TRAVEL / From the Somme to Nagasaki

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The Independent Culture


The first British shots of the Great War were fired here in August 1914.

Town centre: Two war museums. Battlefields and trenches, memorials and cemeteries, including St Symphorien, the finest in Belgium.

Travel advice: A car would give you access to the whole area, as would travel with an organised group - see tours.


Pronounced 'Wipers' by the Tommies, this town was a British stronghold throughout the First World War.

Town centre: Menin Gate - inscribed with the names of 54,896 British troops who fell. At 8pm every evening the Last Post is sounded to commemorate them. Museum Ypres Salient '14-'18.

Surrounding area: Route '14-'18 runs for 70km and starts in Ypres market place (information available at the Tourist Office: Stadius, Grote Markt 34, B-8900).

Hill 62 - Sanctuary Wood - is said to be the only authentic sector of trenches remaining.

Travel advice: Car or with an organised group.

Useful addresses: Ypres Tourist Office, Stadius, Grote Markt 34, B-8900. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Elverdingstraat 82, Ypres.


The Battle of the Bulge (December 1944), the German counter-attack, was fought here in the beautiful Ardennes region. Bastogne Historical Centre, American Memorial.

Travel advice: Go by car on the E25 between Luxembourg and Liege, or with a tour group

Special event: 1994 is the 50th anniversary of the battle - for a list of events contact: The Belgian Tourist Office, 29 Princes St, London W1R 7RG. Tel: 071- 629 0230.



Fighting along the 18-mile Front of 1916 cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers. Their graves are to be found throughout the Somme Valley.

Places to visit: Trenches at Serre. Cemeteries such as Luke Copse and many more throughout the area. Historical Museum of the Great War, Chateau de Peronne, Somme.

Travel advice: Go by car, using Rose Coomb's guide book Before Endeavours Fade, published by Battle of Britain Prints, or with a tour group (see list on page 83).


After the 1944 Normandy landings and the taking of Caen the success of D-Day was ensured. The coastline around Caen is a monument to the bravery of British and Allied troops who secured the liberation of France through Operation Overlord.

Places to visit: Memorial Peace Museum - Esplanade Dwight Eisenhower, Caen. Landing Museum, Arromanches. Ranger Monument, Pointe Du Hoc. D-Day Wrecks Museum, Port-en-Bessin. 4th Commando Landing Museum, Ouistreham. American Cemetery, Colleville Saint Laurent, a stretch of 70 hectares granted in perpetuity to the United States by the French, in gratitude. Rainville, Bayeux and Banneville- la-Campagne cemeteries are chiefly Anglo-Canadian. German Cemetery, La Cambe. Polish Cemetery, Grainville- Langannerie.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the landings.

Useful addresses: For a list of anniversary events contact the Southern Tourist Board, 40 Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO5 5JH. Tel: 0703 620006. French Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL. Tel: 071-491 7622.

Travel advice: Car or organised tour group - all the tour groups listed have a special 50th anniversary tour for 1994.



Dachau, one of the first concentration camps, was built startlingly close to Munich. In later years, the Nazis opted for remoter sites. Museum with talks and films. The camp has been left as it was found by Allied soldiers in 1945.

Travel advice: Dachau can be reached by underground from Munich.

Useful addresses: German National Tourist Office, Nightingale House, 65 Curzon Street, London W1Y 7PE. Tel: 071-495 3990


English Tourist Board, Thames Tower, Blacks Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9EL. Tel: 081-846 9000.


Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ. Tel: 071-416 5000. Tube: Lambeth North. All aspects of the First and Second World Wars, as well as other conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914.

Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ. Tel: 071- 930 6961. Tube: Westminster. Twenty-one rooms, including Cabinet room, transatlantic telephone room, the map room and Prime Minister's room.

HMS Belfast, Morgans Lane, London SE1. Tel: 071-407 6434. Tube: London Bridge.

Winston Churchill's Britain at War Theme Museum, 64-66 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TF. Tel: 071-403 3171. Tube: London Bridge. Re-creates the atmosphere of life for ordinary British people during the war - rationing, blackouts, Anderson shelters . . .


Cambridge American Military Cemetery, Coton, Cambridge CB3 7PH. Tel: 0954 210350. White stone crosses mark the graves of these men, mostly air force pilots, killed in the Second World War.

Imperial War Museum, Duxford Airfield, Duxford, Cambridge CB2 4QR. Tel: 0223 835000. Junction 10, M11. Former Battle of Britain fighter station - more than 120 aircraft on display, tanks, vehicles, guns, ride simulator.


Southwick House. HMS Dryad, Southwick, Fareham, Hampshire PO17 6EJ. Tel: 0705 210522, Ext 4221. Eisenhower's HQ before D-Day - operations room and maps showing the position of ships on D-Day.

The Tank Museum, Bovington Camp, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6JG. Tel: 0929 403463/403329. Largest museum collection of armoured fighting vehicles in the world.

D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery, Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth PO5 3NT, tel: 0705 827261. Overlord Embroidery depicts the Allied invasion of Normandy, plus displays of D-Day action together with some vehicles that took part.


Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum, Malton, North Yorkshire. Tel: 0653 697777. Depicts civilian life during the Second World War.



In the four years that the Nazis occupied Holland, 106,000 Jews were transported from their homes. More than 100,000 were never to return.

Museums: Anne Frank's House - Prinsengracht 263. The Frank family and their friends were deported after hiding from the Germans for two years in this house. Anne Frank died in Belsen two weeks before it was liberated in 1945. Resistance Museum - Lekestaat 63 - housed in a former synagogue in south Amsterdam - tells the story of the Dutch Resistance.

Travel advice: Amsterdam is easy to reach - by boat and train, coach or car, or you can fly direct. Getting around the city is easy, on foot or by tram.


Arnhem Bridge was the 'Bridge Too Far' that Monty's Operation Market Garden failed to take from superior German forces in September, 1944.

Surrounding area: Airborne Museum - Utrechtseweg 232, Oosterbeek. Airborne Cemetery - Oosterbeek. Liberation Museum - Wylerbaan 4, Groesbeek. Canadian Cemetery - lies in the hills around Groesbeek and is the resting place for 2,600 troops. National War and Resistance Museum - Museumpark 1, Overloon.

Travel advice: It would be best to go by car or with a tour group so that you can travel easily around the whole area.

Special event: 1994 is the 50th anniversary year of Operation Market Garden. For details of the many events contact:

Useful addresses: Netherlands Tourist Board, 25-28 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LD. Tel: 0891 200277. Orca - Organisation and Reservation Centre Arnhem, PO Box 552,6800 AN Arnhem. Tel: 010-31-85 426767.



Nazi concentration camp in which four million people died during the Second World War.

Places of interest: Memorial Museum in the old barrack blocks tells the story of Auschwitz, while the preserved buildings of the camp, including notorious notices such as 'Arbeit Macht Frei' remain chillingly intact.

Travel advice: Get there by train, car or with an organised tour (see Polorbis Travel Ltd below).


Nazi concentration camp where 350,000 people died.

Places of interest: Mausoleum-Pantheon - erected to the memory of those who died.

Travel advice: Get there by train, car or with a tour group (see Polorbis).


In 1940-3 the Nazis murdered more than 2,000 Poles in mass executions among these woods.

Places of interest: Palmiry cemetery commemorates them.

Useful addresses: Polorbis Travel Ltd, 82 Mortimer Street, London W1N 7DE. Tel: 071-636 2217/637 4971.



In April 1915, 500,000 Australian, New Zealand, British and Turkish soldiers lost their lives on this peninsula in a doomed attempt to put Turkey out of the Great War.

Places to visit: Krithia Museum, Kabatepe Museum. Remains of trench systems. Turkish, Anzac and British memorials and cemeteries cover the peninsula, now a national park.

Travel advice: From Istanbul international airport get the bus to Canakkale and from there the ferry across to the peninsula. There are good coach services to and from most major towns in Turkey, or travel with a tour group (see list).

Useful addresses: Turkish Information Office, 1st Floor, 170-173 Piccadilly, London W1V 9DD. Tel: 071-734 8681.



On 6 August 1945, the Americans dropped the first atomic bomb, destroying everything within a two-mile radius.

Places of interest: The Peace Memorial Park, Peace Memorial Museum, Memorial Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims, Hiroshima International Peace and Cultural Hall. Perhaps most poignant is the A-bomb Dome building which - in the same way that a house of cards remains standing if blown on from above - survived when the bomb exploded 600 yards above it, wiping out the rest of the city.

Travel advice: Five hours by train from Tokyo. One-and-a-half hours by plane from Haneda Airport, Tokyo (plus half an hour by bus to the city centre).


On 9 August 1945, the Americans dropped an atomic bomb which killed two-thirds of the population and wiped out some 30 per cent of the city.

Places of interest: Atomic Bomb Museum. Peace Park - laid out to mark the exact spot of the explosion and filled with peace monuments and statues.

Travel advice: Eight-and-a-half hours by train from Tokyo. One hour 40 mins by plane from Haneda Airport (Tokyo).

Useful addresses: Japan National Tourist Organisation, 167 Regent Street, London W1R 7FD. Tel: 071-734 9638/9.



When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, 3,581 Americans were killed or wounded, 347 warplanes were destroyed and six out of the fleet of eight battleships moored in the harbour were sunk.

Places of interest: Arizona War Memorial Visitor Centre - with talks and films. Memorial Shrine - situated in the harbour over the wreck of the USS Arizona. A navy shuttle takes visitors to the site.

Travel advice: From Waikiki Airport take bus No 20. From the Ala Moana Centre take bus Nos 50, 51, 52. By car - route 99: Pearl Harbor is well signposted.

Useful addresses: Hawaii Visitors Bureau, 14 The Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1PX.

Tel: 081-332 6969.



Some 16,000 prisoners of war and 49,000 labourers died working for the Japanese during the construction of the 'Death Railway' to Burma.

Things to see: Bridge over the River Kwai. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. Chong-Kai Cemetery. .

Travel advice: Go by train from Bangkok or with an organised tour group.

Useful addresses: Tourism Authority of Thailand, 49 Albermarle Street, London W1X 3FE. Tel: 071-499 7679.


The Royal British Legion, Pilgrimages Department, Royal British Legion Village, Aylesford, Kent ME13 7NX. Tel: 0622 716729/716182; Fax: 0622 715768. Go all over the world, including trips to Kohima and Imphal in north-eastern India, where the outnumbered Royal West Kent Territorial Army battalion defeated the Japanese over a tennis court - now a central feature of the cemetery. Reductions for war widows.

Tours International, 70 St James Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2HL. Tel: 0892 515825. Go all over the world. Special anniversary tours for Normandy landings and the liberation of Europe 1944-94.

Galina International Battlefield Tours, 711 Beverley High Road, Hull HU6 7JN. Tel: 0482 804409/806020. Impressive brochure of tours all around the world, including special school trips to Agincourt and Waterloo with qualified lecturers. Also provide a worthwhile self-drive tour with maps, ferry tickets, hotel bookings and battlefield guide notes included.

Holts Battlefield Tours Ltd, Golden Key Building, 15 Market Street, Sandwich, Kent CTI3 9DA. Tel: 0304 612248. More than 60 different tours to over 20 different countries, including Vietnam.

Polorbis Travel Ltd, 82 Mortimer Street, London W1N 7DE. Tel: 071-636 2217/637 4971; Fax: 071-436 6558. Special Jewish tours go to the ghettoes and concentration camps as well as Polish Jewish heritage sites. Visits to the concentration camps can also be fitted in on regular tours of Poland.

Special 50th anniversary celebrations of the Normandy Landings and the liberation of Europe - for details contact the Southern Tourist Board, 40 Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO5 5JH. Tel: 0703 620006.

(Photographs omitted)