Sunday 17th July – Saturday 23rd July 2022
MEDAL OF HONOR - WWI AND THE MEUSE-ARGONNE
Starts in Paris, France, and ends in Amiens, France
Day One: Sunday 17th
Guests fly into Charles de Gaulle airport Paris and stay overnight at the Nomad Hotel Roissy
Day Two: Monday 18th
We embark on our coach after breakfast and begin our drive to the Meuse-Argonne area. During this period there will be an introduction into the role of the U.S. in WW1. Our first visit will be to Belleau Wood, a name well known for sacrifice in 1918. We call at Lucy le Bocage, a small village, one of only two where water was available to the American soldiers. We will walk the route of the attack in that area and see the ‘Tree of Death’, the point where the attack started. In Belleau Wood we can see the remnants of fox holes and shell holes. There are various pieces of artillery and a splendid memorial to the US Marines. We continue to the Aisne/Marne American Cemetery where we will pay our respects. The American Memorial on Hill 204 overlooks the town of Chateau-Thierry.
Continuing on our journey, our coach will take us to the American Oise/Aisne cemetery. It is here where the poet Joyce Kilmer is buried (Trees). Just a short distance away lies the little hamlet of Chamery. We will walk to the original grave site of Quentin Roosevelt, son of the American President who was shot down in 1918. His remains were later exhumed and taken to the US cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy to rest next to his brother. We will pay our respects at his memorial.
We then drive to our hotel for the first of our 4 nights at the Vienne le Chateau. We will have a champagne reception on the balcony before dinner. This hotel has an indoor swimming pool so bring your swimwear.
Day Three: Tuesday 19th
Depart the hotel after breakfast for the city of Reims, famous for its beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame. Construction began in 1211 and was besieged with problems; the Hundred Years War; a plague in 1348; and a roof fire in 1481. It has appeared in its present form since 1516. Artist Marc Chagall created three beautiful stained glass panels in the mid 1970s. These windows are in the apse of the cathedral, behind the main altar. We will spend a little free time here including lunch before we drive on to the Champagne town of Epernay. We have arranged a visit to a Champagne House.
Day Four: Wednesday 20th
An early start this morning after breakfast. We visit the town of Verdun where in WW1 it was besieged for 10 months by the Germans who intended to ‘Bleed France White,’ by the heavy concentration of fire and the ferocity of their attack. The stubborn resistance by the French paid off and the town was never taken. ‘Ils ne passeront pas’; ‘They Shall Not Pass,’ became the byword in Verdun.
We will visit the underground tunnels in the Citadel that were used to take refuge from the incessant artillery fire and which had over five miles of tunnels housing troops, civilians, and a hospital. We will have a short walk around the town before we drive out past the Sleeping Lion Monument, designed by Andre Maginot. Our first stop will be the deserted village of Fleury. One of several French villages that was abandoned when the German attack started in February 1916. We will visit Fort Douamont; built by the French in the 1880s. it was easily taken by the Germans because the French tactics had changed after the German success with the Von Schlieffen Plan in 1914 and it was only manned by a skeleton staff. The French spent the next few months trying to take it back. Our last call in this area will be to the Verdun Memorial to those who died defending Verdun. Through the basement windows there is an Ossuary where the bones of both German and French are scattered, discovered on the battlefield and whose identities are unknown.
We drive on to the St. Mihel Salient. The first real engagement of the war carried out by the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). We will include the following visits: follow the route of the American attack using maps and other information; Mont Sec American Memorial where we can see the ground all around from this high point; we will see the bridge where George S. Patton met Douglas McArthur during the battle. It was the first and last time ever the two would meet. We will visit the American Cemetery at Thiaucourt before taking the drive back to our hotel.
We meet on the balcony before dinner and hold a briefing regarding the visits on Thursday. Maps of the ‘Lost Battalion’ positions and the story of Sergeant Alvin C. York, a Medal of Honor recipient. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day Five: Thursday 21st
After breakfast we drive out of the village past the huge French cemetery and on to Charlevaux Mill. It was here where the story of the ‘Lost Battalion’ unfolded. We will stand on the road where we can look down the steep slopes where the Americans dug their foxholes. For five days they resisted persistent fire and surrender, at the end of which they were relieved. We see the recent Memorial to them which features the carrier pigeon ‘Cher Ami’ who delivered a message giving the location of the Battalion. It suffered terrible injuries in so doing. Her stuffed body lies in the Smithsonian.
We will see the German cemetery at Apremont in a forest glade before arriving at the sleepy village of Chatel Chehery. This is where the story of Sergeant Alvin C. York starts. We will walk in the footsteps of the patrol that he was part of on the morning of 8 October 1918. A word of caution. The ground can be difficult with mud and undergrowth. Please ensure you are able to undertake this journey, the effort is well worthwhile, you will stand at the real spot where York’s fight took place, elevating him into the annals of American military history. You will require sturdy, water-proof footwear. Lunch today will be a picnic.
We will continue our journey, the visits during the afternoon will consist of the American memorial at Montfaucon and the ruins of the medieval village; Cunel memorial to the 9th Infantry; and the largest US military burial ground in Europe at Romagne, the Meuse-Argonne cemetery.
Dinner at the hotel. Remember to pack, tomorrow we continue our journey north towards Amiens.
Day Six: Friday 22nd
Driving north we will concentrate our visits to the area around Bellicourt. It was here in September 1918, the US 27th & 30th Divisions attacked the Hindenburg Line in company with Australian forces. We will see the Tennessee Memorial and the Hindenburg Line at the St. Quentin canal and the US Cemetery at Bony. We will look at the actions of Tennessean Medal of Honor winners, Corporal Buck Karnes and Pvt. Calvin Ward around Estrees, Vaux le Pretre and Montbrehain. Sgt. Milo Lemert, Co. G, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division, was posthumously awarded the MOH for actions around Bellicourt on 29th September 1918. In the same regiment, Sgt. Bernie Adkinson was awarded the MOH on the same day for his bravery in charging a German machine gun nest. And finally, MOH recipient Sgt. Edward Talley saw action near Ponchaux, France, just a mile away.
We check into our hotel in Amiens for our two-night stay. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day Seven: Saturday 23rd
After breakfast we take the coach and drive the short distance to Le Hamel. We will follow the actions of the Australian and American forces in the Battle of Le Hamel, 4th July 1918. The Australian Army, for the first time under the command of an Australian, General John Monash took all the objectives in 93 minutes. We will pay our respects at the Australian Memorial and visit the impressive Monash Visitor Center. (Smartphone download required for the exhibits.)
Our last visit will be to the village of Bertangles and the cemetery where the Red Baron was initially buried. We return to our hotel where the coach will leave us. You will have some free time in Amiens this afternoon giving you the opportunity to visit the Cathedral and do last minute souvenir hunting.
Our farewell dinner this evening will be at a restaurant in the city.
Day Eight: Sunday 24th
After breakfast we will bid a fond farewells in Ameins. Arrangements can be made for destinations in Paris.