Michael Kelly B.A. (Hons)
Michael Kelly is a well respected guide on the Western Front Battlefields of France and Belgium where he has been passionately guiding for fifteen years. He is a member of the Western Front Association and the Guild of Battlefield Guides.
He has organised highly successful tours for both small and large numbers. These include the American Elderhostel Group, University of Wollongong and Xavier College in Melbourne. He has guided the Spirit of Anzac sponsored tours and in addition those arranged by the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
He served for 12 years in the Royal Navy and 25 years as a police detective in C.I.D. with specialist appointments in Surveillance Units and Regional Crime Squad. In 1998 he began working with Bartlett's Battlefield Journeys, based in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. He has recently formed his own Company Apollo Battlefields and he specialises in leading Australian University groups.
He has been involved in the discovery of the American WW1 hero Alvin C York and is the author of Sergeant York of the Argonne Tour Guide. He had a special interest in the Fromelles recovery of Australian soldiers from the pits in Pheasant Wood.
Michael is an avid and passionate lover of WW1 poetry and acknowledges the significance of the music of the era. Poetry readings by him during the tours add a very personal and poignant dimension to the experience of the Western Front.
Many of Michael’s clients seek him to lead them to the designated spot where their forebears last stood. With the use of trench maps and GPS he can achieve their desires with a high degree of accuracy.
He is available to lead private groups who require the services of a specialised guide whilst in Belgium or France.
He is a regular visitor to the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper, Belgium where the names of 55,000 soldiers from WW1 who have no known grave are commemorated. It is this place that inspired Michael to write the song 'The Ghosts of the Menin Gate.' Michael is a friend of the well known Australian singer Eric Bogle, whose songs, 'No Man's Land' and 'I'll Go No More Waltzing Matilda, has given so much to so many.
Michael Kelly is passionate about WWI battlefield tours. He has an incredible depth of knowledge and experiences and he happily answered all questions and enquiries. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he went out of his way to ensure the tour was memorable. We especially appreciated his ability to further personalise the tour by adding items that he gleaned might be of special interest to us. Michael brought a human side to the tour through his stories and anecdotes about the soldiers, their lives and deaths. A poem he read at the graveside of a relative was most touching for us all. We appreciated his ability to “read the moment” and allow us time and space for personal reflection.
Michael Pope. Queensland, Australia September 2011
Mike Kelly became an invaluable part of the subject and was astute enough to realise that this was a study tour where the students were expected to be active participants in the subject, not passive tourists. The success of the subject owes a good deal to him, not only because of his knowledge (which he freely shared) but also because of his enthusiasm for his subject area and his ability to adapt the schedule to meet our needs when needed. I'll certainly be looking to you for the next Study Tour planned for 2013
Professor John McQuilton, Dr. Linda Wade, University of Wollongong, Australia . July 2011