Tunnellers on the Western Front - The Underground War

About the tour: Tunnellers on the Western Front - The Underground War

  • Campaign: The Great War (WW1)
  • Campaign Dates Covered: Apr 1915 - Jun 1917

This tour will cover the following key events

  • Second Battle of Ypres - 22 April 1915
    The second battle of Ypres involved four battles which were faught in the northern part of the Ypres Salient. The first battle saw the Germans launch an attack on the French on the Allied Front with poisonous gas, this battle was the first time that this weapon was used.
  • Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge - 16 June 1915
    Often a forgotten battle of WW1, The Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge saw over 4000 men killed or wounded in a 12 hour period. The attack was launched by the Allies who wanted to take the Germans spot at Bellewaarde Ridge, as it gave a great view over Ypres.
  • Battle of the Somme - 1 July 1916
    One of the bloodiest battles of WW1, the Battle of the Somme saw the Britsh and French armies fight the Germans for five long months, with the aim to weaken the Germans and relieve the French Army who were fighting in Verdun.
  • Battle of Messines - 7 June 1917
    Arguably one of the most successful operations of WW1 on the Western Front, the Battle of Messines saw nineteen mines being detonated underneath the German mines, in a bid to secure Messines Ridge.

Tour Introduction

The Underground War took place beneath the Western Front in Belgium and France during World War 1. It saw tunnellers fighting deep beneath the surface and on this tour we follow their story. We begin in Flanders, where we see where the British Army began tunnelling in 1915, we see evidence of craters, such as the mighty Caterpillar Crater. We also visit Messines Ridge, where we see the scene of the ‘big bang’, where 19 mines were blown at once. Travelling to the Somme, we enjoy a specially arranged visit to the medieval cave, used in WW1 and rarely opened to the public. To end the tour, we also see the largest British mine crater on the Western Front at La Boisselle.

Tour Includes

  • 3 nights hotel with continental breakfast
  • Specialist Battlefield Guide
  • Convenient local joining points
  • Travel by executive coach or upgrade to Silver Service
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Once you have booked your battlefield tour either online, or by telephone (), you have the flexibility of how you pay off the remainder of your balance. You can -

  1. Use our balance payment facility online to make and track your card payments. You can pay as much as you want up until your final due date or pay it all, the choice is yours.
  2. Send payments via online banking.
  3. Send payments via cheque.
  4. Call us and make a card payment, either a small amount or as lump sum until your final due date.

Our contact and online banking payment details will be on your confirmation invoice to remind you of your choices.

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1

We make our way to the port of departure and coach interchange where you will join your tour coach for the crossing to the continent. Upon arrival in France we head to Belgium and our hotel for a three-night stay.

Day 2 - Flanders

We begin our tour in Flanders where tunnelling began for the British Army in 1915. At Hill 60, one of the most mined sites near Ypres, we see evidence of the craters and learn the story of the Tunnellers, also visiting the mighty Caterpillar Crater. We then travel via the site of Vampire Farm- a massive British dugout built by the Tunnellers. Continuing on to Zonnebeke visiting the Passchendaele War Museum and their dugout experience. After lunch at Hooge, we look at the story of 177 Tunnelling Company and see the unique RE Grave. We then travel down the Messines Ridge, the scene of the ‘big bang’ in June 1917, when 19 mines were blown simultaneously, and see the Spanbroekmolen and Peckham craters. Later at Kemmel we look at the fate of trapped miners and then on the Ploegsteert Memorials to see the only Tunneller VC: Sapper William Hackett. We end the day in Ypres for the moving Last Post Ceremony.

Included meals: Breakfast


Ypres, Last Post menin gate (7)

Key Visits

  • Ypres, Last Post menin gate
  • Kemmel-Hill
  • Trenches, Zonnebeke
  • Messines Ridge, Ypres
  • Hill 60
  • Last Post Ceremony
  • Caterpillar Crater
  • V1 at Peenemunde
  • Spanbroekmolen Crater

Day 3 - Somme

We travel to the Somme for our specially arranged visit to the medieval caves located under the village church at Bouzincourt, which are rarely opened to the public. Approximately 40 feet underground the caves were extended during WWI by British tunnellers and used for troop accommodation. You will see names, poems, regimental cap badges, other drawings and carvings made into the chalk walls by the soldiers. Access to the cave system is made through a 3 feet high hole in one of the interior walls of the church, the floor in the cave system is chalk and, if damp, can be slippery. You are able to stand upright, but there are places where the cave roof gets lower and you will have to crouch (the tunnels have no lighting so it is essential that you bring a torch). Following our cave visit we see the largest British mine crater on the Western Front at La Boisselle. We enjoy lunch at Thiepval and visit the Memorial to the Missing and the visitor centre. In the afternoon we visit tunnellers' graves at Becourt, look at the story of the Livens Flame Projector, and visit the scene of the Hawthorn Mine at Beaumont-Hamel; filmed and photographed, the explosion here has become an iconic image of the Great War.

Included meals: Breakfast

Thiepval Memorial


Key Visits

  • Beaumont Hamel
  • Thiepval
  • Caves at Bouzencourt
  • Becourt
  • Hawthorn Mine

Day 4

We leave the hotel after breakfast and travel to the channel port. You will leave your tour coach behind as you join your transfer vehicle for your return journey to your original departure point

Included meals: Breakfast

1 x museum package available whilst on tour approx. cost €35. Package includes entrance to the Passchendaele Museum and Hooge Crater Museum with a sandwich lunch (including drink) at Hooge Crater Café on day 2, entrance to Thiepval Visitor Centre and a baguette lunch (plus drink) to be eaten at a location on the battlefield on day 4. It also includes a 15 page tour booklet. Please note this is offered as a complete package only and must be paid in Euros (cash).

Please note a degree of mobility is required to enter the caves.

Specialist Battlefield Guides

All of Leger’s battlefield tours are accompanied by specialist guides. Their individual in-depth knowledge of warfare will be informative, as well as enhance your overall experience, as they recreate a fascinating perception of the history and factual events of each battle. Discover the actual catalysts for war, the strategies employed and the final, inevitable outcomes, as well as experiencing the emotional human side of the front line.

Please note: On certain tours, you may get tour guides other that the ones listed below.

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You will stay for three nights at the 4-star Hotel Alize in Mouscron. The hotel does not have a restaurant, but snacks are available from the bar and there is a good selection of restaurants and bars nearby in the town’s main square. 

Travel Options

All our coaches and transfer vehicles operate a 'no smoking on board policy'. The use of electronic cigarettes is strictly forbidden.
In the interest of fellow guests, do not take hot food or ice cream on board.
alcohol can only be taken on board our vehicles at the discretion of your driver.

When it comes to getting to the Battlefields, Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you choose from.

Travel Extras

With an overnight stay or the option to meet us at the interchange, our travel extras allow you to create a travel experience to suit your needs...

Join coach at Interchange

Join your tour coach at the interchange.

On most tours if you’d prefer to join your tour coach at Stop 24 services, you can park your car in the car park which is accredited by the Park Mark safer parking scheme and is monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV. Payment for the parking is made on arrival using the self-service machines.

Excludes tours to Ireland and the U.K. and tours travelling via Brittany Ferries.

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