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Email from Philip & Amy Alfeld following Self-Drive tour March 2010

Mr Power,

My wife and I are just returned from our self-drive tour of the Ypres & Somme Battlefields.  We are very pleased with every aspect of the tour we booked through you.  The selection of battlefield sites, explanations and directions simply could not have been better.  The itinerary gave us time to pause and reflect upon the unrelenting horror experienced by the soldiers of the BEF, as well as their allies and enemies.  The accommodations were very pleasant and the staff in each of the hotels were very friendly and helpful.  We managed to find a few artefacts, although in the end I had to abandon a small (but very heavy) iron wheel picked up in the vicinity of the first tank attack.  I'm convinced it was a tank component. Avirl Williams' guesthouse was a delight for lunch.  My wife has a genuine interest in the Great War and this was her birthday present.  Amy says it is the best such present I have given to her.  Thanks from both of us.

Philip & Amy Alfeld

Email from Mr & Mrs Kirkland  following Self-Drive tour March 2010

Dear James

Just a quick note to say thank you very much for the holiday we arranged through you.  Neil and I returned last Sunday and can honestly say the holiday was exactly what we were looking for.

The arrangements you made were very well thought out indeed.  We didn't get lost once, nothing unexpected happened, we found all hotels. battlefields and places of interest with great ease.

We will definitely recommend you to any friends who might be thinking of taking a similar trip.

As far as I was concerned the "thing" that made the whole experience complete was the personal accounts that you had interwoven amongst all the military detail you provided.

Anyway, thanks once again - the holiday was really something special and we will remember the experience for the rest of our lives.

Kind regards, hope the Falklands trip was a success for you

Alex Kirkland

Email from Mr S Fielding following Self-Drive tour May 2010

Hi James

A quick note to let you know that my son James and I thoroughly enjoyed our Somme visit which was an unqualified success and very moving experience due mainly to all your initial preparation, maps, Channel crossing bookings etc etc - a really worthwhile and enjoyable visit with everything going like clockwork. I had also forgotten how easy the French roads were compared to the M6, M25 and M20. 

We both thought that the absolute highlight of our trip was the day we spent with Peter Smith who was so amazingly enthusiastic and knowledgeable and worth every penny - otherwise it would have been confusing looking at the French countryside without having his initial introduction. The next day we spent the whole day in the field and it started to make sense on our own but it would have been difficult without his earlier input.

Many many thanks again from us both - the trip left us both wanting more! 

Kind regards. 


Email from Mr J Lamb following Self-Drive tour May 2010

Dear Mr Power

I thought you might like to know that we are safely home after, inter alia, our battlefield tour which we thoroughly enjoyed – if that is the right expression for a trip of that nature.  Your route instructions were spot on and so easy to follow and the Part 2 Guide will be a permanent reminder in our bookcase of the stories and horror behind it all. 

The weather was very cold for the time of year but perhaps that was why it was so quiet – a real bonus.  Only saw two coaches the whole way round! 


John Lamb.

Email from Mr P Sinnott following Self-Drive tour May 2010

Dear James,

Just a quick line to let you know that we had a great time visiting the Somme and Ypres battlefields. Your itinerary, directions etc. were excellent.

I shall be pleased to recommend your company if asked.


Patrick Sinnott.

Email from Mr & Mrs Widdup following Self-Drive tour June 2010

Dear James,

We would like to express our thanks for such a professionally organised trip that ran like clockwork. The amount of information supplied was more than adequate and struck the right balance in allowing us to explore to a depth that suited us and we felt comfortable with.

This is the first time we have spent much time in this part of France and Belgium and to see all the red poppies in full bloom made us appreciate more why this flower has become so emblematic. Also seeing the spectacular countryside it was difficult and sad to envisage what it looked like 90+ years ago and the horrors mankind can inflict on one another.

To say we enjoyed the break does not sound appropriate but we have no regrets in what could have been a very melancholy tour. We certainly came away better educated and fulfilled appreciating more the pleasure of living in peacetime.

Keep the good work up and your recommendation of where to eat was spot on. Thank you all round for what you did.

Meena & Alastair

Email from Scott Phillips following Self-Drive tour July 2010

Hi James, 

A belated email to say thank you for the amazing work you did on the tour information and the accommodation choices for our recent trip. As you know, it was a bit of a whirlwind visit, but we found the information you prepared to be amazingly informative, detailed and very helpful. 

The hotels you chose were fantastic, with the staff at the Ypres hotel as helpful as any throughout our entire European holiday, and the location and restaurant at Albert second to none! 

The tour was sobering and awe inspiring, and we would have missed most of the key sites and context were it not for your very thorough information. 

Thanks again! 

Scott Phillips

Email from Mr & Mrs Wadeson following Self-Drive tour June 2010

I just wanted to thank you very much for a wonderful battlefield self-drive experience. Everything just worked out so well thanks to your hard work and organization on our behalf.

The hotels were just great in every regard. We particularly loved the Ariane at Ypres and I would like to thank you for your efforts in getting us in there - my husband enjoyed it so much-it just made so much difference to be in a lovely hotel.

Your battlefield itineraries were so interesting and helpful-you must have put a great deal of work into them. Thank you.

We have begun to think ahead and because we enjoyed it all so much my husband was wondering whether you have any details of the Battle of Waterloo - hopefully accessing the site from the Ariane if that is possible.

We did also wonder whether you do similar tours for the World War two sites.

Thank you again for all your help,

Peter and Patricia Wadeson.

Email from Paul Collins following Self-Drive tour August 2010

Hi James,


Thank you for providing us with such a great tour.

Your attention to detail was fantastic.

Everything from the driving directions, ferry crossings, accommodation etc was superb and without doubt your self-drive tour is the way to see the battlefields.

You must have spent a considerable amount of time researching which became evident as we followed your tour and referred to your tour guide notes.

We found all the additional places we spoke about and again thank you for your assistance with this.

Once we have downloaded our photographs we will forward you a few showing the graveyard and headstone of our relative.

Again, thank you so much for providing us such a detailed tour and the information provided will also be useful reference documents for my daughter with her future exams etc.

We would be happy to recommend your services to anyone who is thinking of doing such a tour.

Kind Regards


Email from Hilary Brooks, Walton-on-Thames Women's Institute, following Self-Drive group tour September  2010

Dear James

What a fabulous trip Walton-on-Thames WI had to Ypres with your company!! 

We only briefly met Jacques and our guide was Kristin in the end; but she had an absolutely encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and stories about Flanders. Kristin brought the whole scene alive for us. She was also amazingly helpful, even to the point of enabling us to eat our picnic lunch in her husband's fire station cafeteria!

Genevra met us to take Marion through the Menin Gate ceremony and she was fantastic [...]

Your choice of hotel was spot on and the literature you sent us was excellent.

I could not rate your company more highly and would happily recommend you. 

very best wishes


Email from Bishop Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, following Self-Drive tour November  2010

Dear Mr Power, 

My family and I want you to know at this 'Remembrance-time' how much we appreciated all your work for us in connection with our recent visit to the Western Front. 

We 'enjoyed' our time together on this journey of learning which, because of our interest in my grandmother's first husband, was also very much one of personal pilgrimage. 

Your guides were excellent.  We would not have survived without them and we accomplished the entire routes in both regions:  Ieper and the Somme.  We added in our diversion to Hermies (to visit the grave) and also spent hours reconstructing the final days of Serjeant Dan Griffith in the lead up to his death on the first day of the Battle of Cambrai. 


Our accommodation - particularly at Corbie - was splendid.  Le Macassar is certainly a gem:  Ian and Miguel were wonderful hosts.  It was like visiting and receiving hospitality from friends. 

Our journey was followed with interest by many others on both Facebook and Twitter, one of the consequences of which is that, later this afternoon, I am recording an interview about our trip with one Irish radio station which will be broadcast on Sunday.

With renewed thanks, 


Bishop Paul Colton

Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Email from Nigel Turner following Self-Drive tour September  2010

Hi James,

This is a very belated email to thank you for the Somme and Ieper trip you organised for us in September 2010.  

We had read in some detail about the places we visited,  Lyn MacDonald’s books, Peter Hart's work, William Philpott and so on.  But nothing could beat the experience of actually being there.  We learned so much from just standing on a particular battlefield, orientating the (very impressive) written guide accordingly and just trying to imagine what it must have been like 90 odd years ago.  It was fascinating and humbling to piece together what happened on a particular bit of ground.  

Highlights? Lots of them.  Ravebeek (that "obscure" piece of farmland on a back road), Tyne Cot (hugely emotional), Mash Valley (the thought of crossing all that open space toward Ovillers), Newfoundland Park...and much else besides.  We even got a tour into Thiepval Wood, courtesy of a friendly custodian and a school party from Lincolnshire.  My most memorable experience was standing at the German machine gun position at Thiepval (highlighted in your guide) and imagining what it must have been like to have been attacking and defending it on 1 July.  Living where we do in southern Africa, we have spoken to our many South African friends about Delville Wood and suggested that they make a point of visiting it (we were struck by the fact that there were so few South African names in the visitors book).

The work of the CWGC is inspiring, to say the least.  Yes the cemeteries are poignant, but also uplifting in a way I had not expected.  And they are so beautifully kept.   I don’t know of any relatives of mine who died at the Somme or Ieper, but I bet there is at least one.  My next task is to do a bit of family history research to see if there are any.  My colleague, Keith Rettig has German ancestry and he found some Rettigs on the wall at Langemark – maybe there’s a connection – who knows.  Not knowing whether I had any relatives involved or not did not stop me from weeping at Tyne Cot - the sheer numbers of graves and the majesty of the place was overwhelming, we went there twice.

You were right about the coaches.  We did not see too many coach parties, but when we did they certainly made their presence felt.  Made us thankful that we chose the self drive option at a quieter time of year.

The Ariane Hotel was excellent in every respect.  The Royal Picardie was not quite of the same standard, but good nonetheless.  Your guides are substantial, easy to follow and informative.  One small point is that we got a bit confused going into Ieper - it seemed to us that the directions were wrong at one of the roundabouts on the outskirts of the town - can't remember which one - it might be worth checking, or it might have been that I was navigating poorly.

We felt that the Belgians were a bit more customer friendly than the French and that they were perhaps a bit more commercially aware.  It's a difficult point, I guess, because so much of the Somme is working farmland and the integrity of the battlefields needs to be maintained, but maybe the French could invest a little more in facilities for the battlefield tourist.  Compared to Ieper, Albert has rather scarce amenities.  But this is a quibble,and obviously nothing to do with you, both tours were first class.

So, two very satisfied customers.  We will definitely be back.

As one Englishman we met at Thiepval said, "this used to be a passion for me, now it's simply an obsession."  just about sums it up.

Thanks and regards

Nigel Turner

Email from Roz Webster, Managing Director of Cream Travel, London, following Self-Drive tour November  2010


Dear James 

We have returned from the Battlefields tour and defrosted! 

It was fantastic.  When I first got the paperwork I admit I was overwhelmed by the amount of reading and wondered if we’d ever get anywhere but it was so easy to use and once we were in situ it was very user friendly.

Hotel Basilique perfect, and we ate there one night at the L’Auberge the other night.  We had drinks and lunch in a rather non-French wine bar next to the hotel called Hygge but it was great and they were very friendly.   

On our way back to Calais we stopped at the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge.  It was a one of the highlights I must admit (snow covered ground and a misty winters morning – quite breathtaking).  Obviously not quite within the remit of the 2 day Somme tour but definitely worth recommending to people who have a bit of spare time.  We found that because we had the places to ourselves, and probably also because it was so cold, we had more than enough time to fit in everything we wanted to see.  

A huge success, so thank you very much 

Kind regards



Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
19 Old Road, Wimborne, Dorset, UK BH21 1EJ
Tel: 01202 880211 or 07776 195773   
Email: jamespower@btinternet.com


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