A 2019 BGES World War I Commemorative Field University Program
September 12-24, 2019
During the twentieth century, the United States was twice drawn into wars that threatened the very existence of civilization. While most of us are versed in WW II, “The Great War 1914–1918”–also known as the “War to End All Wars”–destroyed the landscape of Europe and Western Asia and claimed more than 16 million lives. How did it happen and who was affected?
The Blue and Gray Education Society has teamed with the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to present a comprehensive and enlightening symposium and tour across the Western Front. Scheduled after the summer crowds and prices have abated, descend on London and Sandhurst for a symposium on the Great War conducted by the members of the War Studies Department before departing on your escorted motorcoach tour to Belgium and France.
There have been a number of excellent tours of World War I, but, this will be exceptional and memorable in its details, content, and access. Arrival will be in London, with return flights from Paris. Pick your pleasure; land-and-air or land-only packages available.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Travel, Recovery and Welcome
Morning arrival in London and check-in to hotel. Use the day to rest and acclimate or to do whatever you wish, perhaps take in a play, until evening. Gather at 5 pm in the lobby of the headquarters hotel to travel together to the historic Royal Air Force Club for a welcoming dinner hosted by Executive Director and RAF Club member, Len Riedel, followed by a program, “Overview of the Great War,” by historians from RMA Sandhurst. Afterward, walk the halls of the club and admire the great artwork and the hundreds of historic squadron heraldry badges. Cross Piccadilly and view the grand Bomber Command Memorial. The hotel and reception/dinner are included.
Friday, September 13, 2019
Following a hearty traditional English breakfast, check out of your hotel and be ready to leave with your luggage by 9 AM. Today, a bus will take us over to the very impressive Imperial War Museum to peruse their exhibits on World War I. Recently renewed for the centenary of the War, this promises to be a treat! Shortly after lunch (which is on your own), the bus will return with our luggage to pick us up and take us to RMA Sandhurst, where we will stay for the next two nights. Upon our arrival, we will be greeted by Dr. Duncan Anderson, Head of the Department of War Studies, who will give us an in-depth tour of this historic post where Churchill and others studied. Afterward, we will check in to our quarters at Slim Mess and meet for drinks at 6 p.m., prior to a buffet dinner. Retire to our rooms for the evening to shake off any remaining jet lag. Lodging, breakfast, and dinner is included.
Saturday, September 14, 2019
World War I Symposium at RMA Sandhurst
This morning we will meet at the Mess for breakfast and then assemble at 10:00 AM to attend today’s World War I symposium. Organized and conducted by the Department of War Studies, presentations will include operations and engagements of the Great War as experienced and seen through the lenses of England, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. RMA Sandhurst’s staff of historians is handpicked and international in composition. Meet at 6 PM for drinks before dinner. Lodging, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included.
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Travel to the Continent
We enjoy breakfast this morning in the Officers Mess! Be packed and ready to go by 8 AM, as the bus will pick us up to take us to Dover, where we will board a ferry to Calais. From Calais, a bus will take us to our first destination–Dunkirk. Opportunity demands that we delve into one of WW II’s most dramatic events, the evacuation of Dunkirk. Your onboard historians, Dr. Stuart Mitchell and Dr. Jonathan Krause, will take us to see the “Mole,” a significant landmark in the 1940 crisis. Free time later in the afternoon may afford you a visit to Fort Des Dunes or the Museum Dunkirk 1940. Overnight in Dunkirk, and have dinner on your own. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided.
Monday, September 16, 2019
After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and travel to Ypres, Belgium. During the morning we will discuss and see Langemarck and Zonnebeke, and, most significantly, the First and Second Battles of Ypres in 1914 and 1915, respectively. Following lunch, which is provided, we will visit Tyne Cot Cemetery, Polygon Wood, and conclude with Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres, 1917).
We will overnight in Ypres. Dinner is on your own–and for dessert, don’t forget to check out the delicious chocolate shops in Ypres!
7:00 PM. We have an optional evening event. Meet at the Menin Gate Memorial near the downtown center of Ypres to attend the “Last Post.” This ceremony, a very solemn, dignified, and extremely moving program conducted by the Last Post Association, honors those who fell for defense and freedom during WWI. Breakfast, lunch, and hotel are provided.
Tuesday September 17, 2019
Be packed and ready to check out after breakfast. Today will find us visiting the Notre-Dame-de Lorette International Memorial, covering the Second Battle of Artois in 1915. We will also visit Vimy Ridge, covering the Battle of Arras in 1917. We overnight in Arras. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, and dinner is on your own.
Wednesday September 18, 2019
Leave your bags in your room, since we are coming back tonight. This morning our bus will pick us up and take us to the Battle of the Somme (1916): Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval Memorial and Museum, Lochnagar Crater, Delville Wood, and then on to Belvédère de Frise. We will return to our hotel in Arras. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, and dinner is on your own.
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Breaking the Hindenburg Line
Check out of the hotel after breakfast. This morning we will cover the Battle of Cambrai at Flesquières Ridge and visit with Deborah, a Mark IV tank (Official designation D51) that was used in an Allied November 1917 surprise charge that broke through the German’s “impenetrable” Hindenburg Line. Buried for years, Deborah has been recovered and stabilized and is now on exhibit. After lunch we will travel to Bellicourt or Riqueval Bridge and the American Cemetery at Bony (covering the 100 days offensive in 1918 and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line). We will spend the next four nights in Reims. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, with dinner on your own.
Friday September 20, 2019
After breakfast, we have a busy day as we board the bus for the Meuse–Argonne: Vauquois, Montfaucon d’Argonne, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, and the Meuse–Argonne American Cemetery. We will visit the site of the “Lost Battalion” and discuss the fate of the 77th Division under the command of Maj. Charles Whittlesey. (Meuse–Argonne Offensive, Part of Hundred Days). Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, and dinner is on your own.
Saturday, September 21, 2019
In planning this program, the logistics suggested we skip Verdun as out of the way, but how can you not visit Verdun? So we added two days to accommodate this most dramatic portrayal of the Great War. Today we visit the Verdun Memorial Museum and Ossuary and Fort Douaumont (Battle of Verdun, 1916). Return to Reims. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, and dinner is on your own.
Sunday, September 22, 2019
American Marines made a substantial and bloody contribution to the success of the Allies in the war. No place is more sacred to the Corps than Belleau Wood. From here we will be perfectly positioned to discuss the U.S. involvement at the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918. We will overnight in Reims. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided, with dinner on your own.
Monday, September 23, 2019
We check out of the hotel after breakfast and travel to Compiègne, where we will overnight. We start our last day at the site of the surrender of Germany to the Allies. We visit the reproduction rail car where the surrender was signed and view the museum. This will be a good place to begin the discussion of the fate of Germany and the Treaty of Versailles. Let’s discuss why the treaty led to WWII, and why there are continuing issues in the world today as a result. Finally, with its far-reaching impact on today’s world, why has WWI become “The Forgotten War”? This evening we will assemble for a farewell dinner. Overnight in Compiègne. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
You are now on your own, free to extend your stay in Europe. For those going home, the bus will make one trip to Charles de Gaulle Airport after breakfast and checkout for return flights to the U.S. from Paris. Safe travels! Breakfast is included.
About the Tour Leaders
Dr. Stuart Mitchell is Senior Lecturer in War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he specializes in operational performance, learning, and leadership in the British Army. He has over five years’ experience leading both military and civilian groups around First and Second World War sites and has played a major role in the British Army’s commemoration of the First World War centenary. He is an editor of the British Journal of Military History and a member of the British Commission for Military History. Stuart has published on a variety of topics including the battle of the Somme, the campaign in German East Africa, and learning in the British military since the Napoleonic Wars.
Dr. Jonathan Krause received his B.A. in History from the University of California, Riverside, before going on to do an M.A. and Ph.D in the War Studies Department at King’s College, London. He has taught at a range of both higher education and professional military education institutions, including the University of Oxford and the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham. Jonathan’s current research focuses on the anticolonial rebellions in Africa and Southeast Asia during the First World War, funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council. He is a research fellow at the University of Oxford and teaching fellow in the History of Modern Warfare at King’s College London.
Hotels will be announced and provided to each registrant. We will stay at Tourist Standard or higher quality hotels throughout the program. We will spend two nights in London, two at Sandhurst, one in Dunkirk, one in Ypres, two in Arras, four in Reims, and one in Compiègne.
You should plan to arrive in London either through London Heathrow (west of downtown) or London Gatwick (south of downtown). Both airports are serviced by special trains that go into central London. Train tickets can be acquired after you depart customs. If you prefer, you can fly into Washington Dulles and fly with Gloria and/or me to London Heathrow on a day flight (the morning of September 11, arriving around 10 PM–hotel included) or an overnight leaving the evening of the 11th and arriving the morning of the 12th (your hotel will already have been paid for, so you can go to your room when you arrive). The advantage of traveling with Gloria or Len is that you will be accompanied and coached through customs and will be escorted to our hotel. If flying on your own, you may also opt for a limo to pick you up at baggage claim and carry you directly to our hotel. It would cost about 60 British pounds ($80), but someone will have a sign with your name on it when you arrive and they will help with luggage. The rate is for the vehicle, so if traveling with someone may actually be cheaper than the train and subsequent taxi to the hotel.
Upon departure, you may leave from Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris (be careful not to book Paris Orly–our bus is not going there and you would need to make your own way there) or take the Chunnel and high speed train (Eurostar) back to London (which takes about two hours at your own expense).
If you travel on your own, you are responsible for meeting the group at the headquarters hotel in London at 5 PM on September 12. Should your flight be delayed, you are responsible for contacting the program coordinator, who will seek alternative arrangements to help you join the tour before we leave England. You can help us by providing us with your travel plans in advance. We strongly recommend you acquire travel insurance to cover unexpected emergencies.
You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. Amazon.com has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.
George B. Clark: Devil Dogs: Fighting Marines of World War I
George B. Clark: The Second Infantry Division in World War I: A History of the American Expeditionary Force Regulars, 1917–1919
John S.D. Eisenhower: Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I
Stephen L. Harris: The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War
Donald Smythe: Pershing: General of the Armies
Barbara Tuchman: The Guns of August
Because of the complexities of the options, and detailed information you will require, online registration for this program is not available. To register by mail, phone or fax, download this printable registration form: “Over There,” An Educational Journey through The Great War Itinerary