BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS was founded by Tony and Nicky Bird 25 years ago. Both were educated at Winchester College. Antony studied sociology at Exeter University, has an MPhil from University College, London and became a town planner and later a book publisher. He has written on the Battle of Le Cateau (26 Aug 1914) – Gentlemen, We Will Stand and Fight: Le Cateau 1914 [Crowood]. Nicky read art history at Sussex University, joined the auctioneers Christie’s and subsequently the Victoria and Albert Museum where he was the publisher.
Both became interested in military history and battlefields while staying with French families in the mid-60s, and learning about the effects of war and occupation from their hosts. Their father is a much-decorated veteran of Alamein and the Western Desert. Nicky is a member of the Royal United Services Institute, an Associate Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides and was elected to Council of the Society for Army Historical Research. He has written for numerous journals. Both brothers are interested in the strategic, tactical and social history of war, as well as the anorak stuff about things that go bang, and promise themselves not to bang on too much at dinner, but do not always succeed. They co-edited ‘Voices from the Front Line: Words from the Field of Human Conflict’ (Summersdale, 2008) – an anthology of ‘powerful writing about war’.
The tours are always informal, with no risk of being lectured to death. You will stay at hotels of character and lunch and dine very comfortably. You will find that your fellow enthusiasts will vary from the knowledgeable to first-time battlefield tourists.
We visit many of the major European sites, including YPRES (Menin Gate ceremony above), SOMME, LOOS, VIMY, D-DAY BEACHES, NORMANDY, FALAISE and WATERLOO. We also go to GALLIPOLI and CAPORETTO (now in Slovenia) and have art tours to BRUGES, VENICE, ROME (with MONTE CASSINO) and VICENZA (for Palladian villas) and have a WINE & WAR tour to CHAMPAGNE. In England we have a tour of WW2 BOMBER BASES, both US and British. We have a GREAT WAR POETS TOUR which visits sites where poets like Owen and Sassoon fought.
BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS are happy to escort private parties of families, friends, societies or organisations to the battlefields and sites of their choice. Tell us what you wish to see and how long you have and we will make all the arrangements.
‘…You should go to the past, looking not for messages or warnings, but simply to be humbled by the weight of human experience that has preceded the brief flicker of your own few days…’
Another World, Pat Barker, 1998
I came away with a new appreciation for how you had planned and executed both of our tours, and how you had done exactly what I wanted – to give us the flavor of the combined bomber offensive, and a feel for the topography and geography of the Normandy invasion. All of this while enjoying your company. The evening meals and conversations were a delightful part of the overall experience on both tours.
The brothers Bird are keen historians and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the battlefields – especially the Normandy invasion sites. But they also have a good first-hand experience of commendable hostelries in the areas. They enjoy sharing their knowledge; and any ramble with them will be fun.
Having been on many of your tours over many years I can honestly say that I have never been stuck next to a bore at dinner (which is perhaps more than the lady sitting next to ME might say).
I enjoyed every minute of the tour and have returned the wiser and deeply moved by the experience. The only blip was the chap called Franklin I sat next to at dinner who banged on about train timetables.
Arrangements were perfect, and the brothers Bird were a constant source of lucid erudition…
As always your tour was expertly organised and guided and great fun, even in the rain.
More convivial still is that run by the epicurean-minded Bird Battlefield Tours, which takes small groups on a ‘wine and war tour’, blending a light serving of military history with some heavy feasting at the châteaux of some of the smarter vineyards. Bird Battlefield Tours also offers an Art and War tour, which involves spending a few days committed to culture and gastronomy in Istanbul before heading down to Gallipoli…
BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS purchases transportation, hotel accommodation, restaurant meals, and other services from various independent suppliers which are not subject to its control. BBT, therefore, cannot be liable for any loss, injury, or damage to any person or property, detention, annoyance, delay, expense, quarantine, strike, force majeure, disturbance, act of war or terrorism, government restriction or regulation that may occur due to (1) any act or omission of such supplier, its employees and others not under the direct control of BBT, or (2) defects in or failures of any aircraft, vessel, vehicle or other means of transportation that is not under the direct control of BBT. Full responsibility for operation of vehicles used on the itinerary rests with the carriers so engaged in the conveyance of passengers, and the law of the countries of operation governs the carriers’ liability. Baggage, including hand luggage, is at owner’s risk.
BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS reserves the right to make reasonable changes in the itinerary as deemed necessary for the comfort, instruction and well being of the passengers.