There are a select number of battlefield tours that every military history enthusiast should experience. Here is a promotion of the finest, most reasonably priced, worldwide tours available.
ARRAS BATTLEFIELD TOURS
Jonathan Nicholls led his first battlefield tour to the Somme in 1978 with a group of Metropolitan Police officers. Taking many veteran soldiers with him over the following years, he learned from them – the boys who actually fought the war. Consequently, when on the battlefields, his narrative is coloured by a wealth of soldiers’ stories from the bloody battlefields of the Somme, Arras, and Ypres. He simply ‘brings it to life’ with unique passion and humour. When he is not employed as the principal guide for The Daily Telegraph tours or The Guardian tours, he operates by 4×4 and minibus, independently taking small groups to visit the graves of their loved ones, which are researched in detail. Recommended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
SELECTED TOURS: The Somme 2016, Arras 2017, Messines & Passchendaele 2017 – Continuous
WAR HISTORY 1944
We cover the whole of Europe up to Berlin, all of Italy, Crete, Sicily, and Tunisia. Our tours are set by the clients and not by us – just ask and we will take you. You choose the dates and where YOU want to go, we will set up the tour in consultation with you, and off we’ll go, on the date you select (perhaps with some small alterations!). Our normal tour size is one to four people, but we can take up to six, and at any time of the year.
TEL: +44 1608 737 571
SELECTED TOURS: We try to go where you want and negotiate a package.
GALINA INTERNATIONAL BATTLEFIELD TOURS
Galina began organising battlefield tours for adult and school groups to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in 1989. In those days, 30 people at the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres was regarded as a crowd. Times change, but we remain the longest established, independent, family-owned battlefield company in the UK.
We also arrange tours for individuals as well as groups wishing to attend major anniversary events, drawing on our long experience as Official Tour Operators to organisations such as the Normandy Veterans Association.
This year we have expanded our portfolio with a new range of UK-based tours for groups from as few as 15 people staying in 3*/4* accommodation (with free places for group organisers); ideal for weekend breaks.
Our guides are selected and trained by us, and have an academic or military background, great experience, and enthusiasm for sharing their knowledge.
Galina is a member of ABTA (no. Y4466).
TEL: 01244 340 777
SELECTED TOURS: Somme 100th Anniversary – 29 June-3 July 2016; Arnhem Anniversary – 15-20 September 2016; Hadrian’s Wall – 1 or 2 days; Battle of Hastings – 1 or 2 days; Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – 1 or 2 days
Make your visit of the Battlefield of Waterloo one to remember with a Guide 1815!
Whether you are alone, or part of a group, if you have booked in advance for a tour, we will show you around the battlefield and provide you with all the necessary information to make your visit a success.
TEL: 32 (0) 473.18.07.91
EMAIL: via our website www.guides1815.org
WEB: www.guides1815.org (for information and reservations)
SELECTED TOURS: Historical account, Lion Mound, Panorama, the Hougoumont farm, the Wellington Museum, the Last Headquarters of Napoleon. The Guide 1815 will accompany you to the most important places on the battlefield. The guided tours must be booked in advance via our website, www.guides1815.org
WATERLOO BATTLEFIELD TOURS
Alan Lindsey, who has lived close to the battlefield and studied it for 20 years, takes small groups or individuals over the three battlefields of Waterloo, Quatre Bras, and Ligny. The march of events, the dominant personalities, the manoeuvres of each army, and the actions of individual soldiers, coloured by the weather conditions and the influence of the terrain, are all revealed with humour and insight.
Visits include the Wellington Museum, Le Caillou, Hougoumont, the Lion Mound, Plançenoit, and others. Each tour is organised according to your requirements and special interests. Transport for up to four passengers is included.
We recommend our clients to stay in Waterloo, which is a sophisticated place these days with many first-class hotels and restaurants.
TEL: Alan Lindsey on +32 10 41 08 40 or +32 (0)475 616 646
SELECTED TOURS: See website.
BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS
Bird Battlefield Tours is run by military historians and authors Tony and Nicky Bird. Nicky, a member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, worked for many years at the V&A, and also guides art historical tours. They have both written and lectured extensively on WWI and WWII but try not to bang on during their convivial, personal tours.
They specialise in guiding small groups to the Somme, Ypres, Verdun, and elsewhere, including Normandy, Gallipoli, Waterloo, and WWII bomber bases of East Anglia. Invaluable, illustrated itineraries with comprehensive background are provided at no extra cost (prices include all meals and wine).
They welcome requests for bespoke tours – from families wishing to see where their grandfathers fought, or from groups of friends who simply want to travel together without the risk of joining a tour that may contain a bore.
TEL: 020 8752 0956
SELECTED TOURS: Ypres/Somme: April 19-22 2016; D-Day: May 27-30 2016; Ypres/Somme: June 17-20 2016; Bruges/Waterloo: July 4-7 2016; Verdun/Bastogne: September 19-23 2016.
Specialists in high quality escorted tours and tailor-made short breaks, Kirker Holidays provides a range of expert-led itineraries for those with an interest in history, archaeology, art, architecture, and music.
As we mark the centenary of the First World War and the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, Kirker has created a selection of carefully crafted itineraries which explore the sites of these influential conflicts in the company of expert historians. During 2016, military historians Neil Faulkner and Hugh MacDonald-Buchanan will lead Kirker tours to the battlefields of the Western Front and Waterloo in Flanders, and the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. In addition, we are looking forward to embarking on a new tour which will trace the Duke of Wellington’s progress in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular Wars – the campaign which eventually led to Napoleon’s humiliation and exile in Elba.
TEL: 020 7593 2283
SELECTED TOURS: The Battle of Waterloo, 3 nights, departing 8 July and 30 September 2016; The Duke of Wellington & The Peninsular War, 7 nights, departing 17 April 2016; Istanbul & Gallipoli, 8 nights, departing 28 May 2016
GUIDED BATTLEFIELD TOURS
We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a quality, personal experience. Our greatest recommendation is the number of returning guests present on our tours. In addition to your expert guide, each tour is accompanied by a tour manager to ensure your comfort and the smooth running of the tour.
Our battlefield tours are inspired by both a passion for history and the belief that we must not forget the sacrifice of past generations. Our specialist guides bring the sites to life with the past events that took place there, putting them in their historical context.
We offer a comprehensive range of First and Second World War tours in France, Belgium, and Holland. The cost of the tours includes all travel from the pickup point, bed and breakfast accommodation in a 3* or 4* hotel, refreshments each day, and entry to all museums. Our tours are protected for you through ABTOT.
TEL: 01633 258207
SELECTED TOURS: Treading in Tommy’s Footsteps, 29 April – 2nd May 2016; Walking the Somme Battlefields, 20 May – 23 May 2016; Dunkirk, 28 May – 31 May 2016; The Battles of 1917- 1918, 17-20 June 2016; First Day of
the Somme Centenary, 30 June – 4 July 2016; Normandy and the D-Day Landings, 4 August – 7 August 2016
THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
The Cultural Experience offers expert-led historical and battlefield tours around the world covering a myriad of eras. All tours have been carefully planned and designed to create a three dimensional version of history. We use experienced expert guides, chosen for their ability to put these three dimensions together in an engaging and entertaining manner, so you can virtually touch and feel what it would have been like on the day! The Napoleonic period is one of our favourites with ‘classic’ tours including Wellington in Portugal, The Retreat to Corunna, Wellington in Spain & Wellington over the Pyrenees. We also enjoy taking clients to WWI, WWII and American Civil War battlefields.
TEL: 0345 475 1815
SELECTED TOURS: Classic Eastern Front Tours, 5 – 14 May; Sharpe’s Peninsula Tour, 1 – 8 June; Custer & The Indian Wars, 18 – 28 June; Italy in WWI, 1 – 6 September; Wellington in India, 16 – 25 November
To see this article as it appeared in issue 66 of Military History Monthly, click here.