Great War Battlefield Tours

To my mind there are two activities which can really help us to understand the past – primary research in the archives and field work. This page is about the latter. Since 1990, I have been visiting the Great War Battlefields in France and Flanders. Since 1994, I have been organising tours for both children and adults and acting as a guide. I have taken groups of between three and 60 people and stayed in places such as Ypres, Lens, Arras, Albert and Peronne in a variety of accommodations, travelling in everything from a saloon car to a double-decker coach. Every trip has been profoundly memorable and I have been moved by my guests’ reactions and words of thanks after they have stepped off the coach on the last day. I believe that I have refined my approach to battlefield guiding and can offer you a unique service.

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Students Studying Hawthorn Ridge from Geoffrey Malins’s Position of 1st July 1916

I do not go ‘through the motions’ of a battlefield tour, by hurtling from one huge monument to another, while giving cursory details before retiring to a characterless hotel on the edge of some anonymous settlement in Northern France and I do not believe in giving a performance, showing off or drawing attention to myself. What I really believe in is enabling people to engage with the landscape, the cemeteries and memorials around them and to appreciate what they tell us about the Great War. I complete a great deal of primary research before the trips take place and produce maps and booklets for participants to take away. Wherever possible, I like to walk over particular parts of the front and to weave the cemeteries into the narrative, always inviting people to take part by reading out records or conducting small acts of remembrance. I allow plenty of time for reflection and discussion and will always admit if I don’t know something.

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An Act of Remembrance, Connaught Cemetery, Somme, France, July 2016

Allow me to arrange a tour for you and act as your guide. I can manage parties containing anything from a single person to about 40 people, carrying out the preliminary research, arranging the itineraries and booking the necessary transport, channel crossings and accommodation. You might be a member of a club or association, a family, a group of students or just a bunch of friends who would like to make that pilgrimage to the battlefields which you have always talked about. You might be interested in an individual soldier, a particular unit or a certain battle. I can arrange a wonderful trip to meet your needs. In addition, I will be organising specific tours on set dates. Keep an eye on the blog part of this website in order to get details.

Costs of Battlefield Tours

Every battlefield tour will be different depending on distances, types of accommodation, numbers of people and time of year. But as a rough guide, I need to earn at least £100 for each day I am away from home and not to have to pay for my accommodation and transport. I will also need at least £250 to pay for my preparations. On this basis, I have calculated that a four night tour, for 15 people, using a minibus would cost about £300 per person.

I invite you to speak to me personally via my contact page so that we can begin to make arrangements.

Thank you very much for your interest.

All the Best from,

Stephen