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Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd
Self-Drive Battlefield Tours
TESTIMONIALS

2015

Email from Amanda Baker following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive tour October 2015


Dear James,


I want to thank you for the incredible job you did organising the trip to the trenches for my mother, husband, brother and myself.  We had an absolutely wonderful week and truly could not have done it without your help.  We ended up being able to track the journey of 5 of our relatives, and your books brought their war and ordeal alive.  I have given my brother one of the sets of books to take back with him to America […].

I know you have many happy customers already, but if you ever wish for my endorsement as well, I will happily give it.


Many thanks once again.

Kind regards,

Amanda Baker


Email from Fred Apgar (USA) following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive tour September 2015


Hi James:


This note is long overdue.  I want you to know how much I enjoyed my trip to Flanders and the Somme to visit WW I battlefields, cemeteries, museums, and memorials.  It was a trip of a lifetime and a humbling experience.  The adventure was made all the more meaningful and productive thanks to the battlefield guides you provided.  You couldn't have made the journey any simpler, and thanks to your materials, I enjoyed a wonderful learning experience.  The directions, maps, pictures, and itineraries were terrific and made travel from site to site a simple and efficient process. 


I will be sharing my thoughts and experience with Trip Advisor in the hope that others who might be seeking a similar WW I experience might avail themselves of your wonderful services. 


Thank you, again, for providing  me with the resources I needed for an outstanding experience. 


With grateful appreciation,


Fred Apgar


Email from Paul & Ingrid Stocker following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive tour September 2015


Good Morning James


I just wanted to drop you a line to say what a fantastic time we had on the Battlefields tour.  The trip went very smoothly thanks to your amazing routes, maps and information.  Very comprehensive and easy to follow.


The hotels were great too and we especially enjoyed our stay at the Arian in Ypres.  Such a lovely hotel.


Our tour with Jacques was absolutely superb….what an interesting and very nice person, so full of knowledge and he really made our day so enjoyable.


We all feel as though we have learnt an awful lot and have all come home feeling even more certain that those that fought in the war, must never be forgotten!


Many thanks again

Kind regards

Paul & Ingrid Stocker


Email from Margaret & Rodney Brook following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour September 2015


Dear James,

Many thanks for organising our trip to the battlefields. Enjoy is not a word you can use for such an experience although we did enjoy our time in both of the very good hotels. Your directions, guides and notes were excellent as was Peter Smith . I was able to find all my relatives with a detour to Arras. No one can  begin to comprehend the true horror of the First World War without visiting these places . We shall certainly recommend your company to any one we know who would would like to visit.


Best Wishes


Margaret & Rodney Brook

Email from Nigel Benson following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour September 2015


James,


I just wanted to let you know that the programme you put together for us went well. The two guides were extremely knowledgeable and helpful, particularly Jacques, and they were able to take us to where two of our party had relations who saw action in Ypres and the Somme.


On behalf of us all thank you for your help. Whilst it's difficult to say we enjoyed the trip given the nature of the content, we've all come back much better informed and have a greater understanding of the conflict.


With kind regards,


Nigel. 


Email from Paul Boulds following a Somme  Self-Drive tour August 2015


Hi James,

 

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say a big thank you for all the arrangements, battlefield tour guides for our recent visit to the Somme. The Hotel was superb and in an ideal location to get around following your guide. On this subject, the guide and supporting information was first class, the directions where spot on, my wife has never done any map reading or navigating before, she took to it straightaway, with us never getting lost to any of the sites. When we got to each site the supporting information was there to help us understand the battles and reflect back to 1916. But the guide went above and beyond this, for example, park your car here, just in case the farmer blocks the track to the museum at Avril's tea room, you can put no price on these types of things.

 

Can you please also get me the costs to do the same at Ypres, with a three night stay.

 

Once again thank you very much

 

Kind Regards

 

Paul Boulds


Email from Denise Cheasley following a Somme  Self-Drive tour August 2015


Dear James 


Thank you so much for all your assistance in organising the self drive tour for my husband and mother in law. The whole weekend went to plan, even the crossing to Calais! 


They were very happy with the hotel you use, and said it was great along with the staff.


All the information you provide, maps etc is exceptional. We will certainly be recommending you to

friends and family.  


Kind regards


Denise Cheasley


Email from sEdward Ross following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour July 2015


Dear James


Many thanks for organizing our recent trip to Ypres and Albert. It all went off very well and we were delighted.


The two places are quite different and we felt that Ypres is somehow more organised for visitors and the hotel is especially good there. We were a bit disappointed with the Flanders Field museum in Ypres which seemed a bit over-complicated to us - on the other hand the Hooge Crater museum and  the Passchendaele museum were excellent - the little preserved trench in the hotel by the Hooge museum is worth a visit. We saw a good number of cemeteries, craters etc. as well as the last post at the Menin gate. 


In Albert we found the Newfoundland memorial to be the best where one gets a very good sense of how the trenches were arranged and how close they were. We did visit the private collection at the little restaurant and chatted to the proprietor (Avril?) who sent you her best wishes. The museum in Albert is well done also.


The Royal Picardie is also a nice place and Debra was very welcoming, also asked after you.


We saw an awful lot in 3 days, including dinner in Amiens. I wouldn't say we used your amazing detailed tour guides to anywhere near their potential, but our days were packed.


With all best wishes

Eddie Ross


Email from sarah and Andrew Gale following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour July 2015


Morning James


I just wanted to drop you an email to thank you for organising our recent holiday to the Somme and Ypres. The arrangements went perfectly to plan and the locations and accommodation were perfect, especially the Albion where they were so helpful and nothing was too much trouble.


The guides, John and Genevra were amazing. They were fantastic company for the day and their knowledge and passion was infectious. They gave us so much information and showed us so much that was off the beaten track that we went off exploring other areas in conjunction with your brilliant guides when we were on our own.


It truly was an amazing and emotional experience which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Genevra had managed to research our relatives and took us through what was believed to be their last locations before they fell and we had the opportunity  to pay our respects to them both.  It is definitely something we are looking to continue with as this trip has certainly whet our appetite for more holidays such as this one.


We would fully recommend the tour and the guides to anyone thinking of this type of holiday in the future.


Once again, thank you!


Kind Regards

Sarah & Andrew 



Email from Susan Toovey and family following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour July 2015


Dear James,


We thoroughly enjoyed our recent trip. We thought it was exceptionally well planned by you and was very easy to follow your directions. The hotels were both excellent, particular the first hotel (Royal Picardie). We found the cemeteries incredibly well kept and we were very moved by them. We luckily avoided any chaos at Calais.


Thank you for all your hard work. The [Self-Drive] guides gave us a great insight into the historic nature of the places and the battles, and your restaurant recommendations were well received by all of us!


We would heartily recommend your tours to everyone.


Kind Regards,

Susan Toovey (& Family)



Email from Martin Loeber following a Somme & Ypres  Self-Drive tour July 2015


James,


Just a note of thanks for the excellent trip.  Despite the ominous press reports on the tunnel status on Saturday [French industrial action], I made it through without incident on Sunday.  I guess I missed the 30,000th Last Post at the Menin Gate by just a few days, but the one I saw was quite the experience.  I really appreciated the richness of the detail and the narrative for both sets of guides, as they really enabled a clear understanding of the battle space.

 

Marty


Email from Caroline Morris following a Ypres & Somme Self-Drive tour May 2015


Dear James,


I am sorry it has taken me a while to write to you  but I wanted to say what an incredible trip David and I had. Everything was amazing and we could not have wished for anything more.


The Main Hotel was quirky and fun and Carine could not have been more welcoming. We had the best breakfasts we have ever had anywhere in the world and wide cannot recommend her highly enough.


Jacques, our our guide was amazing and his knowledge and enthusiasm were second to none and the only complaint we had was we had not booked him for 2 days. He gave us some great advice about visiting The Somme and your guides were fantastic and very easy to follow.


Again thank you very much for arranging the trip and we will write a review on trip advisor this weekend, as we would not hesitate in recommending your company.


Kind regards,

Caroline


Email from  Paul & Rosie Evans following a Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2015


Dear James and Annette,


Just a line to advise that our recent holiday booked through you was very much enjoyed. The information pack was extremely comprehensive and full of interest to us both. We were able to pack a lot of things into the 5 days and still relax at the start of each evening with a sun-downer beer and fizz in the bar of the Ariane hotel in Ypres.


We were well looked after at the Ariane (Ariane Hotel) which was of a very high standard all round. Also the priority boarding for the P&O ferry crossings resulted in us being first on/first off each trip - stress free and quick.


Thank you.


Kind regards


Paul and Rosie Evans.



Email from  John & Nathan Grand following a Somme Self-Drive tour May 2015


Dear James,
 
We got home last evening from our Somme Battlefields tour.  Your itinerary route was easy to follow as was the laminated map and the notes, descriptions and maps in the part 11 guide gave us a very clear appreciation of the battle plans, the terrain, how the battles were fought, the terrible human cost, and the incredible bravery of units and individuals.
 
Add to all this, the extra information you researched for us, the excellent arrangements you made for getting us there and back and the choice of hotel (Royal Picardie)  it is hardly surprising that we arrived home absolutely satisfied by the package you provided and we would commend  it to anyone interested in WW1.
 
So a very big thank you from us for a tour we will never forget for all the right reasons.
 
[guide update suggestions]
 
Thank you again.
 
John and Nathan Grand      


Email from  Reuben Lawford following a Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2015


Hi James,


Thank you for your excellent itinerary, maps and information for our self drive tour of Flanders.  The Ariane Hotel was excellent and I would recommend it to anybody. 


We completed the tour and added some additional cemeteries in the area that had some personal interest.  We could have had better weather but the whole experience was memorable and moving. 


One update for you, the car park between Hill 60 and the railway bridge was being dug up.  It looks like they are building a new car park on the left before the café. 


Thanks again,


Reuben Lawford


Email from  Melody Thresh & Helen Ogilvie following a Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2015


Dear James


We just wanted to express our thanks for the organisation of our recent visit to Ypres. The entire trip was so easy - from channel crossing to the fantastic hotel and tour itinerary we didn’t have to worry about any details along the way.  It was truly a memorable visit and we can’t thank you enough.


We certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend your organisation to anyone contemplating a trip of this type  - thank you so very much.


Kind regards - Melody Thresh and Helen Ogilvie



Email from  Shirley Marr following a Ypres Self-Drive tour April 2015


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.


Well worth the money.


Shirley Marr



Email from  John Mainprize following a Somme and Ypres Self-Drive tour April-May 2015


Dear James


Just wanted to say a massive thanks for the recent trip to the Somme and Ypres.  Myself and my two mates had an exceptional time.  The organisation from start to finish was first class and the packs highly informative, with loads of useful and additional information and stories.  The background included in the packs was really useful in helping to set the scene and provide a mountain of information which complimented the different sections.


The directions were outstanding and it was easy to navigate around without getting lost once.


For your information possibly to update the Somme pack, Hill 60 and the surrounding area is undergoing some change.  Hill 60 itself appears to be in the process of work which we surmised will eventually have set paths rather than the current ability to wander at leisure.  The guide suggests walking back along the railway cutting to get a view of the surrounding area, this is now not permitted on the private property alongside the railway.  There is a panoramic picture placed on that side of the road where your guide suggests you walk beside the railway track.  The picture itself is quite useful to orient yourself but seems to be fading slightly so may just be temporary.  A track is being developed on the other side of the railway taking you up and around the nearby mine crater and is not far from being complete.


For the hotels the St Claude was comfortable without being luxurious where as the Ariane Hotel was tremendous.  We all agreed that the Ariane was one of the better hotels we have stayed in, great food, great service and first class rooms.


For information Peronne was mostly closed on Sunday AND Monday, with not much for choice of foodie places open on Monday.


The last post ceremony at the Menin Gate was very crowded and you had to get there at 7pm to get a good spot - don't know if it is more popular at the moment with the centenary period.


[...]


Again, my thanks to you for providing a simply outstanding experience well worth the money, I would be more than happy to recommend Somme Battlefield tours to anyone wanting to experience the Somme or Ypres and in fact I have been recommending you already!


Before I sign off have you considered doing similar for particular actions of WW2, realising of course that it is quite a different war to the relatively static WW1.  If you don't do such a thing do you know of, and can recommend anyone else doing a similar thing for WW2?


Kind regards & best wishes for the continued success of your business.


John



Email from  Peter Elkington following a Somme Self-Drive tour May 2015


James


On behalf of my  colleagues and I, this is just to say a huge thank you for organising our self drive tour of the Somme Battlefield. Your maps and attention to detail was incredible and we were sure that you were taking us to parts of the battlefield that the general public wouldn’t get to see.


It was truly thought provoking and emotional at times,and as we are from Lincolnshire it was very poignant that we managed to see first hand where the 2nd and 10th Lincolns left their trenches on July 1st, and were just another statistic from the slaughter that took place.


On a more lighter note , the Hotel Royal Picardie which you recommended was truly magnificent, especially the food.


We shall definitely be in touch to do the Ypres tour next year


Once again many thanks for all your help and advice


Peter Elkington



Email from  Johnny & Georgia Wright following a Somme & Ypres Self-Drive tour May 2015


Just to say we had an excellent time in Flanders. Two very good guides, two fine hotels [Royal Picardie & Ariane Hotel], OK weather. A memorable trip.


Thank you for organising it for us


Johnny and Georgia Wright


Email from  David Kingdom following a Ypres Self-Drive tour April 2015 (Mr Kingdom’s second tour with us)


Dear James


I just wanted to say a massive thank you from myself, my father and my brother in law for a truly wonderful trip to Ypres. It was nothing short of perfect. The Hotel Ariane, our guide (Jack) and you even sorted the sunny weather for us too!


The respect still shown by the people in Belgium for what was given is clear to see. I'll never forget the evenings I spent at the Menin Gate, so very moving.


Jack made the guided tour on the last day so memorable. What a lovely, friendly chap and his enthusiasm and knowledge is second to none.


[...]


Once again, thank you James.


Dave Kingdom


Email from Kimberley Devese following a Ypres Self-Drive tour March 2015


Hi James


Thank you for organising our trip last weekend.


Everything was so well organised and the guides and maps you sent us were brilliant! 


The hotel  [the Ariane Hotel] was lovely and we had dinner there on Friday night and we all agreed that the food was probably amongst the best we have ever eaten.


Thank you once again and we are definitely going back as so much more to see!


Best,


Kimberley Devese


Email from Richard Bland following a Somme Self-Drive tour March 2015


James


A great trip - thank you for organising it.


There really wasn't anyone in France as far as I could see. I had most places, in fact all bar the Thiepval Monument (which had 3 other people there!), to myself


I met the grumpy Frenchman at Serre, who clearly thought I was a movie scout as he wanted to know whether I knew Judie Dench...  Scarpered when I said I didn't


Only additions to your guide to keep it updated are: Gibraltar is now both signposted and part of the Australian programme. The museum at Delville Wood was shut today for restoration - which was very irritating. No sign until you've walked up the front door. Apparently happening a lot at the moment. Which is more of a blow if you've come from Cape Town rather than London.


I found the Redan Ridge very moving. And as you said, a lot of battle debris. There were two obviously human bones lying on top of the earth just by #2, to the right of the entrance, about a yard into the field. Not knowing what to do, I picked them up and put them on the cemetery wall for the CWGC to find. Is there something else I should have done? I thought of leaving them, but didn't want them disappearing under the earth again.


Anyway on that bleak note. Thank you.


I had a great time


Richard


Email from Belinda Brocklehurst following a Somme and Ypres Self-Drive tour February 2015

Dear James,


Just to say Tim and I got back from our 4 night battle field tour yesterday evening and what a fascinating and eye opening tour it was.  Thank you very much for organising everything so well, out all went like clockwork.    We particularly liked the Albion Hotel, such a lovely central position, so comfortable, great breakfast and really nice people.  The trip was very moving and so much of it so sad, but I am very glad we did it.   


Thank you again for all the wonderful information, pictures, maps and general help.


Best regards,


Belinda Brocklehurst


. . .and from Mrs Brocklehurst’s son Tim

Dear James


I wanted to write and thank you for your outstanding guidance. I have read a lot about the Great War, but last week was the first time I had ever trodden the steps of those who fought it. My wife, and my work, had kindly allowed me to take four nights to make this trip, and having my mother as a companion made it all the more special and moving.


I had read all your guidance before we left. Your insight and research is illuminating. It took us off the beaten track several times, which we both relish - especially because trying to find the place Siegfried Sassoon won his MC tested the mudguards on the the car a little...!  But we were grateful to go at this time of year to miss the crowds, and yet were still amazed by the volume of people who attended the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony (at least 800) on 21st Feb. 


We also stopped at Vimy Ridge and had a fascinating private tour of the tunnels there. Not something we'd asked you for, but it made the ideal 'half-way' stopover between Albert and Ypres. Thin choice of lunch stops in that part of the world, so I can't add to your list of eateries I'm afraid, but well worth a visit and a tour, as I'm sure you know...


Ypres was extraordinary partly because the landscape of Flanders brings home what the soldiers were up against. After we'd followed your route around the salient - Hill 60, Hooge, Sanctuary Wood, Passchendaele, Langemark, etc... I then looked back at it all from the top of the Cloth Hall tower, that tower which was decimated in WW1. Isn't the view spectacular?!

It was a clear morning at the time, with nothing hindering my vision, and I made full use of the pictures the museum had pressed on the turrets to identify very clearly the Tyne Cot Cemetery to the east, Sanctuary Wood, Langemark, and many other notable landmarks around the salient which we had visited.


Thank you James, so much, for your kind assistance and excellent service for our tour. It really was wonderful.


Best Wishes


Tim 










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