Forty Years on the Old Front Line

This episode marks forty years since I first visited the battlefields of the Great War. We look back over those four decades and discuss what those first trips meant to me, what it was like to live on the battlefields, my work as a Battlefield Guide and examine some of my favourite locations that I’ve visited over the years.


26 Comments on “Forty Years on the Old Front Line

  1. Another fascinating and interesting podcast Paul, thank you. Really excited about the Old Front Line supporters tour in 2023. Thanks John.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very eloquent as always, but very moving too Paul, thank you. I think I may have told you this before, sitting in a restaurant in the square at Ypres, but when I was at grammar school I too was very interested in history. But then, for O level, I had a dreadful teacher who just read verbatim from his notes (probably prepared years earlier) from the bell for the start of the lesson till the bell for the end of the lesson. That killed any interest I had in the subject for a long, long time. You were so lucky to have teachers who sparked and encouraged your interest and it brings home how important and influential that is on a young mind. Anyone who is guided by you is very lucky to have a taste of your knowledge & enthusiasm. Thanks again.

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  3. Paul I didn’t even bother getting out of bed this morning before listening to this episode – I knew it would be a great one. I’d love to go on this proposed tour – would be no better way to make my first trip!

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  4. Having led school parties to the Front since 1986, on listening to your introduction re. memorable locations, I instinctively said ‘Hawthorn Ridge’ We appear to agree! Thank you for your wonderful work which enriches and inspires so many.

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  5. Dear Paul, thank you for explaining one of the aspects of those who are drawn to history so well. I said hello to you at WHWfest and appreciates your sentiments. Mrs.B (woke up to your trench whistle) and I so much enjoy your pods and would love to join a proposed trip if we can. Hope the arm/fingers heal soon. Best wishes Chris & Anne Brown.

    Liked by 1 person

      • She does Paul, she enjoys your voice and finds it helps relax her as she is getting ready to sleep. I have just listened to this episode again and your sentiments are so well explained and beautifully enunciated that I had plenty of dust in my eyes all of a sudden. Over the 2014-19 period as Town Crier I researched all of Wimborne’s fallen and on the 100th anniversary of their deaths delivered a “cry” in the town to remind me of who each of them was and what I was able to discover happened to them. I now need to write it up!

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  6. Paul,

    Great podcast today! A lot of interesting insights into landscapes and memory. Please keep up the great work!


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  7. Great episode. The story of spreading the veteran’s ashes at Factory Corner was amazing. I’m sure he thought about that spot many times every day.

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  8. Hi Paul
    When you mentioned George Louth, I immediately had an image of an elderly gentleman in a zipper cardigan, very long ears in a comfy chair talking about his War and eventual discharge with deafness.

    My memory served me well, he took part with many of the last surviving veterans in a 6 part series “The Last Voices of World War 1” 1st episode shown on Armistace Day 9th November 2008.

    The interviews were filmed in the early 90’s by Steve Humphries and Richard van Emden.

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  9. How do you become a battlefields guide? For me I think more by luck than judgement! I’m not a history teacher (engineering is my background) but as an ex serviceman the school’s history department thought I might be interested, I was hooked after one trip and a couple of years later I started running the trip, as a teacher I took out some 800 pupils over around a decade. When I was approaching retirement the tour company heard and approached me to train as a guide with them.

    What you say about reading is absolutely spot on, it’s a case of knowing your subject inside out, podcasts like The Old Front Line and webpages such as The Long Long Trail too are a great help too, you can never have too much information or too many stories.

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  10. Hi Paul, a really enjoyable and interesting podcast episode. As per usual I might add! Your story resinated with me somewhat. I was encouraged to use our local libary as a young teen. I choose to read books on WW1 many of which were tough old reads that expected the reader to have an understanding of military matters. Later in my teens I dropped the subject matter and moved on. Many years later when my parents gifted me Lyn Macdonald ‘1915’ my interest in the war was completely rekindled. Her books are so descriptive. Needless to say I have purchased many books on the war since then (including at least one of yours!) . Your whole series of podcasts have been a fantastic addition to the study of WW1, we owe your history teacher a debt of gratitude.

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  11. Hi Paul , that was a great podcast of your last 40 years.Throughly enjoyed it , always like the history of people you have met on your travels.
    Look forward to details of a trip to The Old Front Line next year.
    Kind regards John Wylie.

    Liked by 1 person

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