Testimonials

Few tour companies in our sphere of interest have such a proud record of testimonials as us and we make no apologies for saying that this is our proudest web page (even if a bit dull looking). It is the genuine feedback from those who have travelled with us over the past thirteen years, though only the past couple of years can be displayed here. All are 100% genuine. In 2009 we were amazed (and very proud!) to have been awarded Vanity Fair's 'Best Tour' award, the only such award that's ever been made for battlefield tour companies to this day. This was a complete surprise to us, whilst at the same time a rewarding acknowledgement of the care and effort we put in to the tours we arrange. This confidence was repeated when Country Life featured us in an article a couple of years ago. Our testimonials go way back to 1997 which you can see if you have a look at our old website here. For now though, here’s our testimonials over the past couple of years.
Email from Alison WELLS Your tour is fantastic. From a navigators point of view so good as no arguments (you were the only back seat driver!) easy to follow and very helpful. We (you and me) got on very well even Andrew commented on how we were on the same wave length! Converting the mileage into casualties was a numbing feeling.
Email from Dr Tim Redmond James, My group and I returned last Friday from our four days visiting the Somme Battlefield. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, thanks largely to your fantastic and detailed information pack. The instructions on getting to the various locations were such that there was no way we could get lost. The ability to compare present day maps with maps of 1916, and of course with the trench maps, was absolutely superb. We stayed in the Basilique Hotel which, again, was great. It is a nice, small and friendly hotel and staying in Albert was so convenient. I spoke to Phoebe, Teddy's wife at the Ulster Tower. She said your tours are the best, and I can't disagree with her! I'll probably come back to you in a couple of years re the Ypres Tour. Thanks again, Tim Redmond
The Bishop of Cork " 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.....Your guides were excellent. We would not have survived without them..."
The Sunday Telegraph 2013 The only Self-Drive company to be nominated ‘Best Battlefield Tour’
From Diane Kenwood Editor Women's Weekly It was a profoundly moving and fascinating trip, which, thanks to your stunningly detailed and thorough organisation went without a hitch. . . Your attention to detail is astonishing. . . You really did bring every location to life in the most fantastic way. (I loved your personal remarks dotted through the commentary). It was so marvellous to be able to do everything at our own pace and spend however long, or short, a time as we chose at the places we stopped. Thank you so much for everything - for your help in the early stages sorting out what the best itinerary and approach would be, for organising all the bookings and for the brilliant support packs. I have raved about your company to everyone I've spoken to since my return (and will definitely write about it in the magazine) and I know at least one person who's definitely going to book through you as a result. I hope you get inundated with bookings!
Country Life "If you're fiercely independent, you could do no better than to sign up for the highly acclaimed self-guided tours provided by James Power. His painstakingly researched itineraries are the work of a master logistician"
2019 Trust Pilot review submitted by Dr Adam Gajdatsy: “I started my planning for this tour with no more than a nebulous idea of visiting the battlefields of WW1, and gaining an adequate insight into the events of that time. I also wanted to self drive. James brought my wishes to fruition with his excellent and comprehensive itinerary and information books, and with the travel and accommodation bookings. Coming from Australia, and travelling with a UK hire car, nevertheless I found the trip to be seamlessly easy and straightforward. James is easy to contact, including via Messenger, making the organisation in advance of the trip straightforward. Highly recommended.” Dr Adam Gajdatsy August 2019 Trust Pilot review submitted by Mike Chatterton: “A friend and I have recently returned from a self-drive battlefield tour of the Ypres area using the guidance material and itinerary provided by James Power of Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd. The great advantage of such a tour is the ability to progress at your own pace whilst viewing battlefield locations. These are informed by a high degree of well expressed understanding of the actions which took place and at what human cost. Using the maps and guide provided it was straightforward to relate the modern ground to the contours and views of a century ago, albeit without the desolation. The itinerary was faultless and the descriptions of events comprehensive and always written with an appropriate degree of respect and reverence for the gravity of the events and reminding us that much of the ground over which we travelled was the final resting place of so many soldiers.It is also worth mentioning that the recommended hotel which we chose, the Ariane, was excellent in all respects and ideally located. Thank you for facilitating such a memorable experience, James”. (Ypres tour May 2019) Hi James, We wanted to write to you to let you know how pleased we were with our visit last week to the Somme and Ypres battlefields. Everything was superbly arranged and we really appreciated all the notes and information that you provided for the self-drive tour. It all made for a very moving and interesting experience for us both helped by the extensive historical detail and information that you provided in your guidebooks. Both hotels were excellent with The Ariane our favourite of the two, although The Royal Picardie was very comfortable as well. Receptionists in both hotels commented on how much they liked you and your clients! We also had a very interesting chat with Avril Williams who was also very complimentary about you. We had lunch at her tea rooms and as it wasn't busy she stayed and chatted with us for some time. We also noticed a picture on her wall of Andy Robertshaw, the archaeologist, doing a trench reconstruction/dig in her garden. [. . .]. We did have a couple of issues following the Ypres tour, as the Belgians, in their wisdom, decided to dig up and close the centre of two towns, Zillebeke and Langemark and the diversion signs were non-existent and resulted in us wasting a lot of time trying to find an alternative route to get back on your tour. In Langemark we couldn't even see any obvious signs to the German military cemetery, so had to give that a miss. Not your problem I know but it was quite frustrating to say the least! it also meant we were not able to fit everything in on our final day and had to miss out on the final two locations of the tour which was a bit annoying but we had to get back to Calais to catch the Eurotunnel home. I would also suggest that it might be a good idea if you add kilometres to all your distances in the guidebooks as we set the odometer and car setting to kilometres and all the road signs etc are in kms on the continent. We did find in France that most things were closed on the Monday of our visit and it was also a public holiday (Ascension Day) on Thursday in Belgium and a lot of things were also closed, The Hooge Crater Museum, a number of restaurants in Ypres. It might be worth letting future clients know when public holidays are as this does mean that certain things might not be available. The most bizarre was when we visited the cafe at Hill 60 for lunch and they told us that they were not serving snacks at lunchtime but they did have their full a la carte menu available! We were also distracted by about 150 Lotus cars that gathered outside the Cloth Hall on Thursday for the Ypres Lotus Rally 2019. A number of the Lotus Owners were staying in the Ariane and it made for quite an occasion. Overall, we had a fantastic holiday that was quite an experience and your tours showed us many places that other visitors would not get to see, so thank you very much for putting all your knowledge and careful thought into the tour that we did, it was wonderful with a few tears shed on the way round because of the background stories that made it all the more relevant and real. Many thanks again. With best wishes, Jonathan & Debra King (Somme and Ypres tour May 2019) Dear James I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the amazing tour we have just returned from to the Somme and Ypres Battlefields. As you know my wife Rachel bought this for me as a surprise Christmas present and from receiving the incredibly detailed information pack outlining our tour, to getting home, we were not disappointed. As others have said, your attention to detail is amazing, The only time we made any mistakes in navigating was when we chose to ignore your directions! We were soon put right by referring to the incredibly detailed and well-illustrated route plans. It was fantastic to be pointed in the right direction for so many things that I am sure an organised guided tour/coach trip would miss (and, for what it is worth, such a “coach” trip would not appeal to myself and I am sure many other people, compared to a self- drive tour of the quality that you organised where we can manage our own time). Locations like the Welsh Memorial with the amazing references and views over the battle ground of Mametz Wood is something that I am sure 90% of visitors to the area just do not get to see. Similarly, in the Ypres Salient, I wondered how many people have had the opportunity to spend time considering the events that took place at the Ravebeek Stream with the more well-known and well-visited sites being so close. The recommended hotels were excellent. The Hotel de la Basilique Albert was wonderful classically French, with a superb restaurant and located in the heart of the historic town and with ample parking right outside the door. As you know, we did have a glitch with the New Regina hotel booking in Ypres, which was absolutely no fault of yours whatsoever (we realised very quickly the hotel had overbooked!), and amazingly - and thank you within less than five minutes you had arranged alternative, and dare I say superior, accommodation with an upgrade at the excellent Ariane Hotel, still within a stones’ throw of Cloth Hall and the Menin Gate. I would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone whether a WW1 battlefield novice like myself, or an veteran of many visits to use your services. I have to say, and very honestly so, it was a fantastically organised trip with every attention to detail catered for. Thank you again Best regards Laurence and Rachel (Somme & Ypres tour May 2019) Dear James We arrived back yesterday after a really great trip. Your instructions were first class and we had no trouble in following your directions to various place on the tour. Our first stay with Avril Williams was wonderful, we were made to feel very welcome and like part of the family. We were lucky to be one of the first to stay in her new apartments which was spacious and comfortable having a bedroom, shower room, sitting room and fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher! We had our evening meals there as well and these were exceptionally good and good value. Avril was very informative and helpful and we could have spent hours in her museum. The Ariane in Ypres was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there going to the Last Post twice. It was very busy both times. Thank you once again for an excellent trip Sue and Trevor Goldsworthhy (Somme & Ypres tour May 2019) Hello James I just wanted to write to you to say what a great self drive trip that you set up for us was. It covered everything that we needed to see and through good timing we missed most of the coach tours. The advantage of doing it yourself was that we could explore on our own time. It was also good to refresh my memory with your excellent notes and pictures that went with the maps. The hotels were top quality and their locations were outstanding. Well done and thanks again Mark (Somme & Ypres tour April 2019) Dear James, We have just come back from three amazing days and feel so lucky that Darjie chose you, as your magic pack was perfect. Wonderful, moving days that gave us all so much food for thought. The beauty of the cemeteries was a fitting tribute to all those who were lost to many nations. The hotels were great, food super and perfect for the tour. Will recommend you highly. Thank you so much. Yours, Bridget. (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Dear James I cannot thank you enough for giving us really wonderful comprehensive information for our Battlefields Trip. It was such an amazing visit, so poignant and seeing all those graves of the thousands of fallen men was so very moving and how generous they were to put their lives on the line for all of us so that we could live in freedom. Your information packs were incredible and perfect to the last arrow and descriptions and superbly produced. Both of our hotels were immaculate and just great, so clean and food excellent. The location of the New Regina Hotel was wonderfully placed, especially for getting to the Menin Gate. Again, thank you so very much for all your help and guidance, most kind of you With very best wishes Sheila Bednall (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) James. I would just like to add our thanks for your excellent guide books and hotel recommendations. As the chief Navigator I can say that we never missed a spot we wanted to see. We learned a lot. Best regards Mike Champion (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Dear James, I would just like to say many thanks for the marvellous Battlefields trip you organised for Darjie Armstrong and her relatives. Your information pack was quite superb, giving us not only the detailed background and information, but also really good driving and visiting instructions. The only times we went wrong were when we did not pay attention to your spot-on instructions! Also, the hotels you booked for us were first class; the dinner in the Picardie in Albert was excellent. Well done - I won't hesitate to recommend you to any friends of mine who wish to do their own Battlefields tour. Kind regards, Michael Bednall (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Hi James Tucked up at The Regina hotel for our last night. What an incredible three days we have had - interesting, fascinating and very moving. A million thanks from us all for the truly fantastic itinerary you did for us- we are so grateful and deeply impressed at the amount of work you put in and all the details and extra snippets you included. We are all delighted at choosing the best tour operator ! Thank you. Best wishes and good night. Darjie x PS. The hotels have been perfect . (April 2019) 2018 Dear James We just wanted to write and tell you that we had a most interesting and poignant visiting the 1WW battlefields, cemeteries and museums in the Somme and Ypres Salient over the last week. Your detailed itinerary and notes helped us to appreciate the terrible conditions and sacrifices made on both sides during the battles, taking us to places we would have certainly otherwise missed. We thought we should mention one cemetery that was very easy to visit on our return from Ypres to Calais, namely the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery which was just a small diversion from our route. It contained a really interesting and informative visitor centre (unlike the one at Tynecot) with many insights into the workings of the field hospital based there. You may wish to add it to your itinerary for the return route. Both hotels were excellent with upgraded rooms given to us at both the Ariane and Le Macassar. The new owners at the latter were most welcoming and the Art Deco nature of the rooms very interesting. They provided a lovely Table d’hôte meal on the Sunday evening and are very keen to maintain the level of hospitality provided by the previous owners. We would definitely recommend that you keep it as one of your hotel options for the Somme region. Thank you again for the efficient and comprehensive service that you provided in arranging our trip. Yours sincerely David and Alison Levy (October 2018) Dear Mr. Power It’s been a month since we returned from Europe and the Somme and its effect upon my son and I have been long lasting. Both of us were surprised at how moving an experience it was. We knew the history, the fatal military judgements and huge number of losses, but history books don’t give any sense of the magnitude of the casualties in the terrain that exposed so many troops to slaughter. Being there does. Seeing all those cemeteries does. And your guide with it’s detail and meticulous and compassionate explanations brought the Somme battles to life. What made our experience all the more poignant was that the beauty of the gentle rolling Picardie countryside, its fields, copses and steepled villages today belied what took place there 102 years ago. We were especially moved by Sheffield Park and the PALS memorials, and thought, "There, but for time, place and the Grace of God” we could have been among those young men. I might add, the hotel was comfortable and pleasant, its food surprisingly good. Coincidentally, staying at the Royal Picardie were graphic novels artist, publishers and editors attending a book fair in Albert. Some of them had been involved with the publication for the centennial of a graphic novel, “Traces of the Great War”; just one more experience to enrich a great trip. Thanks and my best, Robert B Kohn, USA (October 2018) Dear James, We have had such an interesting if emotional week with your self drive tours of the Somme and Ypres areas and would like to thank you for the meticulous detail in both the route directions and battle details with the maps and photographs. We had many of the Somme areas to ourselves with such peace in the surrounding areas contrasting to what must have been unimaginable horror. It was busier in the Ypres area at the more well- known sites but always manageable. October was a good time to go and the weather was amazing too - just like summer! You asked to mention any errors that might be found - just one very small one on page 49a of the Somme guide Private J Sweeney’s grave is Row B - the arrow does point to this although A is written in brackets. Good to see he was given a graveyard burial and now there is a memorial to those Shot at Dawn at the National Memorial Arboretum. How very difficult it was in so many ways for all those in the Great War and how powerful hindsight is. There were many very moving and emotional moments for both of us including the German cemetery at Langemark. Thank you again for such a comprehensive tour which will not be forgotten. Yours sincerely, Janice and Tony Elvidge (October 2018) Hi James Just a quick note on behalf of my mum and myself to say how much we enjoyed the Somme and Ypres itinerary that you provided. Extraordinary detail that gave a real insight into the terrible history of the conflict. We enjoyed both hotels, especially the Ariane in Ypres - and the cafe's & restaurants that you recommended including the Hotel de Basilique and the Ocean Villas Tea rooms where we met Avril. All best wishes and thanks once again Richard Steeden (October 2018) Dear James, Got back on Friday. Everything worked like clockwork; Jan and I want to thank you for the detailed and comprehensive planning which went into the whole trip. The Ariane Hotel was excellent, including the upgrade, and we were blessed with superb weather which no doubt you also arranged. (We couldn't help thinking that a steady downpour would have been more appropriate to tour the Salient!). We spent Tuesday and Wednesday touring the Ypres area, and on Thursday drove down to the site of the Battle of Loos, taking in Messines, Ploegstreet and the Irish Peace memorial on the way. The former Hohenzollern Redoubt is unmistakeable and overgrown but firmly entrée interdite. We were not tempted, but were mightily impressed with the Quarry cemetery nearby - we believe the quarry was the Battalion HQ during the battle. It also has the grave of Captain Bowes-Lyon, the Queen's uncle. The Battlefield guides were superb, giving just the right amount of information; we much appreciated retaining control of our own timing and activity. As a former naval person, I am now more aware of the importance of the terrain than I was; the aspect of the slight slope up to the Hohenzollern looked frightening! [guide update suggestion]. Again, many thanks for the attention to detail and comprehensive information. We shall certainly recommend Somme Battlefield Tours to our friends. Yours sincerely, Mike Forbes (September 2018) Hi James Just wanted you to know that we had a fabulous time touring the Somme and Ypres last week. The hotels were wonderful especially the Hotel De La Paix, this was such a friendly hotel with wonderful amenities and staff. We found virtually all the sites in your guides and more, we never stopped to be honest and covered hundreds of miles, we even visited Dunkirk Beach on the way home. Everything went to plan with the euro tunnel and it was a great experience, one we will do again. Thank you for planning this tour for us James it was a lifetime wish of my Brother and I and one I will now do again because there are still more places I want to visit like Amiens, it was to busy to go there because of the celebrations going on whilst we was there. Once again Thank you James Kindest Regards Ian J Blakey. (August 2018) James We got back from our tour late on Friday and wanted to thank you for the tour that you prepared for us. It was so informative and detailed and even though we did not manage to cover the whole itinerary because of time, we now feel that we have a much better understanding of the horrors and the awful mistakes made resulting in the huge sacrifices of men in this dreadful war. The directions and road information was clear and precise on your routes. The hotel Ariane was lovely and we ate there on their terrace and the Hotel de la Paix was very welcoming, clean and homely and the evening meals were good. Thank you for making our trip so worthwhile. Best wishes Sue (July 2918) Hi James Myself and dad just wanted to send you a massive thank you for making our battlefields tour so unbelievably perfect. Such a moving experience and very important to both of us. Made even better by the stress free arrangements and fabulous accommodation. Truly thank you we loved it. Naomi Walsby Dear James We are just home (we had a few extra days in Antwerp) after the most absorbing and interesting visit to the Somme and to Passchendaele. Your itinerary and information contributed of course to a large degree and I’m writing to let you know on behalf of all three of us how much this was appreciated. We have learned so much on this trip- at times it was almost overwhelming! In addition, the overall arrangements worked perfectly- the hotels were great, restaurant recommendations proved really helpful and the driving instructions were clear and informative. We had a good team - driver, navigator and educator, the latter reminding us of specific information at each stop (we had done a lot of preparatory reading but it was difficult to retain all the information form those extensive dossiers!). Our days were very full and it was excellent having slightly more than two days for each centre overall. It was interesting how the different museums/visitor centres each had sufficient information and display to merit some real time and we were fortunate to be able to linger as we wished. We thought the private museum at Hooge was very impressive (that at Hill 62 possibly rather less so).. We located some family graves which was particularly special for us - at Bonnay, Peronne and Ieper, plus a name on the Menin Gate. We also visited the Australian cemetery and memorial at Villers-Brettoneux (between Amiens and Albert), and the trenches and wonderful memorial at Vimy Ridge. I know you could not possibly cover everything but it might be worth mentioning this for those doing both areas of the ‘tour’ - we went from Albert to Arras, explored the latter quite briefly and then went to Vimy en route to Ieper, which worked well. I would be more than happy to add the gist of this to Trip Advisor or similar if that is helpful. With thanks again and best wishes from us all Deborah (May 2018) Hi James, We are on our last night in Ypres and the entire trip has been FANTASTIC! Our only hiccup was being unable to reach the hotel due to several road closures. Our sat/nav was also stumped, but nothing that going the wrong way on a one way street couldn’t fix! We told the front receptionist that we had to go the wrong way on the street and her response was “Oh that’s ok, it’s Sunday”. This made me and Peter laugh so hard! We followed your excellent guide to the letter and we even had enough time to visit Calais and Dunkirk before we began the Ypres part of the trip! Yes I know, we went back and forth, but that’s the beauty of having your own transportation! We noticed that there were no tour buses on the routes you gave us and very often, we were the only ones at the sites. The staff at Hotel Ariane were great and the breakfast was superb! We are looking forward to it again in the morning before we leave for France. I’ll give you another update after the second part of the tour. Thank you again for the incredible experience! I think I may have won the Wife of the Year Award for booking this :) Connie (April 2018) Dear James I just wanted to convey our sincerest thanks for arranging a really wonderful Battlefields trip recently. From the Euro-tunnel check-in through to the Hotels recommended by you, we were extremely impressed. Everything was just as you described and the food and service in both hotels exemplary. Most of all Jacques made the sites visited come alive. He has a style of his own and captivated us for a full two days with stories and anecdotes. He really went the extra mile in making it a truly memorable experience. One which we will all remember for a long time to come. Thank you again Best regards Ben Ben Penniston (April 1918) 2017 Dear James, This is a rather belated note to say a very big ‘thank you’ for all your detailed help in setting up our trip last month. You could not have gone to more trouble for us. We were lucky with perfect sunny dry weather, and it all went very well. Jacques was excellent, and so nice, and went out of his way to show us where our great uncle spent his last few days. We also happened to meet Genevra during the day as well. Your guides were amazing, including meeting the tricky farmer at Serre, who while we were walking along the track not only drove up to check on us 2 or 3 times, but also forced bumper to bumper a mini van to reverse back down! . We reckoned he did not have much spare time to do any farming! I must say that the impact of the trip stayed with me for some time after we got back. I will certainly recommend you to friends in the future, and many thanks again, Jo Blake (October 2017) Dear James We thought you might be interested to have some feedback on our short trip. The travel plans worked well and we were lucky not to have any delays or hold ups. On the return journey we arrived early at Calais and were able to join an earlier departure which was a bonus. The hotels were fine with the one in Ypres being clearly superior although their evening menu was very restricted and we ate there for one night only. We had a job finding somewhere to eat on Sunday evening in Albert and settled on Hotel de la Paix which was not a huge success and we were weak enough to allow them to serve freezing cold red wine! Thanks to your detailed guides and an efficient navigator and driver we did not get lost once! We saw everything we set out to see and more besides although after visiting about 5 museums we found it all a bit repetitive. Your guides are very detailed and give excellent background to each site visited - in our case perhaps a bit too much detail! These comments are not really intended as criticisms - more a reflection on the fact that we were on a "sentimental" journey and are not by any means connoisseurs. Overall one could not fail to to moved by what one saw, read and heard and it was good to see so many English children at the various sites. The interest in the Menin Gate ceremony in particular and WW1 in general after 100 years, was amazing to experience. With thanks for all your help and arrangements and kind regards from the Carver family (October 2017) James, I just want to say thank you for the great time that my family and I have had on our recent trip to the Somme and Ypres. Your guides and information were superb. They were easy to follow and very informative. The hotels were great and bar Avril’s tea rooms the food was out of this world. I am wholeheartedly recommending your company to any one I speak too. Now we have a taste of the battlefields next year will be the WW2 Normandy landings. Once again thank you so much Glen Lloyd (October 2017) Dear James, A belated “thank you” for sending the published material to my hotel in Cork it was waiting for us on our arrival. The Hotel de la Paix was excellent the rooms comfortable and well-appointed, the staff endlessly helpful and the food good. I was surprised by so modern an establishment in a small French rural town. Bapaume was also very close to Delville Wood, the most famous WW1 battle for South African forces. We headed there soon after arriving and it was, as you noted, an eerie place. I collected some of the many acorns scattered on the ground and will plant them here [South Africa]. The material you provided was highly informative and I had the sense it has been honed over the years – thank you for the care taken with this. We did drop into Avril Williams’ restaurant for lunch one day; it was a little disappointing although we did arrive on a bad day the chip-fryer was broken, which removed a good proportion of her menu! Le Tommy in Pozières, despite the rather heavy-handed themeing, was better. I came away from the three days with a jumble of thoughts through which I’m still working. I read a while ago that Auschwitz has become almost like a theme-park and I wonder if the same isn’t happening to the WW1 Battlefields the souvenir shop at Thiepval was jarring although I suppose they need every penny they can collect. Perhaps this is how they will have to survive in the modern age, as the generations affected by the world wars (mine is probably the last) die off. Regards, Dominic Rooney (September 2017) Dear James I am just writing to thank you very much for organising the excellent tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields for Christopher and myself. I was very impressed from the outset that you could put together the arrangements for the tour so quickly and efficiently at such short notice and I thank you for putting yourself out just before you were going away yourself. We thought your choice of hotels in both Albert and Ypres was very good and the journey to and from from Calais went seamlessly. We ate very well with the exception of the Auberge de la Vallee Ancre where the main course was very disappointing.. but the wine list was exceptional! More importantly, however, was the excellent self-driving itinerary, which once we had done our homework on using it efficiently, was without fail accurate and enlightening. Your background work on the history, the battles, the armies, the living conditions of officers and men, the equipment and the horrifying statistics was thorough and very interesting and visiting various museums only served to confirm that which you had already written. I now feel much more au fait with that period of history and understand what is meant when people refer to the suffering endured by most of the world’s nations over the First World War. And the experience begs the question... When will we ever learn? Thank you very much for a memorable 5 days. With best wishes Antonia (September 2018) Dear James I just wanted to thank you providing us with such excellent material for our Battlefields trip. We returned last week and haven't stopped talking about it yet! The maps and accompanying booklets for both Somme and Ypres areas were superb and kept us right on track. The only time we overshot anything was in Hamel just outside Albert. where the maize had grown so tall by the time of our visit that it completely obscured the cemetery as we approached, so we had to turn back, park on the roadside and walk to discover what we were looking for. This was made possible by the clear description you gave of other landmarks in the village. In the Somme area, we managed to drive round everything on the route you suggested, visited the museum underneath the Basilica in Albert and also the one in Peronne - both very impressive. We were particularly moved by a temporary exhibition of art by Otto Dix which displayed the true horror of it all, both real and imagined. We called in on Avril for coffee and ate far too well at the Hotel de la Basilique! One of the most moving experiences was our visit to Delville Wood Museum, and Richard found the Mametz Wood area very foreboding. On our way to Ypres, we stopped at Messines for coffee and visited the Ireland Peace Park and the New Zealand memorial. We also had a mission to find a grave of a soldier local to us here and stopped at Wijkstaete to locate his resting place in the very peaceful cemetery there. Whilst in Ypres, we attended the Menin Gate ceremony on Monday when the proceedings were more formal than some, due to an impressive number of wreaths being laid and a marching band also in attendance. One of the wreaths was laid by Mike Tindall as a group of former rugby players of top quality were on tour playing Rugby for Heroes! We were so impressed that we attended the following evening as well, although this was a less formal ceremony. We enjoyed some very good meals in the town and drove around much of your tour before meeting Genevra on our final day. She really had done a lot of research on our behalf and took us to places where Richard's grandfather had been in action. She was as fascinated as we were to relive his experience of viewing the countryside through his field glasses which we took with us. It was a wonderful day made very special by her passion to learn of individuals' experiences. She has since sent us further information to which we didn't have access and we have exchanged photos. We dropped in on St George's Memorial Church after we parted company and both found that very interesting. On our return trip to the port, we took in Talbot House in Poperinge (on Genevra's advice) and visited the Lijssenthoek cemetery. Thank you so much for making our trip so memorable. We would have missed so much had we not had your guidance. I shall certainly recommend you to friends and family who may wish to take a similar trip. Who, knows - I may drop in when we are visiting my brother in Wimborne and meet you in person! Many thanks once again Sarah and Richard Musgrave August 217) Good afternoon James I just wanted to say what a fabulous weekend Mum & I had. Ypres was beautiful, its hard to imagine that 100 years ago it was hell on earth. The Albion Hotel is lovely, very comfortable and the staff were really friendly. The tour with Wouter was the highlight of the weekend. What a lovely man he is. He totally charmed Mum, had her hanging on his every word. She was so moved being able to see the places where her father served for the whole 4 years of the war. The stories that Wouter told us and the photos he showed brought it all to life and gave us both especially Mum a clearer understanding as to why her Dad was the way he was, very quiet and detached and always deep in thought. We managed to get tickets to go into the Dugout at Zonnebeke, mum did really well getting down the steps. It was amazing to be able to see it. We were really emotional being able to lay a poppy at the Menin Gate at the panel commemorating his friends who were lost from his regiment. It was a very special weekend, one which both of us will remember forever. Many thanks for organising it for us Suzanne Bevington (August 2017) James Just got back to the UK after a fantastic week in France. My sincere thanks for all your organisation - the whole trip worked like clockwork. Peter Smith was excellent and I will be sending him a separate note to say thank you. Many thanks again and I will certainly be recommending you to anyone who enquires about our trip. Kind regards Brett Wooldridge (July 2017) Hi James, Got back Sunday night from our tour. We were both very impressed with the whole 6 day excursion. Incredibly well organised, highly detailed notes, directions and info. Even my wife couldn't help but successfully direct me to our next stop! Hotels - very good. Euro- Tunnel very good - beats the ferry! Definite trip of a lifetime - thank you. My wife who was at first slightly cautious of the trip thoroughly enjoyed it and was at times very moved. Didn't do every stop but tended to linger longer at some places such as Newfoundland Park, Tyne Cot,Passchendaele Museum, Hills 62 & 60 and Lochnagar crater to name but a few. Definite advantage of self-drive over coach. Regards, Gordon & Enez Tompsett (July 2017) Hello James, I just wanted to send you a quick note to say that we had a great trip to Ypres/Somme between 5-12 July. Your itinerary was first rate and created the right balance between the big set piece such as a Tyne Cot or Thiepval and the more unusual corners of the battlefields, many of which were new to me despite having visited both areas a dozen times or more. The whole family really enjoyed the experience and we felt a real connection to the areas and the moments of significance from 1914-18. The Ariane was superb as a hotel and we would hurry back. They really did look after us well. Highly recommended! The Royal Picardie was very good also although we suffered a bit on the first night as our room for 3 people was a "traditional" room with no air con and it had been 29 degrees that day! We did move the next morning to a newer room with air con and the staff did look after us so "all's well that ends well" etc. You may know already but they have no restaurant for dinner any longer (breakfast was very good). We used Corners Pub and the Basilique Hotel and both were well-received. One tip in the itinerary materials might be to warn the casual visitor that if there has been rain then a few areas may be quite muddy and wellies or similar would be useful - Hawthorn Crater was a case in point. I was not popular for leading 3 females into the mud but all part of the experience if you ask me! The whole experience was superb and I want to thank you on behalf of the family for a truly memorable holiday. It was all the more poignant as we managed to visit the resting places of several former pupils in both Ypres and the Somme. Thanks and best wishes David Burnett (June 2017) Hi James Just to let you know - the trip was excellent. We crammed so much in it was quite tiring, but extremely worthwhile - sometimes poignant, sometimes overwhelming in the scale of the casualties, but always interesting. The museums in Albert and Zonneberg were especially good. There were lots of school parties there on organised tours, which is encouraging. They seemed enthusiastic even though it's ancient history to them. The substitution of the Albion Hotel proved excellent - great location, friendly staff, and excellent facilities, with the car parking a real bonus. We've received your kind refund, and I can assure you it went to a good cause, as we found the beer and food in Ypres quite expensive - to be expected around the Grote Markt and the Menin Gate as they are major tourist attractions. Don't know what the issue was with the Ariane Hotel, but your prompt action and excellent substitution saved the day! The tour literature was impressively comprehensive, so much so that we could cope with splitting the routes in each battlefield over 2 days, choosing where to spend more time and where to skim, and even do some runs in different order when small roads were blocked (roadworks, etc). The staff at the Royal Picardie were fine, but the restaurant is not open at all for dinner- don't know whether this is temporary or a permanent cost-saving measure. No problem for us as we ate in the centre of Albert, with just the odd drink in the hotel bar. We did get a taxi to and from the centre, which the hotel receptionist organised for us, as my co-traveller had had a replacement knee operation fairly frequently and was saving himself for the tour walks. Other travellers with mobility issues may wish to do the same - it was only 7 euros each way. Once again, many thanks for your help - we may even go back. Kind Regards Robert Pringle (June 2017) Dear James, Sue and I had a brilliant four days in France/Belgium last week. With Sue driving and me navigating and your excellent instructions we managed on the first day to see the grave of my grandfather’s cousin, William Thomas Brewer in Abbeville. We made an error at first and came off the motorway at Junction 22 instead of 23 but, having had some help from some friendly French workers, who directed us to the centre of the town we found a sign to the cemetery. After that we were a bit lost thanks to the lack of signing on French roads but we made it in the end! After that we made for Albert and found the Hotel Royal Picardie very easily. We walked into town for a meal and found the excellent Hotel De La Paix which was French cooking at its best. The Hotel Picardie didn’t seem to be offering meals in their restaurant at all so we returned to the Hotel De La Paix the second night for another excellent meal. We spent this second day on the Somme battlefields and followed half of your self-drive guide we started at 9 am and stopped at 6 pm having had a fascinating first day. We visited many cemeteries and as we turned for Albert on the D929 we found the Pozieres Cemetery where one of the Holt Parish Hall Plaque men is remembered – William Squibb. We found his names on the panel 91. Having read the whole of your book on the Somme now I understand not all the missing are mentioned at Thiepval. We found Ernest Brewer’s name there – he is the brother of William. On Wednesday , we made for Ypres via Vimy Ridge as Sue’s brother had recommended a visit. We were not disappointed and the Canadians took s down into the tunnels dug out by Welsh and Australian miners. When we reached Ypres we checked into the Hotel Ariane again, easily found using your directions and then walked the ramparts, in reverse, ending up at the Menin Gate Memorial at 7pm. A very moving ceremony and we had an extra as a student from a Canadian College played the bag pipes after the buglers. All the people there were so friendly. On the last day we had time to do about aa quarter of the Ypres Salient tour which was very informative and we visited Hill 60, the Caterpillar mine crater and the Bluff which was beautifully quiet and full of wildlife. On the way back to Calais we went into Merville and found the grave of my Great-uncle, William John Bleddyn. This was very emotional for me as I have carried out much research on him and have his medals and his photo. Both Sue and I are very grateful for your help and guidance and organizing of the trip. We enjoyed the trip enormously and we came back on a high, despite the awful news of Grenfell Tower! I am continuing to read your books and can still picture the battlefields in my mind. Thank you very much. I have one question do you know if the various regiments or the Imperial War Museum know the names of all the men who fought in the War. I know only 70% of the actual records of the men (not the officers) were destroyed in WWII but I wondered if anyone has the names of all those who fought. With best wishes, Ann Korta Dear James , We wanted to let you know we had a fantastic time recently staying at the lovely Ariane hotel and Ypres. Your attention to detail is amazing , however we did manage to get lost a few times , nothing to do with your instructions , just us going off piste ! I discovered Belgium beer , we brought some home with us, and some chocolates . My parents thoroughly enjoyed the trip especially my Dad , seeing for himself the land he has read so much about . For all of us the 8pm last post at Menin gate was moving . Thank you again James for all your help . Good luck I the future with your company . Best wishes Tracey and Gary Leone (May 2017) Hi James, We have returned from our pilgrimage to the Somme and thought we should write to you and say that we had a great time with all the details that you furnished for us. Very detailed (sometimes a bit too much info for us fledglings) but none the less very thorough and we gleaned a lot out of it all. The accommodation, Avril Williams Guest House and the Albion Hotel in Ypres were both very good also. Thanks again James. Kind regards, Kathryn Sergent (May 2017) South Australia Dear James, good afternoon. Just thought I would drop you a quick note following our recent battlefield tour based around Bapaume and Ypres. All went very well. The directions and information provided were excellent and made efficient use of our limited time. In addition to the cemeteries detailed in your guides we stopped at others we encountered whilst driving and without exception found the experience powerful and very moving. We all thoroughly enjoyed the entire time and of course were able to pay our respects to long past family members. We may well repeat the experience in the future. Although there were significant differences in size, both hotels [Hotel de la Paix, Somme, and the Ariane Hotel, Ypres] were brilliant. We would have no hesitation in staying at either again or recommending you to friends and family. On a separate matter do you provide a similar service for the Normandy battlefields? Thank you again for a not to be forgotten experience. Kind regards David Bryant (May 2017) Dear James, I echo Tim's earlier Email to you [below]. It was a memorable trip. I enclose one photo for you. Best wishes. Martin Dennis (May 2017) (Mr Bennett is researching a book to be published soon chronicling the fortunes of those men from the village of Overstrand, Norfolk, who fell in the Great War) THANK YOU VERY MUCH from all of us James
The only Self-Drive WW1 tour company to be recommended in the Independent’s ‘Complete Guide to Great War Travel’
Battlefield tours - Self-Drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields of the Great War First World War 1914-1918
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2019 Trust Pilot review submitted by Dr Adam Gajdatsy: “I started my planning for this tour with no more than a nebulous idea of visiting the battlefields of WW1, and gaining an adequate insight into the events of that time. I also wanted to self drive. James brought my wishes to fruition with his excellent and comprehensive itinerary and information books, and with the travel and accommodation bookings. Coming from Australia, and travelling with a UK hire car, nevertheless I found the trip to be seamlessly easy and straightforward. James is easy to contact, including via Messenger, making the organisation in advance of the trip straightforward. Highly recommended.” Dr Adam Gajdatsy August 2019 Trust Pilot review submitted by Mike Chatterton: “A friend and I have recently returned from a self-drive battlefield tour of the Ypres area using the guidance material and itinerary provided by James Power of Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd. The great advantage of such a tour is the ability to progress at your own pace whilst viewing battlefield locations. These are informed by a high degree of well expressed understanding of the actions which took place and at what human cost. Using the maps and guide provided it was straightforward to relate the modern ground to the contours and views of a century ago, albeit without the desolation. The itinerary was faultless and the descriptions of events comprehensive and always written with an appropriate degree of respect and reverence for the gravity of the events and reminding us that much of the ground over which we travelled was the final resting place of so many soldiers. It is also worth mentioning that the recommended hotel which we chose, the Ariane, was excellent in all respects and ideally located. Thank you for facilitating such a memorable experience, James”. (Ypres tour May 2019) Dear James I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the amazing tour we have just returned from to the Somme and Ypres Battlefields. As you know my wife Rachel bought this for me as a surprise Christmas present and from receiving the incredibly detailed information pack outlining our tour, to getting home, we were not disappointed. As others have said, your attention to detail is amazing, The only time we made any mistakes in navigating was when we chose to ignore your directions! We were soon put right by referring to the incredibly detailed and well-illustrated route plans. It was fantastic to be pointed in the right direction for so many things that I am sure an organised guided tour/coach trip would miss (and, for what it is worth, such a “coach” trip would not appeal to myself and I am sure many other people, compared to a self-drive tour of the quality that you organised where we can manage our own time). Locations like the Welsh Memorial with the amazing references and views over the battle ground of Mametz Wood is something that I am sure 90% of visitors to the area just do not get to see. Similarly, in the Ypres Salient, I wondered how many people have had the opportunity to spend time considering the events that took place at the Ravebeek Stream with the more well-known and well-visited sites being so close. The recommended hotels were excellent. The Hotel de la Basilique Albert was wonderful classically French, with a superb restaurant and located in the heart of the historic town and with ample parking right outside the door. As you know, we did have a glitch with the New Regina hotel booking in Ypres, which was absolutely no fault of yours whatsoever (we realised very quickly the hotel had overbooked!), and amazingly - and thank you within less than five minutes you had arranged alternative, and dare I say superior, accommodation with an upgrade at the excellent Ariane Hotel, still within a stones’ throw of Cloth Hall and the Menin Gate. I would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone whether a WW1 battlefield novice like myself, or an veteran of many visits to use your services. I have to say, and very honestly so, it was a fantastically organised trip with every attention to detail catered for. Thank you again Best regards Laurence and Rachel (Somme & Ypres tour May 2019) Dear James We arrived back yesterday after a really great trip. Your instructions were first class and we had no trouble in following your directions to various place on the tour. Our first stay with Avril Williams was wonderful, we were made to feel very welcome and like part of the family. We were lucky to be one of the first to stay in her new apartments which was spacious and comfortable having a bedroom, shower room, sitting room and fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher! We had our evening meals there as well and these were exceptionally good and good value. Avril was very informative and helpful and we could have spent hours in her museum. The Ariane in Ypres was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there going to the Last Post twice. It was very busy both times. Thank you once again for an excellent trip Sue and Trevor Goldsworthhy (Somme & Ypres tour May 2019) Hello James I just wanted to write to you to say what a great self drive trip that you set up for us was. It covered everything that we needed to see and through good timing we missed most of the coach tours. The advantage of doing it yourself was that we could explore on our own time. It was also good to refresh my memory with your excellent notes and pictures that went with the maps. The hotels were top quality and their locations were outstanding. Well done and thanks again Mark (Somme & Ypres tour April 2019) Dear James, We have just come back from three amazing days and feel so lucky that Darjie chose you, as your magic pack was perfect. Wonderful, moving days that gave us all so much food for thought. The beauty of the cemeteries was a fitting tribute to all those who were lost to many nations. The hotels were great, food super and perfect for the tour. Will recommend you highly. Thank you so much. Yours, Bridget. (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Dear James I cannot thank you enough for giving us really wonderful comprehensive information for our Battlefields Trip. It was such an amazing visit, so poignant and seeing all those graves of the thousands of fallen men was so very moving and how generous they were to put their lives on the line for all of us so that we could live in freedom. Your information packs were incredible and perfect to the last arrow and descriptions and superbly produced. Both of our hotels were immaculate and just great, so clean and food excellent. The location of the New Regina Hotel was wonderfully placed, especially for getting to the Menin Gate. Again, thank you so very much for all your help and guidance, most kind of you With very best wishes Sheila Bednall (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) James. I would just like to add our thanks for your excellent guide books and hotel recommendations. As the chief Navigator I can say that we never missed a spot we wanted to see. We learned a lot. Best regards Mike Champion (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Dear James, I would just like to say many thanks for the marvellous Battlefields trip you organised for Darjie Armstrong and her relatives. Your information pack was quite superb, giving us not only the detailed background and information, but also really good driving and visiting instructions. The only times we went wrong were when we did not pay attention to your spot-on instructions! Also, the hotels you booked for us were first class; the dinner in the Picardie in Albert was excellent. Well done - I won't hesitate to recommend you to any friends of mine who wish to do their own Battlefields tour. Kind regards, Michael Bednall (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) Hi James Tucked up at The Regina hotel for our last night. What an incredible three days we have had - interesting, fascinating and very moving. A million thanks from us all for the truly fantastic itinerary you did for us- we are so grateful and deeply impressed at the amount of work you put in and all the details and extra snippets you included. We are all delighted at choosing the best tour operator ! Thank you. Best wishes and good night. Darjie x PS. The hotels have been perfect . (Somme & Ypres tour - April 2019) 2018 Dear James We just wanted to write and tell you that we had a most interesting and poignant visiting the 1WW battlefields, cemeteries and museums in the Somme and Ypres Salient over the last week. Your detailed itinerary and notes helped us to appreciate the terrible conditions and sacrifices made on both sides during the battles, taking us to places we would have certainly otherwise missed. We thought we should mention one cemetery that was very easy to visit on our return from Ypres to Calais, namely the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery which was just a small diversion from our route. It contained a really interesting and informative visitor centre (unlike the one at Tynecot) with many insights into the workings of the field hospital based there. You may wish to add it to your itinerary for the return route. Both hotels were excellent with upgraded rooms given to us at both the Ariane and Le Macassar. The new owners at the latter were most welcoming and the Art Deco nature of the rooms very interesting. They provided a lovely Table d’hôte meal on the Sunday evening and are very keen to maintain the level of hospitality provided by the previous owners. We would definitely recommend that you keep it as one of your hotel options for the Somme region. Thank you again for the efficient and comprehensive service that you provided in arranging our trip. Yours sincerely David and Alison Levy (October 2018) Dear Mr. Power It’s been a month since we returned from Europe and the Somme and its effect upon my son and I have been long lasting. Both of us were surprised at how moving an experience it was. We knew the history, the fatal military judgements and huge number of losses, but history books don’t give any sense of the magnitude of the casualties in the terrain that exposed so many troops to slaughter. Being there does. Seeing all those cemeteries does. And your guide with it’s detail and meticulous and compassionate explanations brought the Somme battles to life. What made our experience all the more poignant was that the beauty of the gentle rolling Picardie countryside, its fields, copses and steepled villages today belied what took place there 102 years ago. We were especially moved by Sheffield Park and the PALS memorials, and thought, "There, but for time, place and the Grace of God” we could have been among those young men. I might add, the hotel was comfortable and pleasant, its food surprisingly good. Coincidentally, staying at the Royal Picardie were graphic novels artist, publishers and editors attending a book fair in Albert. Some of them had been involved with the publication for the centennial of a graphic novel, “Traces of the Great War”; just one more experience to enrich a great trip. Thanks and my best, Robert B Kohn, USA (October 2018) Dear James, We have had such an interesting if emotional week with your self drive tours of the Somme and Ypres areas and would like to thank you for the meticulous detail in both the route directions and battle details with the maps and photographs. We had many of the Somme areas to ourselves with such peace in the surrounding areas contrasting to what must have been unimaginable horror. It was busier in the Ypres area at the more well-known sites but always manageable. October was a good time to go and the weather was amazing too - just like summer! You asked to mention any errors that might be found - just one very small one on page 49a of the Somme guide Private J Sweeney’s grave is Row B - the arrow does point to this although A is written in brackets. Good to see he was given a graveyard burial and now there is a memorial to those Shot at Dawn at the National Memorial Arboretum. How very difficult it was in so many ways for all those in the Great War and how powerful hindsight is. There were many very moving and emotional moments for both of us including the German cemetery at Langemark. Thank you again for such a comprehensive tour which will not be forgotten. Yours sincerely, Janice and Tony Elvidge (October 2018) Hi James Just a quick note on behalf of my mum and myself to say how much we enjoyed the Somme and Ypres itinerary that you provided. Extraordinary detail that gave a real insight into the terrible history of the conflict. We enjoyed both hotels, especially the Ariane in Ypres - and the cafe's & restaurants that you recommended including the Hotel de Basilique and the Ocean Villas Tea rooms where we met Avril. All best wishes and thanks once again Richard Steeden (October 2018) Dear James, Got back on Friday. Everything worked like clockwork; Jan and I want to thank you for the detailed and comprehensive planning which went into the whole trip. The Ariane Hotel was excellent, including the upgrade, and we were blessed with superb weather which no doubt you also arranged. (We couldn't help thinking that a steady downpour would have been more appropriate to tour the Salient!). We spent Tuesday and Wednesday touring the Ypres area, and on Thursday drove down to the site of the Battle of Loos, taking in Messines, Ploegstreet and the Irish Peace memorial on the way. The former Hohenzollern Redoubt is unmistakeable and overgrown but firmly entrée interdite. We were not tempted, but were mightily impressed with the Quarry cemetery nearby - we believe the quarry was the Battalion HQ during the battle. It also has the grave of Captain Bowes-Lyon, the Queen's uncle. The Battlefield guides were superb, giving just the right amount of information; we much appreciated retaining control of our own timing and activity. As a former naval person, I am now more aware of the importance of the terrain than I was; the aspect of the slight slope up to the Hohenzollern looked frightening! [guide update suggestion]. Again, many thanks for the attention to detail and comprehensive information. We shall certainly recommend Somme Battlefield Tours to our friends. Yours sincerely, Mike Forbes (September 2018) Hi James Just wanted you to know that we had a fabulous time touring the Somme and Ypres last week. The hotels were wonderful especially the Hotel De La Paix, this was such a friendly hotel with wonderful amenities and staff. We found virtually all the sites in your guides and more, we never stopped to be honest and covered hundreds of miles, we even visited Dunkirk Beach on the way home. Everything went to plan with the euro tunnel and it was a great experience, one we will do again. Thank you for planning this tour for us James it was a lifetime wish of my Brother and I and one I will now do again because there are still more places I want to visit like Amiens, it was to busy to go there because of the celebrations going on whilst we was there. Once again Thank you James Kindest Regards Ian J Blakey. (August 2018) James We got back from our tour late on Friday and wanted to thank you for the tour that you prepared for us. It was so informative and detailed and even though we did not manage to cover the whole itinerary because of time, we now feel that we have a much better understanding of the horrors and the awful mistakes made resulting in the huge sacrifices of men in this dreadful war. The directions and road information was clear and precise on your routes. The hotel Ariane was lovely and we ate there on their terrace and the Hotel de la Paix was very welcoming, clean and homely and the evening meals were good. Thank you for making our trip so worthwhile. Best wishes Sue (July 2918) Hi James Myself and dad just wanted to send you a massive thank you for making our battlefields tour so unbelievably perfect. Such a moving experience and very important to both of us. Made even better by the stress free arrangements and fabulous accommodation. Truly thank you we loved it. Naomi Walsby Dear James We are just home (we had a few extra days in Antwerp) after the most absorbing and interesting visit to the Somme and to Passchendaele. Your itinerary and information contributed of course to a large degree and I’m writing to let you know on behalf of all three of us how much this was appreciated. We have learned so much on this trip- at times it was almost overwhelming! In addition, the overall arrangements worked perfectly- the hotels were great, restaurant recommendations proved really helpful and the driving instructions were clear and informative. We had a good team - driver, navigator and educator, the latter reminding us of specific information at each stop (we had done a lot of preparatory reading but it was difficult to retain all the information form those extensive dossiers!). Our days were very full and it was excellent having slightly more than two days for each centre overall. It was interesting how the different museums/visitor centres each had sufficient information and display to merit some real time and we were fortunate to be able to linger as we wished. We thought the private museum at Hooge was very impressive (that at Hill 62 possibly rather less so).. We located some family graves which was particularly special for us - at Bonnay, Peronne and Ieper, plus a name on the Menin Gate. We also visited the Australian cemetery and memorial at Villers-Brettoneux (between Amiens and Albert), and the trenches and wonderful memorial at Vimy Ridge. I know you could not possibly cover everything but it might be worth mentioning this for those doing both areas of the ‘tour’ - we went from Albert to Arras, explored the latter quite briefly and then went to Vimy en route to Ieper, which worked well. I would be more than happy to add the gist of this to Trip Advisor or similar if that is helpful. With thanks again and best wishes from us all Deborah (May 2018) Hi James, We are on our last night in Ypres and the entire trip has been FANTASTIC! Our only hiccup was being unable to reach the hotel due to several road closures. Our sat/nav was also stumped, but nothing that going the wrong way on a one way street couldn’t fix! We told the front receptionist that we had to go the wrong way on the street and her response was “Oh that’s ok, it’s Sunday”. This made me and Peter laugh so hard! We followed your excellent guide to the letter and we even had enough time to visit Calais and Dunkirk before we began the Ypres part of the trip! Yes I know, we went back and forth, but that’s the beauty of having your own transportation! We noticed that there were no tour buses on the routes you gave us and very often, we were the only ones at the sites. The staff at Hotel Ariane were great and the breakfast was superb! We are looking forward to it again in the morning before we leave for France. I’ll give you another update after the second part of the tour. Thank you again for the incredible experience! I think I may have won the Wife of the Year Award for booking this :) Connie (April 2018) Dear James I just wanted to convey our sincerest thanks for arranging a really wonderful Battlefields trip recently. From the Euro-tunnel check-in through to the Hotels recommended by you, we were extremely impressed. Everything was just as you described and the food and service in both hotels exemplary. Most of all Jacques made the sites visited come alive. He has a style of his own and captivated us for a full two days with stories and anecdotes. He really went the extra mile in making it a truly memorable experience. One which we will all remember for a long time to come. Thank you again Best regards Ben Ben Penniston (April 1918) 2017 Dear James, This is a rather belated note to say a very big ‘thank you’ for all your detailed help in setting up our trip last month. You could not have gone to more trouble for us. We were lucky with perfect sunny dry weather, and it all went very well. Jacques was excellent, and so nice, and went out of his way to show us where our great uncle spent his last few days. We also happened to meet Genevra during the day as well. Your guides were amazing, including meeting the tricky farmer at Serre, who while we were walking along the track not only drove up to check on us 2 or 3 times, but also forced bumper to bumper a mini van to reverse back down! . We reckoned he did not have much spare time to do any farming! I must say that the impact of the trip stayed with me for some time after we got back. I will certainly recommend you to friends in the future, and many thanks again, Jo Blake (October 2017) Dear James We thought you might be interested to have some feedback on our short trip. The travel plans worked well and we were lucky not to have any delays or hold ups. On the return journey we arrived early at Calais and were able to join an earlier departure which was a bonus. The hotels were fine with the one in Ypres being clearly superior although their evening menu was very restricted and we ate there for one night only. We had a job finding somewhere to eat on Sunday evening in Albert and settled on Hotel de la Paix which was not a huge success and we were weak enough to allow them to serve freezing cold red wine! Thanks to your detailed guides and an efficient navigator and driver we did not get lost once! We saw everything we set out to see and more besides although after visiting about 5 museums we found it all a bit repetitive. Your guides are very detailed and give excellent background to each site visited - in our case perhaps a bit too much detail! These comments are not really intended as criticisms - more a reflection on the fact that we were on a "sentimental" journey and are not by any means connoisseurs. Overall one could not fail to to moved by what one saw, read and heard and it was good to see so many English children at the various sites. The interest in the Menin Gate ceremony in particular and WW1 in general after 100 years, was amazing to experience. With thanks for all your help and arrangements and kind regards from the Carver family (October 2017) James, I just want to say thank you for the great time that my family and I have had on our recent trip to the Somme and Ypres. Your guides and information were superb. They were easy to follow and very informative. The hotels were great and bar Avril’s tea rooms