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Battle Guide Tours

Gunner

FGM Captain
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Back around February @Bootie started a thread about a new site, at least new to me, called Battle Guide that specialized in virtual tours of different battlefields. Each tour is an hour plus.

The first tour I took was a WWI tour of the Battle of Fromelles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_at_Fromelles

I took this tour because I was interested in how you can tour a WWI battlefield that is really only an open field somewhere in France.
Well our guide, Jo Hook who is a member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, did a great job of describing the situation, the action and personal accounts.
The technical tour guide, Shane Greer, (some may know him as Bootie of the FGM) also did a good job of using Google maps, period maps and photographs to create an excellent presentation so you could follow the actions that Jo was describing.
The hour past quickly and I look forward to the day of taking an “Actual Reality” tour of the area.

The second tour I completed was last Sunday May 9th
Shane has asked me for a critique of the tour. I was going to write him an email but he asked that I post it here instead.

Shane,
I very much enjoyed the “Arnhem – A Bridge Too Far” tour.
You weren’t kidding when you said Jo knows her stuff.
I joined your WWI tour, The Attack at Fromelles, and again Jo was a fountain of knowlege.
I was wondering how a WWI tour might be done seeing how relatively small the battlefield were between the lines and usually just out in a Belgian or French field somewhere.
My brothers and I took several tours in Europe, Normandy (you may remember my post on the FGM of the 6 Day tour), the Battle of the Bulge, and we followed the 1940 German advance through Belgium from Eben-Emael to Dunkirk. During that tour we stopped at some sites around Ypres. It would have been nice to have aerial photos such as the Google maps you presented.

I decided on this tour because we too would very much like to do a Market-Garden tour but was worried how much the lay of the land, the growth of the cities etc. had changed and whether or not you could truly get a sense of the battle.

Take the area around the Arnhem Bridge for instance. I know it has changed drastically and looks nothing like when the battle took place but I must say you and Jo with the use of descriptions and pictures and your use of Google maps both aerial and ground level helped bring the location to life.

It was great using Google to follow the route(s) of the airborne battalions.

Interesting about the Ter Horst house and you did a good job of showing how hidden it was and Jo a good job impressing upon us their desire for privacy so as I were ever to go I would try to respect that privacy.
It’s good to know what you would or would not be able to see on a live tour.

I liked seeing the fields where the landings took place and was happy to see they were much like they were then.

I liked walking down the lanes following Frosts progress and where he split at the fork to take the road closer to the river.
It would have been nice to take the lane to the railroad bridge. Maybe an aerial shot?

It was good to see the drop zones and the initial line of resistance on the aerial map also.

It would have been nice to get a ground level view of the ambush point of the officer who took off with the jeep to find a route to the bridge.
But that can wait for a live tour.

As you may have guessed from my question I am one for then & now pictures. For me, the more you could introduce in the VR tour the better.
Just my opinion. I realize there is a time element here.
Forgive me if you did show any of these but for instance you showed the field where gliders landed you could flash to a pic such as this:

45WU7cq.jpg


Or after showing the lane Frost took to show something like this:

TDfa5IP.jpg

(Men of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, of the 1st Airlanding Brigade, advance toward Arnhem, towing a 6-pounder anti-tank gun with them, 18 September.)

It would also give an idea of a 6 pounder that was manhandled on to the bridge up the stairs.

That was great video walking up and looking down the bridge by the way.
Was that a local?
Wouldn’t it be great to have more video from people on the ground.
Drone video would be pretty cool if that’s even possible. ;)

I understand it was only an hour tour and I can’t have everything. J

I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and Jo of course was just a fountain of information with insights not only of the battle but life around Arnhem both then and today.
It certainly gives me the fever to get back to doing actual touring.
Perhaps someday Jo would be able to give us several days or a weeklong tour of Market-Garden maybe mixed in a with a WWI battlefield.

So many fields so little time.

By the way I pinged the Virtual Battle Field Tours and asked about Italy and the particularly Gustav Line.

I understand that your main audience seems to be British and the tours have a slant towards the actions of British units but I sure would like to see the American airborne aspect of Market-Garden including not only the taking of the areas around the bridges but the battles for holding them and what was to be known as “Hells Highway”.

My brothers and I for our next tour (god willing - someday) will be one or the other of those.

I know Chad (@Ithikial) was talking about doing a Normandy to eagles Nest tour a couple of few years back.
It would be great if we, the FGM, could put together a nice week long or more tour post pandemic.

Like I say, if you need somebody to carry yours and Jo's luggage or split the cost of gas on a tour I’m your man.

Would you have any questions of me or anything particular you would like and opinion or discuss about the tour?

Perhaps I'll see you on the Stalingrad tour :)

Ted
 
Fantastic feedback thanks... I will try and answer your questions. LOL

In designing the tours Jo and I work through the script and map locations (she teaches me as we go along) then it is my job to take these locations, do the archive research for the images and basically tie it all together and do all the technical stuff to make the tour work. For this particular one I had to plot the exact advance route of XXX Corps from Joes Bridge to Arnhem.. that was a job in itself. :)

It would have been nice to have aerial photos such as the Google maps you presented.

Yeah I build the maps myself and to be fair the Fromelles one was a challenge because it is basically a billiard table... however by breaking the battlefield down into divisional sectors it shows exactly who was where, their line of advance, and where they ended up.

I decided on this tour because we too would very much like to do a Market-Garden tour but was worried how much the lay of the land, the growth of the cities etc. had changed and whether or not you could truly get a sense of the battle.

Jo specializes in Operation Market Garden and has an encyclopaedic knowledge regarding the entire Operation. She has been guiding their since 2001. I think the virtual tours are ideal for getting a grasp of a real ground tour before you go and also gives you a great strategic overview.

Take the area around the Arnhem Bridge for instance. I know it has changed drastically and looks nothing like when the battle took place but I must say you and Jo with the use of descriptions and pictures and your use of Google maps both aerial and ground level helped bring the location to life.

I enjoyed doing the merge photos... the school, the HQ building, the South Staffs on the Utrechtseweg, the Grabner ambush amongst others. Before and after images really take you back in time.

I liked seeing the fields where the landings took place and was happy to see they were much like they were then.

Yes they havent been touched... the land belongs to the military hence lack of any building work done on it. As for drones, you mentioned flying drones for shots... we usually do incorporate 4K drone into our tours but Arnhem and a lot of the Netherlands are No Fly zones hence we organised a lot of footage to be done on foot by our cameraman.

It would have been nice to take the lane to the railroad bridge. Maybe an aerial shot?

Yeah where C Company split of you can follow the trail a little but then you lose sight of the bridge, even on an aerial shot it isnt that clear.

It would have been nice to get a ground level view of the ambush point of the officer who took off with the jeep to find a route to the bridge.

IMG_6765.jpeg

Regarding the images you posted it costs a lot for them to get licensed as its a commercial license. Just ask any author who has requested an image license from the Imperial War Museum... *sweating*

Regarding the footage, we have teams covering most battlefields who we can tell to go here and film this... go there and film that and they send the footage back to Battle Guide HQ.

I sure would like to see the American airborne aspect of Market-Garden including not only the taking of the areas around the bridges but the battles for holding them and what was to be known as “Hells Highway”.

Who knows what the future holds but certainly one to consider.

As for touring in future... Jo is a great friend of mine and would certainly be open to taking a group when she gets back on the ground.

Anyway thanks for all the feedback - great to hear!

And yes... will hopefully be on the sidelines for the Stalingrad tour in a fortnight... (I design all the videos for the tours so looking forward to seeing it as a spectator).

Cheers again.

Shane
 

Ithikial

FGM 2ND IN COMMAND
ADMIN
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
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Location
Perth, Australia
I know Chad (@Ithikial) was talking about doing a Normandy to eagles Nest tour a couple of few years back.
It would be great if we, the FGM, could put together a nice week long or more tour post pandemic.
One day the FGM should just do a blokes trip following the Western Campaign and climb the Eagles Nest at the end. :D One day once this craziness is over.
 

Ithikial

FGM 2ND IN COMMAND
ADMIN
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
4,597
Age
37
Location
Perth, Australia
I'm with you brother.

I'm thinking of doing something, if there's a guide, in the Spring of '22.
I'm Vax'd so maybe even this Fall. :)
Australia looking a bit iffy given our low vax rates for northern Spring of '22. :(

I wonder is @Rico is laughing at my post because he knows how many FGMers would struggle climbing that mountain. :D (There is an elevator/cable car I'm pretty sure).
 
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