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Bristol remembers its own 100 years since baptism of fire on Somme

Bristol remembers its own 100 years since baptism of fire on Somme

It’s 100 years since West Country troops went ‘Over the Top’ during the Battle of the Somme – and leading historians Jeremy Banning and Clive Burlton are running a special commemorative tour of the region to mark their sacrifice.

They will act as expert guides for the tour, which will give relatives and descendants the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers as they faced their baptism of fire during the Somme and Passchendaele offensives.

The special four day tour leaves on October 7 and will visit key sites where regulars, territorials and volunteers from the Gloucestershire Regiment and other Bristol and West Country units fought and died.

Jeremy Banning is Historical Consultant for the BBC’s new three part series, called The Somme 1916 – From Both Sides of the Wire - to be broadcast this summer.

He said: “We are appealing for people with photos, mementoes and memories of the men who fought and died on the Western Front to come forward with stories which may have been passed down through the generations but don’t yet feature in any archive.

“We are hoping to be able to take people as near as possible to the places where these photos were taken or the locations mentioned in their letters from the front.”

By 1916 no fewer than 12 battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment were serving on the Western Front – so local soldiers would have been present in their thousands.

Jeremy said: “You read about where they fought and what happened but there is nothing like being on the spot as this takes the whole experience to a different level.”

The four-day tour from October 7-10  - in conjunction with local travel specialists Bakers Dolphin - includes three nights’ hotel accommodation in Ypres and Arras with evening meals and continental breakfast included. Optional lectures will be given by Jeremy and Clive on two of the evenings.

Bakers Dolphin Marketing Director Amanda Harrington said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit some of the most well-known and notorious battlefields of the First World War - one hundred years on.”

“With experts on board able to help people trace their individual stories it is going to be an informative, moving and thoughtful tour. We will be visiting many iconic sites including the Thiepval Memorial which has been in the news this week and people will have an opportunity to search for and visit the graves of loved ones. We will also be witnessing the remarkable Last Post ceremony that takes place every evening at the Menin Gate.”

“Jeremy and Clive are experts on the human stories of the Western Front and in particular the role of the extraordinary local men who took part.”

For further details contact Mandy Havill, Group Travel Manager on 01934 415 000.

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