Phil is truly knowledgeable of the WWI battles and a whole bunch of other interesting stories. There is nothing like standing in the trenches or walking through the underground tunnels to help you visualize the horror that the soldiers endured. We covered a lot of territory in one day and we learned a lot. An excellent tour.
My wife and I and a friend spent a full day exploring the Western Front with Phil Hora, an Australian who lives in Arras and who owns and runs Sacred Ground Tours. We caught the train from Paris and Phil met us at the station at 9am. As there was only 3 of us we had a car which made for extremely comfortable travel. Phil’s knowledge and passion for WW1 history is all-encompassing and thorough. His explanations of geographical and cultural features was excellent. Phil was able to take us to see the major battle sites of the Somme, museums, memorials and numerous cemeteries, including those containing the graves of our Great Uncles… an incredibly moving experience. Lunch was also provided at an excellent restaurant at Villiers Brettoneux. No hesitation in recommending this tour.
I knew that seeing the endless rows of tombstones sitting in such serene, beautiful surroundings was going to be difficult so I was hoping for a tour guide who could provide the history plus combine it with humanity. PHIL certainly did this. He has enormous knowledge of the battles, and a sincere interest in people: the soldiers in the ground and the locals who live in these areas who continue to honour the ANZAC spirit. Phil’s easy Aussie manner was perfect – we shared conversation as well as tears. Two amazing days – thanks Phil
I would recommend that you have a battlefield map with you for reference – there’s such a lot to take in.
I spent two of the most interesting days with Phil exploring the Somme and Fromelles/Ypres. This was also my second visit to Fromelles/Ypres and it was even better again than the first tour.
Phil was great and flexible with organising the two days of tours and tailored these to ensure I covered where my Grandfather and Great Uncle (who is buried at Birr Cross Road Cemetery) fought. We also visited the grave of my Great Uncle and a cousin I found of my Grand Father.
So why were these two days so great? It is easy to explain, Phil is Australian and his focus and knowledge is where the Australian men and women fought in WW1. With the dates and battles that I had of my Grand Father and Great Uncle, he was able to tailor the time to show and explain where they fought. It is so hard to imagine how hard it was for them all and at times being only a few meters from the enemy. Phil’s commentary is also tailored to the people he is with ie not a pre recorded summary. On the second day in Fromelles/Ypres, we were joined by another very friendly couple tracing the steps of their Grand Father. This added again to another great day.
Phil is easy going, very sociable and shows a keen interest in the people we pass and meet on the way, talking to them about where they are from, who they are visiting and helping if he can. Phil claims that he can pick out the Aussie anywhere and any time.
When you visit the Somme and Fromelles/Ypres, contact Phil and use Sacred Ground Tours to explore the area. I do not believe there is a better experience for an Australian.
Our group of five spent a great day with Phil on 1 October. The day was jam-packed with sights to see and interesting commentary by an ex-pat Aussie (now married to a French lady and living in Arras.) Highly recommended as Phil has extensive knowledge of the WWI history and successfully joined all the dots for us throughout the day.
Phil took us on a personalised tour of the major Australian sites around the Somme: Villers-Bretonneux, Pozières, Le Hamel, Bullecourt. He provided us not only the background and description on the monuments and cemeteries, but showed us the actual battlefields and put an Aussie slant on things. Our knowledge of the events and outcomes of WWI is so much more enhanced after our tour. An absolutely fantastic experience
We haven’t actually done one of Phil’s tours, but we wish we had. We were going it alone on our Western Front tour after our own guided tour fell through when we bumped into Phil near Bullecourt. He was so interested in my own family search, and had some fantastic information regarding what had happened in the surrounding areas all those years ago. Could only imagine the quality of information you would get from him in an extended tour – we learnt so much in our chance 10 minute encounter.
My mother and I went on the Fromelles – Bullecourt Day Tour with Phil and had a fantastic day! Visiting the Western Front was one of our key reasons for traveling to France and booking the day tour with Phil was a real highlight of our trip. From the start Phil was interested in why we we visiting and made every effort to ensure that our trip was memorable. He eagerly answered our questions and when time allowed took us to other sites of interest. He also made a special effort to research the family details that we had provided and was able to help us better understand the journey that my mother’s great uncles had taken when they fought and died at Bullecourt. To make the most out of your once in a life time experience of visiting the Western Front I would highly recommend booking a Sacred Ground Tour!