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Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
About Us

My wife and me (left of photo) with one of our many tour groups

I first visited the Somme and Ypres battlefields back in 1966 when I was just eighteen. I was returning from a holiday in France, and by chance found myself to be driving through somewhere called Picardy and the Somme.

I remember stopping to see a truly massive memorial which dominated the skyline - the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme battlefield (see inset left). I was taken aback that the 72,000* plus names on the memorial were not all those British soldiers killed in the battle (as shocking as that would have been...) but ‘just’ those soldiers whose bodies were were either never found, or whose bodies were found but could not be identified (the latter being those servicemen whose headstone today reads ‘A soldier of the Great War known unto God’). I found this figure difficult to comprehend, especially as this figure got worse the more I learnt about what happened here. I could not help thinking that I was the same age (at that time) as so many of those names who were staring at me from the memorial walls.

As my then knowledge of the Great War was fairly sketchy I found difficulty, like so many casual visitors to the battlefield today, in transforming the landscape in my minds eye back to how it must have looked in 1916. I wanted to know exactly where the front line trenches were, and where exactly the many individual actions took place. More than anything I felt a need to understand what it must have been like for those who were there. What was the reality of trench warfare?

My ‘journey’ in answering these, and many other questions, has captivated my interest ever since that first visit. I must stress that I have never been one to collect military memorabilia, or have any great interest in the tactical aspects of warfare or militarism. My interest is solely from a social / humanitarian perspective, and the consequences of warfare, coupled with a perhaps somewhat naïve belief that understanding humankind's potential to indulge in such conflicts is perhaps one way of preventing a repetition.

The more I learnt about what these men endured, the more I thought that if I had been there, I would (at the very least) have hoped that future generations would take just one day or so out of their lives to try to understand what I, and countless others were experiencing. I doubt if I would have been one of those whose bravery would be remembered. Most likely I would have been just a typical nineteen year old from a town or village somewhere “back home”, almost paralysed with fear, a fear that would most likely come to an end on the hell they called the ‘Western Front’.

Since that first visit I have pursued a career in the police service (Superintendent, Dorset Police) as well as raising a family. Throughout this time my interest in the First World War, and the Somme, Ypres and Verdun Battles in particular, has continued. Over the past forty odd years I have returned to the battlefields countless times. I have also undertaken numerous private conducted tours to both the Somme, Ypres and Verdun battlefields whilst serving as a police officer, a background which served me well when I decided to establish my company after I retired in 1996.

I took the plunge and formed Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd, more as a way of sharing my interest with others as opposed to running the venture as a hard-nosed commercial business. For this reason I personally organised and accompanied every single one of the many, many conducted tours I have undertaken since starting our small company back in 1996 (now also with my wife Annette who switched career and joined me in 2004). Annette and I have, however, always avoided the temptation to expand what we do beyond the reach and scope of our personal involvement. This is important to us as we want to provide a quality personal service, which can not be found with so many larger companies today. This way you deal with us personally and not an employee!

In 2009 we decided to focus all our energies to providing self-drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields, based on our many years experience of taking small groups.  Over the years we had seen so many people trying to find their war around the battlefields, then one day we though 'why not commit our tried and tested conducted tours to paper'  - and it worked.  It worked very well indeed (as you may have seen from the letters we have received).  Our much-praised self-drive tours are now extremely popular for the reasons we've outlined on the appropriate page of our website.

Organising our tours is has always been a labour of love with each conducted or self-drive tour taking on a character of its own. Without exception, everyone Annette and I have met has been good company and all have found the visiting the Somme, Ypres battlefields a most moving, interesting and rewarding experience.

Well I think that’s just about enough
waffle about us. Once again, thank you very much
for visiting our web site.

Any comments or suggestions
would be most welcome.

James Power

James Power is an Associate Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides
and Western Front Association

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Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
19 Old Road, Wimborne, Dorset, UK BH21 1EJ
Tel: 07776 195773  (office)
or 01202 840520 (home/out of office phone)
Email: jamespower@btinternet.com