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Our latest Quick-firer Newsletters to share where we have been, where we are going and snippets of history
After the two preceeding years, 2022 turned out to be a better touring year than we first imagined.
The year saw two more highly successful WFA National tours, guided by Clive and Jack Sheldon as well as the National World War One Museum group visiting from Kansas City, ably guided by our top Verdun guide, Mike Sheil.
In the picture below an American grand daughter returns to Souilly where her Grandmother served in 1918 with the AEF.
The challenge by Suffolk branch of the WFA was to provide a tour showing them at least 20 things they had not seen or heard of in the Flanders region. With prominent members Taff Gillingham and David Hedges the branch have travelled widely over the years, but the gauntlet thrown down, was taken up. We are pleased to have risen to the challenge and across five days in early September the "20 things" were all ticked off. We started with a day on the seldom visited area of the 1918 Lys offensives, followed by a day at Zeebrugge, Ostend and Pervyse and concluded with a day looking at actions of the AEF Doughboys, from the Ypres Salient through to the last 100 days crossing the Scheldt at Oudenaarde.
Above members of Suffolk WFA help fold the flag at the Taps ceremony, In Flanders Field US Cemetery
Lighting the way for organisations in regards to education and "passing the torch" to the next generation, the Gallipoli Association ran another bursary tour in September. Fourteen students aged 15-17yrs who were mostly Army Cadets or have family serving in the military were sponsored to go to Gallipoli for 5 days and take part in a group study of the campaign. As part of their application the students had to explain their suitability and then take part in pre-tour research that was presented on the ground to their peers and the guides. With Julian acting as guide across the Dardanelles the group were blessed with stunning weather. The Students had 5 days totally immersed in military history and Turkish culture. Some of the student presentations were very impressive with insightful, well researched and ably presented sessions.
In a popular return to a favourite of many Battle Honours regulars we went on Somme Strolls again. Several new walks and of course lots of new stories to talk about with Clive along the way.
Below the stoic Poilu stands in Vignacourt CWGC paying tribute to the brave army of Great Britain.
The highlight tour for the year for both Clive and Julian was that conducted for the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Having worked so hard in the Battlefield tour industry for nearly 20 years, to get approached by such a prestigious national landmark was a real honour and felt like a just reward. Ten Chelsea Pensioners and several staff chose Battle Honours to take them to Waterloo and then on to Ypres for 4 days.
The Pensioners wore their 'scarlets' a few times, and as soon as they did, it was like the covers coming on at Lords- all play stops! Cameras and people gather around and the Pensioners work the crowd like true professionals. Concluding with a wreath laying at the Menin Gate, the Pensioners had a great few days and are already talking about 2023 and a visit to Monte Cassino in late March. We are once again excited to reveal a new set of tours for the coming year. We have trimmed down the old idea of lots of 'scheduled' tours, which reflects our company post pandemic approach of trimmed down and agile! It also reflects the growing groups segment in our calendar.
We have tidied up the website and essentially you will see tours divided across Great War and Second World War.
On the Great War side for 2023 you will see our jewel in the crown, our Walking Gallipoli and Hidden Gallipoli tours in May, these have now sold out so an additional date in September is being added. Flanders with author and Historian Gary Sheffield is also booking well and something to look forward to.
The two WFA National tours either of which you can also book. These WFA tours are shorter 4 day tours and offer great value for money if the further afield alternatives do not work for you.
For World War Two we will be looking first at Operation Market Garden in June and also for 2024, we are pleased to reveal, be working once again with Peter Caddick-Adams and following his book Victory in the West 1945. One may perhaps be forgiven for thinking that the Second World War finished at Arnhem Bridge or even in a snow covered foxhole outside Bastogne but of course that is largely due to the British psyche and the lack of works, media and film looking at British involvement beyond 2 Para at Arnhem. In fact our own tour industry compounds the myth by failing to operate meaningful tours looking at those last 100 brutal and costly days. 1945 Victory in the West is historian Peter Caddick Adams latest book that is the first for years to attempt to cover this vital yet overlooked part of World War Two history. From the muddy Dutch borderlands, through the heart of the Reichswald Forest, across the Rhine and beyond, following Montgomery and his 21st Army Group this tour will also see where the haunting discoveries were made of concentration camps at Bergen Belsen, before arriving at Luneberg /Hamburg where the surrender was finally signed. This is a truly unique tour with a headline author fresh full of his research into this fascinating era of history. More to follow next month but book now to avoid disappointment! The focus of the tour this year will be Flanders in 1917, providing the context between ground, air and maritime operations to understand how they were linked. From Passchendaele to Zeebrugge, the author of numerous seminal Great War publications will work with Clive to delve deeper into the understanding of this pivotal year for the BEF and of course its commander. This year we hope to visit areas along XXX Corps route that previously we have whistled passed on our way to Arnhem. With a full day we will study the areas of 101st Airborne near Eindhoven and their combined efforts with XXX Corps to repel 107 Panzer Brigades efforts to cut Club Route. Then we will have a day looking at the ground at Nijmegen, Grave and Groesbeek to try and understand the actions and inactivity of General Gavin and his 82nd Airborne Division. We will complete the tour with a day at Arnhem and Oosterbeek seeing the landing grounds, the fight for the bridge and the subsequent perimeter battles. This well balanced tour will look at each Airborne Divisions battles as well as the ground push by XXX Corps, not forgetting the Germans and the impact they had on the plan to end the war. This tour is open to the general public and run-in association with the WFA, non-members would be encouraged to join the WFA
Vimy, Monchy and Notre Dame deLorette This tour is open to the general public and run-in association with the WFA, non-members would be encouraged to join the WFA
Limited to only 25 places and with Dr Jack Sheldon giving his trademark German Perspectives across each stand this tour will look at French, German and American actions around Verdun.