In September 2018 my sister and I visited the Western Front and experienced a one day private tour on the Ypres Salient and also a one day private tour on the Somme. As I go through my photographs of the 3 weeks we spent in Europe, it is these 2 days that I keep coming back to and would class as the highlight of the trip.
The information provided was first class, the effort to locate some of our ancestors who did not make it home was very much appreciated and the whole experience extremely moving. I know that these 2 days will stay with me forever.
A huge thank you to Soren Hawkes and Peter Smith for providing such an incredible experience for us. I hope to one day bring my husband back to the Western Front and introduce him to you both and do it all again.
Thank you Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours.
I would like to recommend highly the Western Front Battlefields Tour. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. The whole experience was one I will remember. The Tour Guide was very knowledgeable and approachable. The facilities were amazing. Thank you for a wonderful experience.
4 day Western Front
I have been in complete awe of the service and experience from Mat McLachlan tours. Not only was my family and I reassured about our safety from the moment we booked but we knew we were in safe hands the moment we started the tour. As one of my first tours I am beyond impressed!
Darci Smith - Anzac Day Gallipoli 2017
Gallipoli ANZAC Day
This tour was exceptional, as was our guide, Myriam Thompson. The three of us felt really lucky to have what was, essentially, a private tour. Myriam's local knowledge, her grasp of the history of the places and the events that took place there, gave a whole new perspective on those heartbreaking battles. The whole tour was handled
professionally, efficiently and with full attention to detail. Myriam's ability to empathise when things became overwhelming, was very much appreciated. It was also a pleasure to hear a friendly Aussie accent.
Tricia Lawrence - Northern France Battlefields
Northern France Battlefields 2 October 2016
On the 25th September my family and I undertook a private tour of the Ypres Salient with tour guide, Soren Hawkes. It was excellent. Soren took us to all the places we had requested and included many nearby extra places of interest to my family and myself. Soren is very friendly and knowledgeable and has excellent driving skills, given how narrow some of the roads in the region are, when locating previously unknown signs and bunkers. He was also able to secure access to private property for us to have a close up experience to where my Grandfather was most likely wounded in 1917.
His choice of lunch facilities (The ANZAC Rest) was also excellent where we met the very interesting host, Johan, who was the first to enter the old mines under the front since they had been abandoned almost 100 years ago, amongst other things. The food was tasty and is highly recommended.
All in all we had a fabulous day, made all the better by having Soren as our guide.
Chris and Alison Frampton & family - Ypres Salient private tour
Chris and Alison Frampton & family
Private tour of Ypres Salient
My wife and I have just walked in the footsteps of my Grandfather and our Great Uncles on the WW1 battlefields of the Western Front. This was an experience that will never be forgotten - an emotional pilgrimage to our Great Uncles grave sites. The four day tour was so very well organised right down to the finest detail and although tiring at some stages it was fantastic and certainly exceeded our expectations. Being selected to lay a wreath on behalf of the tour at the Menin Gate Memorial was only exceeded by being invited to read the Exhortation during the Last Post Memorial - what a highlight and one that I will never forget.
The accommodation at Ieper (Albion Hotel) and Amiens (Mercure Amiens Cathedrale Hotel) were both first class and the 'get to know you' dinner on the first night was brilliant. The coach was very comfortable with plenty of room.
Our Historian and tour guide Peter Smith was nothing short of amazing, his experience, knowledge and wit made the tour. Even his suggestions on where and what to eat turned out to not only be a blessing but were correct. Nothing was to much, he went out of his way to respond to the wants and needs of all tour members. His effort to find out as much as possible on our behalf of a family member(s)was second to none. Martin our coach driver was a professional and got us around the countryside safely and without any fuss.
I can only recommend that you do a Matt McLachlan Battlefields Tour as soon as possible - ours was a brilliant and emotional tour that neither of us will forget. Thank you.
Greg & Meryl Larsen - 4 day Western Front Tour
Greg & Meryl Larsen
4 Day Western Front
We spent three weeks in Europe and the UK, during our time in Europe we joined the Western Front Tour on 30th August 2016. The highlight of the tour was our guide Pete Smith and ably assisted by Ludo our bus driver. Pete was passionate about the history and made sure our experience was the best possible. Many of our tour companions as well as ourselves were able to find relatives killed in the Great War, in some very obscure graveyards, Pete knew where to find them and also advised on the possible circumstances of their deaths. Finding my Great Uncle in a grave in the town of Armentieres was a very humbling experience, as I do not believe any of our family had visited his grave since he died in October 1916. The experience at the Menin Gate, 8pm ceremony in Ypres was something also not to be missed. We had a fantastic time and the whole experience has "sparked" a new interest in researching both my Grandfathers Great War experiences as both of them fought (and survived) this war.
Gareth & Liz Jones - 4 day Western Front Explorer Tour
4 day Western Front Explorer Tour
I have just returned from France and did the 11 night battlefield tour on the Western Front. The tour totally exceeded my expectations and our tour guide, Mike Peters, was absolutely superb. Not only was his knowledge great but it was the way in which he shared it with the group and put us in the picture all the time. It was an experience I will never forget. Our tour Organiser, a lovely English lady named Naomi, was a joy to be with and she looked after our interests so well. Our coach driver, young Christophe, was simply brilliant.
I had it noted in the minutes of my RSL Sub Branch meeting last night that anyone interested in doing a battlefields tour should do it with Mat McLachlan.
Darby Ashton - 11 night battlefield tour on the Western Front.
11 night battlefield tour on the Western Front.
I expected this tour to be quite an experience but it far exceeded expectations, thanks to our historian Jo, tour manager Marc and driver Sebastian. Jo's knowledge, passion and energy brought the battlefields alive and made the stories personal and evocative. Marc's organisation and diplomacy are second to none and Sebastian's skills and extra efforts above and beyond were much appreciated. Following in the footsteps of our family members and troops was an incredibly moving experience I'll never forget. We had fun too! Thank you to our amazing tour team and terrific group.
Julie Fitzgerald - FROMELLES AND POZIERES CENTENARY 2016
FROMELLES AND POZIERES CENTENARY 2016
Thank you for providing a most memorable time (14 to 26 July 2016). The experience was all we had hoped for and more. While the Commemoration Services at Fromelles and Pozieres were very special our highlights were visiting the individual resting places of five great uncles. The memories of those pilgrimages will last our life time.
We wish to make special mention of the team (4 members) who made it all happen for us and request this testimonial be forwarded to them. Their particular part and contribution to our tour was just outstanding and greatly appreciated. They made all the plans come to life.
*Naomi Briggs - Tour Manager: An absolute pleasure, totally focussed on providing a wonderful experience for all of us. Never without a smile, always approachable, ever helpful. Thank you Naomi.
*Mike Peters - Historian: Simply brilliant, endless specific information to accompany events 100 years past. The blank canvas we took to the Western Front is now crowded with images from history to commemorate our five fallen family. Bounding with battlefield energy. A key player in our tour. Thank you Mike.
Christophe - the Coach Driver Extra-ordinare: Amazing driving skills enabled us to get to every cemetery required to fulfil personal pilgrimages and a very happy young man eager to have a chat. Well done Christophe.
*Pierre-Samual Natanson - Our Normandy D-Day Flexi Tour Guide: Provided us with another memorable experience around the Normandy sites. Personalised service and transportation throughout the day. Excellent end to our tour. Almost too tired to take in more experiences. Thank you Pierre.
*We should mention also that our many calls to the MM office prior to the tour were always met with total courtesy and response to our queries. Thank you to all involved.
Vin & Nancy Cosgrove
Fromelles and Pozieres Centenary Tour (Gold Coach)
Vin & Nancy Cosgrove
Centenary of Fromelles and Pozieres followed by 2 days in Normandy
I wish to acknowledge the professional, knowledgeable and exemplary tour with Pete Smith and Karen Palfreyman on the Fromelles and Pozieres Centennial Tour. This was an emotional pilgrimage to visit my uncle James Gavin's grave at Rue Petillon Military Cemetery Fleurbaix as he was killed at Fromelles on July 19th 1916. He was my mother Alicia's eldest brother and four other brothers served as Troopers in the 5th Lighthorse. The care, concern and genuine kindness Karen gave to myself and other older travellers, made for a wonderful tour on the Green Coach as friendships were forged, with mate ship and camaraderie aplenty, as we shared the stories, photos and letters for fallen relatives. Our historian Pete Smith exceeded all my expectations. His vivid, visual and knowledgeable descriptions of geographic and strategic planning, implementation and aftermath of battles was second to none. Pete engaged us in many personal stories of soldiers on the Western Front and his entertaining anecdotes were a highlight everyday. I would highly recommend that everyone make their pilgrimage, even at 84 as I am, to honour our Anzacs. My sincere thanks to Mat and his team and personal thanks to Pete and Karen.
Fromelles and Pozieres Centennial 2016
Just want to say what a wonderful and moving time Warren and I had on the Fromelles/Pozieres Centenary tour 🙂 🙂 Please pass on a huge thankyou to Richard for his guidance and direction every day, Roger for his amazing knowledge and of course Stan for getting us to our destinations safely with a bit of humour thrown in. A truely unforgetable experience!! ♡♡ Thankyou to all involved.
Sue McReynolds - Fromelles and Pozieres Centenary tour
Fromelles and Pozieres Centenary tour
I want to express how satisfying the recent tour of the Western Front and centenary commemorations have been. Following in my grandfather and great uncles footsteps was enhanced by the detailed knowledge of our historian Jo. Not only did she describe the events succinctly, but she linked the geography of the battlefield together and included some emotional accounts from diggers in each action. Jo was also complimented by our tour guide Mark who was always one step ahead and considered the entire groups needs. A true gentleman and real nice nice bloke! The tour lived up to expectations and provided me an opportunity to pay respects to my late Great Uncle who didn't return.
Terry O'Riordan - Fromelles and Pozieres Centenary tour
Fromelles and Pozieres Centenary tour
Anzac Day was absolutely amazing! It was on my bucket list to attend an Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers Brettoneaux and it was a moving ceremony. The breakfast at Hamel afterwards created more memories to last a lifetime. This was an incredibly unique experience and very moving when the school children sang Advance Australia Fair. Amazing! I have recommended Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours to many people since I have returned. It was an amazing and unique experience and the way the stories of the soldiers and what happened during the battles are what made this tour so good.
C.B. - Anzac Day Western Front Tour
Anzac Day Western Front Tour
What an amazing experience! I’d done some research through the War Memorial before I’d left on the holiday and knew where my Great Grandfather and his 2 brothers had fought, what battles they’d been part of and where my great, great uncles had died. The professionalism and knowledge of the Tour manager Marc and Historian Jo made the tour so much better than I had expected. Standing on the battlefields and hearing the stories from Jo helped visualise how the battles had taken place. A special moment for me was walking through Polygon Wood …. my Great Grandfather fought here alongside one of his brothers and my great grandfather was wounded in this battle. I will always remember being there and listening to what happened during the battle. Loved Ypres and it was a great base for the tours!
Carmen B - Western Front Tour
Western Front Tour
The day tour you booked for me with the driver to take me to Bois Guillame Cemetery to visit my great, great uncle’s grave was wonderful. Words can’t describe this experience and actually going there to pay my respects. C.B. - Western Front Private Tour
Private Personal Experience Tour
Amazing three days. Our guide John Anderson was excellent. Visiting the Battlefields was an extremely moving experience, We were able to see The Windmill sight in Pozierres where Malcolm's great uncle Hedley Alexander Browne died and we believe he lays in the field surrounding the windmill memorial. Thank you John for a very moving and informative trip.
Barbara & Malcolm Voysey - Western Front Tour (3 Day Flexi)
Barbara and Malcolm Voysey
Western Front 3day Flexi Tour
We just completed the 4 day Western Front Tour and visited all the sites relevant to the Australian contribution during WW1. We would just like to make the comment that it exceeded our expectations in every way.
The weather was very ordinary in fact terrible at times but it didn't seem to affect the experience. This was probably due to the extraordinary knowledge and experience of our guide Pete Smith. He not only had all the detail and facts of the battles but was able to add the stories that went with the battles and the people. We were all in awe of his passion for subject.
On a personal note thanks to Mat McLachlan for making it possible to visit the graves of our 2 great uncles which was a very emotional moment for us.
The bus driver, the hotels and overall planning were of a high standard.
Peter & Judy Milton - Western Front Tour (4 Days)
Peter and Judy Milton
4day Western Front
We finished the Battlefields trip last Friday. 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
Lee English - Western Front Tour
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.
Margaret O'Brien - Western Front Tour (9 Days)
Western Front - 9 day
Had the best tour in Gallipoli from start to finish, would recommend this to everyone!
Josslyn Reid - Gallipoli Tour
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.
Lorraine Allen - Western Front Tour - (Anzac Day on the Western Front)
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.
Robyn Rae - Western Front Tour (2 Day Flexi)
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
Ngaire Bates - Western Front Tour (3 Day Flexi)
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.
David Key - Sons of Anzacs Vietnam Commemoration Tour
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.
Darren Simpson - Battlefield Tour Vietnam
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 - Western Front Tour
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 - Western Front Tour & Vietnam Battlefield Tour
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 - Guadalcanal and HMAS Canberra Tour
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.
John Glover - Western Front Tour (3 Day Flexi)
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
Louise Cate - Western Front 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.
Duvegas - Western Front Tour
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.