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. 2018
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’
Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd  Wimborne  Dorset BH21 1EJ  Tel: +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com
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"
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) 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 We   are   safely   back   home.   Many,   many   thanks   from   all   of   us   for   arranging   such   an excellent   tour   -   we   have   had   an   amazing   5   days   in   Ypres   and   The   Somme.   We   found your   tour   guides   so   helpful   and   informative   and   they   fitted   in   very   well   to   our   'Overstrand Tour'   so   we   were   able   to   mix   and   match   quite   easily.      There   were   so   many   locations   and 'things to see’ which otherwise we would have missed so easily without your guides. Martin   [ see   above    -   a   past   client   of   ours   who   joined   us   on   two   conducted   battlefield tours   some   years   ago ]   of   course   gave   us   an   excellent   running   commentary   and   was   able to   highlight   some   of   the   key   features   of   the   battles   to   give   us   some   context   for   what   we were looking at. We   were   able   to   lay   18   crosses   for   our   Overstrand   Boys   either   at   a   Memorial   or   at   a headstone.   All   these   moments   of   remembrance   were   so   special   and   we   took   photos   of the   relevant   parts   of   the   book   alongside.   Thank   you   for   your   suggestion   about   the   Last Post   Association   and   the   Menin   Gate   Ceremony   -   we   participated   on   the   Monday   evening -   it   was   very   moving   and   a   great   honour.I   will   let   you   have   more   details   of   our   trip   and few photos too later on in the week.

Testimonials

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) 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 2017) 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 We   are   safely   back   home.   Many,   many   thanks   from   all   of   us   for arranging   such   an   excellent   tour   -   we   have   had   an   amazing   5 days   in   Ypres   and   The   Somme.   We   found   your   tour   guides   so helpful   and   informative   and   they   fitted   in   very   well   to   our 'Overstrand   Tour'   so   we   were   able   to   mix   and   match   quite easily.      There   were   so   many   locations   and   'things   to   see’   which otherwise we would have missed so easily without your guides. Martin   [ see   above    -   a   past   client   of   ours   who   joined   us   on   two conducted   battlefield   tours   some   years   ago ]   of   course   gave   us an   excellent   running   commentary   and   was   able   to   highlight some   of   the   key   features   of   the   battles   to   give   us   some   context for what we were looking at. We   were   able   to   lay   18   crosses   for   our   Overstrand   Boys   either at    a    Memorial    or    at    a    headstone.    All    these    moments    of remembrance    were    so    special    and    we    took    photos    of    the relevant    parts    of    the    book    alongside.    Thank    you    for    your suggestion   about   the   Last   Post   Association   and   the   Menin   Gate Ceremony   -   we   participated   on   the   Monday   evening   -   it   was very   moving   and   a   great   honour.I   will   let   you   have   more   details of our trip and few photos too later on in the week. James As   a   small   ‘thank   you’   I   will   ask   Poppyland   Publishing   to   send you a complimentary copy of my book. with very best wishes for us all. Tim, Jill, Pete and Martin.
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   but   due   to   limitations of    space    here’s    our    testimonials    over    the    past    couple    of years. 2018
Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd  Wimborne  Dorset BH21 1EJ  Tel: +44 (0) 7776 195773 or +44 (0) 1202 840520 info@battlefield-tours.com