Below are a selection of recent testimonials received from clients. Where there is further information available about the trip then I have indicated this with a link.
“I spent over a year planning in great detail a tour of the battlefields of Flanders and France, with the intention of following the footsteps of my grandfather, who fought there in WWI as a Jewish soldier in the German army; accompanied by two of my sons. Despite meticulous preparations, I felt that I need professional guidance, particularly seeing as the tour also included sites that are less known and less frequented by tourists. The preparatory research you conducted for us, the recommendations as to what time of year is best to take the trip and where we should stay, as well the contacts you made for us with the right people in the field, and the file with the detailed maps and vital information all made it possible for us to reach every single site we wanted. The result was a fascinating and successful tour of the battlefields that we must not forget; and as someone who has experienced combat firsthand and now seen sights such as the bomb craters on the Maesen ridge, getting to perceive the sheer magnitude of that war.” Yair David, Israel
“Thank you for a fantastic trip in September 2011. We were lucky enough to travel with you for three and a half (far too short) days and experience your enthusiasm and passion for WW1 and the Somme first hand. We needed a lot longer. On your website you mention Corporal Andrew McDonald. He is my husband’s Great Uncle lost in 1917. During our time with you he came back to life and it was marvellous to be able to tread the same ground that he walked and to see similar sights. The report that you provided to us will hopefully inspire some other family members to travel to France and Belgium and to utilise your knowledge and enthusiasm for the Western Front and the Somme. You were willing to take us out of our comfort zone and show us areas, memorials and cemeteries that we had no idea could exist from the smallest to the largest including German, Indian, Chinese, Kiwi, Aussie, French, British, South African, Canadian etc. More than we had hoped for or realised that we would have ever seen. Thank you for your ability to generate interest and create great memories.
We would suggest that anyone who contemplates visiting Gallipoli and the Somme, visit Gallipoli first as the memories of France and Belgium will be stronger than those of Gallipoli.
Jeremy was a fantastic guide who took care of us and took us to places we could never hope to see or find on our own. His contacts, his advice, the accommodation he organised and all aspects of the trip were 110%. Thank you for your time and efforts and we both wish you well for the future. Keep guiding.” Marian & Mac Macdonald, New Zealand
“During the first week of August I was lucky enough to go on a battlefield tour in northern France with some friends and the renowned and highly respected military historian Jeremy Banning. It is his passion for researching individual soldier’s stories and then guiding their relatives to enable them to ‘follow in their footsteps’ which really touched me. The two day trip started with a day on the Arras battlefields. We visited the Carriere Wellington tunnels and then travelled around the significant sights of the Battle of Arras which took place in April and May 1917. We visited the Arras Memorial to the Missing and were shocked at the sheer scale of men with no known grave from this battle. One of the most moving moments for me was going to the quiet sunken lane at Fampoux. I stood in the same spot as the men of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders and the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers who attacked Greenland Hill and Roeux on 11th April 1917. It was an incredible feeling to go ‘over the top’ and see the task that had faced these men. We walked a short distance into the field and were deeply moved to be treading in their footsteps. The tragedy was that they were mown down by enfilade machine gun fire and most were killed or wounded after a cruelly short distance. We travelled to the sight where Donald MacKintosh won his Victoria Cross and then paid our respects to him in Brown’s Copse Cemetery. A very humbling experience.
The second day of our tour saw us visit the 1916 Somme battlefield. We only skimmed the surface of this important and huge battlefield but Jeremy was able to personalise so many of the sights. We stood in the field where my friend John’s grandfather had probably fought with the 1/8th Middlesex Regiment (he survived the whole war), visited the impressive Thiepval Memorial to the Missing which has the names of 72,000 men who have no known grave after the Battle of the Somme. We were also given a personal tour of the site where a Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector was found and successfully excavated in May 2010 by a team including Jeremy. This was the subject of a Time Team Special.
A very exciting project is now under way over the coming years at La Boisselle (http://www.laboisselleproject.com/). We were very lucky to have a guided tour of the site. Excavation has already started as has the research into the individual soldiers who occupied and dug the tunnel systems. This amazing project will be remarkable on many fronts and I am very excited by the prospect of watching and hopefully helping in some way towards its success.
It was a wonderful experience and really deepened my knowledge and understanding of World War One, being able to actually see the ground over which the men had to fight and survive or indeed where they still lay, made everything much clearer and even more tragic at the futility of it all. Jeremy’s calm and sensitive delivery of all the information was fascinating. His careful planning meant we saw so much that had real meaning and poignancy about it. Having had a long and deep-seated interest in WW1, it was truly superb to be guided by a passionate and knowledgeable man. I am already planning my trip for longer next year, this time to Ypres and Passchendaele. Heartfelt thanks Jeremy for a truly memorable and quite phenomenal experience.” Sally Weston, Bangkok, Thailand
See the link below for details of the trip Sally took with me: “A whistlestop battlefield trip – Arras & the Somme in two days”
“What a wonderful day you provided for me, far exceeding my expectations for our time together. I mentioned the words ‘bringing alive’ and certainly you did that both for the 1 July 1916 action on the Somme and also Jack’s story from 21-24 March 1918. I have no idea how many similar stories you have so far put together, but I cannot think that anyone trying to trace the steps of a long lost relative would regret having made contact with you. If this is the source of your livelihood, then I can see nothing but success ahead.” Roland Parr, Cambridge
See the link below for details of the trip Roland took with me: “Bespoke battlefield tour walking in the footsteps of Corporal JT Davies VC, 11th South Lancashire Regiment”
“I would just like to say a big thank you for making our battlefield tour such an interesting and amazing event. Your knowledge of the area and what went on and where, is just incredible. The tour was made that much better by the fact that you had researched my Grandfather’s service in the Middlesex Regiment and proceeded to show us exactly where he was and what he would have experienced almost to the day but 95 years ago. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck!
The choice of locations that you picked were excellent, and whilst I know two days is not long enough to cover everything there is to see, we certainly got a very good understanding of what happened, by whom and where. This was made even more poignant by linking them to my ancestors who had fought there. I would have no hesitation in recommending your tours to any of my friends, in fact I have told them of my experience with you and we are already planning another tour for next year.” John Waterman, Kent
See the link below for details of the trip John took with me: “A whistlestop battlefield trip – Arras & the Somme in two days”
“I couldn’t have chosen a better guide than Jeremy. We spent five days on a one-to-one visit to the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres, following the Swansea Pals Battalion. He is great company. It is difficult, in a few lines, to adequately describe how good this bloke is – suffice it to say that he has a palpable love and respect for the places, for the events, for the fallen, and for the truth.” Vanessa Gebbie www.vanessagebbie.com
See the link below for details of the trip Vanessa took with me: “Following in the footsteps of the Swansea Pals”
“I would like to say how much we enjoyed our trip to Ypres. It was so interesting and extremely enlightening. Although I never knew Nicky’s grandfather, it was still very moving to see the place where he was most likely injured. Looking back at the pictures, I am reminded of the long panoramas. I still find it amazing how difficult it is to picture the place as it was despite standing virtually on the same spot as where the picture was taken. As I say, we had a great time and were really impressed with your knowledge and stamina! It was so relaxed that it felt like we were being guided by an old friend.” Robin Smallwood