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"Having seen the "Post Office Rifles Tour" advertised via Twitter, I thought I would give this new company a go.
Booking could not have been easier with Stuart Baxter (owner of "Baxters Battlefield Tours") e-mailing the details of the tour and the price (very reasonable) very quickly after my enquiry.
Arrangements were made to pick me up personally from my front door, over an hour away from the nearest designated pick up point but no problem for the tour company, and we were off for two packed days of visiting the Somme and the Salient.
Stand out moments (on day one) for me were (and there are many) visiting Bethune cemetery (Great story about 2 soldiers shot at dawn), Dud Corner (Battle of Loos), Butte De Warlencourt (Story of George Ryder) and we finished the day by visiting Lochnagar Crater. The hotel in Albert was in a great location and once there, the meal booked by BBT was just what we needed after a long day on the battlefields.
Onto day two and After breakfast, we set off to carry on the journey that the Post Office Rifles had taken all those years ago. With stops at Passchendaele, Tyne Cot, the very seldom visited Wurst Farm (a VC was won here) and the haunting last post at the Menin gate.
What a great two days! Paul Prendergast (our main guide for the two days) had an in depth knowledge on general great war subjects as well as the Post Office Rifles, and was happy to answer any questions that were asked of him. I heard personal stories of the soldiers of the Post Office Rifles, the little known army cyclist corp,, the 9th lancers and the truth of how a VC was won.
I have been on many tours, and I must say this was really one of the best. I did not feel rushed when we were on the Somme or the salient or at any other point of the trip. Before the last post, I also had plenty of time to stroll around Ypres and to buy some chocolates for my wife! So, if you want the run of the mill, expensive battlefield tour, Baxters Battlefield Tours is not for you." Personal is what they promote and a personal service is what I received
Mario Sergides (North London)
My grandfather was an experienced private in the 9th Queeen’s Royal Lancers. He was killed in action on 31st October 1914 at Messines (now Mesen) at the age of 30, but his body was never found. My late father, who was 3 at the time of the loss, later attempted to glean information on the events with some success.
Having met Stuart of Baxters Battlefield Tours, he agreed to further investigate events and organise a personal pilgrimage of my grandfather’s journey. I was amazed at the detail uncovered by Stuart enabling us to travel in the footsteps of my grandfather from disembarkation to his last stand. Along the way, we visited many other cemeteries with significant histories including VC winners and those “shot at dawn.”
Stuart had uncovered a sketch drawn by an officer at the Messines ridge showing the makeshift trenches together with his account of the events leading to the enforced withdrawal of the Lancers due to overwhelming German troops on three sides. The sketch proved remarkably accurate when rescaled to present day and I was able to stand within a few feet of where my grandfather fell and witness the frighteningly close positions of the German machine gun nests.
I cannot thank Stuart enough for taking me on this personal and amazing journey culminating in one of the daily services of remembrance at the Menin gate, where my grandfather is commemorated. With the contacts Stuart has nurtured, enabling painstaking research, and his overwhelming interest and enthusiasm for the subject, I cannot recommend him more highly in unlocking an emotional walk in the past.
Mike And Karen Duffield (Middlesex)
In May 2014 we were privileged to be able to book one of the first Baxters Battlefield Tours, covering certain areas of the First World War.We had previously taken part in larger Tour Company Trips for both WW1 and WW2, which were good, but we much preferred the idea of a more personalised guided tour and were not disappointed.
As soon as we started out it became clear that Stuart had planned everything to the finest detail. The journey was very easy and whilst on the ferry we were given an insight into some of the background of the history of WW1. We had begun our walk in the footsteps of those who fought for us. Due to Stuarts attention to detail he had booked us into an excellent hotel, found us very good places for our evening meals and provided enough time to shop for gifts.
Stuart was extremely knowledgeable and we were amazed by the amount of research he had made into our particular area of interest, adding some surprises along the way. The visits were many and made all the more interesting by his anecdotes, both moving and sometimes amusing; these are the memories to take home and help you remember the facts surrounding the war. He would provide us with information and then step back to allow time for private thoughts or just to wander. This is one of the many reasons we thought a more "tailor made" tour would suit us better; that and the flexibility of a more personal approach, catering for specific interests which Stuart offers. We were also able to make some unscheduled stops too when time allowed.
All in all it was a most interesting,emotional,successful and enjoyable trip. We cant wait to book another one in the future.
Les & Sally Dyos - Middlesex