While It was a very tiring and emotional tour, it was absolutely fantastic . The whole tour was so well organised , the accommodation great, etc etc. But what really made the tour was the historian, Pete Smith. He was brilliant.
Many thanks and regards
The tour was outstanding. The effort that is put in by the historian, tour manager and coach driver to make your journey to find a family member, is second to none. They put in every effort to find that family member. I could not praise them enough. On our tour, I was the only one unable to find my uncle. It turns out he was an Unknown Solider, a lost Soul, and we all grieved together. They went above and beyond for everyone on the tour.
Western Front - 9 day
Had the best tour in Gallipoli from start to finish, would recommend this to everyone!
I have just returned from France after attending ANZAC day in Villers-Bretonneux and spending 4 days with my husband Geoff and old friends Kerri and John retracing my grandfather's steps in WW1. We had a wet and cold ANZAC morning but the rest of our 2 weeks in France and another 2 in the UK were perfect.
I began researching my grandfather's WW1 history a few years ago. He fought in France and fortunately returned to Australia at the end of the war. I knew him well and he died in 1978. I knew some of his war history, but not much and sadly never asked him. My father, who fought in WW2 often talked about his time in the Navy and experiences during the war, but my grandfather wasn't as open about his life as my father was. They always attended ANZAC Day services together during my younger years and this I knew was an important day for them both.
I felt that by attending the Menin Gate ceremony in beautiful Ypres and then ANZAC Day in Villers- Bretonneux first, it gave the four of us a real sense of purpose for the next four days of our journey. We were all feeling rather emotional as we started to explore the towns and cemeteries where our soldiers fought and are now buried.
Upon researching the Australian War Memorial website I learned that my grandfather was wounded twice in action. It became a project for me to try and find where he walked and fought. I also realized that I could possibly pinpoint just where he may have been when wounded.
A friend told me about Mat's book, so I purchased it and read it like a bible! I was amazed at the detail he knows and quickly realized that from the information in my grandfather's company war diaries and the facts in your book, I WAS able to know (almost) exactly where he may have been when shot!
His medical records showed he was shot on July 23rd 1916. The war diaries told me where he was and then your information filled in all the detail surrounding that monumental event in Pozieres.
We hired a car with a GPS and following your maps and directions from the Pozieres Tour, we found Sunken Road Trench and Casualty Corner, either place being where he quite possibly was shot as he was in the 3rd Brigade. I took the book and read out the accounts of battles and information to my companions as we drove from town to town and cemetery to cemetery. It was very powerful stuff.
A relative had 2 great uncles who were both killed in France. They asked us to find them. One has his name engraved on the Villers Bretonneux wall and the other we found in a lovely little cemetery in Roisel. We visited his grave on Anzac day and felt we were probably the only Australians who were there that day as there were no little flags or wreaths. We were all moved to tears upon finding the grave and left an Australian flag to mark our visit and leave something of home behind for him.
Without your book Mat, we would not have been able to experience all that we did. I would never have known the Western Front history as you wrote about. The fact that it is a guide to Australian Battlefields is brilliant. We are very grateful to you for enabling us to have a most memorable, moving, wonderful trip around beautiful northern France.
Thanks for inspiring me to plan an unforgettable holiday.
What an amazing and emotional experience to travel the path of my great uncles during WW1 and pay my respects at their graves. While we knew which cemetery they were in, our guide, Myriam, had researched their records and was able to tell us more of their story, where they were likely to have fought and died and challenged us to imagine the conditions they endured in the battlefields in a way that we could understand. This was life altering. We will remember them.
I recently completed a 3 day tour of the WW1 battlefields.
I'm writing to let you know how much I enjoyed the tour and how much it exceeded our expectations. Our historian was an outstanding guide. His background, knowledge and interest were exceptional, but he also had the ability to present what was a complex series of events in a logical and meaningful way...a rare gift.
We wanted an overview of the western front conflict with some, but not exclusive emphasis on the Australian contribution. I now have a much clearer view of the pattern of events 1914 to 1918.
The accommodation was excellent and arrangements impeccable.
Please pass on my thanks to the historian and to all who made our visit so enjoyable
Just letting you know that I have nothing but praise for your staff & your company in the way that the 2015 Sons of Anzacs Vietnam Commemoration Tour was run. The Hotels were wonderful, the battlefield tour guides were very informative and the pace of the tour was absolutely spot on. (Having been on another company's battlefield tour overseas), this tour allowed for everyone to have proper meal breaks and toilet stops which worked well for the average age on this tour. I would definitely recommend your company to friends and would like to say thanks for the professional way the tour was organised and conducted.
Just want to make the comment that I recently did a Battlefields tour of Vietnam with Mat McLachlan Tours. Our historian was a Vietnam Veteran. I found his history but more importantly his personal experience fighting in the battles with the enemy riveting and very compelling. I have done other tours visiting war zones but unfortunately the veterans have passed on so I haven't been able to hear their stories and talk about their experiences. With our historian, it was so interesting listening to him talk about what it was like being in the battle of war. I highly recommend a tour of the battlefields of Vietnam. You will not be disappointed.
We have just returned to Australia after 5 weeks in UK and France. The highlight of our time in France was your 3 day tour which was made incredibly special by our tour guide
All of the hotels we stayed in, and their breakfasts, were excellent; especially in Ypres where it was very close to the Menin Gate
There were 6 people in the mini-bus with our historain; a couple from Gawler (South Australia), our 2 friends (from England) and my husband and myself (South Australia also). The van was comfortable and easy to get in and out from and our historian was an excellent and safe driver
The historian did their job extremely well and their knowledge of the WW1 campaigns and battles was extensive. All of our questions were answered. Our historians experience is evident in the logical way they planned each day’s tours.
Before leaving Australia I had provided information about 2 members of my family who are buried in The Somme. I appreciated the research required for our historian to give me details about the circumstances of their Battalions and the type of conditions our forces endured on The Somme. Our historian located the 2 graves (in different cemeteries) and I left a commemorative cross at each one on behalf of our family. It was an emotional task for me. Our historian's familiarity with the area and the large number of cemeteries played a key part in making this possible
Our English friends were surprised to learn some of their own British history and this has sparked an interest in researching their own family’s involvement in WW1. People from another tour group admired our historians Aussie accent thinking they were one of us and we appreciated their knowledge of our Aussie ways
Our historian's professionalism was beyond question. I highly recommend and honour our historians dedicated work ethic. Thank you, and congratulations on employing such wonderful ambassador for your company. We enjoyed every minute of our tour
Rosslyn & Terry Montgomerie
Rosslyn & Terry Montgomerie
Having experienced a Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tour on the Western Front, I was expecting another well organised, informative, first class tour with excellent guides, comfortable coaches and quality accommodation. This tour was all that and more
When we met as a group on our first night we had the opportunity to get to know each other. For the veterans this was their regiments, dates, area of operation and personal experiences. Friendly bonds and rivalries were quickly formed. We were particularly lucky to have our Historain as our guide as we felt we were “In Good Company”.
Starting with the Cu Chi tunnels gave us an insight into how the enemy lived and the methods they used to fight the war. From there we covered areas of Australia’s military involvement as well as the R & C area of Vung Tau.
At each battlefield we visited Gary gave us details on regiment, company and platoon positions, what took place and the outcome. What made it particularly poignant was that he then allowed and guided veterans who took part in these conflicts to give us their personal experiences. This is what made the tour more memorable and it would have not been possible without our Historian’s knowledge, organisation, leadership and guidance.
The extension tour was a real bonus. Travelling north we stayed at the beautiful Hoi An Historic Hotel, visited the beaches of Da Nang, the former royal capitol of Hue, sailed on Ha Long Bay and finished in Hanoi. (I especially love my silk and cashmere dresses from the tailor you took us to in Hoi An)
I believe that this tour achieved more for the veterans than any other program over the last 40 – 50 years. On the first night we spoke to people who were questioning their feelings, some were angry, resentful, confused and full of bad memories. Many had come to “put ghosts to rest” and move on.
Under the guidance of our Historain, these people opened up, were given the opportunity to tell their stories and have a connection with others under similar circumstances. Feelings were still raw, often a tear or two, and for some it was the first time they had expressed their experiences. Some were confused over why they were there, where they fitted into the big picture but a new understanding was achieved of Australia’s involvement in this “American War” From what I observed, all finished the tour with a positive outlook and for some it was life changing.
For the partners and non veterans, this tour was enlightening and gave a better understanding of the role and legacy of this war. However this was not only a veteran’s tour. Thanks to our historians and local guides we also got an insight into this country’s history, culture, the food, breathtaking natural beauty, friendly, happy people and shopping !!!!!!!!!
A special mention also to our tour guide who has such a depth of knowledge of his country’s history and an amazing understanding of Australian humour. He was always ready to help out, ensure we were all taken good care of and organised for the following day
Ian & Jenny Warburton
Ian & Jenny Warburton
This was a trip-of-a-lifetime for me, couldn't imagine it being done better than with MMBT!
Mr. Terry Gassner
Mr. Terry Gassner
The success of a tour such as this reflects the skill, commitment and passion of the guide. I cannot adequately describe the excellence of our guide and the preparation she made for us, especially the stories behind the relatives we were seeking. I could not wish to have shared such emotional experiences as I did at those graves with a nicer person.
BATTLEFIELD TOURS: Taking a group of high school students away on your holidays- this is the company I trust and recommend. 12 months of planning with a fantastic team who were professional, warm and understanding of the needs for an educational experience of our Anzacs on the Western Front but also for many first time overseas travellers the opportunity to experience the culture, cuisine and icons of Paris. A superbly organised tour with the best tour guide Peter Smith was a unique experience that myself and students will treasure. The insight Peter has makes the battles of each area come alive. His knowledge and understanding of the students so as to inform but not overwhelm, to discuss not lecture was wonderful. Accommodation, meals, transport, museum entries all taken care of. Our driver Stan Pocervina was a key member of our tour family with his language skills, expert driving knowledge and rapport with our group. We are already lining up to book our next tour. Teachers- this is the only way to do a Battlefields a Tour
BATTLEFIELD TOURS: Tim was the most amazing leader of our small group (11 + Tim, inc solo travellers, couples and a family, ages ranged 10 - 80) very enthusiastic Australians who met in Paris to take a mini-bus tour visiting the villages, major sites, Battlefields and resting places of those extraordinary men and women who were involved in WW1.
Upon booking the tour through the Australian office, we were encouraged to submit details of specific requests, inc Battles and cemeteries, and were sent Mat's published book
Tim's knowledge was extraordinary on all aspects of WW1 history, be it battles, anecdotes, family histories, burials, awards.... and his humour and ability to adapt our schedules to cover any requests was much appreciated; he somehow kept us on time whilst also respecting the impact this tour had on us - visiting the Battlefields is a deeply humbling experience that left enormous impressions on each of us - an amazing 4 days in my life
The tour concluded back in Paris, which made it very easy for ongoing travel plans.
We went on the three day tour offered by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours. My husband and I shared the trip with another person so we had lots of attention from our amazing guide Pete Smith. Pete really made the trip an exceptional experience - his knowledge and trip guiding skills were first class. He kept to the published itinerary but made adjustments to suit our interests.We stopped at an archaeological dig of a battle site because i had an interest in archaeology. Pete researched people we were interested in and nothing was too much trouble for us. The hotels we stayed in in Amiens and Brugge were good quality and we had time to wander and see the sights in these towns ourselves once we had checked into the hotels. The value of doing this kind of tour is the guide knew what he was doing, he was a historian so he could explain what we were seeing and added to our knowledge of the Western Front in a way that has stayed with us. We were never just left wandering around cemeteries or battlefields by ourselves like other operators seemed to do. every stop off was set in a context and as pete walked with us the stories he told made the battles and their consequences come to life. We can't rate this tour highly enough.
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