'humbled by the sheer volume of headstones'

Reflections of a returning guest

'We began visiting France and Belgium a number of years ago as we were interested in finding out more about World War I & II. We were also keen to pay our respects to those who fought for their country, for their children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Over the years we have visited a number of War Cemeteries and memorials and every time I am humbled by the sheer volume of headstones and the amount of names inscribed on the memorials for the missing. This sparked an interest to find out more information.

The museums in both France and Belgium are extremely informative and very modern in their approach, they want their visitors to leave with an impression of what the war would have been like. Books, documentaries and the internet have also been useful but I still felt my knowledge was limited.

We have since been very fortunate to visit the same places and many more with Andy who has obviously spent a life time researching and has gained a vast knowledge of WWI which is reflected when spending time with him.

Andy has a way of sparking your imagination with his in-depth knowledge. To read about a certain battle in Ypres is not the same as actually stand in freezing cold rain, in a muddy field where it actually took place. To have someone explain in detail what particular battle was fought, where the battle lines were and how many thousands of lives were lost, just to gain a few feet of sodden mud. This really did leave a lasting impression.

On our most recent trip we visited the Lochnagar Crater and again I have walked away with so much more knowledge. Andy's attention to detail and his enthusiasm to pass on his knowledge is infectious. He is always extremely keen to provide as much information as he can and then backs off at the right moment to allow it to sink in.

Andy told about the importance of tunnelling, the techniques used by both the French, British and the German forces, the photographers before, during and after, specific explosions. On returning home Andy even provided links on the internet relating to specific questions we had asked, he can always be relied upon to go the extra mile.

Andy's passion, I feel, reflects on us, for when we return home and we also repeat with enthusiasm what we have learnt to our children. Hopefully in time this will encourage them to visit and pay their respects and surely that is all we can hope for. To pass on the knowledge of what was sacrificed by so many and that we must not forget the past.


Several trips



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