Speciality: D-Day and the Normandy Battlefields.
Favourite Tour: D-Day Landings in Normandy.
Interests: Reading, writing and researching military history, in particular, on the Normandy battlefields and for the Fallen Heroes of Normandy archive project (www.fallenheroesofnormandy.org). Other interests include time with my family, photography, music (playing guitar), and website development
About: I’m a military historian, author and photographer, with over 15 years’ experience of battlefield guiding and have a BA (Hons) degree in History and American Studies from the University of Leeds.
During this time I have worked as a consultant and battlefield guide in areas such as Normandy in France; Arnhem, Nijmegen and Oosterbeek in Holland; and Salerno, Anzio and Monte Cassino in Italy.
In addition to research, writing and producing photographs for several of my own books on the Second World War, I have also written and photographed for magazines, newspapers and worked on many publications with other historians.
Among the books I've written to date are:
- Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge (foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales).
- Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges (foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales).
- D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (Guardian Book of the Week, June 2000).
- The Fighting 52nd Recce (forward by Sir James Stormonth-Darling and Introduction by Charles Whiting).
Further details of my published works can be found at www.carlshilleto.co.uk
Presently, my research, writing, guiding and photography commitments are concentrated on the battlefields of Normandy. This also includes my work on the Fallen Heroes of Normandy archive project, which I both co-founded in 2009 and work on as project coordinator (http://fallenheroesofnormandy.wordpress.com/).
I Would Recommend
The D-Day Landings in Normandy 4-day tour. This is a great introductory tour for anyone, of all ages, who is interested in the Second World War, and particularly the campaign in North-West Europe. In just two days, visitors will be able to experience the scale and learn about the diversity of operations in this most historic of battles.
The inclusion of some museums and war cemeteries on this tour also help visitors appreciate both the complexity of this operation and its cost in human life. It is a tour I feel should be compulsory for children of secondary school age; one that would provide them with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by their forefathers and that great generation.
Most Memorable Experience
This is a very difficult question to answer, as there have been so many over the years. What memories do come to mind though, are the many times I’ve accompanied returning veterans to the battlefields. In particular the poignant visits to the war cemeteries so they may pay their respects to fallen comrades.
I suppose the most memorable experience for me was taking my own grandfather back, in the late 1990s, to the beach where he landed in Normandy on one of the Leger tours I was leading. To witness complete strangers of all ages come up to him, as they do to so many of the veterans, and thank him in person for the freedom they now enjoy, is a great memory that I will never forget.
Another poignant memory is when I accompanied an 80 plus year old veteran to pay his respects to several of his fallen comrades in Jerusalem Commonwealth Cemetery. Among his friends buried there was the young 16 year old Private Jack Banks of 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.