Walk in the footsteps of those who fought in two world wars with Sophie’s Great War Tours of France and beyond.
Many of us feel a special connection to France wherever we were born. Knowing that you have an ancestor who fought on French battlefields, or beaches, during one of the two world wars can add a real depth to the bond. For some of us it’s the vivid picture in our minds of the trenches of the Somme, the Normandy landings or the Dunkirk evacuation that sparks an interest in exploring these historically important places. For others it could be a desire to follow the story of a particular regiment. Whatever your connection to, and interest in, this part of our shared history, Sophie’s Great War Tours allows you to follow in the extraordinary footsteps of ordinary men and women who fought on French soil, to learn more about their experiences and to bring to life the world they knew.
A visit tailored to your needs
Sophie Shrubsole and her team will develop an itinerary for you based specifically on the places you want to visit – in France and beyond – or on what you want to find out. It could be that you have very specific destinations in mind, and that you wish to combine an exploration of history with general sight-seeing and relaxation. Whether you already know your goal or whether you want to let the research undertaken by Sophie and her fellow historians guide your itinerary, Sophie will take care of everything, from accommodation and transport for your party to additional experiences such as wine-tastings or even a classic car tour through the French countryside.
Sophie says, “after 10 years, the team has grown to 12 incredible guides who are not only great historians, but just the loveliest of people. They go above and beyond what’s necessary every time to make sure our guests have an unforgettable and fabulous experience.
“Our commitment to our guests includes saying yes to any request we can possibly make work. We take note of the small things because, of course, they often turn out to be the things that really matter.”
Uncovering an ancestor’s journey
If you’re interested in finding out more about the experiences of a particular person, or in visiting a particular place, Sophie and her highly qualified team of experienced guides offer personalised tours for individuals or groups. If you have the name of a relative, and know either their rank or regiment or where they fought, they will even carry out the research to allow you to develop as full a picture as possible of their wartime experiences. Perhaps they were sheltering in the quarries under the city of Arras in April 1917 waiting to burst onto the battlefield and surprise the Germans, or perhaps you’re interested in finding out about one of the beaches in Normandy where you know your ancestor landed in 1944. If they died during conflict, a visit to their grave, or to see their name on a memorial, can make a poignant focus for your trip.
A team of experienced guides
Sophie is a military history graduate from the University of Birmingham with 15 years’ experience of guiding visitors around the Western Front battlefields. Her knowledgeable and skilled team of guides includes military historians, ex-military personnel and police officers. Each of them has an extensive knowledge of, and respect for, the history of the two world wars as well as experience in hospitality to ensure your visit focuses on comfort as well as historical discovery. Once war-torn and inhospitable, the areas most deeply touched by both world wars are now vibrant, peaceful and thriving communities often set within beautiful landscapes. Your visit, whether by car or motorbike, gives you chance to enjoy the contemporary culture and cuisine and the historic and natural beauty of France as well as a to pay tribute to those who suffered so much during both global conflicts.
Eugenie Brooks is Sophie’s Great War Tours’ lead motorbike guide and, as a former outrider in the royal protection unit, she’s well-placed to ensure every aspect of your visit runs smoothly, whether you’re experienced at riding on European roads or a complete novice.
Your guide will meet you at Calais as you disembark and the suggested four-day itinerary includes visits to battlefields, memorials, cemeteries and local sights in Ypres and Passchendaele in Belgium and the Somme in France. Motorbike tours can be completely customised to your requirements, however, if there are other places you would like to visit or you want to spend more time exploring certain areas.
If your interest is in the involvement of US troops in either of the world wars, Sophie’s Great War Tours offers a completely bespoke visit for you and your group. Sites often featured include the Second World Normandy landing beaches and airborne drop zones that saw so many American troops land on French soil. Arnhem in the Netherlands, can also form part of the itinerary, with a focus on Operation Market Garden, during which the Allies attempted to regain control of the Rhine crossing and forge their way into the heart of Germany. In the Ardennes region of France you can follow in the footsteps of Allied troops battling and eventually defeating Nazi forces during what is often known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Find out more
To find out more about Sophie’s Great War Tours and to speak to Sophie or a member of her team, visit www.sophiesgreatwartours.com They’ll put together an itinerary that will let you make wonderful memories while commemorating those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today.