Finding Great Uncle Private Albert Wheeler 2nd Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry
Killed in Action 1st October 1918 at Flot Farm, Nr Noyelles. Cambrai. Buried at Anneux British Cemetery.
“Since discovering that my Great Uncle Albert was killed in WWI we had been wanting to visit his grave, but we were hesitant as we didn’t know the area at all. A friend put us in touch with Jon Nicholls and the worry of organising a trip was all taken off us. We were picked up from our house in Maidenhead and it was a stress-free personal experience. Jon had found out more information about Great Uncle Albert and he shared this with us. After 105 years and 2 days we were able to visit Albert’s grave. Jon arranged a beautiful poppy wreath and we heard the moving poem ‘The day my family came’. Jon then took us to the remote Flot Farm, where Albert was killed and his first burial place. It was such a beautiful and emotional day and I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. We had laid Albert to rest. Jon’s knowledge and passion for the War is amazing and he is a wealth of knowledge. He told us many stories of old soldiers he had known, which meant that they are always remembered. In the words of W.B. Yeats ‘Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire’.
We will definitely be back”
Ruth & Mike Sanderson
In Remembrance of..
Rifleman Thomas (Fred) Mead 12th London Regiment (The Rangers) Killed in Action near Guemappe 10 May 1917 at the Battle of Arras. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
“A guided tour around the WW1 Battlefields with Jon Nicholls adds massively in many dimensions. The total organisation of the trip (travel, hotel, dining places etc.) left us completely relaxed to enjoy the sights and the memories. Jon personalised our route to tie in with records of the movements of loved ones who participated in the Great War. His knowledge and delivery style is second to none. The care he took of our wellbeing was always present and his personality and stories (plus those not about the War!) kept us entertained throughout. The tour is to be fully recommended.”
Pauline and David Beer
In Remembrance of..
Lt. Edward Guy Pritchett. 6th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. Killed in action 16 May 1918. Commemorated on The Arras & Notre Dame de Lorette Memorials.
“Jon kindly organised a visit for my wife and myself to Arras in May. The purpose of this trip was to see some of the memorials to the servicemen who served and died , and specifically to trace my grandfather’s name on the memorials and to find the area where he was killed.
Like many thousands, his body was never found – fortunately we had a rough idea as we had a written eye witness account from one of the men whose patrol my grandfather had taken out that day.
Jon, through extensive research, pinpointed the area and we drove to see where he was shot at a village called Avion. It was indeed, quite moving to be close to where he fell and combined with visits to the cemeteries and memorials at Arras, Notre Dame de Lorette Memorial and others, made for a fascinating two days. Jon’s help in organising this for us, combined with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the area’s history was invaluable.
We would give him the highest recommendation.”
Searching for Great Uncle Private Tommy Rodda 4th South African Scottish
Missing in Action at The Chemical Works, Rouex on 12 April 1917. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
“In August I went to Arras in northern France as part of my quest to find my great uncle Tommy Rodda, designated in the records as “wounded, missing, presumed dead” on April 12, 1917. His Company was last seen ‘disappearing into the blue’ during an advance on a village called Roeux. For three days, I had guide, Jon Nicholls who wrote Cheerful Sacrifice, (the definitive book on the battle of Arras} and his driver, Mike Jackson. Their knowledge was stupendous, and they were great companions too, so I also enjoyed the evenings in the squares of Arras! For 20 years I’d assumed Tommy Rodda was lost in the mud, but now, having seen where the machine guns were firing from, over a kilometre away, and where a railway was relative to their jumping off point, it seems likely he and the 15 other 4th Regt. men missing from that day, were killed – maybe close together – and not found in the initial battlefield clean ups, starting a month later. I’m pretty certain that Tommy and his comrades are not lost now, but among the 862 ‘Unknowns’ in Brown’s Copse Cemetery.”
Lions Bay. British Columbia
From Inverness to the Somme…
“I would like to thank Jon for organising our complete battlefield tour of the Somme, Arras & Ypres. He fixed everything for 30 persons, from being collected at Gatwick Airport, following our flight down from Inverness, a superb luxury coach, to the Channel Crossings and Hotel reservations, picnic lunches and evening dinners. Everything was done for us, including an endless supply of beer and wine on the coach! The attendance at the Scottish Pipers Ceremony at Longueval on the Saturday, was the icing on the cake and with a superb battlefield guide too.”
The RFC at War..
In the footsteps of (Great Uncle) Lieutenant Reg Follit 13 Squadron, shot down and killed by Manfred Von Richtofen 28 April 1917 and commemorated on the Air Services Memorial at Arras
“Thank you for a brilliant and unforgettable trip. The group really appreciated your detailed knowledge and there were probably too many highlights to count, but being able to get up to Quarry Wood, Pelves and locate the crash site and remember Reg was an amazing experience. To visit Roucourt Chateau and the airfield where the Red Baron took off from was brilliant. It was also very sobering hearing your accounts of the veterans that you interviewed and took around the battlefields.
Thank you for a well organised tour”
James Morris & friends
We are up and running for 2022!
Liverpool at War
Following in the footsteps of Liverpool Pals 1914-18 with a contingent of ex-Merseyside Police Officers
“Top Trip, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Special thanks to Jon & Rick the driver, you really brought home the many tragic battles and resulting loss of life, unbelievable events that took place in such beautiful countryside”
“Thanks Jon, we were all (and some still) very impressed by your passion and knowledge. Lest we forget.”
“A very humbling and fantastic trip. Great company. The knowledge and recall was amazing. It has made me appreciate our fallen so much more”
On the trail of my grandfather, 2585 Private John Lloyd, 6th Northumberland Fusiliers and the final resting place of my wife’s great uncle, 6234 George Beavis 18th Northumberland Fusiliers.
For years I’ve been threatening to go on a tour of the battlefields of 1914-18. My wife Pam, secretly sorted this for my 60th birthday and how glad I am that she not only did this but found Jon to take us and the whole family. Pam furnished Jon with a little background information from which he had clearly conducted further research. For John Lloyd, he was able to show us the places John moved through with the 6th, plus likely haunts that John may well have frequented. Eventually we visited Maple Copse, where Jon pointed out John Lloyd’s routes in and out of the line on the night he was badly wounded. Jon produced a bottle of whiskey from which we all toasted the efforts of John and his mates which was a nice touch. For George, he had identified the likely cause of George’s death with pictures of the crater from the offending shell, and where it all happened. At Solferino Farm Cemetery he took us to George’s grave, where after we had paid our respects, Jon recited the ode of remembrance from the Fallen Poem by Laurence Binyon. The main reasons for the visit having been covered, Jon (and Rick, our driver) continued to give us a wonderful tour taking in many other locations. At each there was always a story to tell, with Jon having photos to give more substance to the tale. He and Rick are clearly immensely passionate about the history of the sacrifices made by the many and are extremely knowledgeable with nothing was too much trouble for them.
All in all, a brilliant trip and highly recommended. I just wish we had gone with him years ago.
Graham & Pamela Lloyd and Family (7)
To the grave of my Grandad, George Williams. 1st Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Killed in action at the Battle of Loos 4 October 1915. Buried at Arras Road Cemetery. Roclincourt.
Both my wife and myself would like to thank you very much for the great tour you gave us regarding my grandfathers field of battle from WW1. Your amount of information seemed to be endless, every time we asked a question the answer was forth coming. Although it was a very cold day with visibility down to less than a few hundred meters at times, my wife and I felt very safe during the guided tour. All our requests were met and at the end of a cold damp day, I had at last found my grandfathers grave and been informed of his last movements during those terrible times he spent on the Western Front.
Thanks Jon for a great day.
Roger & Barbara Williams
A tour of the Somme Battlefields and to Mametz Wood
I always wanted to go to Mametz Wood to see where the South Wales Borderers had been in action. We also saw Flatiron Copse Cemetery and the grave of Ernest Dwyer VC. It was a brilliant three-day tour. Jon Nicholls has a fantastic knowledge of the Somme Battlefields and made it all come to life with his stories of the gallant deeds which happened here.
Also most importantly, he knows where the Pubs are!
A Canadian Tour of the Somme & Arras
We have just returned from a most extraordinary trip with Jon. My 15-year-old nephew from Canada wanted to visit Vimy Ridge. Could this be arranged? Of course! Any other Canadian sites? Of course! The Somme? Definitely! So we found ourselves on exactly the kind of tailor-made tour that we needed: the main Canadian sites, the Somme, the Arras Tunnels, and a pleasant stay in the pretty town of Arras. Jon was wonderful with my nephew, not just talking about the sites and the history, but also about music and anything else they might have in common.
The car was comfortable and relaxing, which also made the trip easy for us.
Margaret Cheetham from Dorset with Kai Merriam from British Colombia.
In the footsteps of Raphael Croux. A French Army Soldier and Great Uncle.
I just wanted to thank you again for one of the most memorable events In my life. I very much enjoyed your informative guidance through the memorials and battlefields. As you know, my American father served in France during WWII and met my mother, a French citizen, there. Her father, my grandfather, was wounded in 1915 just north of Arras during the First World War. His twin brother was killed by artillery in the same battle. He had no wife or children to help keep his memory alive. There was no identifiable body and no tombstone. In the 1990’s no one in my mother’s family even knew his name. He gave his life for France, yet it was like he never existed or was even born. Through a friend in Paris, I was able to find his name. Yet with no tombstone or marker, there was nothing to indicate the ultimate sacrifice that he gave for his country.
Your confidence that we would find his name at the Memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette was met with success. You helped bring a fallen veteran from complete anonymity to his rightful place in the memory of his family. For this I will be forever grateful.
With much heartfelt emotion and gratitude,
To the old Airfields, Haunts and last resting places in France and Flanders, of the Airmen of 1914-18
“Thanks for all your Remembrance, Leadership and the support teams that made that such a brilliant week of tributes to the Airmen of WW1. Lived up to your promise. Much new material to reflect on and unique places visited.
Professor John Grieve CBE. QPM.
Hampstead (Police) Pals Battlefield Tours
In the footsteps of Captain R N Ekins 92 Machine Gun Company 1917 (Survived the war)
“In following the footsteps of my wife’s grandfather, Captain R N Ekins MGC, we can’t thank you enough for your help and guidance. We were very impressed with your detailed knowledge of the places he passed through on his way to his last known positions on the approaches to Arleux-en-Gohelle. Who would have known that the German strongpoints still exist?!!!, Without your guidance, we would never have known they were there.
Thank you for your time and patience, you have such a lot of knowledge and imparted it in a very professional manner
Martin and Lindsey Snell
Looking for Great-Uncle, Gunner Robert Hart. Duisans Cemetery. Died of wounds. Arras 1917.
“Many thanks to Jon for taking us on the wonderful family pilgrimage to follow our Great Uncle’s journey on the battlefields of WW1. Not only did we visit his final resting place but using his vast knowledge and wide resources, Jon took us to the places where our uncle was billeted, where he had leisure time and where he fought and finally fell. Jon’s depth of knowledge and his passion for these times are most impressive. We especially enjoyed listening to his stories of the many war veterans he interviewed. Some of these made us laugh but some made us cry. Thanks for showing us the photographs of so many soldiers and telling their stories and also for the touching poetry you read. It was a journey we will never forget and our gratitude goes to Jon – a man of compassion and great integrity. Thanks Jon.”
Alan, Irene, David, Carole and Neil.
A weekend tour of the Ypres Salient with Metropolitan Police (Retired) Officers.
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for an excellent weekend. Very professionally run and your knowledge was incredible. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we cant thank you and Rick enough. (You made an excellent team) It just ran so smoothly and was great. Just talking to the guys, I know we will be back for another dose of your knowledge and humour at some point to a different location.
Thank you again”
Metropolitan Police Battlefield friends.