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A group of New Forest residents are researching the lives of soldiers and airmen who died in the First World War and whose names are inscribed on the walls of their church lychgate Ė the war memorial for the villages of Bank and Emery Down. Please click this link to see if you can help with any of the names recorded

 War memorial Emery Down 

Click the above image for our small tribute to all those who served in the Great War
(may take a few minutes to download)

 Copyright© SBT Ltd 2012



Avoid the period 17-22 June as the annual car rally sees the town besieged by rally enthusiasts. All hotels are pretty much fully booked over this period.

Ypres Events 2014-2015

Click here for a downloadable list of all events planned in and around Ypres for 2014-15.

1914 - 2014


The battlefields remain pretty much the same year on year so our self-drive tours remain the best way to explore Ypres/Flanders and the Somme whether 2014 or any other year. 
I personally find exploring the battlefields when it is quiet most rewarding, so if you are of the same mind then may be consider avoiding the big commemorative events planned for 2014.

 It's possibly better to have visited the battlefields ahead of planned programs etc so that when you watch commemorative programs on TV you will recall having already 'been there' !!

Please click the below logo for the Imperial War Museum's news page for events and much, much more...

Please also have a look at this excellent website
"Centenary News"
for i
ndependent, impartial and international
coverage of the First World War Centenary
and Centennial

Click above logo (or here) to go to the BBC's informative WW1 commemorative website

Lt Col John McCrae
'In Flanders Fields'
Spoken by Michael Haynes (click link)
(Superbly produced by

Empires of the Dead: How One Manís Vision Led to the Creation of WWIís War Graves.  The story of Sir Fabian Ware and the origins of what is now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
(click to go to Amazon)
NB We recommend this book purely out of respect for the subject and as such do not benefit from any sales

Mine Warfare and the La Boisselle Study Group

Click here for a lot more about the research being undertaken at the 'Glory Hole' at La Boisselle (Somme)

Click video link for BBC news item

In Flanders Fields Museum (Ypres)
The completely redesigned and enlarged In Flanders Fields Museum reopened June of this year!
Click here to go to the museum's new website

Have you any news you wish to show here? Just let me know and I'll be pleased to publish (if of general interest)

(BBC January 2012)

Somme Battlefield Tours is pleased to have been chosen to work with the BBC in 2001 and subsequently on two further occasions over the past six years leading a production team from Working Title Films in connection with the television adaptation of Sebastian Faulks's acclaimed novel Birdsong.  We believe we are the only battlefield tour company to have been chosen to help with these productions.


Telephone +44 (0) 1202 880211 or +44 (0) 7776 195773  or email

Welcome to
Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
A fully registered UK company established 1995
The specialists in Self-Drive tours to the

battlefields of the


Great War

1914-2014 CENTENARY
(see news column left)

'Best Guided Tour'
We are proud to be the only tour company to have
ever been awarded Vanity Fair's prestigious 
'Best Guided Tour' accolade


'Best Battlefield Tours'   10 November 2013

The only WW1 Self-Drive tour company to be selected!


and many, many more awards and recommendations as listed below. . .



Please read this bit first - it will only take a minute or so but worth the time. . .

We are presently receiving many emails so there may be a delay in being able to respond to your enquiry.  It would help a great deal if you could first have a closer look at our Self-Drive page (and downloads/videos) to find out more about the tours we offer.  When emailing please try and include the information we ask for (see here).  Thank you for your help and understanding!

Please also note that our office will be closed from Sunday 27 April until Monday 5 May 2014 (WWI lecture tour).

As you may already have found, there are many companies offering battlefield tours, especially as we approach the centenary of the Great War in 2014.  Our tours however are quite different.  Our tours allow you to reveal the hidden history of the battlefields at your own pace, at a time of your choosing, and for you and just you.  We are also one of the very few fully registered UK battlefield tour companies who have been established for over 17 years and who specialise in the Great War (Western Front) and nothing else.  We are also the only self-drive tour company to have received so many national press awards and recommendations, including Vanity Fair's much coveted ĎBest Guided Tour' award and  as recently featured in the prestigious 'Country Life' magazine - see below for more!

You may be unsure as to whether a self-drive tour is for you. Our best advice is to have a closer look at our many testimonials to see what people like you have said after they returned from a self-drive tour (see right - or click here for all). Unlike some companies, we donít just cherry-pick the letters we want you to read. The testimonials you see on our website are exactly as we received them - all of them. None have been excluded.

Our acclaimed Self-Drive Tours

here to jump straight to our Self-Drive tours page - or read on and then look in more detail. Click below for a quick look at our Somme and Ypres guides and itineraries:

Somme and Ypres guide itineraries

People who wish to visit the battlefields of the Great War quite often think first of a conducted tour.  However, for those truly seeking to reveal the legacy of the Great War, nothing can beat the freedom of exploring the battlefields without the rigid timetable of a coach/minibus group dictating the pace.  How frustrating must it be to see the battlefields passing before your very own eyes without being able to stop wherever you want to stop, for however long you want to spend, exploring what you want to explore.  The freedom to explore the battlefields at your own pace is what I always wanted, and today sets our tours apart.

December 2013
"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"

f you intend visiting the battlefield you need to be well briefed. Many visitors just turn up thinking that all will be clear, which will certainly not be the case.  This is where our Self-Drive guide expertise comes in to play, expertise based on having personally conducted over 250 small-group battlefield tours. Our written guides are not just any old collection of briefing notes, copied books or cobbled together maps as offered by some companies.   Our self-drive battlefield guides are professionally produced comprising two parts, so separating navigation from the main guide. The navigation section even includes a photo of every junction you'll encounter with clear overlaid pointers.  It's written as if we are in the car with you.


Our guides are regularly updated fully bound A4 colour guides which have been carefully designed to take you on a journey of exploration, so you know exactly where to drive, where to stop, where to walk and, most importantly of all, what to look for. Our guides are only available to those booking a tour with us and so not available from shops. It is this  essential combination of comparative 'then and now' maps, photos and narratives that have made our Self-Drive guides so appealing, especially to the independent traveller seeking to explore the past in greater detail.

If you have in mind to book one of our tours for 2014 then please do so ASAP as our hotels only have limited accommodation and demand will be high

Our Self-Drive tour 'package' also includes your hotel accommodation and Channel crossing (for UK travellers) all dovetailed together so all you have to do is just pack and go - we make it as simple as that! 

And there's more...

Self-Drive Tour - with the option of including a personal guided tour!

In addition to our Self-Drive tours, we can easily arrange for an English speaking guide to pick you up at the hotel we book for you and take you on a one or two day personal tour of the battlefield. This is a truly personal service and as such you will  be just in the company of our experienced guide and not other members of the public. This service is particularly popular with visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Canada who may already be in France and who wish to focus on specific battlefields where their fellow countrymen served.

To find out more about our Self-Drive tours please click here.

We would like to extend a special welcome to our website to visitors from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland (Eire), the Indian sub continent, South Africa and China in recognition of those soldiers and workers who came from so far away to serve in the Great War. 

We are a small but caring company run by myself, James Power, and my wife Annette. We thank you for visiting our website, which we built ourselves - and we update every few days!

We accept payment by credit and debit card and are fully compliant with the strict security requirements imposed by all leading credit card companies.

See 'Contact Us' for more about us
(we are based in Wimborne, Dorset, England)

   James Power 
about me.
A  member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides


Western Front Association


 last updated
     21 April 2014 


Phone: 01202 880211 or 07776 195773

Outside UK p
hone: +44 1202 880211 or +44 7776 195773




Click the above image for our small tribute to
all those who served in the Great War
(may take a few minutes to download)


Please note that the nature of what we do takes us away from our office from time to time. Email is best, but if you phone and we're not in then please leave a message and we'll try and get back to you the same day as we pick up emails and messages all the time whilst away. Thank you for your understanding.

Click to send an email or type

07776 195773

  +44 7776 195773
(from outside the UK)


"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 Bishop of Cork.

What the national quality press
have said about our tours

December 2013
"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"

'Best Guided Tour'
We are proud to be the only battlefield tour company to have been selected for Vanity Fair's prestigious
 'Best Guided Tour 2009' Award 2009
(the only company 2009-2014)

'Best Battlefield Tours'  

10 November 2013

The only WW1 Self-Drive tour company
to be selected!

As featured in the Sunday Telegraph

11 November 2012

The only specialist WWI company
to appear in

Top Ten Battlefield Tours
(Daily Telegraph 16 April 2008)

The only specialist WWI company to be recommended in the Sunday Times

"52 Great Weekends"

"Mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the first world war with a self-drive tour of the Somme. Somme Battlefield Tours (01202 880211) provides excellent guide packs, with trench maps and superb commentaries."

also. . .

"In Search of Wilfred Owen"

Somme Battlefield Tours . . .which offers self-drive tours of the front. . . including accommodation and meticulously researched notes"

The only battlefield guide to be a finalist and 'Highly Commended' in this year's
'Paul Morrison World's Best Tour Guide'
competition organised by Wanderlust
travel magazine in association with the
Daily Telegraph


The Independent

The only specialist Self-Drive WWI company

to be recommended in the Independent's

"Complete Guide to Great War Travel'



Copyright © James Power 2013


What people have said
about our Self-Drive tours...

(scroll down or click here to see all letters)
"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. . . . I spoke to Phoebe, Teddy's wife [cusdonians]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."

Dr Tim Redmond

Email from Trudi Belcher & family
Click to enlarge!


The German Front Line revealed
after ploughing (Thiepval, Somme)
Click to enlarge

The battlefields then and now. . .

German soldiers rescuing a French soldier during the Verdun battle.

The pock-marked terrain of one of the bloodiest battlefields today.


Delville Wood, Somme 1916
'Then and Now'

Could those soldiers who experienced the horrors of this wood ever have imagined that little children would one day skip through the trenches of yester-year, seemingly unaware of the legacy beneath their feet...

The 'harvest of iron'. Shells are still recovered today and piled up ready for collection (Somme 2001).

Remnants of the Great War still to be found today (Warning - do not touch unexploded shells, grenades etc. If in any doubt leave well alone)

Fricourt German cemetery

The Basilica at Albert
'then and now'
(click to enlarge)

 11 November 1918
The end of the Great War?

YouTube link to excellent recent BBC documentary

"The Somme - From defeat to Victory"

(click image)