Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
Self-Drive Battlefield Tours


Email from Christine Ottaway (UK) following a Somme and Ypres self-drive tour July 2016

Dear James

I am just writing to thank you for a memorable tour of the battlefields of Ypres and Somme.  Everything went very well from the arrangements of Le Shuttle to the hotels. 

The self drive books are incredible and contain everything necessary to take yourself around the battlefields.  In fact there is so much information that we quickly got battlefield overload but we were easily able to pick out the places we particularly wanted to see and maybe visit some of the others another time.  The maps both modern and pertinent to the First World War were comprehensive and the touring booklet of the actual battlefields was so easy to follow with all the directions and photos necessary. We even had to retrace our steps because one of us left a camera behind but that also was no problem.  

When we got to a site all the information necessary to understand and make the most of our visit was available.  It really brought home to us the terrible carnage of the First World War, the shocking waste of young life and the incredible bravery and sacrifice of those young soldiers. 

Highlights have to include the Menin Gate where we were so fortunate that a British girls’ school choir sang whilst wreaths were laid during The Last Post ceremony.  Another highlight was Newfoundland Park in the Somme area where a young Canadian girl showed us around. Finally visiting the Thiepval Memorial so soon after it featured in 100 years commemoration of the battle of the Somme and  the Welsh monument at Mametz were moving experiences. 

Finally this self drive tour enabled us to visit our Great Uncle’s grave at Abbeville Communal Cemetery almost 100 years to the day after he died from his wounds received at the Battle of the Somme.  It made a fitting and emotional conclusion to this tour.  

Once again thank you very much.  If you would like to use any of the above for a testimonial or review, please do so.

Kind regards

Christine Ottaway

Email from Susan Keddie (USA) following a Somme and Ypres Self-Drive battlefield tour
June-July 2016

I just wanted to take a few minutes to thank you so much for providing us with the background to have a truly amazing tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields. It is a trip I will never forget. Your information package, while daunting, was incredibly thorough. Separating the drive part from the all history and information part was a great idea, as it was much easier to follow the drive and then pick and choose what we had the time and interest to read in detail.

The hotels were great. The one in Peronne was able to give us two rooms that connected, which was nice with the children. In Ypres, we had to be across from each other, but that worked out just fine also. The breakfasts had an excellent variety of food and nice long hours during which we could eat, so we never felt the need to hurry up and get to breakfast. I never did know what time check in was, but with both arrivals, before 4 PM, our rooms were ready for us, which was nice. Parking in Peronne was a bit disconcerting, as there seemed to be rules and random places that it was OK to park and I was just never quite sure we'd understood each other right. But we didn't get ticketed or towed so I guess we did OK! Parking in Ypres was easy as the hotel had its own lot.

We arrived as you may recall just before July 1, so the Somme was packed and busily preparing for all kinds of ceremonies. We were unable to get up to Thiepval, which was a pity, but we could get it to the museum and saw the monument from the parking lot. And we arrived at the Newfoundland Park quite close to closing time, so we had to rush that a bit more than I would have liked (but we were there so late because we'd gone up to Mons, which was SO worth it... see below).

We had lunch at Le Poppy restaurant, which was very nice but was far more food than we really wanted for a quick lunch. We ended up sitting next to two English men who we started chatting with. Turns out they were the tour operator and guide who had brought a Welsh chorus over to sing at the Somme memorial. They were singing also at the Menin gate that night (they had to stay up in Belgium there being no accommodation nearer by!!) and we made a point of going to see them it they were wonderful.

[Susan also includes many interesting comments about the places she visited]

Thank you again for all you put together for us. It was a great trip.

Susan Keddie

Email from Tracey Healey following a Somme and Ypres Self-Drive battlefield tour
June 2016

Dear James

It seems very appropriate to write to you today on the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Our reason for booking our Spring Bank Holiday trip was that our 14 year old son was missing a similar trip organised by his school. He loves history and so we decided to explore the idea of doing our own tour.

How fortunate we were to discover your web page - a phone call to you to discuss what we wanted convinced me that you really did "know your stuff” and I proceeded to book a 4 night/ 5 day tour.

It was everything we wanted and more !!! So wonderful to get off the beaten track and explore the now peaceful French and Belgian countryside, imagining how things were for the men fighting for their country 100 years ago. Almost around every corner a monument or a story to observe.

Early on in our tour, near Serre, we met a French farmer who insisted we go and see a huge collection of bullets, shells and rifles he had dug up from his fields. He then showed us a picture of a veteran who had returned for the 50th anniversary - the farmer himself was only a young boy in the picture. On turning over the picture, we realised that the returning veteran was from the village we now live in. (We have since discovered that he worked as a Station Master in the village and is now buried in the village cemetery).

A chance encounter which produced a connection to the past for us.

The hotels you booked in Albert and Ypres were lovely too - we have all had to watch what we eat since as the food was very good indeed !

Thank you for your very personal service and checking whether our outward and return journeys went without a hitch.

This was a tour that was well thought out, enlightening and very moving. Highly recommended !!

Email from  Miles Kulukundis following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive & personal tour May 2016

Dear James,

A short comment on our return as there is not much to say. Both hotels were truly excellent except perhaps for the stairs! Both guides were also truly excellent as well. Jacques was so involved and excited by the subject […]. Both brought the history to life!

Thanks for your efforts. It all worked out perfectly except we have to return to explore some areas in greater depth. We'll be in touch.

With best regards


Email from  John & Jane Curtis following a Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2016


Just a short note to say thank you for all of your arrangements for our tour of the Somme battlefields - the Hotel Ariane in Ypres was excellent and your tour guides were invaluable - you have obviously spent a lot of time and effort in compiling them - thank you.

Our additional days in Verdun were also very good - and timely, in view of the commemorations this weekend - and on our way there, we also made a visit to Mametz (just to the east of Albert).

Thank you once again - regards.

John and Jane Curtis

Email from  John O’Callaghan following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2016


Andrew and I returned this afternoon from a hugely successful trip to the Somme and Ypres. Everything you organised worked very well - the instructions were crystal clear and the hotels were very comfortable.

Of course the real success lay in your fabulous self guide material.  It really made the whole landscape and history come alive.  We spent 4 very full days driving, walking, looking and reading our way around the battlefields.  We enjoyed it hugely and learned an enormous amount.   We simply would not have been able to have that experience without your excellent guide.  

Very best wishes,

John O’Callaghan

Email from Peter & Roger Smith following a Somme Self-Drive tour May 2016

Hi James

My brother and I have just got back from our tour. I would like to thank you for everything, your guides are excellent, they provide enough detail to explain things without overwhelming the visitor.We now have a thorough understanding of the enormity of what this countries men went through. I was particularly moved by the sunken lane and what happened to the 1st Lancashire’s. We did every section and I can report that your guide is current with no mistakes.

Thank you once again.

Kind regards

Peter and Roger Smith

Email from Michael Mauduit following a Ypres Self-Drive tour 28-30 April 2016

Dear James ,

Your Self Drive tour was a great success if thoroughly thought provoking.

Your detailed instructions were first rate and we got there, looked around and got back, without any trouble. We managed to cover a lot of both battle fields (for 1915 ).

The highlights for us were the Thiepval Memorial, dinner at L'Auberge de la Valle d'Ancre (excellent suggestion of yours) and Newfoundland Park the following morning.

We went to the Museum at Ypres to escape the rain and managed, thanks to my sons, to get a get a very good view of the ceremony at the Menin Gate.

We saw most of the Ypres area best, to my mind, being being the trenches and collection of artefacts at Sanctuary Wood.

You have given us a tour which we will never forget and we think your detailed accurate information was of the highest standard.

We thank you very much.

Michael Mauduit

Email from Kimberley Hammond following a Ypres Self-Drive tour 8-11 April 2016

Dear James,

I just thought I would drop you a quick email to let you know how much we enjoyed our trip to Ypres a few weeks ago and to thank you for your help in organising it for us.

Ypres was really beautiful and all the people very friendly. The hotel [Ariane Hotel] was fantastic, we would very much like to go back for a bit longer next time.

The Menin Gate ceremony was very moving, I think it's wonderful that they have it every day.

Your schedule was excellent, it was clear and interesting and just right in terms of fitting in everything we wanted to do. My dad is re-reading it now!

We also managed to trace most of my great grandfather's route (he was injured in 1917 just before the 3rd battle of Ypres). And we went to see my great great uncle's grave at Essex Farm.

It was a most enjoyable time and I suspect we may go back in the not too distant future. There was one thing we didn't enjoy too much, although it didn't spoil the trip, but it might be worth mentioning to you and that was the Sanctuary Wood Museum. We couldn't explore the trenches largely due to the weather, clearly beyond the control of the proprietor, but we couldn't find the tunnel. The exhibits in the museum were a bit tatty and haphazard and the manikins in the furthest building were frankly laughable. In fact, it seemed a bit disrespectful to be laughing as much as we did! I have attached one of the funnier pictures.

Thanks again for your help, I would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone wanting to make this fascinating trip.

With best wishes and kind regards 

Kim Hammond

Email from Shirley Marr following a Ypres Self-Drive tour April 2016


I wanted to let you know that we did the self drive tour in late April and we both enjoyed it a lot. Your directions were great and we saw a lot of wonderful world war 1 things. The difference between Commonwealth cemeteries and German was amazing and the Messines site was great. Menin  gate was an amazing experience as well.

One issue we found was there was a number of roads blocked for construction and we thus missed getting to some things [guide now updated following completion of road changes].

Well worth the money.

Shirley Marr

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