘British’ had a horror of ‘gothic angels’ in their designs. The memorial commemorates French soldiers who died here in April 1918. Mount Kemmel would in fact remain in German hands from April 1918 until the end of August when the American 27 Division and British 34 Divisions drove them back from the area.

13.00hr Leave Kemmel Hill monuments for the short drive to:

13.30hr Restaurant Hollemeersch in Dranouter. This is an attractive almost Germanic- style thatched Café-Restaurant found near the top of Mount Kemmel with magnificent views of the Franco-Flemish plain. Here we will have a group meal and a beer or two from their small, but perfectly formed beer list including the local Hommelbier, Sint Bernardus Triple and also La Chouffe and McChouffe on draught.

15.30hr Leave Restaurant Hollemeersch.

15.45hr Arrive at Café Den Hertog outside Poperinge. This is a fascinating First World War survivor and was an estaminet then known as De Hertog van Brabant (The Duke of Brabant). This café was within range of only the heaviest German artillery and was "the first stop after Hell" and situated on the wartime rail track built behind the front line in this area. From October 1916 to June 1917 it was Divisional HQ of the 47th (London) Division (Territorials). The authority of the military Town Major of Poperinge extended to here but no further and this café was closed and put out of bounds to soldiers under his order several times because it failed to observe the strict regulations for opening hours and beverage sales. British Army closing time imposed on estaminets was 20.30hrs, but establishments often served soldiers after this.

16.45hr Leave Café Den Hertog, Poperinge.

17.00hr Arrive at the famous In de Vrede café at Sint Sixtus Trappist Monastery in Westvleteren. The monks continued brewing here during the First World War, and thousands of British soldiers bought bottles of their beer from a canteen on the premises. The brewery had never been busier than during the four years of war and sales of bottled beer brought in a good income for the monks. It still does even though they deliberately restrict brewing to 5000 hectolitres per year, despite being voted the world’s best beer in 2014. Their wartime beer was stronger than most local beers at the time being 4-6 % abv. The monks were scandalised at Scottish regiments kilt-wearing and recorded their annoyance in their diaries of the destruction of their pasture by British soldiers persistently playing football on monastery land. Herbert Chase of the Lancashire Fusiliers was shot at dawn here for desertion in 1915. The bullet holes are still in the brick walls within the private parts of the Abbey and Herbert Chase is buried at nearby White House CWGC.

18.15hr Leave In de Vrede, Westvleteren.

18.30hr Arrive back at Novotel Ypres.

Jus de Mer Beer

Jus de Mer Beer.

Day 5 – Tuesday 20 March 2018

10.00hr Leave from outside Novotel Ypres by coach.

10.20hr We set out for a day in the north salient and start with a look at an often driven past memorial, the unusual and relatively recent stone put up by the side of the road and dedicated to just one soldier, Private Stephen Henshaw. Siobhan will tell us about the odd and touching story about how this stone got here. We make our way to have a look at one of the Albertina markers erected by the Belgians in 1984 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of King Albert I and the 70th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Each marker notes a significant event during the course of the war. They are all of the same diamond stone design each bearing the monogram of the king and the shield of the province of West Flanders. The one we are visiting is next to an infamous stream called the Steenbeck and marks the place of the ‘Final Offensive Steenbeek September 1918.’ We will also visit further down the stream the Harry Patch Memorial. Harry Patch died aged 111 in 2009 and was known as ‘the last British Tommy’. He unveiled this tiny stone memorial in 2008 in a private ceremony at the place where he remembered jumping over the Steenbeek stream in 1917 with his mates in his Lewis Gun team. A single shell killed three of the team and Harry was badly wounded. Harry was a conscript and did not speak about the war until he reached the age of 100. Harry’s story and the public reaction to it tells us a great deal about the memorialisation of the first world war experience in Britain and its historiography – Siobhan will tell us more at this site, at the heart of the Passchendaele Offensive. We proceed to the Pilckem Ridge, an area which gave its name to a part of the Battle of Third Ypres, and which has recently seen the Welsh Dragon memorial added to this much fought over area. We’ll have a brief look at the largest existing German bunker called the Ziegler Bunker, also known as ‘The Viking Ship’. It is unusual in that it was built as a light signalling station in the chain of defences built by the Germans in the winter 1915-16 in a huge arc across the Ypres salient. The Allies captured this structure in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge in July 1917 and it was ‘turned’ by 554 (Dundee) Royal Engineer Company and Siobhan will tell us why this was necessary and how it was done.

13.30hr Arrive at Café Steenstraete for lunch and a beer or two. The two famous Belgian brother soldiers the Van Raemdonck’s were killed near this café on the night of 25-26 March 1917 and Siobhan will tell us about how they became the emblematic heroes of the ‘Flemish Movement’ which fought for rights for Flemish speakers in the Belgian army and in the wider country which the First World War precipitated.

15.30hr Leave Café Steenstraete.

15.45hr Arrive at the Belgian Military Cemetery in Houthulst Forest. This once huge forest fell to the German Army on 21 October 1914 and remained in their hands until almost exactly four years later. The Germans turned this forest into a fortress from which they poured machine gun fire into the Belgian lines. In the final liberation offensive the Belgians were given this sector to push the Germans back. Their advance from behind the River IJzer began at dawn on 28 September 1918. The forest was captured by the Allies but 3500 Belgian soldiers died in the two day battle and the majority of these are buried here in this unusual cemetery laid out in the form of a star. Siobhan will tell us about why these gravestones were controversial, who now looks after Belgian cemeteries and will show us the graves of 81 Italian prisoners of war used by the Germans as forced labour.

16.30hr Leave the Belgian Military Cemetery at Houthulst. We drive through the area which was fought over in the Battle of Merkem on 17 April 1918 where the Belgian army managed to push the German army back for the first time since 1914. We’ll have a quick look at the beautiful statue of brewers’ son Armand Van Eecke – who would, had he survived the war, have run the Van Eecke Brewery (makers of Hommelbier and the Het Kappitel range). The statue was put here by Armand’s parents following his death at the age of 22 during the fighting here on 9 September 1918.

17.00hr Arrive at the Mout- & Brouwhuis De Snoek in Alveringem for a drink or two at the café attached to the Museum of Thirst in the Great War, housed in a Pre-First World War brewery. This brewery was very busy in the war brewing ‘bad beer’ for Belgian soldiers in this sector. Siobhan will tell us how the British Army Medical authorities would not tolerate bad local beer made from ‘dirty canal water’ and will tell us what the Belgian soldiers did in response to the ‘canal water beer’ made here. The quality of beer is a good deal better today and Francine runs a superb little place offering a huge selection of excellent beers. Enjoy.

18.00hr Leave Cafe de Snoek at Alveringem.

18.30hr Arrive back at Novotel Ypres. Plugstreet Memorial to the Missing

Plugstreet Memorial to the Missing.

Day 6 – Wednesday 21 March 2018

10.00hr Leave from outside Novotel Ypres by coach and check out of hotel. We drive straight down the south salient and begin with a look at the Lankhof Batteries built by British Royal Engineers in 1917 but after the German army had occupied them in the Spring Offensives, on 1 September 1918 men from 30th American Division attacked the Germans and took these important gun batteries back into Allied hands at dusk. We drive along the front line following it south of Ypres past Plugstreet Wood and St Eloi (where tin hats were used for the first time in 1916) and down to Vanuxeem Beer warehouse.

10.30hr Arrive at the excellent Vanuxeem Beer Warehouse in Ploegsteert for an opportunity to buy beers to take home.

11.15hr Leave Vanuxeem Beer Warehouse.

11.30hr Arrive at Ploegsteert Wood, known as Plugstreet to Tommies. First, we will visit the new Plugstreet 14-18 Experience* for a look at an exhibition on this interesting and famous area of the south salient. It has one of the best digital maps showing the progress of the war to be seen anywhere. Look out for the camouflage tree built by the British to fool the Germans.

12.30hr Arrive at Café L’Auberge at Ploegsteert for a comfort break and a beer or two in preparation for our walking tour round the beautiful monument opposite being the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing on what was known as ‘Hyde Park Corner’. The rotunda memorial stands within the Berkshire Cemetery Extension CWGC. Siobhan will take us on a mini-tour of this area and we’ll have a look at why this memorial, which was originally to stand in Lille ended up here, and we’ll look at a number of interesting names on the memorial to the missing, including some winners of the Victoria Cross and the graves of some British soldiers who were ‘shot at dawn’ which is a particular focus of Siobhan’s research being studying British Military Courts Martials. Another of Siobhan’s interests is Egyptology and she will tell us about her research on the two huge lion statues guarding this imposing memorial and how they might be linked to Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III and the British Museum.

15.30hr Leave Hyde Park Corner/Café L’Auberge, Ploegsteert.

16.00hr Our last stop of the Tour is at a typical Flemish café Au Nouveau Saint Eloi just south of Watou. The café is on a small road down the middle of which runs the Belgian-French border, with this café being situated, of course, in Belgium! Here we have our pre-arranged meal and a beer or two chosen from their excellent menu of over 110 choices.

18.00hr Leave for Calais.

18.50hr Arrive Eurotunnel.

19.50hr Leave Calais on Eurotunnel Train.

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone.

19.40hr Coach drop off at Folkestone Central Railway Station, Station Approach, Folkestone CT19 5HB.

22.30hr Coach drop Tesco, Copdock Mill Interchange, London Rd, Ipswich IP8 3TS.

23.00hr Coach drop off Galloways Depot, Mendlesham.

Tour Price: £885 per person based on sharing in a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £225

If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Podge as we are regularly able to pair up travellers in twin rooms to avoid the need for payments of Single Supplements.

Included in the cost of this Tour are:

Hotel accommodation and breakfasts;

Hotel city taxes;

Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet;

All brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings;

Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites;

All items marked with an asterisk above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;

Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guides and Maps for the town where we stay or spend some time;

Still and sparkling water on the coach;

Pick up from Ipswich (at bus shelter outside Crown House, Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opposite NCP Car Park), Colchester (Southway Chapel St South Layby) or Chelmsford (The Woolpack, Mildmay Road). Arrangements can be made for different joining points on the way to Folkestone or even on the other side of the channel.

Travellers are responsible for the costs of all food and drink apart from items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary plus all passport and insurance costs.

All itinerary times are local and approximate.

Personal insurance is not included in the Tour price but is strongly advised, as is carrying the European Health Insurance Card available online, by phone or via the Post Office.

If you have any questions or would like to be added to the interested list please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.