It has been 100 years since the guns fell silent and World War I ended. Still, the events of that era continue to shape and affect our world today. Four major monarchies and empires collapsed in history’s greatest shift in European and world power. The United States and the Soviet Union became major global players out of the ashes. The new map of the world created from the war continues to have significant impact on current events.
The war had been underway for nearly three years when the United States entered WWI on the Allied side in April 1917. However, it would be another year until the American forces finally made their impact on the battlefield. And it was a decisive impact that demonstrated the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples and brought an end to the bloodiest conflict in human history to that point. If your mind is set on a belief that World War I was nothing but static trench warfare and no movement, you will be surprised to encounter the American fighting forces involved in one great maneuver offensive after another. We now, at the centennial, have the incredible opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these young Americans in this Great War expedition.
This End of World War I history tour will bring guests to the verdant fields; and villages, towns and cities where the youth of America made their most indelible mark. From the Rock of the Marne 3rd Infantry Division at Chateau-Thierry, to the Marines at Belleau Wood; from American infantrymen assaulting the lines at St Quentin Canal and the St Mihiel Salient, to the largest battle in American history in the Meuse-Argonne. From the story of the Lost Battalion, to Sergeant York’s exploits, to the four Roosevelt brothers, and so many other iconic stories and sites. We will also pay respect to our allies by visiting the tremendous British battles at Ypres/Passchendaele and the French heroic stand at Verdun (Ils ne passeront pas!).
The World War I history tour unfolds over eight days with stories of all the allied participants as well as those of the German defenders. In addition, Essential History Expeditions guests will visit important cities that played key roles in the war’s end, including:
- Paris: capital of France and nexus of control over the vast French colonial possessions. We will explore the Invalides’ WWI exhibits, and walk some of the WWI sites in central Paris, including the memorial at the Arc de Triomphe.
- Reims: the city of Kings! In its great Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims nearly every French monarch was crowned over the long centuries. We will also visit Eisenhower’s final WWII headquarters, including the map room where the Germans surrendered to the Western Allies on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day!).
- Ypres: the town in Belgian Flanders where the British and their Commonwealth partners suffered some of their most horrific battles, and eventual triumph, in three major actions in the war. It is also the site of their most important commemorations.
- Compiegne: where the Germans surrendered in WWI and the French initially surrendered in WWII. It is also an amazing small city of rich history including the capture of Joan of Arc, and where Louis XIV and the two Napoleons had chateaux and palaces.
The rich farmland, the quaint villages and the dramatic hills and forests of France and Belgium create an incredibly memorable backdrop for this World War I centennial history tour.