MEET OUR WAR HISTORIANS
Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours offers the best War Historians in the business. Our Historians are all published experts in their field – you will recognise their names from books, TV shows, newspaper articles and radio programs. No other tour company can match the quality of our Historians. Click on their bios to learn more.
Mat McLachlan is one of Australia’s leading war historians and battlefield guides, and has spent almost two decades following in the footsteps of Australian troops on battlefields around the world.
His 2007 book, Walking with Anzacs, is considered the definitive guide to Australian battlefields on the Western Front. It was reprinted in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Mat also produced and appears in the First World War documentary Lost in Flanders, which aired on the ABC in April 2009.
His second book, Gallipoli: The Battlefields Guide, was published in 2010 and is the most comprehensive guide to the Australian battlefields of Gallipoli yet published.
He also appears regularly as a historian on the ABC, The History Channel, Channel 7’s Sunrise and Radio 2GB.
Mat is the founder of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours and personally designs all our tours.
John Anderson is an experienced and popular battlefield guide, historian and author who grew up in Alnwick, Northumberland. He was always fascinated by the history of the town especially the men who trained at Alnwick camp prior to their journey to the Western Front.
John first visited the battlefields of France and Belgium in the 1980’s and was a regular visitor until he and his wife Kathleen decided to make their home in the heart of the Somme battlefields almost ten years ago.
As well as guiding on the western front John also takes tours to Gallipoli, Normandy, the V1 & V2 rocket launch sites & the medieval battlefields of Crecy & Agincourt.
He specialises in bespoke tours which are meticulously researched taking family members on a very personal journey to the places where their forbears served.
John is a member of the Somme Battlefield Partnership and is registered with them as an Official Guide.
Jon’s curiosity about the First World War was sparked as a young boy listening to the stories of veterans in his village. His interest in the military and the Great War increased when he researched his own relative’s actions and became fascinated by the part that they played.
Jon served in the Territorial Army for five years, furthering his understanding and knowledge of the military. He went on to increase his love of all eras of military history when he returned to education to study at degree level. The course also developed his abilities for researching and interpreting historical documents. Having completed his History degree he took the decision in 2005 to move with his family to the Somme and convert this interest into a career.
Jon has been guiding full time since 2006 and undertakes tours of the various regions of the western front as well as other sites such as Agincourt and Waterloo. Jon is a member of the European Tour Operators Association and the Somme Battlefield Partners.
Søren Hawkes is a British Artist & Battlefield tour guide living in Ieper, Belgium. His Great Grandfather Maurice Augustus Staunton served as a 15 year old in the Lancashire Fusiliers during WW1.
His great uncle Patrick Thomas Staunton served in the 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment, was killed in action at a place called the ‘Bluff’ on the 20th February 1915 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.
Søren’s studio overlooks the Menin Gate panel on which Patrick Thomas Staunton’s name is listed.
Jo Hook began guiding visitors to the battlefields as a reservist soldier over 10 years ago. She is currently undergoing a Masters in First World War Studies and is an Accredited Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides as well as the Membership Secretary. Jo has been taking both British and Australian clients to the battlefields for last 10 years. Predominantly working in Europe covering the First World War but she has also guided at Gallipoli and covers Normandy, Arnhem, Dunkirk the Battle of Britain, and the London Blitz all of which are relative to the Second World War.
As a former reservist Jo feels she understands the perspective of the soldiers on the battlefield. She is also passionate that those who fell on the battlefield should not be forgotten and their stories and history should be told so that future generations understand the sacrifices made. Jo has led many WW2 veterans back to the battlefields they fought at.
She has also worked with schools and the media covering both World Wars and frequently writes a historical column in the local newspaper.
David Howell is a Melbourne based historian, author and tour guide. Growing up with the stories of the war in New Guinea by his grandfather, David has made over 40 crossings of the famous Kokoda Track along with visiting most of the major battlefields in PNG. David spent the last five years working at the Shrine of Remembrance-the national war memorial of Victoria where he created their journal-Remembrance. He is a serving member of the Army Reserve and has deployed on peacekeeping operations. David is also currently the Hon. Secretary of the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion.
David will be leading all of our PNG anniversary tours.
Since 1996, Roger has been head of the Australian Army History Unit and Army Historian. In this role, he is principal adviser to the Chief of Army on all matters relating to the history and heritage of the Australian Army. Before joining Army, he spent 3 years on the Directing Staff of the Joint Services Staff College, with responsibilities for the international relations and military strategy components of the course. A career public servant, he spent ten years as a senior analyst with the Force Development and Analysis Division in Defence. He also worked for several years in the Department of the House of Representatives, including during the period of the dismissal of the Whitlam government.
Roger holds a PhD and Master of Defence Studies Degree from the University of New South Wales (at the Australian Defence Force Academy), a Litt.B from the ANU and a BA (Hons) from the University of Queensland. He specialises in the history of the First World War and has published two books on the battle of Fromelles. He is currently working on an analysis of the Battle of Amiens. He has also written numerous articles and reviews for publication in a range of specialist and academic journals.
Using his extensive knowledge, Ken presents an informative interpretation of the characters and events of the First World War. Having visited the battlefields of the Western Front for over 15 years, his aim is to reveal and impart the history of the Great War. He strives to discover the stories of the men, appreciate their sacrifice and provide a memorable experience for visitors.
Vanessa grew up in a small Norman village along the Normandy Beaches. Vanessa’s Grandpa was sent to Germany to work in a farm during the war as a forced labourer while her Grandma was left alone with their first child near Bayeux. After studying to become a National Tour Guide, she worked at the Caen Memorial and The Arromanches Museum. Vanessa has been guiding for 10 years in the Normandy region covering a range of areas including the landing beaches, inland battlefields and sites such as Mont Saint-Michel. She is passionate about sharing her experience of the battlefields and keeping the memories of veterans alive.
Gary McKay spent 30 years as an army officer after being conscripted for national service in 1968. He served in South Vietnam in 1971 as an infantry rifle platoon commander where he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and severely wounded in the last major Australian battle of the Vietnam War.
In 1987 Gary’s best-selling autobiography In Good Company was released and he began what is now a full-time career as a non-fiction writer and freelance historian. He is Australia’s most prolific writer on the subject of the Vietnam War having released 12 books with Allen & Unwin. Two of his latest, Australia’s Battlefields in Vietnam and Going Backhave been highly acclaimed by veterans who have returned to Vietnam and those wanting to see where Australia fought during the war. Gary has been returning to Vietnam every year since 1993 and there is no better guide to the Australian battlefields of Vietnam and we are fortunate to have Gary as the historian on our Vietnam tours.
Tom learned about the Great War as a small boy, listening to the stories of relatives who lived through it. It’s perhaps because of this introduction that he became fascinated with the stories of ordinary people in those extraordinary times and with the battlefields themselves, which he has visited for over 30 years.
Tom’s professional background is in Education with a long teaching career up to 1999, when he became a full-time battlefield guide. Tom’s Hellfire Corner website, which he began in 1996, was one of the first Great War internet sites, with almost 3.5 million visitors to date.
Tom has a superb knowledge of the Australian battlefields and is the War Historian on many of our Western Front tours, having also guided for us in Gallipoli.
Mike Peters is a British Army officer with more than 30 years of military service in the Army Air Corps. Commissioned from the ranks, he has served on operations in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mike is also the Chairman of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides and has a lifelong passion for military history. He is a regular writer for Soldier magazine (official magazine of the British Army) and has also published two books, Glider Pilots at Arnhem, and, Glider Pilots in Sicily. Recently he has spoken at the National Army Museum (UK) and has also appeared on TV in several films about the Great War and Airborne forces in the Second World War.
Mike will always strive to tell you the story from the soldier’s point of view. He is a regular historian on our Western Front and Second World War tours.
Craig Roach , aka “Roachie” has been involved in tourism and travel operations for nearly 30 years. His expertise has led him across the globe. ‘Roachie’ first visited the Gallipoli battlefield 30 years ago and since that time has helped train Turkish guides and run workshops about the Gallipoli campaign each year.
Craig has an enormous and still growing amount of knowledge on the subject. He has taken thousands of people to the site over these years and feels that he knows ‘what people want and expect’ out of a visit to Anzac. He believes that everyone has an Anzac story, whether they came with that story, a family connection, or whether they leave with a story. Craig sees these stories as a legacy to future generations who will follow.
Roachie is also a budding artist and brings other budding artists to soak in the sheer beauty and tragedy of this place, known locally as ‘The Gallipoli Artist’ there are few sunsets with a bottle of local wine that escape him at Anzac.
Peter’s life has revolved around the Great War since he inherited his grandfather’s medals and diary as a small boy. He grew up in East Yorkshire before joining the Territorial Army at 17. At 21 he decided he needed a little more action and joined the Royal Marines, a unit he served with for eleven years.
For the next 14 years Peter worked in the print industry, finally as the sales director for a Dorset based company.
In 2004 he moved to the Somme battlefields of France, where he started a bed and breakfast in the historic village of Flers.
He now works full time as a historian, battlefield guide and researcher, with his expertise encompassing the British, Australian and American experience and battlefields of the western front.
Peter is a member of various associations; Guild of Battlefield Guides, Western Front Association, European Tour Operators Association, British Commission for Military History, and is a Friend of the Australian War Memorial.
Peter is also a prolific collector of Great War ephemera and photographs, many of which have been used in related publications He is the historian on many of our Western Front tours.
Myriam’s interest in WW1 was awakened when she researched her family history and discovered her Great Grandfather’s and Great Uncle’s participation on the Western front. Like many of these men, they never spoke about their experiences, and their stories were never told. Her great grandfather returned but his brother didn’t.
Having located and visited his grave, and the emotion she felt when she visited his grave and saw her family name engraved on his headstone was a pivotal point in her life turning her to research military history, especially of the brave young Anzacs on the Western Front in WW1.
Over the years Myriam has gained extensive experience through the various military history jobs she has been involved in. She has worked in a French WWII memorial known as the ‘Maison d’Izieu’ in the Rhone-Alpes region for a number of years as guide and receptionist, which tells the sad and horrific fate of 44 deported Jewish children captured by Klaus Barbie and his team of SS.
She then gained experience in a WWI museum and local tourist offices as a battlefield guide in the area, meeting people from all over the world. Being Australian and living just near the Somme, Myriam has a deep connection and compassion for these brave young Australians who served in France so far from home.
Mark has been visiting the Western Front for many years, taking friends and family and trying to fit in visits around his full time employment. In 2015 he decided to take the plunge and leave his job to focus fully on developing his passion for the battlefields into a role as a Guide.
Mark believes that a visit to the battlefields should not be just about remembering but also learning, as only through gaining an understanding of what our ancestors went through, and why, can we fully pay our respects for their sacrifice and achievements. He likes to get off the beaten track and discover some of the less visited but often very poignant sites. He is a particular advocate of walking the battlefield to literally ‘follow in the footsteps’ and has led our Western Front Walking Tour.
In 2019, Mark graduated with a Master’s degree in the History of the First World War. His thesis involved a study of the Battle of Messines and in particular the ANZAC actions. Mark is a member of the Western Front Association and an associate member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.
Steve is a Melbourne based Tour guide & an Infantry Section Commander in the Army Reserve. He has been on several OS peace keeping deployments & has formal language training in Thai, Tetum & Pijin.
He has a keen interest in Military History, traditions, languages & culture. He is very active in the Ex Service Organisation and young veteran space as well as social projects in East Timor & Papua New Guinea. He is on the East Malvern RSL & Victorian Scottish Regiment Association committees.
Steve was sponsored to go to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performing throughout Scotland, The Tower of London & Menin Gate with the Pipes & Drums.
Unlike most other people with a passion for the Great War, Tim has Disneyland Paris to thank for the start of his journey.
It was during a trip to Disneyland Paris over 20 years ago that Tim passed through Ypres and witnessed the Last Post Ceremony, an event that would change his life forever.
From that point, he spent any spare time that he had, visiting the WW1 battlefields of France and Flanders, walking the ground he had read about and gaining a full understanding of the events that will be etched in the history books of the commonwealth forever.
After many years of visiting the battlefields came the realisation that “you only live once” Tim and his wife decided to purchase a property in the heart of the Somme battlefields, give up the corporate treadmill and start living the dream.
Tim, a glass half full person with a zest for life, has been carrying out research and guiding groups large and small around the battlefields of France & Flanders for many years, sharing his passion and knowledge with anyone who wants to listen.
He is a member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides, the European Tour Operators Association and also in his own words “had the privilege of being the first chairman of the new Somme branch of the Western Front Association”