News

Catch up with the latest news from the International Guild of Battlefield Guides

GBG Sherwood Forest Day

Everyone has a favourite period of times past and indeed, most of us have a preference when it comes to favourite interpretations of history. On Saturday 12 June, 15 Guild members met in Sherwood Forest to listen, to learn, to walk the ground, and take a fast-paced tour through the local area’s history – running the unexpected gamut of many Robin Hoods in the process, from Fairbanks to Flynn, and Taron Egerton to Russell Crowe. 

David Harvey started us off in the company of Edwin of Northumbria – the eponymous Edwin of Edwinstowe, home to the Sherwood Forest Visitors’ Centre. 

From arrows, to the skull and crossbones

The heart of the day, however, began in the shadow of the ‘heart of oak’, the Great Oak or Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, with John Cotterill’s thought-provoking introduction to the social legacy of Robin Hood. This was a stand that demonstrated the best of battlefield guiding, as we engaged in debate around the fact and fiction associated with composite characters, and were treated to a ‘can you name that Robin?’ exercise that was insightful … not least, as some of us showed our ages! Decamping from the Visitors’ Centre, we were also treated to a closer inspection through a tour of the Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum, which is based in the central courtyard at Thoresby Hall.

The overwhelming impression was that this small museum offers a rich, well-presented, and highly informative overview of the evolving history of amalgamated regiments. The Royal Lancers are an armoured cavalry regiment in 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade. Their infamous motto is one of the most recognisable in the British Army, striking intentional fear into their enemies with the skull and crossbones, and ‘Death or Glory’. The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry has served with distinction, in particular during the Second World War – as an Army Reserves Squadron, it is the only reserves unit with unbroken service in armour since the end of that period of conflict; it is now known as A (SRY) Squadron Royal Yeomanry. And while the South Nottinghamshire Hussars was raised as a volunteer cavalry regiment in 1794, it rerolled as an artillery regiment in 1922, until 307 (SNH Yeomanry) Battery Royal Artillery went into suspended animation in 2014. Highlights of this visit – with thanks to the curator, Mick Holtby – included exhibits such as the copper bugle used in the charge of the 17th Lancers at the Battle of Balaclava, in 1854 (giving the deserved nuance to the phrase ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’), the 21st Lancers at Omdurman, 1898, and several displays that brought the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry’s work into perspective. 

Clipstone Camp

One of the highlights of the day, however, was seeing one of our Guides in full flow, as John Cotterill’s next stands took the group to Clipstone Camp. Sitting ‘in theatre’ at the trenches that have been reconstructed within Sherwood Pines Forest Park, the group listened attentively to John Cotterill’s detailed narrative, covering the history of the camp’s evolving role in the First World War. Following on from this introduction, it was then a short drive to see the site of Clipstone Camp and hospital – where our imaginations were aided by the excellent handouts of photographs and sitemaps, putting the location into context. Andy Johnson was ‘tail end Charlie’ today, taking us to see the RAF Halifax Bomber memorial (MZ519-LKU) at the end of the day. Set in a small clearing of British oaks and Canadian maples, the monument pays fitting tribute to the British and Canadian crew that crashed there during the Second World War – a great overview of the squadron, too.

Planning and preparation…

Proof (as if we needed it), that with great planning and some excellent preparation and determination can get us back onto the battlefields or connected again with conflict in some way.  The weather couldn’t have been better; the company was excellent; the stands were educational, entertaining, and collaborative – is there any better way to engage your audience than through informed debate?! – and the whole day was enjoyed by Guild members old and new. Something for everyone. Thanks to John, David, Andy, and everyone who made it a great day.

Award of Honorary Membership of The International Guild of Battlefield Guides – Dr. Christopher L. Scott

On behalf of the Management Board, and the entire Membership, I am very pleased to announce the award of honorary membership of the IGBG to Dr. Christopher L. Scott.  Chris has been involved in Guild activities since the very inception of the idea of a ‘Guild’.  He played a pivotal role in steering the development of the GBG and was at the forefront of creating the validation syllabus that has been the bedrock of the Guild for our entire existence.  As Chairman I have always been able to turn to Chris for an honest, candid and well reasoned opinion.  He has always had the interests and future of our organisation close to his heart, and still does.  Even after many years at the head of our hardworking validation team, Chris remains active in the Guild and offers support, contributes articles, reviews and, where necessary, a probing question highlighting members’ concerns.  Finally, the acid test, what kind of a Battlefield Guide is Chris Scott?  Those of us who were lucky enough to attend the Annual Conference in Mons in 2019 will remember his masterful delivery on the field of Malplaquet, a real benchmark for aspiring guides to aim for.

Honorary Membership recognises a significant contribution to the IGBG and to the Battlefield industry; it is a rare accolade, and is well deserved by Chris – I hope that you will all join me in recognition of Chris Scott’s contribution to our Guild and congratulate him on the award of Honorary Membership of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Mike Peters

Chairman

2021 Guild Annual General Meeting held online

Because of the lockdowns in place in most of the countries where our members live, this year the Guild’s AGM, which would normally take place at our Annual Conference, was held online. Nearly 100 members logged in to hear reports from Guild Chairman Mike Peters, other Management Board Members and the Guild Accountant, represented by Chris Preston.

The summary of Mike’s report follows:

“As your chairman, I am expected to maintain an overview of every aspect of IGBG activity throughout the year.

In my ten years in post, I have never known a year like this one. We have been faced with the perfect storm generated by Brexit and the pandemic. Both have affected our membership and the travel industry worldwide to varying degrees. Given that the full impact of the economic turmoil created by both of these events was unknown at the beginning of our year, I honestly feel that we have done extremely well and have weathered the worst of the storm.

Our resilience can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, the pioneering work of every member of the IGBG who formed the Guild, and those who have worked so hard over the years since to build and consolidate on those early foundations. Every single member who has freely given time to be a council member, validator, event host, honorary member, secretary, or adviser, have all helped to develop the IGBG into what it is today. We are all indebted to those of you who have contributed and to those who drove the IGBG forward.

The core strength created over previous years has helped the current Management Board immensely. Building on these foundations we have made significant progress in almost every area. As you can see from my summary, and from the Directors’ reports in each respective Annex, we have absolutely made the most of a testing and difficult situation. The work of the past twelve months has done much to future-proof our organisation, we can now look beyond the pandemic with optimism.”

Chris Finn, our Accreditation Director, was re-elected for another term on the Management Board Member, and Tim Stoneman and Marc Yates were confirmed as board members having been co-opted during the year.

Finally, Mike gave a presentation on the Guild’s Medium and Long-term strategy and Annual Plan for the forthcoming year.

(Minutes of the AGM and full copies of the reports and accounts may be found in the Membership Area)

Guild Events under Covid-19 Restrictions

Paul Bingley at Ridgewell, Essex

With the United Kingdom and most of Europe having been under some form of restrictions since March because of the Covid 19 pandemic, battlefield guiding has had to dramatically change. Likewise, many Guild events have had to be postponed or cancelled as they cannot take place within those restrictions.

No longer is it generally permissible to for Guild members to team up in members’ vehicles or a coach to visit a battlefield, or indeed is may not be even possible to have social gatherings when members can enjoy the company of others over a meal or pub lunch!

However, it has still been possible to organise “socially distanced” events where we have been able to organise small regional Guild events following the Guild’s Coronavirus Event Guidelines, which are regularly reviewed to ensure that they comply with the UK Governments own regulations and guidelines.

Two such regional Guild events have recently been held and enjoyed by Guild members living nearby.

The first was organised by David Harvey under the title “The Fall of Mercia” in Repton, Derbyshire on- 15th August. In 873 Mercia, the largest Anglo-Saxon kingdom, fell from history. The recce walked the ground seeking evidence of the battle, locating warriors’ burials and determining how the Vikings achieved victory.

The second was organised by Mike Peters and Paul Bingley and was titled “A day out walking through WW2 aviation history in East Anglia”. Members attending met at the only WW2 USAAF Heavy Bomber airfield in Essex at Ridgefield and were led around the former base and the excellent museum there, before an outdoor picnic lunch.

As we expect Covid 19 to be with us for some time and into next year, regional Guild events are likely to be the only events which can realistically be organised where no significant travel and overnight accommodation are not required.

Any Members wishing to organise a regional event anywhere in the world where there is a body of Guild members who could attend, please contact David Harvey, Events Director for guidance and co-ordination.

8 new Accredited Guides in 5 months!

In the last five months since the Annual Conference and dinner when the presentation was made of the Badges to Members qualifying last year, a total of eight new Badges have been awarded to Members finishing their final Accreditation Programme assignments.

This is a record!!

It is perhaps due to the lockdown restrictions in place under the COVID 19 pandemic that Members have found the time to concentrate on finishing assignments!

Congratulations to all of you for achieving success and demonstrating the strength and depth of the expertise and experience that the Guild boasts!

And we think there are more to come! The Director of Validation’s bar bill will somewhat bigger at next year’s annual dinner when he hosts all the newly qualified Accredited Members!

Assignment 1 – the new norm!

On the 6th June, nearly 40 Members experienced attending an Assignment 1 held over the internet for the first time. Whilst we had used technology for some of our far-flung Members across the world before the world went into lockdown, under those restrictions, it is now a necessity for the ordinary business of the Guild to continue.

There had been a few trial runs without a wider audience so Members were eagerly looking forward to see how it was going to work. The conclusions – generally very well! There is a facility to ask questions during the course of the assignment through the “chat” facility (they were used by the validator to draw up the questions which he asked the candidate at the end of the presentation) and there is a “poll” button to provide audience feedback to the validators before they go offline to make their determination.

We all had a good idea of who was in the “room” from the “hellos” in the chat box, and it was easy to imagine that you were sitting in the same room with other members that you knew would be scratching their chins or expressing approving looks depending how they thought the presentation was going!

So next time an online assignment is offered, do jump aboard and not only listen in but participate with questions. You might also learn something about a battle or campaign that you didn’t know! One tip – print off the candidate’s handout or get a second screen or tablet etc to follow it, as flipping between screens distracts your attention!

Thanks to Dudley Giles for organising and hosting the Demio session and the Validation team present. Last but not least, thanks to the candidate Peter, who despite an interesting presentation, joins the Referred Club like the vast majority of us who have gone through the Accreditation Programme.

Staffordshire Regional Guild Weekend

The Guild Staffordshire Weekend took place on 13th to 15th March around Lichfield and area. A group of 12 guides, members and friends were taken around the Civil War in Lichfield by Anthony Rich with a visit into the Cathedral, home to the laid-up Staffordshire Regimental Colours. Mrs Dyott joined us for the morning, whose ancestor slew Lord Brooke in the first siege by a single shot from the Cathedral steeple!
Mrs Dyott then invited the group back to their home, Freeford Manor where we viewed and handled the gun, more like a small cannon!! We moved onto the National Memorial Arboretum where Chris John had been able to arrange an 8 seater golf buggy to ferry us around. The Special Forces Memorial grove provided much interesting information and memorials. Charmian Griffiths was able to give us an
account of her Fathers VC action at Dieppe at the memorial there. The group then retired to the Plough at Huddlesford, a country pub for evening fare.
A smaller group re assembled on a damp Sunday morning at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum. John Cotterill delivered an excellent talk on trench life and trench fighting in the Coltman replica WW1 trench there. Inside the group examined many cases and displays from the Regiments history.
An extremely interesting weekend with good company well up to Guild standards

Annual Conference 2020 – Maidstone, Kent

The Guild’s 2020 Annual Conference and AGM was held over the weekend of 31 January to 2 February. With a good turnout from Members, we had a very full and enjoyable weekend.

Starting on the Friday afternoon, we visited Biggin Hill and the Memorial Museum on the perimeter of the airfield where Chris Finn, Andy Johnson and Paul Beaver led groups around the museum and the adjoining chapel. The highlight of the afternoon was however a VIP tour of the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar  where we saw a marvellous collection of Spitfires as well as other historic aircraft. Some Members even managed to squeeze into the seat of a Spitfire Mk XVIe,  registration XWP.

On Friday evening, John Cotterill ran a fiendishly difficult quiz – an expert on the Staffordshire Regiments would have faired reasonably well – who would have guessed!

Saturday followed the usual format of validation assignments in the morning with the formal AGM and open forum in the afternoon. In the evening, new Members and newly Accredited Members were hosted to pre-dinner drinks, and after dinner, Guild Awards were presented and the newly Accredited Members received with their Badges.

On Sunday morning, we received presentations from Victoria Wallace, the Director General of the CWGC, and Dr John Greenacre and David Wilson, both Accredited Members. Finally we were fortunate to welcome back Toni and Valmai Holt, Honorary Members of the Guild who have provided fantastic support to the Guild since its inception, and who gave us an inspirational talk on battlefield guiding.

(image above: Toni Holt, Victoria Wallace, Valmai Holt and Mike Peters – image below: Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar)

Guild Christmas Lunch 2019

The Guild’s Christmas lunch 2019 was held on Friday 6th December at the Union Jack Club at Waterloo. Our special guests were our Patron, Lord Richard Faulkner of Worcester and our Vice-President Air Vice Marshal Steve Abbott CBE.

Thanks to Member Andy Thompson for organising the event once again. Several new Members and guests of the Guild attended making this a real Guild family affair to get us into a Christmas mood.

5th Annual Legacy 110 Awards

The Guild was well represented at the 5th. Annual Legacy 110 Awards hosted by the UCL First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme at the Tower of London on Thursday 28 November. Seven schools were invited to showcase their projects and received National Awards. It was also announced that the total reach of Legacy110 projects to date is 15,374,698. Full details can be found on UCL’s First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours website here. Thanks to Bob Darby for the photo.