All Quiet on the Western Front

What our previous travellers have to say about this tour

"The high point of the tour for me was when Paul Reed made an unexpected detour enabling me to visit my Grandfather’s grave..."

Edward Slater & Jill Morrison


Mr Slater

"A century ago, in August 1914, Great Britain plummeted into war. Involved in the battle were millions of soldiers and by 1916, conscripts. More than ¾ million men were never to return home. Hundreds of thousands more wounded or damaged mentally by what they had witnessed on the battlefield. Having been a professional soldier, and experienced active service, I can only comprehend in a miniscule way what these brave men must have endured.

My grandfather was a volunteer in the 14th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment – “The Barnsley Pals”. The “Pals” Battalions were a phenomenon of the Great War. The volunteers consisted of men from different social backgrounds, coal miners, office workers, young professional gentlemen. Mostly from the Barnsley area, designed to give them a common bond. Once recruited, they were trained and welded together to form a close knit supportive unit called the 13th and 14th Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment and adopted the identity of the “Barnsley Pals”. They went into action for the first time at “Serre on the Somme” on the 1st of July 1916.

The only way for me to gain an insight into the conditions under which this war was waged in 1914/1918, was to take a specialised battlefield tour, using the expertise of a tour guide. Therefore, we chose Leger and we were fortunate in having available to us a well-known military historian, Paul Reed.

In both areas of conflict – Flanders and the Somme – battle conditions were almost identical. The futility of lives wasted in capturing a few yards of territory, at times costing hundreds of lives, sometimes only to be lost later in a counter attack. Existing in trenches, with constant shelling and sniper fire, sometimes knee deep in water and mud, with vermin ever present. Winter temperatures could be as low as -25?C so keeping their circulation going to be able to fire their weapons was a constant problem. It is amazing how morale was maintained, they were also expected to go “over the top” when the order was given, knowing they faced near certain death. I can only assume that the comradeship of the “Pals” Battalion made this possible.
In Flanders, I could not see anything other than the stark reality of war; even in the villages which have been rebuilt there was an emptiness and chill in the atmosphere. The many military cemeteries maintained the aura and futility of war on both battlefronts. Because of this, I fear there can be no feeling of peace in either place.

The high point of the tour for me was when Paul Reed made an unexpected detour enabling me to visit my Grandfather’s grave at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery on the Somme, which fulfilled my desire of many years. A beautiful village cemetery with only twelve military headstones, my Grandfather’s head stone flanked on either side with two of his “Barnsley Pals”. The tribute to my Grandfather is written in the Book of Remembrance at Rotherham Minster. It reads as follows:

“ A Tribute to a Gallant Soldier and Leader of Men 14/396 L/CDL Edward Slater, 14th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. On the 2nd of November 2014, I was privileged to visit your grave at Hebuterne Communal Cemetery, France, one day before the anniversary of your death on the 3rd of November 1916. On that day you led your Section into action, knowing that you were facing near certain death. Fearful, but determined, you paid the ultimate price with others of the “Barnsley Pals” who are buried either side of you. Grandad, I salute and admire your bravery. Your Grandson and proud bearer of your name – Edward James Slater – Army Veteran of 24 years’ service.”

I am most grateful to our Battlefield Guide Paul Reed for making the tour such a memorable and emotional experience.


  • Mr Slater and Mrs Morrison
"

"Thinking of dreams come true and completing my dream list, which it seems I did, you managed to complete the most important dream for me with the trip to Belgium and to walk through the trenches and to be at Menin Gate."

Mrs Griffith


Sheilia Griffith and son Mark Griffith

"A few years ago my son Mark and I thought we would like to visit the Battlefields of the Flanders, as my father and his three brothers had all fought in WW1. One of them died as a result of wounds inflicted whilst fighting at Brettoneaux and is buried at St Sever cemetery in France. We looked at many brochures about the tours and decided yours was the closest to the places my family had been in battle.

In 2012 my son was diagnosed with throat cancer and although we thought he was cleared for a full recovery, in January 2014 the consultant told him a new tumour had grown in his throat. He was told that he only had a few months to live and if there were any journeys he wanted to make he had to do them sooner rather than later. I immediately contacted Leger Holidays and explained about my son and asked if it was possible for us to travel. They were so helpful and soon we were packing our bags for our longed for tour- All Quiet on the Western Front.

Our coach driver was so attentive, without detracting from the pleasure of the holiday for the other passengers. Marks carer Nick joined us on the tour and was also brilliant, he helped us to carry all of Marks medication and on occasion his wheelchair, although Mark tried to walk as much as possible.
We took a day out from the tour to visit the grave of my uncle. I had arranged it through the War Graves Commission in London who had someone to meet us at the cemetery and take us to the grave. Mark was then able to write in the book of remembrance.
Mark wrote a letter to each member of our family to be opened after his death. There was one passage in my letter which I would like to pass onto you.

‘Thinking of dreams come true and completing my dream list, which it seems I did, you managed to complete the most important dream for me with the trip to Belgium and to walk through the trenches and to be at Menin Gate. To get to Ypres and the Somme and stand where all the history happened some 100 years ago, takes my breath away and refuels my imagination. Then to find the grave of your uncle was the icing, cherry and candles on top of the cake. Please thank all at Leger Holidays for a memorable journey.’

My son passed away peacefully on August 29th 2014.


"

"As a National Service Malayan Veteran, I really appreciated the work that has gone into covering WW1. Well done to all the staff at Leger."

Mr Boughton


Mr Boughton

"Having recently returned from the above tour with my eldest son, I would like to let you know how we enjoyed the tour from the start to finish, the organisation of travel, sights to visit and the excellent selection of hotel.

 My son had developed a wish to visit the Somme after reading WW1 books, I had visited the area three times in the past, twice with Leger Holidays.

This particular tour was selected due to the included visit to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, and The Irish Memorial. My wife’s grandad, being one of the soldiers missing, had his name on the memorial at Tyne Cot and listed in the books at the Ulster Memorial.

My father was gassed on the Somme but survived, so again it was the opportunity to lay a poppy in remembrance for both during the tour.


My advice to people doing the tour is not to expect a leisurely holiday, to get to the places that are to be visited strict timings must be adhered to. If any of the tours that Leger Holidays offers contains the cross section of people we had the pleasure of meeting, then that would be an added bonus.


Regarding the coach, the facilities were first class. Service and driving by the coach crew were A1. The driving was brilliant as at times they had to content with tight situations. The Great Western Ambassador Hotel was again first class and its location near the Menin Gate was well selected.


All in all a perfect tour, it was well panned, so no doubt all the people that were on this tour would certainly recommend Leger Holidays. The photo is of me and my son at the Middlesex Memorial of the Football Battalion. As a National Service Malayan Veteran, I really appreciated the work that has gone into covering WW1. Well done to all the staff at Leger.


"

"This was more than just a tour: it was a rich and enlightening experience, an informed dip into the past, which leaves the participant with thought provoking memories."

Mr & Mrs Harker


Mr Harker

"We chose All Quiet on the Western Front as we are both interested in the First World War – my husband because he had relatives involved, and myself because I taught that period in history for a number of years. We felt this particular tour would give us a good overview – which it did most successfully.


It was a very full tour and there are almost too many places to mention. We visited Ypres, Sanctuary Wood, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Arras, tunnels and trenches, Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Thiepval, the historial museum at Peronne. If it was in the brochure we went there – plus a few more places!

We think the tour had two highlights – the very moving ceremony at the Menin Gate and the wonder at those who, after all these years, keep faith with those who died. The second highlight was the museum at Perrone. It put so much into context and is worth a visit in its own right. But it’s hardly fair to pick out highlights - it was all so good
Tips for going on the tour: I think it was a specialist tour in the sense that most of the people had some knowledge of the war and in many cases personal connections. A study of a map beforehand would help give an idea of scale and a chronology is useful. Other than that, comfortable walking shoes and rain gear.

It was such a busy tour there wasn’t really a chance to talk to people very much, but they were a congenial group. One thing we liked, was that some people were enabled to visit graves of relatives – that gave the tour a kind of immediacy and the distant events a reality, as well as being moving that those who died so long ago were not forgotten.
The tour was everything we expected – and more.

The coach and drivers, Ivo and Ken, were excellent – we opted for Silver Service for the leg room! The drivers took great care of us e.g. bringing round drinks regularly. They were pleasant, friendly, helpful and ever punctual. The coach was kept clean and tidy. The guides Marc and later Peter Williams together with the drivers worked as a team to ensure the whole tour was a worthwhile and memorable experience for all participants.

We stayed in the Best Western Ambassador in Menen. Accommodation and breakfast were fine.
This was our first experience of a Leger holiday – and would certainly go with Leger again. It comes across as a good company offering value for money – the pre-holiday (back office) organisation is good and the people to whom I spoke were very helpful. Care on the holiday both by coach drivers and guides was second to none.

This was more than just a tour: it was a rich and enlightening experience, an informed dip into the past, which leaves the participant with thought provoking memories.

"