Plan Your Personal Pilgrimage

WW1 Historian, Battlefield Tourist and Reenactor Randal Gaulke will be living in the Meuse-Argonne region of France from 15 May to 15 November, 2017.  During those months he will be working as a tour guide and he is proud to offer…

Tours of the WW1 American and Verdun Battlefields

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Randal and Son Photographing a German Semaphore Position in the Argonne Forest. (Photo by Wim Degrande)

Visiting and walking the battlefields of World War I brings history to life in a way that one cannot get from reading books, watching movies, or using modern technologies such as Google Earth!

Whether you and your family are retracing the steps of a relative or are serious students of military history, working with Randal you can design a pilgrimage / tour that meets your party’s individual interest and activity level. Whether you prefer to be “in the field” all day retracing a division’s activities or whether you prefer a mix of field stops with museums, cemeteries, etc., Randal can put together a tour that will satisfy you and your party.


Who is Randal Gaulke?

Randal is a WW1 battlefield tour guide, historian and reenactor. He took his first battlefield tour in 1986 with Lt. Col. Graham Parker of Flanders Tours. In 1994 he fell in love with the Meuse-Argonne region of France while participating in a work weekend with members of the German Remembrance Committee of the Argonne Forest. Since that trip he has focused on the Meuse-Argonne, Verdun and St. Mihiel battlefields; and he has returned to those battlefields almost annually since 1994—sometimes leading tours and other times conducting research.

Randal also understands and appreciates the importance that language, culture and regional knowledge plays in making a successful battlefield trip. To that end, he has learned French; and he has built friendships with many locals and European historians over the years. He is also fluent in German; and his research into the German Army in the region helps to present the war from the other side.

Today, Randal is a high yield bond analyst who lives in New Jersey and works in New York City. However, he plans to spend six months on the American and Verdun battlefields of WW1, from May 15 to November 15, 2017.

Specific Reasons to Hire Randal Gaulke as Your Guide

  • Randal has been studying the American battles of WW1, especially the Meuse-Argonne, for more than two decades; he loves telling the story of these battles. (He has also led groups on the Verdun and St. Mihiel battlefields.)
  • He loves researching individuals and units; helping families retrace their ancestor’s steps.
  • Randal knows these battlefields intimately: He has visited them almost annually since 1994.
  • He understands the German side of the story: Much of his research has focused on the German forces.
  • He understands and is comfortable in French culture; this will make your group feel more comfortable in new surroundings.
  • He knows local citizens who can be helpful in arranging visits to unique locations.
  • Randal speaks three languages: French (proficiently), German (fluently) and English.
  • He will tailor your tour to meet the interest level and needs of your party.
  • Randal can guide a small group to sites not accessible by large bus tours.
  • He can save your party time and aggravation when trying to locate obscure markers, narrow forest lanes, approximate trench lines, etc.

Contact him for a Free Consultation

Putting together a successful and enjoyable battlefield tour requires several items: 1) Knowledge of military history, 2) knowledge of the region, 3) local contacts, and 4) some knowledge of the language. Randal brings all of these to the table. Take the next step:  Print the Tour Information Form below; fill it out; and return it to Randal Gaulke.  He will get back to you promptly.

TOUR INFORMATION FORM – PDF

You can also fill out the information form at the link and Randal will get back to you shortly.

TOUR INFORMATION FORM – ONLINE

Contact Randal Gaulke

Randal S. Gaulke, 584 Valley Road, Gillette, NJ 07933
lavarennes@meuse-argonne.com
908-451-0252

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL FLYER 

TESTIMONIALS

valerie-young-in-argonne-forest-002Randy has been an invaluable resource to me this year in the planning of my personal journey to the Meuse-Argonne to bring to life the grandfather I never knew.  His website was my initial introduction to his vast knowledge of the history and geography of the area.  His recommendations for books, maps, other websites, and travel insights were tremendously helpful.  We then had a lunch meeting where I shared my ideas about an individual journey; his great awareness and input validated my confidence and respect for him, his commitment to the Meuse-Argonne, and his desire to enable others to experience it as he has for so many years.

With Randy’s help, I was able to “follow in the footsteps” that my grandfather took nearly 100 years ago.  Randy helped me find a guide/driver and accommodations, and provided important information on specific battlefield monuments and sites related to my grandfather’s infantry unit.  His detailed knowledge of the area is essential to anyone planning a trip there.  I am now writing about my grandfather’s military journey, and look forward to joining the tour in June 2017.

-Valerie Young

 


 

robert-fryman-visiting-his-great-uncles-graveIt is without any reservations that I can highly recommend Mr. Randal Gaulke as a battlefield guide. His thorough, meticulous approach to research allows him to clearly present not only a broad, general overview to a particular battle, but also a more in depth analysis and description of the actions which transpired on a particular location or for a specific military unit involved in the battle. This trait, combined with his ability to analyze and interpret the nature and impact of the terrain on the action, makes for a very enjoyable and informative tour. On a recent trip to France, Mr. Gaulke was able to provide me with an insightful tour of the Verdun battlefield in which he traced the movement of my relative’s regiment (IR87) during the 1916 campaign. His commitment to excellence and in going above and beyond what one normally encounters from many battlefield guides was clearly demonstrated by his research into the location of IR87 in June, 1918 where he was able to show me the area where my relative was killed. I know of no other individual who can provide you with a battlefield tour experience as Mr. Randal Gaulke, and highly recommend him.

-Dr. Robert J. Fryman

 


 

Randal Gaulke’s passion for and knowledge of the Meuse-Argonne Front is second to none in North America. Even in France I’ve only encountered a handful of Europeans who can approach his level of expertise.  But it was his dedication and preparation that truly made the difference in a successful overseas journey.

Randy makes the tour personal and functional for every individual. He prepared a detailed catalog of our trip in advance with a complete itinerary and historical information on each site for our 1993 tour.  His advance plans included walking time at each site, consideration for the intensity and physical demands of any hiking as it pertained to the capabilities of each member of our party, as well as transportation and food.

His linguistic skills were more than sufficient to minimize and solve all of the hiccups that are inevitable to international travel. We truly felt like we were in good hands during our entire trip.

This resulted not only in an educational tour, but an enjoyable tour that I would gladly repeat.

-Stephen Skinner, Author, THE STAND:  The Final Flight of Lt. Frank Luke Jr., Indianaplolis, IN  USA

 


 

My German-American grandfather Frank Schindler, who by all accounts was a kind but troubled soul after returning from WW1, fought in France with the AEF 2d Division Regular Army (AEF).  He participated in some of the heaviest and decisive fighting of the war in the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.  His war experience and personal decisions post war profoundly shaped our family for what is now approaching 100 years later.

I had been researching my Grandfather for months following the death of my mother one year earlier.  I had the burning desire, and perhaps even the need, to walk in his footsteps so that I could better understand why and how his WW1 experience cascaded so tragically to his descendants.  By happenstance I was to be in Manchester England for business in 2013.  The distance from Manchester to France was only a short one-and -a-half hour flight.  Despite the fact that I only had a few weeks to plan, I decided that I had to seize the opportunity of proximity to visit the battle grounds where my grandfather had fought.  When I began my research to arrange a trip I expected to find many organized tour companies that I could easily join, but that was simply not the case.  I began to reach out to various guides but to no avail.  By serendipity a trail of internet bread crumbs lead me to Randy Gaulke.

Randy and I exchanged a thread of emails which led to several phone conversations.  It was clear from the beginning that Randy possessed incredible knowledge about and passion for the history of the First World War.  I was a total stranger to Randy yet he helped me as if I were family.  Because of his many years of experience with the battlefields Randy was able to guide me to the right people, accommodations, how I should prepare for the trip, resource materials, what I should see and anticipate.  His guidance was invaluable and made my visit the experience of a lifetime.  His name was well known in the area and people really rolled out the red carpet for me based on his personal reputation.  With his assistance I was able to truly maximize my limited time.  I learned so much more about the history of the war and my grandfather than I ever would have known without Randy.

I would like to offer my highest recommendation of Randy Gaulke as you consider a guide to the rich history of World War One.  You simply cannot go wrong.

-Chris Hodde