We’d like to hear from you

If you are interested in The Great War and The Battlefields of France, please share your thoughts below.

42 comments… add one
  • Hi Jon, I must say it has been a total pleasure making this site. It reminded me of one of the last times I drove back from the UK to my home in The French Alps. To break the journey I stopped in Arras. As I drove back towards the autoroute in the morning, I went past many of the war graves. I got a strange mixture of senses somewhere between sadness and peace.

  • Colin Miles Link

    Hello Jon
    Thanks for including me on your circulation. Your site is a great idea and well done to all who built it; long may it grow. You played a big part in enthusing me in visiting our heros on the Western Front and Janet and I made our fifth trip with Gerald and his family in August. We missed you but Willy was a most worthy sub. Keep spreading the faith.
    Best regards, Col

  • Sue Brown Link

    Excellent web site!

    But I couldn’t get the video to play – just had the circle going round and round – which I guess is when it’s loading. It never actually loaded even though I left it for 10 minutes!!

  • admin Link

    That’s a shame Sue, it’s actually pulling the High Resolution version straight from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NRlP92rDFk have a look at that and see if that works. It may be a bit slow if you have a poor internet connection. But thanks for the comment anyway:)

  • Sue Brown Link

    Thanks – it worked from the link you gave me!

  • Kathy Ridges Link

    Hello All,

    I think the site is great and very interesting to look at and see faces and the tours.

    A quick note about the ferry: we have always sailed with P&O and find them really very good indeed!We hope to meet you all and join you on a tour soon.

    Kathy Ridges

  • Alfred Gaunt Link

    Greetings from Canada,I had been trying to contact Tony Spagnoli, and learned of his death from his nephew. Being his classmate at St.James School during 1939-40, I was hoping to renew our acquaintance and discuss old times at the school. Sadly, as a result of my procrastination, I missed him by a few months. My father fought with the Rifle Brigade in France during W.W.1 and was one of the lucky ones that returned. It is wonderful to know that there are still a few people around that respect the memory of those brave men that died in that conflict. Al.Gaunt

  • Hi Alfred,
    Thank you very much for the comment you left. I put this site together last year for Jon Nicholls and I have been really pleased with the feedback we have received from people like yourself.
    Thanks again.

  • Sue Brown Link

    Thank you so much Jon for yet another wonderful trip to the battlefields. If only I could remember just a fraction of your immense knowledge! During the trip I was trying to work out just how many years I had been coming with the Hampstead Pals. Then it occurred to me to look in my copy of “Cheerful Sacrifice” the book that all “new recruits” used to buy on their first trip!! I see from your inscription that it was 1997, so 12 years, and they just get better and better, so I hope there will be many more!

    Thank you again for all of your hard work in organising the trips and making them so interesting, funny and successful. To use Alf Razzell’s sentiments – a trip which only the Met Police know how to do!!

    Thanks also to your various helpers who contribute so much to the smooth running and enjoyment of the trip:

    Ray – our lovely and caring driver who always gets us there and back safely, and during our stops of remembrance, can be found with squeegee and bucket, keeping the coach so beautifully clean and comfortable for us all. With the onset of old age, my poor arthritic knees are ever grateful for his helping hand up and down the steps of the coach!!

    Kevin- our bar man, serving us with copious amounts of the “van rouge” – for medicinal purposes of course and Corin’s assistance with the bar on the coach.

    Those wonderful picnics provided by the ladies – absolutely delicious and, according to the post holiday weigh-in, obviously very successful, as I seem to have gained a pound or two!

    Caroline and Jacky – for the “sweeties” and other goodies that they regularly supply us all with.

    Our entertainers – Bill, Stuart, Nick and of course you Jon – not forgetting Terry. How could we forget the fun and laughter he provides, even if it is at the expense of his liver!! Take care Terry, as we want you and your liver to provide us with many more years of “Viva Espana”!

    Last, but not least Willie – that laugh that is so infectious and makes us all laugh, even if we have no idea what the joke was! A trip without Willie would be like a day without sunshine – grey and dull. Don’t ever change!

    Thank you to everyone on the trip for making us both feel comfortable, and we both hope that we will have the opportunity of seeing you all again on future trips, if only, like Gilly Grieves, to hope to solve the mystery of the character “Alice” who seems to be mentioned each year!!

    I just can’t wait to edit my photos which will bring all of the memories of our trip flooding back.

    Thanks again

    Sue & Simon

  • Steve Page Link

    Hi Pals

    just a quick note to thank everyone for such a good time on this years trip. Thanks to jon and the team as ever for finding such interesting places.

    As well as all the pals for their company Eric “Rick” also send his best wishes to everyone.

    If you get a moment have a look at Bills photos on Flickr

    Herewith my pics of the 2009 trip.

    Happy days!


    Signing up for Flickr is free, and takes less than a
    minute. Just click here:


    See you there!

    Bill Gemmell

    p.s. If you are not interested, just ignore this email.
    Flickr won’t bug you again and there’s nothing special you
    have to do

    hope to see you all soon


  • Steve, that link to Flickr didn’t work – can you provide a link to the album on Flickr. I have been thinking about Flickr for a while for this site. I can easily add a ‘Flickr Widget’ to this site so that any Flickr images tagged with say, ‘hampsteadpals’ – I have done this with this site: http://www.serrechevalier.org/ which works well with any photos tagged with ‘serrechevalier’ – have a look down the bottom LHS. I think something like this on Hampstead Pals would work really well. Let me know what you think.

  • Steve Page Link


    this is the link to bills flickr page

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/billyg2008/ hope this helps


  • Thanks Steve, unfortunately it looks like Bill has made his photos only available to his Flickr contacts in which case they will not be able to be shown here.

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    You’re right Rick, I have made the photos only available to my contacts. I didn’t want to make them public in case there was anything compromising in them!!!

    I will be pleased to send an invitation to anyone who would like to view and save the pictures. Please contact Jon for my email address.

    It would be great if we could find a way of linking the pics through this website without making them public.



  • Thanks for getting touch Bill. Unfortunately there is no way of making these viewable on the site as web sites are, by their very nature ‘public’. This is of course unless we had a ‘members only’ area, but that is way beyond the original spec of the site and is really not what I am all about (I’m all about traffic and rankings).
    Anyway keep on snapping and if you decide any are fit for public consumption just tag them ‘hampteadpals’ in Flickr and I’ll put a widget up there to display them (I might do that anyway).
    Take care Bill

  • Steve Page Link

    Rick & Bill

    sounds like a good idea to have a ‘hampteadpals’ in Flickr with a like from the pals site.

    What about a page for Favorite sits MET Polic or useful sites such as CWGC etc.

    just an idea

    hope all is well

  • Hi Steve, I’m looking into the Flickr thing at the moment – they seem to have changed the way they handle the RSS feeds which is bugging me a bit at the moment.
    As far as external links go, I’ll leave it to Jon, in an ideal world you have very few links going out and thousands coming in – this is what gives a site it’s importance as far as search engines are concerned. What this site could really do with is some people like yourselves contributing articles and blog posts to keep it fresh and interesting. And then within these it is quite cool to link to sites like the CWGC. A good compromise is to get them to link back here, but I can’t really see the Metropolitan Police doing that, but if they did that would be one juicy backlink!

  • Steve Link

    hi rick

    can you tell me how you can add an item to our latest news?


  • Steve, I have set you up as an author, please see my separate email, I look forward to reading your posts.

  • Eddie Thomas Link

    I hope this is the way to contact you – I could not find a form anywhere else on the site.
    I’d like some info/details on joining you on one of your trips to the WW1 Battlefields and Cemeteries.
    My Dad fought through Flanders with the Royal Field Artillery. His brother was killed in action and is buried at Menin Gate. An uncle was also KIA and is buried at Tyne Cot.
    I live near Chester.
    Eddie Thomas <

  • please can someonehelp me .Iam trying to arrange a visit for some family on my mothers sideto visit france to the graves in HARGICOURT BRITISH CEMETERY.THEY would like to visit the grave of their grandad who was in the british army 1913. RANK SOWAR, SURNAME YAQUB KHAN,REGIMENT 19TH LANCERS {FANE;S HORSE] SERVICE NO 3455 DATE OF DEATH 05/02/1918. PLEASE could someone help me in were i could get informaysion for them to visit from pakistan . Their is help and infow if you are in uk but nothing if fom commonwealth , thy do have a rigth as their granfathers died for this contry please someone help.

  • Keith & Julia Anker Link

    We would just like to thank John Nicholls, John Grieve, Kevin Cutts et al for a fabulous trip last weekend around the French & Belgian battlefields. The depth of these men’s knowledge is remarkable, and we would highly recommend this experience to anyone wishing to pay their respects to all the men, women, children and animals who sacrificed their lives in such horrendous conditions.

  • Jonathan nicholls Link

    Hi Eddie,
    Sorry not to get back to you earlier.. The Hampstead Pals have just returned from the Ypres salient and we visited Tyne Cot cemetery. If you are interested in future trips let me have your address and I will put you on my newsletter list. The next ‘official’ trip is next May.
    Best wishes

  • Jonathan nicholls Link

    Hi Sayed,
    Just picked up your comment above, sorry for my late reply I guess I should visit my web site more often!! Let me now when you relatives are over from Pakistan and I would gladly talk to them and help them to visit their Grandfather. I know Hargicourt Cemetery well and will visit Yaqub’s grave for you soon and say a few words on your behalf.
    Best wishes

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    Hi everyone,

    Just to let you know that the photo albums on Flickr are now available to everyone. Just google Flickr and when the search box comes up type in hampsteadpals (exactly as I’ve written it here). The collection of pics from the ’08 and ’09 trips are all there.

    Russ Garland and I were over on a trip in September. Stayed in Arras and hiked for over 18 miles over 2 days in the Somme area. We pulled an old rifle out of the mud just north of Delville Wood where the old German lines were. The rifle has now been identified as a Mauser 98K. We are now working on cleaning it up and removing the rust. Do I need a permit for this?


  • Dave POMFRETT Link

    Hello Jon, I am really glad that you have kept up the knowledge and the word of our fallen hero’s, Although i have not seen you or any of the Pals since i left Hampstead in 1990 i still have your book ‘Cheerful Sacrifice’ which still comes down from the shelf from time to time, and i know that this is not the only period of our military hero’s that you support, and that this includes today’s hero’s in Afghanistan, I only found this site today by accident whilst searching the internet to try and find a ‘Hampstead Police Plaque’ for my wall, I hope you are well and Nick COMPTON who taught me beats in 1985, This is a great site that i shall visit again. Best wishes Dave.

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    The pics of the 2010 trip are now on http://www.flickr.com
    Just search “hampsteadpals” and the photos for the last 3 years will come up.
    Many thanks to Jon, the catering corps, Clive Harris, and all the Pals for yet another great trip! Bill

  • john Spicer Link

    An Uncle of mine, Pte.H.W. Spicer of the 15th Bn., Hampshire Regiment was killed in France on 28th May 1918 and is buried in the Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, Nord, France. I will be staying in Paris for 1 week in September 2011 and would like to visit his grave if possible on a 1 day visit.
    Is this possible and how would I arrange it?
    Hoping you can help.

  • Jon Nicholls Link

    I will meet you in Arras which you can get to by train and will take you there. email me via this website.

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    Another great trip. Thanks to everyone who made my birthday such a memorable one! The pics are now on Picasa – just click on this link

  • russell garland Link

    Thanks to everyone for the company had a fantastic time as usual. Looking forward to seeing you all in May I will be coming with Teresa (her first trip).

    Jon your a legend!

    Have a good Christmas.


  • Anthony Crofts Link

    In the past I regarded these trips as PLAYTIME for a few OLD BILL and some poor unfortunate relic.
    Now with the passage of time, I see it in another light, it is PS77’E’ trying to make an impact on life, I suspect the consumption of ALCOHOL is a prime motivator. (it always was, Ferret and company were not well, for days!)
    In the passage of time, I can observe that these ‘TRIPS’ bring the sacrifice of our forebears, into focus, for this generation, which is no bad thing.
    I look forward to joining you THIS YEAR. (or next if I can persuade the wife)
    TONY CROFTS (exPS99’E’)

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    Another great trip. The weather started off a bit “iffy”, but the sun came out to make the days on the Somme glorious and perfect for the picnic lunches. Many thanks to all those who worked to make the trip such a success.
    My pics are now online at this link:
    Also check out:

    All the best,


  • @Bill Gemmell: Hi Bill, I’ve added a link to your albums on this page here: http://hampsteadpals.com/hampstead-pals-photos/
    I’ll try and find a home for your video too.

  • Bruce Roberts Link

    I’m a very late starter here, and very sadly I seem to have missed something I wished I could have found much earlier.
    I was a PC at EW back in early 1975 under john Nichols, John Williams and Nos Roberts. Went on into the CID and sort of forgot my roots so to speak.
    Live in France now, for the past 5 years and would love to meet some old ‘pals’.


  • Richard Graham Link

    Hi Jon, I am currently down at Bussiere-Poitevine in the Limousin region of central France and just wanted to let you know about what is here. We have come across a whole pile of stuff about the resistance and of course the site of Oradour-Sur-Glane – dreadful atrocity. I don’t know if you have been here, but there is loads of interesting stuff that any battlefield bods would love and we are staying at Maison Bussiere in the village, which is really comfortable and has everything close at hand. I would highly recommend it to any of the Pals.

    Hope you are OK?



  • Paul Napier Link

    Hello Jon,
    Saw the article in the times and it brought back some fond memories of s couple of trips back in the 80’s (that’s me in uniform in photo 63).
    I’d love to get out to the battlefields again and will keep an eye out on the website. Are Beaker and Ferret still about!
    Best wishes – Paul Napier

  • Jon Link

    @Richard Graham: Hi Richard, I hope you are enjoying retirement & life in Bonny Scotland and not too sore about the Rugby result on Saturday! Chris Nightingale, your friend who lives near Oradour has told me about the area and I plan to visit it with the Hampstead Pals this October. Thanks for the connection

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    Hi folks. My album of pics (for what they’re woth) of the May 2013 trip are now online at http://picasaweb.google.com/102492528708868780013
    Thanks to everyone who worked hard to make the trip a success, despite the weather. It was great fun. Once again, special thank go to the Catering Corps for making the picnic lunches (and the bar) a lovely feature of the trip.

  • Stewart Gavigan Link

    Hi Jon. We met a few years ago a party in Richard Graham’s house.
    I thought you might find this interesting.
    I recently followed up on some family history, namely my Grand fathers, Peter Gavigan and David Ritchie R.E & RASC respectively.
    Peter Joined in 1915 as a Royal Marine, he was transferred to RM Divisional Engineers the same year. Subsequently becoming part of the 63rd Royal Naval Division. From what I understand in 1918 all RM Engineers were transferred over to Royal Engineers something they were non to happy about. Peter survived the war and left as Sapper 207896 RE but started as RM. S/5259.
    David Ritchie also survived the war he join in April 1915, hence I have inherited Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, I can find no records for him as I understand ASC records were destroyed after the war.
    The interesting thing from my perspective is that with David Ritchie’s Medals were two postcards one of four RFC / RAF personnel from 45 Squadron. On investigation it turned out to be an uncle that my mother never new she had.
    William Ritchie RAF Service No 26141 aircraft mechanic 1st class.
    He died on active service on 11/10/1918. We found out where he is buried. (Charmes military cemetery.) which we have this year visited along with the Menin gate and Arras tunnels.
    The problem for me now is I would like to find out more about Peter, David And William Service records as online seems a bit limited. Is there any advice you can offer if I take a visit to Kew I would like to know what I’m looking for.
    Many thanks

  • Bill Gemmell Link

    Here’s the link to my Picasa Web Albums. I’ve just added the 2015 pics.
    If anyone has some photos that they would like me to add to the albums, please drop me a line and we can organise it.

  • R Link

    At the end of the field of fire picture in the trees on the left is a mound and 2 flint walled enclosures that were a target practice range

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