Touring the Battlefields


YOUR VISIT

Visiting the Battlefields of the First World War can be an enlightening and emotional journey for many people. The Western Front covers a vast amount of ground both at the front and behind the lines. Using the experience I have built, and continue to build, tours to the battlefields are designed and shaped with the customers main needs foremost.

Touring the battlefields, interpreting and explaining the history is more of a passion rather than a job and I enjoy taking the time and effort to accurately describe the areas we will travel to. I use many sources to do this including original unit war diary extracts, personal recollections from the veterans who served, historical evidence and original trench maps, many geo-referenced for GPS. The First War has left a long lasting legacy in the areas in which it took place, this can be seen today in the form of the hundreds of Military cemeteries that lie in and around the battlefields, concrete bunkers, geographical features such as old trenches and Mine Craters and the debris of war which still litters the farmers fields which were once the Battlefields. 

Using my historical knowledge of the battlefields and coupling it together with the military experience I have attained whilst in the Army I go a long way to try to emphasise what the soldiers went through, what conditions were like and what life was like for them during these difficult times. The First World War is not all about fighting in the front line. A lot went on in the areas behind the lines. Many lasting legacies of what happened in the rear area are visible today. I like to encompass the areas behind the lines as well as the front lines whilst guiding. I find that with careful explanation that this leads to a greater understanding of what happened.

Walking the Battlefields has to be the best way of appreciating what happened in the past. All of my tours can involve short walks as well as driving from location to location.

I operate no strict timings for the tours, although I will advise on start times depending on the itinerary being operated at the time. Once you book my services (daily rate applies) you have me for a guide for the tour. I am happy to guide from Sunrise to Sunset, or longer, if needs must. I am also available for tours that last longer than one day if you wish to travel further afield.

TOURS AND ITINERARIES

I operate many different types of tour to the battlefields, ranging from tours that give an introduction to the Western Front to more bespoke tours that either follow a theme or have a genealogical touch to them. I have many different itineraries that suit varying customer needs and cover not just the British area of the Western Front but also those areas fought over by our French allies. 

Once you get in contact with Trenchmaptours let me know what you expect to gain from your visit to the Western Front and I will put together a provisional itinerary to see if it meets your needs and shape it from there. Some customers chose to spend a few days focussing on the main parts of the Western Front fought over by the British. Others wish to follow the route of a particular battle or phase of the war. Some choose to follow a particular subject within the war, medical, logistics, tunnelling etc and wish a tour itinerary to be built around their chosen subject.

For many battlefield visitors a trip to the old front line is far more than just a holiday. For many it remains a pilgrimage to follow in the footsteps of relative or past comrades who fought during the war. Many of my tours run per year focus on researching these men and then taking the customer on a journey of discovery to see where their relative fought and served. Following in the footsteps of a relative or Regiment demands prior in depth research to be done. I carry this out with high regard as to who I am delivering it to and also whose footsteps we are following in. It is a strong personal view that these men deserve our remembrance and therefore a high standard of research and study is needed to tell their story.
Your battlefield visit can be carried out by vehicle or also by foot. I have an extensive list of walks for all areas of the battlefields that can be shortened or lengthened to suit the needs of the customer.

For more information on itineraries and building a tour around your needs then please contact Trenchmaptours.

LUNCH AND REST STOPS

An Army marches on its stomach! Never a truer word spoken! During the tour time is taken to stop at Cafes for food and drink. Many of the places that I stop at have connection to the First World War and are little havens for the Battlefield traveller. See my list of places to eat and drink for more information.

TRANSPORT

All of the tours that I offer begin and end either in Ypres or on The Somme. I can either use my own vehicle for the tours, limited to 4 passengers, or you may use yours. For any group travel that is planned by minibus or coach please remember to include a space on board for the guide!

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED ON THE TOURS?

Museum Entry Fees

Guides accommodation for overnight stays if staying away from my home base.

Cost of drinks/food at cafes.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM ALREADY BOOKED FOR THE PERIOD YOU REQUIRE?

When you contact Trenchmaptours with your planned dates I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible with my availability for touring. Where the case arises that I am unable to guide the tour over the dates you require, and your dates cannot be changed, then I will recommend a small select group of other guides that I know and work with who I am happy can deliver a tour to the high standard required.
 

WARNING – UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE!

One of the long lasting legacies of the First War is the amount of unexploded ammunition that still lies in the area. It is not uncommon to see piles of unexploded shells, mortar projectiles and grenades, unearthed by farmers lying at the side of the road or in areas where construction takes place. It is a part of everyday life for the local people who live in these once ravished areas. The French and Belgian Bomb Disposal teams who patrol the areas picking up the UXO are amongst the busiest in the world. It is not unheard of for their annual “Iron Harvest” to be from 100 – 300 tonnes of shells and munitions.
The Shells that are unearthed are still VERY DANGEROUS. Regardless of age and condition these shells are STILL LIVE. The explosive or gas they contain can degenerate over the years and become more dangerous rather than safe. I cannot stress highly enough the danger of touching these devices. It is something I will not tolerate. Leave it to the professionals.