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Western Front Association Tours


Mark Hone

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I note from the WFA Bulletin that they are reviving 'in-house' battlefield tours. Are there any other survivors of the original tours they did in the 1980s with guides including Terry Cave, Tony Spagnoly and John Terraine? I'm only aware of Nigel Cave in addition to myself but there may be others out there...

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Mons 1984 (with my mate John Bennett, who's also still around) although i was very young at the time. Nigel was on that one!

John

PS and james watson_Smith, also Mons '84 is around still as Secretary of the Gallipoli Association.

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I wasn't on the Mons tour, unfortunately. I went on the 1987 Remembrance Tour and the 1988 Victory Tour. I still have the guidebooks for these. One of the people I met was a civil servant called Roger Pritchard who had been the winner of TV's 'Mastermind'. In those pre-internet days he was trying to record and photograph the grave or place of commemoration of every member of the Gloucestershire Regiment.

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I'm not sure whether '84 was the first one but there were some interesting characters. The actor George Sewell's father, who was a veteran of the 100 days in 1918, was with us. I recall George also had a collection of Imperial German parade helmets. And a man who had made a violin from wood taken from, I think, Sanctuary Wood. i think there was an article on that in a very early WFA Bulletin.

John

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Here is the cover of the guidebook for the 1988 tour, probably the best single battlefield tour I have ever been on. Veterans Basil Farrer, Don Price, Alec Stringer and Charlie Young accompanied the tour. Also in attendance were Earl Haig (son of) and his wife.

post-120-0-56157800-1325251487.jpg

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I note from the WFA Bulletin that they are reviving 'in-house' battlefield tours. Are there any other survivors of the original tours they did in the 1980s

My gosh - how realistic were they?

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Last night in paris 1984, worst hangover ever, felt very realistic at the time.

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We nearly suffered a few casualties walking down the road from Albert Hochard's hotel 'Le Prieure' at Ranville to the nearby French, British and German cemeteries thanks to maniacal French motorists. Also, as John hints, some of those early WFA characters could certainly put the odd drink or two away.

Out of nostalgia I stayed at 'Le Prieure' on the 20th anniversary of the 'Victory Tour' on my way back from Germany in August 2008. Sadly the place was but a shadow of its former self. It still seemed to be open when we passed it on our way to Peronne on this year's school tour.

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I wasn't on the Mons tour, unfortunately. I went on the 1987 Remembrance Tour and the 1988 Victory Tour. I still have the guidebooks for these. One of the people I met was a civil servant called Roger Pritchard who had been the winner of TV's 'Mastermind'. In those pre-internet days he was tring to record and photograph the grave or place of commemoration of every member of the Gloucestershire Regiment.

My first one was November 87 or 88, Roger is still going strong and touring regularly, and has even gone digital on his quest for Gloucester graves, those that are named.

Oh and the drinking in the Hotel in Coutrai in the Kennedy Memorial Industrial Park, fantastic!

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I can't see you on the cast list for November 1987. I forgot to mention that I met my American friends Bill and Barbara Graham on the 1988 tour and still go to see them in the 'States whenever I can.

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I was a late addition, only booked on it the week before IIC, it could have been 88, But they were amazing tours with the veterans,

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Don Price (ex Public Schools Battalion RF) was a real old card. He seemed to be the halest of the four veterans on the '88 tour. still driving at 92, but he died only a few months later. I have a feeling that Alec Stringer, the frailest, outlived the others. I remember having a drink with someone of about my age or younger (I was mid-20s at the time) at the windswept hotel at Nieuport where we were staying on the '87 trip. Was that you? We worked out that there were still 13,000 Great War veterans still alive, I seem to recall. Unfortunately , like a couple of people on the tour I went down with food poisoning at the end of the trip(apparently from a fried egg sandwich!) and missed the slap-up meal at the Brasserie St Nicholas, the then-poshest reataurant in Ypres. I always meant to make up for that but the restaurant later moved (to Elverdinge?) and the building is now one of those school dormitory-hotels.

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