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Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
Self-Drive Battlefield Tours
TESTIMONIALS

2016-2017

2016-2017

2016-2017

Email from Alan Carver following a self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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.


Email from Glen Lloyd following a self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields September/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


Email from Dominic Rooney following a self-drive tour of the Somme battlefields September 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 WW 1 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 theming, 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


Email from Antonia Lloyd Owen following a self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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



Email from Sarah & Richard Musgrave following a self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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 


Email from Suzanne Bevington following a 2 -night self-drive tour of the Ypres battlefields August 2017


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



Email from Brett Wooldridge following a 4 -night self-drive tour of the Ypres and Somme  battlefields July 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



Email from Gordon and Enez Tompsett following a 6-night self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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.


Email from David Burnett following a 4-night self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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


Email from Robert Pringle following a 4-night self-drive tour of the Somme and Ypres battlefields 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

Email from Ann Korta following a Somme and Ypres self-drive tour 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



Email from Tracey & Gary Leone following a Ypres self-drive tour May  2017


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 



Email from Kathryn Sargent (Australia) following a Somme and Ypres self-drive tour April 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



Kathryn Sargent

South Australia



Email from David Bryant (UK) following a Somme and Ypres self-drive tour April 2017


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   


Email from Martin Dennis following a Somme self-drive tour May 2017

Dear James,

I echo Tim's earlier Email to you. It was a memorable trip.

I enclose one photo for you.

Best wishes.

Martin.

Email from Tim Bennett (UK) following a Somme self-drive tour 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.


Thanks for the copy of the email from Deborah - the accommodations were brilliant and made the whole week very good.


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.


2016

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


Miles


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

James

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


James,


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 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 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


Hello,


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


Email from Kimberley Hammond following a Ypres Self-Drive tour 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








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