I grew up and live in Ireland, a country that was neutral during the Second World War. As a child, like a lot of children, my parents often bought me toy soldiers as presents with which I would spend endless hours playing and setting up battles on the living-room floor. I graduated from plastic toy soldiers to Action Man, and then to larger expensive collectible action figures. And yes I still collect toy soldiers! I am also the proud owner of a classic 1943 Willys MB Jeep which I recently restored, and continue to collect WWII memorabilia, especially U.S 82nd and 101st Airborne militaria.
My Dad, especially, was the biggest supporter in my enthusiasm for war history. Whenever a war movie came on television, he always made sure to watch it with me, especially classics like The ‘Longest Day’ and ‘A Bridge Too Far’. My mother on the other hand, didn’t like the topic at all as she had lost a brother in the fall of Singapore. When I was old enough to own a car my first ever trip abroad was to France to visit the Normandy beaches. I went to Belgium to see where the Battle of the Bulge took place and by then I was completely captivated. I have since travelled to many countries involved in WWII. One of my trips took me to Singapore which became a personal expedition to follow in the footsteps of my uncle. WWII history has become a passion of mine over the years, to the point where my friends and colleagues now view me as a historian. I have researched, visited and explored hundreds of places where WWII events took place.
A few years ago, I started bringing friends with me for fun, giving them tours of the areas I had got to know so well. Two years ago I was on a trip to Belgium, and I accidently ran into some American WWII veterans that were lost. I was delighted to be able to show them around some of their old haunts, and give them a running historical account of what was going on in Belgium at the same time as they fought in the area. They were so happy with their guided tour that they suggested that I do this professionally.
And so the idea was born.