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MAJOR AND MRS. HOLT'S BATTLEFIELD GUIDE TO THE SOMME + Maj and Mrs. Holt's Battlefield Guide Ypres Salient - Passchendaele + Major and Mrs Holt's Concise Guide Western Front South (Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guides)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword; 6th edition (June 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850524148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850524147
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


An indispensable and companionable guide to the battlefields.- Best of British

From the Author

We update these books every couple of years and are currently on the 6th edition. Sometimes the picture that you see is not the one for the current edition. Since the first book was published many new pages and pictures have been added.

More About the Author

Tonie Holt is the 'Major' of Major and Mrs Holt who are well known as the authors of the leading guide books to the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars as well as a notable biography of Rudyard Kipling's son John - 'My Boy Jack?'
Both he and Valmai(the 'Mrs') began writing at their schools. Their first published works were for local newspapers and then for commercial radio.

They founded the company Major and Mrs Holt's Battlefield Tours in the early 1970s at which time it was the first and only company running such tours for the general public eventually covering wars as far afield as Viet Nam, the Crimea, South Africa, El Alamein, the American Civil War and of course the battles of both the First and Second World Wars. As interest in battlefield touring increased they became Consultants to British Airways, Book Club Associates and the City of Portsmouth to whom they had suggested the idea of a D Day Museum.

In the 1980s they were asked to take over running the Pilgrimage programme for the Royal British Legion which they completely upgraded and then handed back to the Legion when the British Government re-instated the financial support for relatives to visit the graves of loved ones.
Having sold the company in the 1990s Tonie and Valmai began writing the series of guide books which is now accepted as the leader amongst such publications. Unlike many authors they do not have a team of researchers but do all their own research by travelling all the routes they recommend, visiting all the memorials and cemeteries and taking all the photographs.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By texmexfla on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text has plenty of photos (b&w and color), nice maps, helpful hints for tourists, and insightful vingettes of the soldiers and incidents of all sides. There is also a section at the back of the book listing and giving brief histories on commemorative groups and war graves commissions of various nations. The United Kingdom and British Commonwealth are well represented.
I would strongly suggest this book for those going to the Somme, as it would be good for quick information on various monuments which a person might pass on the road.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By saliero on June 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have just returned from a 5 day visit to the Somme (May 2003), and found his book an indispensible guide if you are doing it on your own.
You need to sit down and study the key to the accompanying map quite carefully. Once you have got the hang of it, and the references in the book, your journey will be much smoother.
There are so MANY memorials, graves and sites of remembrance in this area, that it would be virtually impossible to visit everything. Many people (like me) will have a personal reason for visiting - a relative who fought, maybe was killed there.
My advice is to do as much research as possible first, and you can do worse that start by reading the introduction to this book. Stroll through the book and become familiar with some of the places it describes. I had a particular interest in Australian-oriented memorials. In the latest edition these are paid quite close attention. However, you need to piece together your own "Australian tour" (the Franco-Australian museum in Villers-Brettoneux can help too).
Still, it was quite easy with this guide - one read through and I compiled my own list from it.
The more generalist visitor I would recommend starting with the Historial in Peronne, which is well described in the book...but not as a starting point. The book is oriented towards Britons with a car coming from across the channel, which is no doubt the promary audience, but the "approaches" section cannot be followed if one is arriving, for example from the direction od Paris.
Nevertheless, with a bit of flicking back and forth and some sticky-paper notes, this is an excellent resource from which to plan an independent tour.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The battle map that was included with this book helps to put everything together and visualize how things happened in the battle. I can't say enough about the manuals the Holts have put together. Phenomenal!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jrc griffin on July 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a misrepresentation when sold as a "Battlefield Guide".

Most modern day visitors to a WW I site would probably agree that a "battlefield guide" should (1) put the battle in its historical context, (2) describe its evolution, (3) identify important events/sites, (4) help the tourist select what to visit and (5) provide the information needed to accurately interpret what they see. Unfortunately this "Battlefield Guide" only very tangentially does any of that.

This - and the same author's book about the Ypres Salient - is really a directory of monuments and cemeteries backed up with personal interest stories. This isn't bad if your primary interest is cemeteries, monuments and anecdotes but a battlefield guide it isn't.

Just a few "for instances":

There are a total of only seven maps in the book, all too general to be of any specific use, however a separate large map accompanying this book, likewise not of much use, locates by my count, 180 cemeteries, 111 grave sites of famous people, 40 grave sites of V.C. winners, 127 "memorials/monuments/sites of interest" but only 12 "bunkers/craters/trenches" and not one view point of the battlefield in general.

Just on Itinerary #3 alone, but similarly on all itineraries, there were, by my interpretation, 41 photos of monuments or cemeteries ( almost always too close to provide any context but often too blurred to actually read), 4 of local color and 2 small view shots of the battlefield. In sections warranting bold type headings, 38 describe/discuss cemeteries or monuments, 6 local color and 8 specific combat.
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