My Mum and I just completed a tour of both the Somme and Flanders fields with the intention of following our great uncles movements and untimely death on the western front.

Phil was great to communicate with when booking and also went above and beyond to research our great uncle, and forward onto us his Red Cross reports and statements regarding how, where and when he was killed

Although sacred grounds tours will be tailored to suit your wants, Our Somme battle field tour with Phil gave us a brilliant in depth overview of the areas in which or relative was lost. Our tour concluded with a visit to Gardiners grave at Heath cemetery and a quick tour of the immediate farmland area in which we believed Gardy may have been killed based off his Red Cross reports.

Day 2 was out in Flanders field with Mathilde starting with a thorough look through Fromelles, up into Messiness ridge (Hill 60), polygon wood, Ypres salient, Tyne Cot Cemetery, dinner in Ypres and tour concluding with the last post ceremony at Menin gate before heading back to Arras.

Mathilde is a qualified historian with a masters based on WW1 and was brilliant in passing on all of her knowledge to us in simple terms.

I would definatly recommend Sacred Grounds to everyone looking to gain knowledge and can happily say that if the opportunity arises again, I would definatly complete more battlefield tours with These guys

Cam
Bathurst, Australia
July 2018

We had Phil and Pete take us around for a day 1/2 and to say it met expectations is a understatement. Both their knowledge is first rate of the WWI battles and they added colour to bring history to life. I feel they are cheated by only rating them 5 out 5. My wife and I have done extensive day tours (well over 50 day tours in Europe) and these tours are at the top of the list as most enjoyable, engaging and enjoyable. Already Arras and the tours have become our favourites.

Michael C
Australia
July 2018

My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful holiday that took us from Rome to Paris and then London via the two day battlefields tour with Sacred Ground Tours.

We selected Phil largely because of the testimonials provided by previous clients and two days later it was clear how accurate those reviews were. As with some of their other customers, Sacred Grounds personalized our tour to allow us to visit the grave of a relative, shot during the campaigns of 1918 and buried just outside of Villers-Bretonneux. In addition, Phil went out of his way to drop us off at Lille at the end of the second day rather than return us to Arras – this saved us considerable time the following day when catching the Eurostar to London.

During our two wonderful days touring the WW1 battlefields with Sacred Ground Tours we not only visited important memorials, cemeteries and battlefields and drove through gorgeous countryside but we also climbed hills, walked along dirt paths and through over grown bunkers and combed ploughed fields for war relics.

On our first day we were picked up by Mathilde in a nine seater van and with only Karen and I and two other Aussie tourists, we had plenty of room. Mathilde has a Masters in History and during the day outlined broad war strategies up to and including the Battles of the Somme in 1916 as well as providing interesting details of specific battles and fascinating pieces of information about anything and everything. Of particular note was our visit to the Villers-Bretonneaux War Memorial and the newly opened John Monash Museum.

Last time I had seen the Memorial was on the televised ANZAC Day ceremony last year, full of people, chairs and flags, dignitaries, wreaths and TV crews. On our visit it was quiet with only one or two people looking at the headstones and a couple of gardeners tending the beds of flowers. We walked up to the Memorial, explored inside and then climbed the stairs to the top of the tower where we had a 360 degree panoramic view over the cemetery, the surrounding farms and the surrounding towns.
Mathilde then drove us a few kilometers to Hangard Wood where we found the grave of my Great Uncle who died just over a hundred years ago. It was very moving to spend some time contemplating the sacrifices he had made along with the thousands of others who were buried in the graves we visited during the two days.

Phil was our host on day two and where Mathilde was great with her knowledge of the battles, Phil was even better from a personal and practical perspective. For example, at Fromelles where my Grandfather fought, not only did he talk about the battle but he also pointed out where my Grandfather would have started his charge and where he would have raced across the fields to where he would have laid in no-mans’ land after being injured. We finished that part of the tour scouring through a nearby paddock searching for war souveniers.

As we continued through the day, Phil pointed out all the battlefields that my Grandfather would have fought at. And, in addition to the memorials and cemeteries on our itinerary, Phil took us through old bunkers and pillboxes and along trenches and craters littering the battlefields. At Polygon Wood, we approached the memorial down a long dirt path through the most marvelous forest. Our second day ended in the best possible way with the service at Menin Gate.

Lunch on both days and dinner on Day 2 at Ypres were excellent affairs.

In summary, a very special two days with not only a professional tour company with great itineraries, good transportation and meals but with two very personable, experienced and informative guides. I highly recommend Sacred Ground Tours.

Abraham
Canberra, Australia
May 2018

While Phil was a great Aussie to deal with while booking, with the all too rare Aussie trust that we would turn up on the day and could pay on the day….we were so blessed to have the incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable Mathilde as our guide. Mathilde has a Masters in WWI history and is embarking on a PhD and yet she could put into words so simply the wondrous and complicated history of the Somme.

The day was emotive and informative, I have so much more respect for the young men who gave their lives for our future and the poppy truly means something to me now.

Mathilde opened my eyes to the heroic endeavours or Australia’s very own Monash who was instrumental in the success of the Allies in WWI – why did I not hear about this before? Everyone should tour the Somme to understand the sacrifices that were made, ideally with Mathilde! I have already recommended this tour to many other friends already. A truly special day that I shared with my father and other lovely Aussies. Also, amazing value for money with lunch included. Lest we Forget.

Sam
London, England
June 2018

Phil is an extremely entertaining and knowledgeable story teller in the Australian way. His tours are intimate, emotional and beyond any expectation I may have had. If you have a family member involved in WW1 Phil will research their story and help you find where they may have trodden in that scarred but now beautiful landscape. The vast number of graves is confronting but the knowledge that there is probably that number of men and more still in those fields in mind blowing. Would totally recommend this tour and in fact would not hesitate to say you’d be silly to miss it.

Megan N
Ipswich, Australia
July 2018

We did each of the three tours on offer & have no hesitation recommending this company to other Aussies. We had three guides over the course of the three days – two passionate Aussies with loads of knowledge & a French historian who spoke fluent English. Like many Aussies, we had personal connections to some battle fields & twice the guides went out of their way to research & then take us to the relevant places. This was a ‘bucket list’ visit for us & it exceeded our expectations.

Jennifer P
Canberra, Australia
June 2018

Like many Aussies presently we wanted to see the area that our Grandfathers, Uncles or other family members had served during the Great War 1914-18. We decided that Ypres in Belgium would be our base and picked Sacred Ground Tours as our guide. From the very start of our emails back and forth with Phil (the operator of Sacred Ground Tours) he made the process a very simple one. My emails where addressed promptly and any questions were answered. Phil is an Aussie who now lives overseas and understands how difficult it can sometimes be dealing with travel companies. The booking process was simple and payment was made safely via PayPal.
We were told we would be picked up from our hotel in Ypres(pickups can be tailored to suit). Phil emailed us two days before to confirm and told us Lucas would be there to pick us up at 8:00am. True to this a young Flemish man named Lucas was there right on time. He spoke perfect English and his knowledge of the entire area was unbelievable. We spent the day moving from one battlefield area to another,always with a focus on Australian involvement but also explaining that in war everybody loses loved ones. Of particular interest was a German cemetery that we visited and we were able to see the different ways other countries remember the fallen…..fascinating.
Lunch was supplied at a small Resturant a stones throw from Polygon Wood a major battle for Australian troops.
As a amateur archeologist,Lucas was able to share his passion with us. Nothing was too much trouble for our guide Lucas and he made our trip to the Western front fascinating and also reflective as we pondered the huge loss of young men in a war that none of them could have imagined. I would highly recommend Sacred Ground Tours if you are looking for that personal touch.

John P
Australia
June 2018

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2 day battlefield tour with Phil and Peter. We learnt so much on the involvement of the Aussie soldiers in WW1. Everything was perfect and ehighly highly recommend Sacred Ground Tours – you will definitely be very impressed with their depth of knowledge, quality of vehicles and meals. Thanks Phil and Pete for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us!

Anne M
Brisbane, Australia
June 2018

This was a fantastic tour. The two days were informative, comprehensive, personal and very emotional. The name of these tours and the company is apt. The ground is indeed “sacred”. We were lucky to have Phil (day one – an Australian) and Mathilda (day two – French). Both are extremely knowledgeable and personable. Interestingly their individual character seemed to reflect the character of the people of a century ago. Phil is dedicated and passionate but a bit of a larrikin- just like the Australian “diggers”. Mathilda on the other hand reflected the French people’s dedication, resilience and gratitude. For it these people on whose land and in whose towns and indeed in whose very homes these terrible battles were fought. It is one thing for soldiers to leave this theatre of war – it is totally a different thing for the French and Belgium people to return to their totally demolished towns, with unexploded ammunition, bodies of soldiers and tunnels littering their yards and their farming fields.

There is much to recommend about this tour. For me the final event of the two day tour which is the “Last Post Ceromony” at Menin Gate was outstanding. Thanks Phil and Mathilda you made the battlefields even more sacred than we expected.

Ken B
Australia
May 2018

I’ve just finished 3 days touring the Western Front with Sacred Ground Tours. The owner, Phil, is a true Aussie larrikin with a startlingly deep knowledge of each and every engagement by Australians in the Western Front. His sense of humour, irreverently Aussie, helps keep these tours far from being the disheartening history of war while he shows the battles and explains the strategies. Also with us was Mathilde, a young French Master of History who has extensively researched the Australians battles. Some guests with us were trying to track the grave of their Great Uncle, and Mathilde researched and was able to show us the exact position of the fatal engagement and then located the grave for a very moving moment. I cannot imagine a better tour for all Australians and I cannot imagine better guides than Phil and Mathilde.

Mark
Sydney, Australia
May 2018