An award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster, Jeremy Paxman became the anchorman of the BBC's nightly news analysis programme Newsnight in 1989, a post he held for 25 years. He has also been the inimitable host of University Challenge since 1994. Jeremy is the author of numerous documentaries and television series - including on the history and legacy of the British Empire. He has also written ten books including The English - A Portrait of a People; The Victorians and Empire - What Ruling the World Did to the British.
Visit the battlefields of the First World War with Jeremy Paxman
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Described, inaccurately as it would turn out, as the war to end wars, the First World War was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, seeing more than nine million soldiers and several more million civilians die. The brutality of the fighting was depicted recently in Sam Mendes' Oscar-nominated, and multiple BAFTA award-winning film 1917.
On this comprehensive four-day trip, you will visit over 20 places of interest or museums, including the battlefields where so many lost their lives, such as the Somme and Ypres. During this fascinating tour, you will be joined by the inimitable Jeremy Paxman, who will deliver a private talk and Q&A session. Jeremy will impart the insight that he gained while writing his book Great Britain's Great War, which was subsequently made into a documentary for the BBC.
You will also be lead throughout by Ian Gumm, a full-time professional battlefield historian and an accredited member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.
"We think we know what happened in the First World War but I'll attempt to explain what it was really like for everyone in Britain - and not just the young men fighting and dying in the trenches. It changed absolutely everything."
- Jeremy Paxman
Telegraph Subscriber Exclusive Offer
Subscribers of The Telegraph will receive a discount of £100 per couple* and a free book**. To redeem your subscriber discount, please visit telegraph.co.uk/rewards.
Reasons to book
Private events with Jeremy Paxman
Visit the First World War battlefields
Expert guide Ian Gumm
Your expert guides
Ian is an accredited member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides, a member of the Western Front Association and Last Post Association. He is also the founder of In The Footsteps, who have been running award-winning battlefield tours for over 15 years. Ian also served in the British Armed Forces with the Army Reserve for over 30 years and had the privilege of commanding B (Rorke's Drift) Company of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) as well as being the Training Major for Wales University Officer Training Corps. Ian now holds the post of Deputy Colonel Cadet in Wales.
- Coach transport from London (with optional pick up points available in South East England: Maidstone and Dover)
- Three-nights' accommodation at the three-star Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields Hotel (Superior room upgrade available)
- Meals on a half-board basis, with buffet breakfasts and lunches at The Old Blighty Tearooms and Flanders Fields Museum
- Private talk and Q&A session with Jeremy Paxman
- Three-course meal at Brasserie Kazematten with Jeremy Paxman
- Tour manager throughout the tour and expert battlefield guide, Ian Gumm
- Return ferry crossing
- Over 20 visits to museums and places of interest
- Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate
- All museum entrance fees
- **Telegraph subscribers receive one free Jeremy Paxman book per booking
Day1Arrive in YpresYpres Old Town, Belgium
Coach pick-up times: 8am Marble Arch, 10am Maidstone Services, 11.30am Dover Priory Station.
After your ferry trip to France, you will be transferred to Ypres to check into your hotel. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy an introductory talk with Ian Gumm in Ypres' town square before a welcome dinner in the evening where Jeremy Paxman will give private talk and Q&A.
Day2The Ypres Salient and Last Post ceremony at Menin GateYpres Old Town, Belgium
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will board the coach to tour the battlefield of the Second Battle of Ypres, 1915. The battle saw the first major use of gas and you will visit the Essex Farm Cemetery and Advanced Dressing Station.
Essex Farm Cemetery contains some notable graves including a Victoria Cross winner and one of the youngest soldiers to be killed in the war. The nearby Advanced Dressing Station is famous due to John McCrae and the poem In Flanders Fields which was written there. Jeremy Paxman will join you there and read a poem.
You will also see Yorkshire Trench and its dugout, which served as the headquarters for the 13th and 16th Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers for about a year between summer 1916 to summer 1917. You will also stop at Pilckem Ridge which saw the opening attack by the British Fifth Army, Second Army and French First Army on the German Fourth Army in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.
Near St Juliann, you'll visit the Canadian Brooding Soldier Memorial, which commemorates the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, who operated in the area. After lunch at In Flanders Fields Museum, where Jeremy Paxman will leave the group, you'll visit the battlefields of the Third Battle of Ypres, including Hooghe, The Menin Road and Passchendaele before you attend the world-famous Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate, which is sure to be a memorable and poignant moment.
Battlefields and memorials visited:
- Essex Farm CWGC Cemetery and Dressing Station
- Yorkshire Trench
- Pilkem Ridge
- St Juliaan Memorial
- Hooghe Crater
- The Menin Road
- Polygon Wood
- Broodesinde Ridge
- Tyne Cot Cemetery & Memorial
- Menin Gate
Day3The SommeAuthuille, France
Today you'll tour the site of the first day of the Somme. Newfoundland Memorial Park Beaumont Hamel is named after the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which had provided a battalion of 800 men to serve with the British and Commonwealth Armies, to commemorate the tragic part it played in the action of July 1, 1916, when 100,000 men went over the top to begin the Battle of the Somme. The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the UK and South African forces who died in the Somme sector and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.
Following lunch at The Old Blighty Tearooms, full of fascinating memorabilia, you'll visit the Lochnagar crater, created by an underground explosive charge secretly planted beneath the German lines ready for the first day of The Somme. Then it's on to the German Military Cemetery at Fricourt, the final resting place for over 17,000 German soldiers. At Mametz Wood, you'll see where, on July 17, 1916, the 38th (Welsh) Division attacked the Prussian Guard units holding the wood in an effort to drive them out. The ensuing battle lasted a week but eventually the enemy were ejected and the largest of the Somme woods was in British hands.
Enjoy free time this evening to explore the lovely town of Ypres.
Battlefields and memorials visited:
- Newfoundland Park, Beaumonth Hamel
- Lochnagar Crater
Poperinghe is the place behind the lines where the men on the front line could retreat to for rest and recreation. There you will also see the death cells and execution post, where 300 or so men met their end at the hands of a firing squad. Then it's on to Talbot House to visit the museum and to have a buffet lunch. You'll see the Upper Room chapel, which offered a haven for soldiers from the trenches.
Return the the UK by ferry this afternoon. Coach drop off times: 5.15pm Dover Priory Station, 6.15pm Maidstone Services, 8.15pm Marble Arch.
Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields Hotel
Perfectly situated in Ypres Old Town
Situated in Ypres old town, within only a few minutes' walk to Menin Gate, Brasserie Kazematten and In Flanders Fields Museum, Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore, close to the city's museums and the few buildings that pre-date the First World War. The contemporary rooms are spacious and have satellite/cable TV plus coffee and tea-making facilities. The hotel has Wi-Fi throughout.
Standard room - A spacious room with large
double bed, en suite bath or shower, sofa bed, work area, TV and
Internet access, broadband connection, hair dryer and tea or coffee
facilities. Up to 2 adults. Free toiletries. 25m²
Telegraph subscribers: £949pp | Non-Telegraph subscribers: £999pp
Superior room - A modern spacious room with
king-size bed, en-suite walk-in shower, seating area, stereo, 55"
LCD TV and Internet access, broadband connection, hair dryer,
minibar, kettle and modern coffee machine. Up to 2 adults. Extra
toilet amenities. 42m²
Telegraph subscribers: £1,099pp | Non-Telegraph subscribers: £1,149pp