This was a tour for the soldiers , sailors and airmen of the Defence School of Technical Training. We covered the Salerno landings of Sept 1943 and then the four battles of Cassino from Jan to May 1944. We concentrated on the technical aspects of the operations ; everything from radar to mine warfare.
I guided Worcester Severn Rotary to Malta in October. The weather was perfect and , after a day looking at the Great Siege of 1565 , we spent the rest of the week visiting sites connected with the Second World War . These included Army , RN and RAF sites. Valetta was explored on foot and sites elsewhere on the island by private coach.
Somme and Ypres Tour
As a Derbyshire man I enjoyed taking the boys and girls of Derbyshire ACF to the Western Front. We had one day on the Somme and two days in the Ypres salient , looking mainly at Derbyshire men and regiments. These included the 5th Foresters at Gommecourt on 1 July 1915 , the execution of Cpl Jesse Wilton and the VC action of Cpl Ernest Egerton of the Chatsworth Rifles in Bulgar Wood on 20 Sept 1917. It was good to see the cadets , with their standard party , in uniform at the Last Post Ceremony.
Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride 2018
As usual , the Guild of Battlefield Guides provided a team of four badged guides for the H4H Big Battlefield Bike Ride. This years ride ( the eleventh we have supported) concentrated on the battlefields of 1918. We started in the Armistice Glade at Compiegne and finished with the last British soldier killed on 11 November 1918 near Mons.
May saw me taking the Nottingham United Services Club on their annual battlefield tour , this time to Normandy. We visited some of the popular sites but also looked at the actions of the Shermans of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry and the two RA regiments provided by the South Notts Hussars. One of the members fathers had been a Royal Engineer in an Airfield Construction Group which also allowed us to look at a lesser known but vital aspect of the campaign.
Gothic Line Tour
May saw me back guiding on my favourite Italian battlefield ; the Gothic Line. This time it was with a large group from Army HQ. We looked at the operations beginning with the break in to the line in August 1944 on the Foglia River. We refought the Battles of the Coriano Ridge , Gemmano ( "the Cassino of the Adriatic") and the death ride of 1st Armoured Division . Later in the week we crossed the River Savio with the Canadians and stormed the flood-banks of the River Senio in our Kangeroos. We finished with Capt John Brunt's VC against 90 Afrika Light Division outside Faenza and the liberation of Ravenna by Popski's Private Army.