Great War Battlefields with Max Hastings

“I died in hell – (they called it Passchendaele)” The Memorial Tablet, Siegfried Sassoon

Max Hastings returns to join the Telegraph’s second tour of the Western Front, as we chart the course of the war through 1917, and the infamous Battle of Passchendaele. Fought between July and November 1917 on the outskirts of Ypres, Passchendaele was notoriously a campaign conducted in a sea of mud, with casualties eventually rising to between 400,000 and 800,000 men.

In addition to Max Hastings, the tours will be joined by noted historians Professor Gary Sheffield and Dr Spencer Jones, who will expound on both the grand plans of generals, and the harsh realities of life on the Western Front. Over four days our journey will take us to the memorials of allied and German soldiers, as well as the key sites of the 1917 battle. Our tour is based throughout in Ypres, now a charming Flemish town, but once the scene of intense fighting and near devastation through the course of the Great War. Our journey culminates in a visit, accompanied by Max Hastings, to Tyne Cot, the largest cemetery on the Western Front and epicentre of the Passchendaele battle.

Previous Telegraph travellers should note that there will be no overlap with our 2016 The Somme Tour so the tour would make a very good follow-up trip for 2017.


About Our Experts

Max Hastings began his career in journalism as a war correspondent and reported from 11 conflicts – he was the first journalist to enter Port Stanley during the Falklands War in 1982. He was 39 when he was invited to edit The Daily Telegraph, and was the newspaper’s editor, then editor-in-chief from 1986 until 1995. He is a prolific and well-respected author, specialising in military history. His book Catastrophe: Europe goes to War 1914 was published in 2013 to wide critical acclaim with one reviewer describing it as “a magisterial and humane history of the First World War”. In 2016, Max led a very success Telegraph tour of the Somme battlefields and we are delighted he will be returning in 2017.

Joining Max are award-winning historian and author Dr. Spencer Jones, who is also Senior Lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and serves as the Regimental Historian for the Royal Regiment of Artillery; and Prof. Gary Sheffield, one of the leading authorities on the First World War who has been at the forefront of the debate about the legacy of the Great War.




This tour explores, in depth, the cause and effect of the events of 1917. The visits to memorials and battlefields sites are put into context by historian guides who are leading authorities on the Great War. We hear the Last Post at the Menin Gate; stand in the now peaceful woods at Ploegsteert, and visit the extraordinary Talbot House - where thousands soldiers came for ‘R and R’ through the conflict. At all of these places we experience both the immediacy of standing where the war was fought, and - via the expertise of our historians - the ‘long view’ of how and why history came to be made here.


Led by Max Hastings, we visit Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing - the largest allied war cemetery. Beneath the clean white headstones, almost 12,000 soldiers lie buried, some of which 8000 remain unnamed. During 1917, the cemetery site was the scene of intense fighting and in addition to the graves, the memorial to the missing contains the names of a further 30,000 men missing at Passchendaele.


We have the privilege of being guided through the sites of this by leading broadcaster, journalist and author Sir Max Hastings. He will be joined by experts on the First World War Professor Gary Sheffield, who Max himself has described as “one of Britain’s foremost historians of the First World War – insightful, original, and superbly informed”; and Dr Spencer Jones, an award-winning historian and a leading authority on the tactics of British Army in the First World War.


We stay in the excellent 4* Hotel Ariane, perfectly located in a leafy suburb of Ypres, ten minute walk walk from the Cloth Hall and In Flanders Field museum. Our group will be small, 25 guests at most – small numbers give our tours a convivial and personal feel. You will be accompanied by a professional tour manager, in addition to our expert historians – who offer their own eye-opening take on the past with verve, expertise and enthusiasm.

What's Included

  1. Expert guides
  2. Hotels - Three nights at 4* Hotel Ariane in Arras
  3. Travel - Air-conditioned coach travel London to Dover; return Club Class ferry crossing to Calais
  4. Guest historian - Sir Max Hastings
  5. All museum entry fees and tips
  6. All meals with wine at dinner
  7. Dedicated tour manager

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