Battlefield tour guide event

Sounds very interesting.......

This is the third collaboration between the Institute’s Military History Circle (MHC) and the Guild of Battlefield Guides (GBG).


0950 Registration and Morning Coffee

1020 Introductory Remarks by John Hughes-Wilson, Associate Fellow, RUSI & President, Guild of Battlefield Guides

1030 The Wehrmacht on D-Day
Tim Saunders & Patrick Hinchy
An intriguing insight into the realities of the situation on 6th June, 1944.

1115 ‘The Longest Retreat’- Burma, 1942
Graham Dunlop
The defeat and the implications of the loss of Burma.

1200 ‘Colossus to Varsity’
John Greenacre
The development of the British Airborne tactical doctrine in World War Two.

1245 Buffet Lunch

1345 'Fields of Battle' – The Western Front, 1918-2008
Mike St Maur Sheil
A pictorial overview of the Western Front, 90 years after the Armistice.

1430 'Out of Ammunition, God Save the King' - Battle for the Bridge at Arnhem, 1944
Brian Shaw
A presentation on the taking and defence of the northern end of the Bridge at Arnhem, 17-20 September, 1944.

1515 Afternoon Tea and Coffee

1535 The Pitfalls of Military Publishing
Andrew Hayward & Ian Drury

1620 Closing Remarks by Professor Richard Holmes, Patron, Guild of Battlefield Guides & Professor of Military and Security Studies, Cranfield University at Shrivenham

1700 Conference Close

The fee of £15.50 includes related documents, lunch and refreshments.

For information on the Guild of Battlefield Guides please visit
Came across several GBG's in the UJ club this week. It was very interesting to be sat on a bar stool :roll: earwigging about what happened about and in my home town of Ypres, by one of them. REALY :x Not sure who validates their information however, I do know of a resident guide here, who is excellent and is well worth a shout! He is not a GBG member. :wink: I am sure not all GBG's are in the same league as this one however, he was wearing a red badge!
The red badge is the sign of a fully assessed GBG Guide - of which there be thirty to forty at present. Each badged guide will have completed half a dozen assessments which deal with their ability to research, manage and deliver a battlefield tour. The assessments cover everything including mugging up history, producing brochures and materials, dealing with problem "guests" and legal/regulatory issues (the dreaded "elf and safety").
Cuddles mate, can you answer a question please! Who assesses them?
The assessors are members of the Guild, who have undertaken assessor training in accordance with NVQ principles. These assessors are in turn assessed by external experts in military history/guiding and travel. The assessments they make are also scrutinised by independents in a proportion of cases. Have a look at the assessment section on the guild web-site.

It is not a good lads club in the sense that they assess each other, count each other and then shake hands and say, "Well done Carstairs you're in. I knew your father well..."

The assessments include presentational and written work. I am doing my presentation on the battle for Lansdown and will shortly be walking the field of battle with a digital camera. I am a bit behind because work work is intruding on for my own pleasure work! I have had to cancel a trip to the Somme this week because of work and I feel sure I don't have to tell you all how serious that is!
Thank you Cuddles, it is much appreciated! Can I just ask why one would need to do this after all, there are some pretty good guides over here who have no badges or wishes to attain one! :? Remember one of our resident guides who did the Vampir site guiding! :wink: Absolutely cracking guide. Ask the ARSERS who attended that tour. I have a problem you see, I unfortuanately heard a GBG stste that to be a proper battlefield guide, you had to be badged with this organisation! 8O I don't agree! I'm sure the guild imports vast amounts of knowledge and procedures etc on what, when and how etc however, I still hear regulary over here, GBG members and private bespoke guides, shout " Oi barman, how about another 6 beers" in English wherever and to whoever. These guys are over here all the time. How about a language input for good manners. I know the locals all speak English but I live here and my friends and neighbors all ask me the same question: Why don't the Brits show good manners and speak the basics, it goes down a treat, trust me! Sorry mate, but if they proclaim to be the best and the most professional, then no amount of miliatry knowledge will impress the locals as much as a paragraph or 2 in their own language. I fear the guild are missing out here. :x
Banjo, you appear to have come across the bad 10% with which all organisations are blessed! I personally do not speak Flemish but I do speak French and have had a mixed response in Belgium (understandable of course given Walloon/Flemish relations) but a fantastic one for trying to parler in France. I have also been able to help German tourists out in France, despite not being a collaborator merely a Deutschsprecher!

You do not have to be a GBG guide or even badged to be a good guide. However a badged guide is almost certainly going to be good and more importantly, professional in his/her attitudes to battlefields, other guides (very important) and their parties. To quote from the Guild web-site, the Guild exists:

(to)strive to analyse, develop and raise the understanding and practice of battlefield guiding, provide an environment to meet fellow guides and share information, expertise and knowledge on a wide range of issues. We offer professional development, insights into new approaches and areas of interest, and through our validation programme, give guides a chance to prove they meet exacting standards.
As the patron, Richard Holmes adds:

When I first heard that the Guild of Battlefield Guides was envisaged I was delighted. Not, because it will present guides with yet another hurdle to jump on their way to making a living: but, because it will disseminate best practice, extend advice and support, act as a forum for those with common interests, and above all enhance quality. As a working battlefield guide who knows that he could raise his own game, I am proud to be the Guild's patron.
So in summary, it is not a hurdle but it does present a standard to aspire, attain or exceed. Nothing wrong with that. Like you, I find some guides a bit up themselves because they read the book before you knew it was published! They are merely one step ahead of the class. It is those guides who make history come alive, can relate ancient tactics and scenarios to evolving military thought and above all else provide entertainment without losing respectful rememberance that get me moist and warm!

The Guild is not an exclusive club. Its a good way to meet other guides and to network. From the sounds of it you may have been in the UJC on Thursday lunchtime. I hope it wasn't Poppy_Travel who was talking loud nonsense. If he had known you were there I am sure he would have bought you a beer.

If you check the news archive section of the GBG -International website you will find that there are quite a few Belgian members including Jacques Rykebosch, Jan Verdoodt and Franky Bostyn. Franky in particular has been heavily involved with battlefield interpretation in Passchendaele- Zonnebeke.

Having the GBG badge doesn't automatically make someone a perfect guide. However, Poppy_Travel learned a lot getting his badge and finds he learns something new from each tour and GBG event.

The RUSI conference was excellent.
Poppy-travel - loved your 2008 catalogue/brochure!
banjotrooper said:
I know the locals all speak English but I live here and my friends and neighbors all ask me the same question: Why don't the Brits show good manners and speak the basics, it goes down a treat, trust me!
Banjo: No wah! Are "Het spijt me, ik spreek geen Vlaams", "Spreekt u Engels?", and "Tot ziens" sufficient to show willing? I'm kind of relying on them next month. :lol:

Courtesy of Vlaams.
Cuddles and Poppy travel. You raise some excellent points and I thank you both for the clarification and for your time! Suddick, "Het spijt me" ( I'm sorry ) "ik spreek geen Vlaams" ( I speak no Vlaams ) * The official language here is Dutch by the way. Vlaams is a dialect of Dutch which applies to localities. " Spreekt u Engels" ( Do you speak English ) and " Tot ziens" ( Good bye. ) You could also add " Alstublieft " ( Please ) and " Dank u wel " ( Thank you ) to your excellent list! They will appreciate it, trust me. Unlike Cuddles French in this part of Belgium ha!
banjotrooper said:
Unlike Cuddles French in this part of Belgium ha!
Yes indeed, if you have a decent French accent - i.e. good enough to pass as a Frog - Flemish stew takes on a whole new meaning. Thank God there is no delicacy in Belgium called "Chef w4nks all over the chicken breast"...
Thanks Banjo. I know it is a bit of tokenism but I am trying to be a bit less rude than usual as I have enjoyed previous trips to Ieper.
Banjo trooper is right. I think it makes a big difference if you start the conversation with a few words of Flemish. At least it shows willingness Ditto French in France and Wallonia.

You have to be careful about making assumptions about language. The the area arpound Comines and Ploegsteert, South East of Messines Ridge is part of the Franciphone Wallonian province of Hainault.
Cuddles or Poppy travel, can you infom me please, if their is a language input in your studies? I have a feeling your great man, RH speaks French when he is over here abouts! We have some great UK guides resident here, who speak very good French and Dutch. Do you feel this is a basic must, to be included in YOUR sylabus, or do you feel it has no place in your sylabus? After all, your badged guides are over here constantly and it is a rare day, when you hear them speaking the local language in any shape fashion or form! Surely, battlefield knowledge and wearing a tie, is just part of the package? I'm trying to be constructive here. This is only my opinion however, the locals and the people you all deal with over here, ask the same qustion time after time. Why do you not even use the basics, even though some of you almost live over here?? You have nailed your flag to the post on how profesional, how qualified and learned the GBG organisation is. How about taking it one step further, purely out of respect and good manners, otherwise our imperial past, shines through loud and clear! Just an observation from an ex pat living and working in "Wipers"
Best wishes.

You raise an interesting point. I am a badged member who works for Poppy Travel.

Please note that the Guild does not have a syllabus because it isn't an educational qualification. The Badge scheme validates guides against a set of competences equivalent to NVQ stage 3.

Those competences do not include knowledge of the Local language. This isn't unreasonable. If I take a party of Brits around a battlefield I don't really need to know the local language in order to tell the story of a battle. However, someone in the tour management will need to be able to communicate in the local language to manage any crisis that arises on tour. This may not be the guide. It may be a tour manager or an interpreter. This is more of an issue in more exotic destinations than Belgium. However, it is dangerous to assume that everyone speaks English. You can't just point and shout if you need something from the duty pharmacy on a Sunday Morning. I have never been very good at languages but find the essential pleasantries plus a phrase book shows a willingness to operate using the local language.

As a matter of courtesy its a good idea for any British Visitor to speak the basics you list in an earlier posts. Its quite possible that as guides we need to be especially careful, even though the trade we bring helps to make Ypres prosperous. Belgians who tolerate English tourists because they are customers may take a different view of guides who are making money from their activities. If this is causing offence in Ypres then I am sure that the tour operators who employ the guides and the Guild will take the matter seriously.

I'll pass the details of this thread to the Secretary of the Guild.
I should really get off my Arrse, and start the validation process, ive been a member of GBG for some time now, and ive a whole pile of stuff on the Grave road bridge and the German who saved it in September 44.

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