Hoping to gain an understanding of my grandfather’s experience with the 44th Battalion during WW1, I booked Sacred Ground Tours. I only did the one day tour visiting places around the Somme including Villers-Bretonneux, but it was extensive in what it covered. Phil and Aurora were very knowledgeable and presented the information with great passion and understanding, so that it was easy to visualise what had taken place all those years ago. The Monash Museum was incredible – could have spent a day there. Visiting the many smaller cemeteries and monuments provided a picture of the tragic loss of life, although so hard to imagine while in the tranquil countryside of today.

Jeanette
Perth, Australia
September 2018

Since arriving home my mind has continually gone back to the days we spent with Phil on that ‘sacred ground’. A trip memory I will keep for ever.

Christine E
Hunter Valley, Australia
August 2018

Phil was awesome, his knowledge of the area is very detailed.
If you give him any details of family that have served he can find where they were and when.
take you to the tourist spots and the out of the way places that the other tours don’t go to.
Small groups that make getting around very easy.
highlight of the tour was day 2 Menin Gate

Christine M
Australia
May 2018

What a fabulous tour this is. Be sure to take the three days from Monday to Wednesday or from Thursday to Saturday as the tours run the timeline of the war on the Western Front.
Phil, Aurora and Bruce were exemplary guides who knew their info and the best places to go. Phil is a great host and makes sure all the passengers have their needs met….. great lunches and yummy chocolate croissants.
Phil went out of his way to find info about passenger’s relatives…. if there was a grave then it was visited, if it was a name on a wall it was found, and in my case, it was two uncles who fought and returned to Australia and he found out as much info as he could about where they fought.
The group was fun too. Everyone was there because they had a reason to visit the battlefields.
Phil is an Aussie and he only takes Aussie. It’s a not to be missed experience.

Ruth Brown
Australia
September 2018

I can fully reccommend taking this tour. The guides are first rate. The information and delivery is excellent. The entusiasm, knowledge and aspects of the tour are brilliant. Is is a great tour and the places we visit are amazing ! Thankyou so much. Just do it you wont be sorry!

Ross
Australia
September 2018

As excellent as you can get. Out on the Somme with Peter on day one was like a close friend taking you for a tour. His knowledge was second to none (except maybe Phil). Time was never an issue. Nothing was any trouble. Day 2 with Phil doing the Ypres Menin Gate, was equally as good. We had given him some background on my wife’s grandfather, and he took us to a clearing station near Polygon Wood where he more than likely would have passed through after being gassed. It was on private property, but luckily the gate was unlocked and he took us in. Needless to say, very emotional for my wife. Can’t recommend Phil and his company highly enough.

Kerry & Noel
Brisbane, Australia August 2018

We visited the battlefields so my wife could follow in the footsteps of her grandfather who was awarded a Victoria Cross. On the first day our guide Peter took us on an extensive tour around Villiers Bretoneux and Peronne. He then went to some trouble to take us to the location where the final action was launched. This was much appreciated.

On the second day our guide Phil took us on a very informative trip north into Belgium. We shared the journey with four others.

All in all a memorable experience. Value for money good. Guides knowledgeable and considerate.

Burnsy
Sydney, Australia
September 2018

Sacred Ground Tours – as I walked through the battle field at Polygon Wood, Ypres, Belgium I couldn’t help but think what an appropriate name for a Tour Company. My Great Uncle lay there somewhere and it really felt so sacred.
The tour company is owned by an Australian, Phil Hora, a real ‘Aussie’ who tells it as it was. On the first day our group consisted of six and then just us the next day.
We departed from Arras, a lively old town and very close to where all the battles took place so many years ago. Prior to arrival Phil had printed up the records of both my husband’s relative and mine and was very informative in all aspects. He took us to the grave of my husband’s relative and our two day tour culminated in the nightly service at Menin Gate. Here he pointed out my Great Uncle’s name on the wall (if a body has not been found the names are inscribed on the wall – if ever identified the name is removed and the remains are given a headstone).
Phil was very open to questions and able to give all the information requested. My husband is quite well versed in military subjects and was impressed with Phil’s knowledge.
Apart from the battlefields there was the recently opened Sir John Monash Centre – wonderful and the banner in the school at Villers-Bretonneux which reads “Never Forget Australia” – Phil we will never forget our tours with Sacred Ground and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your great Aussie character. I am sure my Great Uncle would appreciate the way you conduct your tours – According to my Grandmother, her brother was a ‘True Blue’ Aussie rascal too!

Pokolbin, Australia
August 2018

Our family of four enjoyed two days with Phil and Mathilde in December 2017. Phil took us on our tour of Fromelles and Ypres including the Last Post at Menin Gate.

Our boys are mad Australian Word War One history buffs and Phil encouraged them in their exploration of Australia’s involvement in these battles. Phil also went out of his way to research the graves of many students from our sons’ school who died in various places in Fromelles, Ypres and the Somme. We were able to see all these graves and remember those who sacrificed their lives from our home town and school. The Last Post ceremony was very moving and our boys were fortunate enough to lay a wreath on behalf of their school community.

Mathilde took us through the Somme and Villers Bretonneux, once again finding graves of some of our school’s former students.Her knowledge was outstanding!

We enjoyed both days and the way that Phil and Mathilde took a genuine interest in our sons and their passion for Australian War history.

A bonus was being able to see the Tyne Cot cemetery without a single soul visiting at the time we were – an experience I will never forget.

I would highly recommend Sacred Ground Tours to anyone interested in Australia and New Zealand’s involvement in these battles…

We hope to return one day soon and our son has decided to pursue a degree in history, with a particular interest in Australians at war. Hopefully, he will be able to do something similar to these guys in the future!

Thanks Phil and Mathilde!!

Nellie
Queensland, Australia
August 2018

My sister and I recently holidayed in Europe & UK and our Sacred Ground Tour of the Western Front was the best part, by far. The company offers three different one-day tours over consecutive days and we elected to spend all three days with Phil and Mathilde. Their knowledge is second to none, the way they impart it is second to none, and the way they organised each day and delivered a first class service was amazing and highly professional. Every minute was jam-packed with interest.

You genuinely feel that you are walking in the footsteps taken by your relatives 100 years ago. Our great uncle enlisted in Jan 1915, served at Gallipoli and lasted all through the war in France and Belgium until he was killed 6 hours before his artillery unit was withdrawn in Oct 1918. Thanks to Phil, we got to see all the places where he’d been up until that last Australian battle on the Beaurevoir line. We were able to place crosses on our great uncle’s grave at Roisel, especially moving for us as his war cemetery doesn’t get many visitors from home, being so far eastwards in the Somme.

Everywhere we went it was wonderful to see how much the French recognise and appreciate the contribution made by Australians in the years 1916-1918, and not just at Villers-Bretonneux.

We felt so fortunate to be part of this small-group tour experience. Phil is the archetypal Aussie (although not actually native-born!), with an engaging sense of humour, and Mathilde is wonderfully ‘French’ while speaking perfect English. We saw France through both sets of eyes, became immersed in today’s lush landscape and relived the battle horrors of an appalling war. The cultural experience was heightened by three very memorable lunches in different locations and a memorable evening meal in Ypres, followed by the Last Post ceremony. Several thousand people turn up at the Menin Gate every night – always a different crowd, said Phil.

There’s no way you could replicate what Sacred Ground Tours offer by trying to find all the right places yourself or by joining a tourist bus. It’s money well spent to take this tour. Phil is a great story-teller. If only he had the time to write down what he knows about the Australian experience on the Western Front he would have a best-seller on his hands.

Louise W
Melbourne, Australia
May 2018