Photo: View of the Castle, Hangman's Hill and the Monastery from the Caruso Road.
Photo: Former soldiers from 7 R ANGLIAN on the steps of the Benedictine Monastery at Cassino in June 2017.
'I have been taking organized tours of battlefields for over 25 years and, truthfully, have never had a finer guide. Frank led our group for eight days and covered Salerno, Cassino and Anzio. Each time, he found stands from which we could survey the overall terrain and understand the challenges for the Allied assaults. He laid out the various strategic, operational and tactical options so that we could understand decision making at every level. He then led us to critical spots on each battlefield, explaining the actions with particular emphasis on the human cost. This was my second group visit to these battlefields, but the first where I really understood what happened, where and why. Frank unfolded the whole story cheerfully, patiently, and with great humor and entertainment. I recommend Frank de Planta in the highest possible way.'
Bill Vodra. Alexandria, USA
'This was, without exception, the best Battlefield Study I have done in 21 years in the Army. Frank de Planta is exceptional: he is knowledgeable, charismatic and very amusing. He brings Monte Cassino to life and his style will appeal to officers and soldiers of all ranks. I cannot recommend a Battlefield Study with Frank de Planta highly enough.'
Lt Col Guy Stone WG. Army Training Regiment Grantham
'It is every Gurkha soldier’s ambition to travel to Monte Cassino and visit the site where 1/2 GR, 1/5 GR, 2/7 GR and 1/9 GR served with distinction – the latter famously reaching Hangman’s Hill against all the odds in March 1944. After 32 years service, I got the opportunity to do this on a Battlefield Study led by Frank de Planta. This man oozes charisma, passion and has an unbelievable appetite for telling the amazing story of what happened here during the Italian Campaign. I would unreservedly recommend him to anyone planning to visit either from personal interest or as part of an organised military group.'
Maj Chin Thapa MVO RGR. Support Battalion, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Frank de Planta led three separate days in Salerno: to different audiences from OR-4 to OF-8, and all with unique requirements. He is a master of adaptability in his pitch and in managing the bespoke needs and interests of a 13* heavy multi-national Senior Officers cadre one day and their Staff the next. His ability to define the tactical battle and then orientate all his audiences’ back to the Operational level and how all the individual events created the Strategic outcome is where he provides real value. As a Joint Service group, everyone learnt something new and took away a real appreciation of what their fellow services did both then and now. These events are fantastic in improving and developing understanding amongst a Command Staff and Frank’s infectious enthusiasm brought it all together and ensured that everyone departed with much to ponder.
Lt Cmdr Matt Feeney RN. NATO Joint Force Command Naples
Frank de Planta has taken taken the study of this battlefield to another level. The depth of his knowledge is unbelievable and he pitched it perfectly to a Gunner all rank audience. Thank you from all ranks 88 (Arracan) Bty 4 Regt RA.'
SSgt Mike Cartright. 4 Regiment Royal Artillery
'Frank was the epitome of knowledge throughout the study, and we could not have wished for anyone else to deliver some quite complex scenarios to a mixture of individuals. Both his enthusiasm and deep understanding of the battles ensured that all understood and took away lessons from each facet of the study: from the junior soldiers to more experienced commanders. Each briefing stand provided the group with as much detail as you could have asked for from both sides, and was also extremely well presented with style and wit. I would recommend Frank to anyone who wants to deeply understand the complexities of the battles, whether or not they have any military understanding or background as each situation/problem is explained with the correct amount of detail that anyone can understand. Frank also goes above and beyond to ensure that each group is looked after and catered for throughout, both out on the ground and within the hotels.'
Maj Andy Bishop. The Queen's Royal Hussars
After arriving home, I felt like Oliver Twist when he said, “please sir, may I have some more?”. I cannot begin to thank you enough for placing Guardsman Charlie McLean SG on the battlefield at Anzio in the last days of January 1944: it was almost as if you were a human virtual reality machine - I just closed my eyes and was right there with him, taking cover behind an old olive tree as he walked up on the right flank north of Smelly Farm. Your knowledge of events, timing and placement of troops was exceptional.'
Sally Low. Edinburgh
'Frank de Planta led a five-day battlefield study for Army Headquarters to Monte Cassino. A deep subject matter expert, his passion for the history is infectious and his well-tailored delivery thoroughly engaging, bringing the battle to life for all. As a retired Infantry officer, Frank has a keen eye for the ground and an innate ability to read the terrain. Critically, he is able to draw parallels with contemporary concepts adding further relevance to the learning experience. Without a doubt the best battlefield study I have attended, I would not hesitate to recommend Frank de Planta and Cassinobattlefields Ltd.'
Maj Fletch Fletcher. Hd Integrate, Army Headquarters
'What an exceptional tour! Interesting throughout, lively, engaging and informative presentation by Frank de Planta who has remarkable expertise in this area. Good humour and an enthusiastic approach tuned to meet the needs of everyone in the party meant that we all enjoyed and learned from the tour. Many of the testimonials come from military personnel but the tour (Cassino) will appeal to those with considerable knowledge or none at all. Our group reflected this diversity of interest. I cannot recommend highly enough.'
Stephen Nokes. Rickmansworth
'Frank de Planta is a fantastic guide who expertly led our group of 34 people around Monte Cassino, down intimate alleyways and up hidden mountain paths to deliver us to sites of historical importance - as well as stunning vistas. His style was engaging, informative and witty - you will be amazed how quickly the days fly by and how much you will learn! Frank brings history alive and his local knowledge is invaluable. My group of 20-40 year olds would jump on another trip with Frank and cassinobattlefields in a heartbeat.'
Capt Laura Fisher. 27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
'With Frank de Planta as your guide, you feel like you’re there when the battle was raging. With his amazing set of maps, his intimate knowledge of the battlefield, his insights , and his vivid descriptions of what happened, it’s an immersion in history. It’s emotional, it’s maddening and it's inspiring. It’s an appreciation of the heroism and horror. I love the fact that Frank takes no prisoners in his judgments; he’s ex-military so he has superb skills in assessing the battles. I have great admiration and appreciation for his dedication to telling the stories of these men. They suffered and they were not appreciated.'
Chuck Ludlam. Washington, USA
'Monte Cassino – one of the longest and hardest battles of World War II. Frank de Planta provides the ideal in depth analysis of this titanic struggle.'
Dr Roy Bradshaw. University of Nottingham
'Thank you for your outstanding performance pertaining to the War in Italy. Carlos D'Este writes a good story but you tell a great one. I really had no idea what to expect but got a lot more than I bargained for.'
Don Christensen. Fort Mill, USA
'Frank is very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and well organised. Prior to going, I mentioned that I was particularly interested in the involvement of 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, my father's outfit, in the Fourth Battle as I have the letters he sent home. During the busy tour, Frank often referred to the movements of the battalion which gave me a greater understanding of what my father had endured and survived. This made the tour even more interesting to me. Thank you Frank.'
Veronica Lisle. Amble
'Our battlefield study at Anzio was a huge success thanks entirely to Frank de Planta and his deep subject matter expertise. Our group of 40 soldiers of all ranks learnt a huge amount in a relaxed and thoroughly engaging setting. You could not ask for a more personable, informed or flexible tour guide. We would most definitely use Cassinobattlefields again.'
Maj Mark Shapland. 4 Regiment Royal Military Police
'Cassinobattlefields, and in particular Frank de Planta, receive my unreserved recommendation. From the outset, Frank guided us through the planning phases, the pre-study and final deployment. Our group were captivated by Frank’s passion, humour and encyclopaedic knowledge of the Italian Campaign. His planning and contacts throughout Italy were exemplary and ensured that the event went off without hitch and every member of the group expressed how much they enjoyed the study. It would not have been possible to conduct the study in such detail, and with such interest, without Frank’s expertise. His combination of military and civilian experience was invaluable in delivering the best battlefield study package I have ever attended.'
WO2 (AQMS) Rob Cupples. 106 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
'I am doing research for my second novel, set in Italy and India during and after the Second World War and needed to do some military research at Monte Cassino. Frank is an inspirational tour guide who is passionate about his subject, and really knows and understands the army, military strategy and history. What I learnt exceeded my wildest expectations. His knowledge and energy is second to none and I found the trip both enjoyable and informative. He also knows about the Indian Army and added an extra trip in for me to where the regiment I was researching crossed the Rapido river. Frank also went out of his way to make sure that, as an older person, I could keep up with the rest of the group. The trip exceeded my expectations in every way and I can highly recommend Frank's tours to anyone who wants to learn more about the war in Italy.'
Umi Sinha. Eastbourne
'We have just returned from Italy after a very detailed view of what took place at Monte Cassino in early 1944. Our guide Frank did a wonderful job and our view of this campaign has completely changed following this tour. We understand our father's role and what he endured in the Royal Artillery so much better. Good value for money and we would recommend the tour to anyone.'
Janet Sargeant & Sue Shingler. Birmingham
'An experience that I shall never forget. Frank de Planta brings out the lessons brilliantly and paints a fantastic picture.'
CSgt Paul Sprayson. 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
‘It was the most interesting battlefield study I have ever been on, brought to life by a vibrant and enthusiastic narrator. Every individual who attended gave it a glowing review.’
Maj Phil Ord. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia)
'This is a tour with a difference! Frank’s knowledge of this period of history and the battles around Monte Cassino is outstanding and the setting in rural, ‘non-touristy Italy’ adds to its authenticity. His energy, enthusiasm and humour create a great atmosphere to learn, socialise and share the journey with other interested and interesting people. Rather than being simply ‘told’, you feel part of the story which develops and deepens as you visit the different sites, backed up by interesting insights into the War Graves Commission, for example, and how the military operates. I am already looking forward to continuing the journey on the next year’s Anzio Trip.'
Karen & Brian Williams. Hale
‘The best Battlefield Study I have ever been on. From the outset, Frank de Planta tailored our tour to meet all our objectives, planning the whole event with expert precision. Commencing with a Study Day that set the scene from a global and political perspective, he brilliantly illustrated the scale of the campaign. With overwhelming levels of energy, enthusiasm and passion for the Italian Campaign, Frank has an incredible ability to immerse you into every battle with such detail that you would think you were there. Whether you are in the military or a keen military historian, Frank has the depth of knowledge and military expertise to cater for you. I fully recommend this tour to anyone interested in this part of the Italian Campaign.’
SSgt Luke Jones. 5 Regiment Royal Artillery
'Our trip to Cassino with Frank is one we will never forget. His incredible knowledge and enthusiasm brought every aspect of the battles of Monte Cassino to life. Often you are stood in an unassuming field or car park, but the picture that Frank paints of what happened on the same spot 75 years ago allows you to almost hear the rumble of the tanks. Although he has done the trip 179 times, he is still full of passion and enthusiasm for what happened here in 1944. Our Father/Grandfather was at the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino as part of 8 Indian Division and Frank made a point of taking us to the exact spot he would have assisted the crossings on the night of 11 May 1944. A very emotional experience. But it’s not all serious - Frank also brings a huge sense of fun as he takes you to each of the key sites of the four battles. We were lucky enough to accompany the Queen’s Royal Hussars which also brought a unique perspective as they discussed how the battles shape their tactics today. If you want to learn more about the Italian Campaign, then there is no one better to show you the battlefields.'
James and Ron Condron. Rochford
‘Frank de Planta takes the interesting subject of Monte Cassino and makes it fascinating. His ability to put across the good and the bad, the wise and the weird are second to none. A memorable battlefield tour, great stuff.’
Lt Col Mike Stephenson. HQ 2nd Signal Brigade
‘The four Battles of Cassino are deep rooted in the history of The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry as several of our antecedent regiments fought and died there. However, to effectively explain and to help others understand the events that took place in that period of 1944 takes real expertise, something Frank de Planta is absolutely qualified to do. Frank not only delivered an enthusiastic account of events, the ground and the chronology of 1944, but he also comprehensively explained the roles of the protagonists set against the backdrop of the politics of the day. I cannot remember a more informative, enjoyable and well delivered set of briefings and have no hesitation in endorsing the services of Frank de Planta and cassinobattlefields Ltd’.
Capt Al Hume. Scottish and North Irish Horse Yeomanry
'A fantastic trip with the coach, food and accommodation organized seamlessly. Frank de Planta was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic and was always happy to cater to our specific needs. I would recommend cassinobattlefields to anybody, military or civilian, who is looking to study this fascinating battlefield from WWII’.
Capt Jon Crowley. Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment
‘From the outset, Frank had everyone’s attention with his exceptional knowledge and keenness to explain what happened. From the bigger picture to the minute detail of each stage of each battle, he had our undivided attention at all times and we heard of the suffering that the lads on the ground had to endure to achieve the General’s outlandish missions. We all had an awesome time and Frank did us proud with his flamboyant lectures and informative descriptions of the battles. Speaking as one of his former Section Commanders, I can vouch for his organisational skills and finely tuned planning: they are second to none. Anzio 2018 here we come....’
'I was deeply impressed by Frank de Planta's tour of the Salerno, Cassino and Anzio battlefields. The observation points (stands) were carefully selected to demonstrate the enormous challenges posed by the terrain of Southern Italy. Frank had impressive knowledge of both the strategic overview (big picture) of World War II and the tactical details of the battles. Frank demonstrated both excellent tour management skills and superb historical presentation abilities. You will come away from the tour appreciating why Italy proved to be such a 'hard gut' rather than the 'soft underbelly' of Europe.'
Rodney Walton. Miami, USA
'I have encountered military history tour guides of very high caliber, and by comparison Frank de Planta is among the highest. His tour, which follows the format of a military staff ride, provides insight that simply cannot arise merely out of reading history. Being able to walk the ground and see the views over which the combatants fought is an extraordinarily effective means of gaining an understanding of a battle. That Frank has an expansive understanding, not only the battle in great detail but also the entire Italian Campaign, enhances the experience immeasurably. He is happy to share his military experience and vast resources of information with tour participants of all levels of interest, from the families of soldiers who were present to the amateur historian. Frank and his team are very well practiced in conducting this holiday tour such that there is little about which one need worry when with them. I give Frank and Cassinobattlefields my highest recommendation.'
Nadir Elfarra. Pasadena, USA
'Frank de Planta has researched the campaign thoroughly and his narrative is authoritative. As a former Infantry Officer, he has an eye for the ground and the best vantage points from which to appreciate the key aspects of the battles at Cassino. He is an excellent guide.'
Maj Nick Sutherland. 3rd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment
'We both thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cassino. A major part of our enjoyment was Frank de Planta's encyclopaedic knowledge & enthusiasm for his subject. He made the four battles at Cassino, and the Anzio landing, really clear and interesting. We have come away wanting more!'
Bob and Patrick Midgley. Stockton on Tees
'Frank de Planta's tour leading/guiding is excellent. Comprehensive, spot on, always promoting attention and providing fascinating details and insights as well. It was especially interesting to me to understand the strategic perspective as well as the normal focus on immediate tactics, engagements. And all this with a great sense of humor.'
Peter Comanor. Seattle, USA
'The struggle for Monte Cassino was immense but Frank de Planta is a master at explaining in detail the four battles that took place before victory was assured. His knowledge of these battles is amazing. The whole tour was a delight; the organisation first class. A must for a return visit.'
Adrian Ashby. York
'Frank de Planta was awesome and provided not only a comprehensive study, with detailed history and modern interpretation, but also invaluable advice in getting the tour off the ground. I would highly recommend using him if you want to study Monte Cassino and Anzio.'
Maj Richard Green. 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
'The depth of knowledge and understanding that Frank de Planta has acquired is truly awesome. His mastery of the plans and the events for both Cassino and Anzio: from Rifle Companies to Army Group, is impressive. The study was executed with constant good humour, in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and paced to the needs of the client.'
Douglas and Eric Dee. Shrewsbury
'Frank de Planta provided us with all the information that we needed, starting from the landings at Anzio/Nettuno through to the battles at Cassino. He is a great guide with an indepth knowledge of these WW2 battles. I highly recommend him to anyone planning a battlefield tour in Italy. A big thumbs up.'
Kimmo Veikkolainen. Helsinki, Finland
'I had an absolutely fascinating time and, treading in my father's footsteps along Snakeshead Ridge, was a very moving experience for me. I learnt so much from Frank de Planta about the basic 'mechanics' of warfare which has vastly broadened my understanding of the factors that determined how the Italian Campaign was fought. Verdict: brilliant.'
Don Murray. Bristol
'Now that was four days well sent. Frank de Planta explains the battles of Monte Cassino with a clarity that is impressive.'
Huw Tippett. Basel, Switzerland
'What an interesting and compelling trip. Knowing little or nothing of these two costly battles of WW2 at the start, by the end I had a vivid picture in my mind. Frank de Planta's meticulous research and attention to detail provided the group with broad knowledge and thought provoking conclusions. This is not a whistle stop tour but a deep study of the ground, bringing the whole period to life.'
Ursula Smallman. Frome
'Just back from my second trip - this time following the route of 1/6 East Surreys from Rome to Rimini. I found Frank de Planta's description of this small part of the Italian Campaign as compelling as ever. Well worth the trip.'
Ursula Smallman. Frome
'We really enjoyed our four days. For me, Frank de Planta struck the right balance between intellectual curiosity and respect for those who had served - I would heartily recommend him to any descendants of those who saw action at Cassino, whatever their nationality or background. Frank de Planta has inspired me to promote the 70th Anniversary, which Kiwis need to celebrate with pride’.
Richard Swarbrick. Te Awamutu, New Zealand
'Frank de Planta is to be highly lauded, praised, recommended and cheered. His knowledge of the material and fields of battle is extensive and he has the ability to convey it in a concise, understandable and entertaining manner. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone interested in the battles of southern Italy. My only regret is that he does not do other tours too as I would be happy to have him as a guide/historian on any tour he chose to lead. Loved the tour, loved Italy'.
DW George. Orlando, USA
‘It was amazing being able to walk in my father’s footsteps where, for part of his service, he served at Monte Cassino. Frank's knowledge was exceptional, his enthusiasm infectious and he made you feel as if you were actually there at the time of the battles. Everything was well planned down to the finest detail and I would recommend this tour to experts and novices alike. There is something for everyone. We would most certainly like to go on another trip.'
Jackie Lees. Nottingham
'So I have to declare a personal interest. Frank is my brother in law, and whilst I had the incentive of visiting Cassino to follow in the footsteps of a wonderful cousin of my Father’s who fought there, the chances are that I might not have made this trip without a certain amount of ‘insider knowledge’. But I’m so grateful that I did. Frank’s knowledge of the Cassino battles, the broader Italian campaign and the global context of both are encyclopaedic, and he brings it all to life with high energy, infectious enthusiasm and great reverence for those who sacrificed so much. I cannot recommend this trip highly enough; even if you do not have a relative’s footsteps to follow as I did, this is jaw dropping stuff. Frank is also a wonderful organiser, host and companion for the experience. I found myself quite proud to be his brother in law. But he’s still not getting a Christmas present!'
Henry Chevallier Guild. Aspall
‘I got so much more than I bargained for on Frank de Planta’s hugely informative and meticulously researched Cassino battlefield tour. My father commanded the mule pack transport company that supplied the Allied troops so it was a personal journey for me to relive his experiences at Monte Cassino – Frank filled in all the gaps and devised a personalised itinerary for me to visit all the places my father operated from. This was set against the backdrop of the wider picture of the battle with an in depth analysis of the military strategies, the political context and the personal influences of the various commanders. Frank’s enthusiasm, energy and vast knowledge made it a fantastic trip on a personal and a historical level. Thanks.’
Mary Berridge. Lewes
'I thoroughly enjoyed my study visit to Monte Cassino especially Frank de Planta's clear and concise commentaries. It was especially rewarding to be able to see at first hand the difficult terrain and appreciate the challenges faced in the context of the wider context of the Italian campaign.'
David Hampson. Watford
‘Frank de Planta's tour of the Cassino battlefields was, without a doubt, my best WWII history experience. Frank combines an incredible knowledge of the terrain, personalities and situations with refreshing wit and insight. I highly recommend Frank for anyone who truly wants to understand what happened and why at this horrific battle.’
Mark Hendrickson. Tallahassee, USA
'Frank de Planta brought to life the theatre of war in a way no one else can. If anyone wants to really find out what it was like for their relative who fought or died in this campaign do not miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Travel back in time with Frank and relive the traumas of war: you won't regret it.'
Roger Sampson. Orpington
'Frank de Planta's tour was the highlight of my recent overseas trip. In 1944, my father was an Officer in 7th Battalion Cheshire Regiment and through Frank's meticulous research I was able to appreciate the part Dad and his platoon played during the Garigliano and Anzio battles, as well as his Regiment's role within the larger perspective of the Allied Italian campaign. It was very special to stand in those places where my father saw action. The hotels and the copious amounts of Italian food were top quality. Thanks for a memorable time.'
Jo Waters. Christchurch, New Zealand
'We were a group with levels of knowledge ranging from next to nothing (me) to quite expert, and Frank de Planta pitched his explanation and discussion so well that we all agreed that we had understood and learnt a huge amount from the trip. The pack that was provided was full of detail, and supplemented Frank's dialogue perfectly. Aside from the military aspect, Frank's knowledge of all things Italian was superb, we stayed in some good hotels, and enjoyed delicious food and good company.'
Jane Fisher. Swindon
'I must tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the field trips and talks you gave, the best I have had in all my battlefield trips. You were a pleasure to listen to and you know your stuff. Thanks for making the trip memorable.'
Mike Cramer. Seattle, USA
'We will relive our tour of Salerno, Cassino and Anzio for a long time. It was refreshing to be guided by someone who not only knew the battles in intimate detail but who also could, and did, candidly comment with intensity and occasional humor about the character, brilliance or lack of it, and the strategic and tactical ability of the commanders. His personal viewpoints both challenged us and brought a very human dimension to our experience.'
Abe Wolf. New Jersey, USA
'I attended the June 2012 Monte Cassino tour with my father in law who served in 2 Beds & Herts during the Fourth Battle. Frank de Planta delivered the modules of the battles with a conviction rarely found today. A man at the top of his profession and a top bloke. I thoroughly recommend this tour with this very knowledgeable gentleman.'
Alan George. Birmingham
'We have just spent a fascinating four days with Frank de Planta on a tour of the battlefields around Garigliano and Anzio. He combines his deep knowledge and obvious passion of the subject with the landscape of the region to paint a comprehensive picture in your mind of the tenacious struggle that took place in the spring of 1944. The excellent organisation and timetable of the tour meant that we gleaned maximum value from the four days, also with good food (pizzas which will be remembered for ever on our last night!) and comfortable accommodation. Thanks Frank.'
Dave and Fran Sheldon. Stoke on Trent
'20 Armoured Company have just conducted an exceptional battlefield study with cassinobattlefields. Frank de Planta’s knowledge of the four battles was first class and my soldiers were enthralled by his enthusiasm and ability to involve all members of the group. A service of remembrance for the fallen was held in the CWGC cemetery - a fitting resting place for those gone but not forgotten: forever looked over by the Monastery where so many lost their lives.'
Maj John Hanson. 3 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
'Frank de Planta conducted a thoroughly researched tour of the Allied invasion into mainland Italy during WW2. His grasp of the geography, tactics, allied differences, and enemy situation was truly commendable. His enthusiasm for the subject was obvious. He provided a 200 plus page booklet with detailed tactical maps, copies of unit journals, award write-ups, and other sorts of documentation that added to the understanding of the battles. Visits to Allied cemeteries clearly illustrated the human cost. His military background added to this participant's understandings of the latest terminology and his prior reconnaissance of the battle sites added to our understanding. His Italian language skills also aided in dealing with hotels, restaurants,and the like. Overall - a superlative tour package!!!!'
John Dewing. Bellingham, USA
'Frank de Planta was our guide for the battlefields of Salerno, Cassino and Anzio and was so knowledgeable about all of them. Whether you want an in depth description or a brief synopsis, he will oblige. Friendly, helpful and formative, that is Frank de Planta.'
Nora & Bill Jansen. Las Vegas, USA
'Having just returned from the tour to Monte Cassino, the pictures in my head are still extremely vivid. Frank de Planta’s knowledge, description and narrative brought each location to life through his amazing passion for the subject. He made clear the sacrifice, by so many, all those years ago which we must not forget. A very emotional few days. Frank's organisation and choice of accommodation was superb and the pleasant company from a mixed group was first class. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone with an interest in Cassino.'
Mark Elgie. Darlington
'This, my first ever battlefield tour, was both fascinating and overwhelming. The knowledge and passion for this incredible subject displayed by Frank de Planta made the experience highly memorable for me and was certainly much more than I anticipated. I met some great people on the brilliant tour and it was evident that they too clearly enjoyed this emotional and in depth journey.'
Stephen York. Middleton St George
‘Michael Strong, my uncle and a Trooper in the North Irish Horse, was killed trying to break through the Hitler/Senger Line near Aquino in Op CHESTERFIELD on 23 May 44. Frank undertook detailed research of the engagement and during our Monte Cassino tour, took us to the site of the battle. Frank’s research was superb and he vividly described the dire position that NIH and 1 Canadian Infantry Division found themselves in. As a consequence of Frank’s research, we also discovered that my wife’s grandfather, Lt Col GD Kinnaird of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, was involved in the same engagement – an extraordinary coincidence. The tour was both inspirational and deeply moving – my son and I found every moment fascinating. I cannot recommend the tour and Frank de Planta highly enough.’
Professor David Strong. High Wycombe
'I was looking forward to my cassinobattlefields tour. Having read the testimonials, I expected it to be a great occasion, and indeed it was. The chosen sites, and the very detailed set of briefings that Frank delivered at each stand, made the trip fascinating. He managed to paint a vivid picture of every situation and you almost felt that if you were there. It was obvious that Frank had done a very extensive research - nothing was left out. My entire group thoroughly enjoyed the tour, largely as a result of his enthusiasm for the topic. This would also make an excellent training course for young military officers.’
George Cowie BEM. Hayes
'An unforgettable tour. Hosted by the perfect guide - Frank de Planta. I cannot believe that anyone understands Cassino better, from a strategic/tactical/personal standpoint. And it was all communicated with evident enthusiasm. Now I understand the geography and scale of the place where my father and uncle both fought, and survived. What a great group of people to tour with. We were so lucky to have with us one of the surviving veterans of Cassino. Ninety-five now. His energy put us all to shame!'
Mike and Wilda Woods. London
'My unit took part in a Battlefield Study of Monte Cassino in June 2014. I can, without reservation, say that the services of Frank de Planta made our study a real success. Frank has a real passion for the subject and the ability to put complex facts and figures across in a way that is easily understood by all. As the organiser, I found his advice in the planning stages very helpful and his local knowledge was second to none. I would unreservedly recommend Frank’s services, indeed my unit have already booked for next year!'
'After Frank de Planta's Monte Cassino tour, I have been left with memories that will last a lifetime: both in terms of what happened in this area and the lovely people I was able to share the experience with. Frank bombards those on the tour with a depth of knowledge and passion which I very much doubt could be surpassed. He then soothes the group with well-chosen hotels and restaurants that must have been researched with the same meticulous detail as the battles themselves. To be part of one of Frank's tours is like a smorgasbord of emotion. You will experience and hear about sadness, laughter, disbelief, heartache and courage. Nevertheless, you will never regret it and, if you are considering going to Monte Cassino, make certain that you go with Frank de Planta.'
David Catchpole. York
'My Father and I took a tour with Frank due to a relative serving in 5th Northants who fought at Cassino. Frank has an absolute fascination with Cassino and this really shines through. The tour was four days of interesting stories and viewpoints, with an amazing historical knowledge that is second to none. Everyone in the group had an enjoyable and memorable trip. What separates Frank's tours from the norm is how he tailors each location to the people on it. We went to specific places that were important to the relatives of the people on tour. This really adds a different dimension to the trip. We both thoroughly enjoyed the tour and would definitely recommend Frank's tours to anyone considering a trip. Everything is sorted out for you: all you have to do is arrive and enjoy.'
Jim and John Gould. Pimperne
'In June 2013, 43 Offrs, NCOs and soldiers embarked on a battlefield tour of Cassino. Frank managed the large group with skill and provided a detailed description of every stage of the battle. His overview was well targeted for the breadth of the audience, with everyone benefittng from his knowledge. His knowledge of the area and his relationships with the locals allowed us to move around with ease and to make the most of the time available. Frank was instrumental in the planning of the study, due to his previous military experience and the number of prior tours which he has carried out in the area.'
Lt Jack Campbell LG. Household Cavalry Regiment
'Without Frank de Planta as our guide, we would never have appreciated the monumental struggle that took place at Cassino. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the four distinct battles is amazing and, combined with well-researched viewing locations, brought the whole terrible episode to life. If you go, be prepared for an emotional journey too, as the stories of the sacrifices made are truly heart-rending. I wept at the Carpathian monument when I read an inscription which sums up the whole campaign and really could have been written by any one of the nationalities who fought and died there: “For our freedom and yours, we soldiers of Poland gave our soul to God, our life to the soil of Italy and our hearts to Poland”. A never to be forgotten experience.'
Jeff Britten. Haverfordwest. Son of Private HA Britten (1913-95). 11 Field Ambulance RAMC 78 Infantry Division
'My wife and I became interested in the Italian Campaign after meeting American World War 2 veterans on Honor Flights to Washington DC. We were fortunate to find Frank de Planta and to join one of his tours. His description of the battles, the tactics, the objectives and the local area were surpassed only by his passion for this historical event. Everything about the tour was a memorable experience and we highly recommend it. Take this tour: you will not be disappointed.'
Charlie and Linda Gray. Hilton Head Island, USA
'Frank de Planta is an enthusiastic, helpful and eminently knowledgeable tour guide. From a military point of view, he has a thorough understanding of how the Staff Ride/Battlefield Study system works, which made my job as the OIC, a great deal easier. Secure him early in the planning process and he will be able to provide all of the practical information that may be required. With his extensive understanding of the battles, Frank is able to explain the successes and failures at every level, from the General Staff to the individual soldier and he has a masterful ability to bring the past into the present. The individual acts of bravery and selflessness leave a poignant reminder of what these men did for their countries, for each other and for a peaceful world. I would highly recommend cassinobattlefields.co.uk to any friend or colleague.'
Capt David Hicketts. 26 Engineer Regiment
'Frank de Planta's understanding of the Anzio battle is formidable and the enthusiasm with which this knowledge and understanding are imparted to everyone on the tour, is second to none. The way he describes the ferocity of fighting and the confusion, coupled with the visual impact of having the terrain in front of you, makes it easy to appreciate the whole episode in your mind's eye. With all of this combined, Frank de Planta makes it obvious as to why the decisions were made by the men on the ground and why things did not always go according to plan. In short, Frank de Planta's tour is an absolute 'must' for anyone studying the fighting at Anzio.'
Tom and Dan Jones. Stafford
'I have read many books on the Italian Campaign and whilst there are some excellent tomes out there, nothing can compare to standing on the very spot over which men fought and died. Frank's knowledge of the terrain, the units, dates and dramatis personae are second to none. Combined with a level of enthusiasm, and a voice which captures one's imagination and concentration, there really is no other way to properly study the battles of Monte Cassino. This is my second trip with Frank and it won't be my last. I highly recommend anyone who is thinking about attending to just get on and do it. You won't regret it.'
Dan Jones. Stafford
'As a civilian, it is often not readily apparent how the ground of a battlefield could or should be used. Frank's training and former career as an infantry officer, combine with a charismatic and easily delivered narrative, to let you see the ground the way it would have been viewed through the eyes of a 1944 Infantryman or of a 1944 General. This gives a much easier and more empathetic understanding of why the battles were fought the way they were. Having previously done a tour of Anzio with Frank in 2013, I must say that this Cassino tour was a great follow up to that and I would implore others to do both tours, in that order. I'm looking forward to the next one.'
Tom Jones. Widnes
'I became interested in Anzio upon realising that my Grandfather fought there with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. Frank took us to all the places where he would have been. Of particular interest was Smelly Farm where my Grandfather would have taken part in the 29-30 Jan 44 night attack. Frank has an amazing understanding of the battles and this is what made it all the more enjoyable. He painted a brilliant picture of what it must have been like. He helped my mother and I to understand what my Grandfather would have gone through and what his Battalion and others did - what a tough campaign! It was a fantastic battlefield tour and it has given me a bigger thirst for learning more about World War Two. Not only that, it offered closure for my mother and was a lovely memorial trip. Thank you Frank!'
Chloe and Anne Nodwell. Bournemouth
'65 Fd Sp Sqn RE conducted an exceptional Battlefield Study of Monte Cassino on 2-6 Apr 14. Frank de Planta showed great passion for the subject and was a font of knowledge as he took us through the incredible and thought provoking set of events at Monte Cassino. He managed our large group with ease and targeted his narration well to the rank range of the audience. His military background and vast understanding of the Italian Campaign was clearly evident and this made for a very memorable event – the feedback to me from the Officers and Other Ranks was very positive. Frank was extremely helpful in the planning stages, with a clear understanding of the Battlefield Study AGAI, which made my job as OIC a great deal simpler. I highly recommend www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk to any unit or sub-unit considering an in depth analysis of this part of the campaign in Italy.'
WO2 (MPF) Chet Thapa. 28 Engineer Regiment
'I took fifteen individuals, who are currently serving with 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, on the Cassino tour in April 2014. This was the sixth battlefield tour that I have been on and without a doubt the best yet! Frank de Planta really brought the campaign to life and his level of knowledge on the subject is deeply impressive. All who attended thoroughly enjoyed the tour and felt that they had truly gained something from it. I would recommend using this company to anyone thinking of running a battlefield study to Italy.'
Capt Warren Allison. 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment
'Unforgettable, moving, educational, humbling, impressive and more. Great trip, we loved it. Thank you.'
Kim and Tom Andrew. Stockton on Tees
'A fascinating, informative tour by Frank de Planta, a passionate and very knowledgeable guide, who goes beyond the norm, to put you in there with those who were there at the time. His description of the ground and the conditions at the time, can only make you think, just what were they doing! He also highlights the excellence and inadequacies of the commanders, which now gives me a new meaning of the quote, "Lions Lead by Donkeys". Frank also fitted time into his programme to allow us to be on site at 0500 on 13th May 14 for the 70th anniversary of the opening of "Amazon Bridge", which led to the breakout and the subsequent taking of Monte Cassino. A tour thoroughly well worth doing, and in the words of Gen MacArthur: 'I shall return'.'
Mike O'Reilly. Ripon
'I don’t think that I had fully understood my father, Tommy Riordan’s contribution to the completion of the Amazon Bridge over the Rapido (Gari) until your enlightening battlefield tour guided us through the four battles for Cassino and the huge loss of life. To actually be present at the bridge crossing site exactly for the completion 70 years later was very realistic. Frank, you have a passion for bringing these tours to life for the participants and long may it continue.'
John Riordan. Turkey
'I cannot recommend Frank de Planta and cassinobattlefields highly enough. From the moment that we met at Rome Fiumicino, my party was made to feel most welcome, and everyone got on really well. The hotels used were just right for our needs and the staff were most helpful and there was no language barrier as all the staff spoke good English. The days were full on and busy but they passed quickly as Frank spoke so knowledgeably and eloquently. As he passed on his wealth of facts and figures of the Monte Cassino campaign, that you felt yourself propelled back to that time. He was also able to pass on specific knowledge that was relevant to his audience and their military backgrounds. I would recommend cassinobattlefields to anyone who is thinking of making this moving, yet informative journey.'
SSgt Neil McNulty. 225 Field Squadron Royal Engineers
'We have just returned from the tour for the 70th Anniversary of the Amazon Bridge over the River Rapido. It was really well organised, and Frank's enthusiasm and his attention to detail made the days really interesting. They passed really quickly. I will definitely book another of his tours: hopefully before the 75th Anniversary!'
Peter and Rob Hobson. Ledbury
'Many thanks for an amazing trip! Thanks for organising it so well and for bringing the whole campaign to life for us. It was great to listen to all your opinions and your wealth of knowledge was hugely impressive. Nice group of people too. The evening visit to the place where Grandpa Freddie crossed the river as CO 1 A&SH was very special. All in all, a brilliant experience.'
William Graham. Leicester
'Having held a longstanding ambition to visit the Cassino battlefields, we hugely enjoyed our tour with Frank de Planta. His detailed knowledge and evident enthusiasm for his subject was infectious, and his willingness to go out of his way to accommodate the particular requirements of those members of our group with personal family connections to Cassino was very impressive, and above and beyond the call of duty. We were also very fortunate to share in some of those stories, which provided a very human element to set against the wider military tactical and strategic picture. We met some very interesting people and the group dynamic was excellent - hopefully before too long we'll be able to join Frank on another very enjoyable tour.'
David Houlker & Tony Almond. Potters Bar
'We certainly enjoyed your guided tour of Monte Cassino and we both gained so much from your vast knowledge of the history there. It was definitely worth the wait from booking last year to the actual event. Thank you so much. It was a very interesting mix of people on the tour too and I am sure each of us will remember those few days fondly for a very long time.'
Bob and Marion Mitchell. Formby
‘In May 14, we were in Cassino with my mother in law so that she could to visit her brother’s grave in CWGC cemetery. He had served in 2 Beds & Herts and was killed in the Fourth Battle. Whilst in the town, we joined Frank de Planta’s battlefield tour and have no hesitation in recommending it for those looking for an in depth assessment of the conflict. Frank was a great guide, full of knowledge and enthusiasm, and although the tour timetable was disrupted by the visit of HRH Prince Harry, Frank was able to quickly rearrange the timings so that we did not miss anything. If you are going to Monte Cassino, make sure that you go on Frank de Planta’s battlefield tour: you will not be disappointed.’
Paul Bodsworth. Dunstable
‘Many visitors to Monte Cassino in the past, and on this site, have testified to Frank de Planta's ability to help them appreciate this most interesting aspect of the Italian Campaign. I can vouch that Frank has very good historical knowledge, military understanding, and the ability to explain exactly what happened. I recommend that you join a tour. Then, stand back and enjoy his excellent descriptions and explanations. My own interest in the Cassino story stems from my father having served in Italy at the time and, thanks to Frank, I came away with a much clearer appreciation of what he endured.’
Cliff Williams. Palmers Green
'It was great to meet you in Cassino and I want to thank you for all you did to make it memorable for my family with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the battles. The wreath laying at the Amazon bridge site was brilliant but it was made even better by your insights into exactly what happened and where.'
Ron Gilleard. London
'I joined Frank de Planta's trip to visit Cassino in May this year. It was a most interesting and enjoyable few days, spent with a very nice group of people. We visited so many relevant places that were explained with great insight. I had been worried that it might be a little "heavy going": how wrong I was! It was absolutely fascinating, from start to finish. The highlight has to be the dawn visit to the site of the Amazon Bridge for the 70th anniversary of my father's participation. If I had travelled to Cassino independently, I would have missed so much. Thank you.'
Elizabeth Oliver. Chester
‘After learning that 7 Fd Sqn RE, my old unit, had played a big part in the Italian Campaign, I, along with a couple of old mates from the 60s, decided to join Frank de Planta’s battlefield study to Monte Cassino. I am really glad that I did. Frank was both informative and entertaining without weighing us down with statistics and, just being there and seeing the terrain, made me appreciate what the men had to cope with. A very interesting experience and I will be going back for the 75th anniversary in 2019.’
Christopher Ellis. Horbury
'Frank de Planta is that rare find, possessing an elusive mix of enthusiasm and knowledge that places him on the highest rung of battlefield guides. His years of study and his familiarity with the ground have enabled him to impart a deep understanding of the complexities of the four battles that make up the hard-fought tragedy that was Monte Cassino. Drawing on his own background as a former regular infantry officer, he manages to capture the full sweep of the battlefield; from the personal rivalries, errors and occasional brilliance of the commanders to the plight of Johnny Gurkha clinging to a bullet-swept hillside. He offers an exceptional experience - a unique blend of fact and pathos that I would have no hesitation in recommending.'
Miles Godbold. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
'Frank’s de Planta's vast knowledge of the Italian campaigns is a well acknowledged theme throughout these testimonials. Following a recent Battlefield Study to Cassino and Anzio with him, I unreservedly endorse his outstanding subject matter expertise. Moreover, Frank knows how to tailor and pitch his delivery around his audience, enthusing them to want to learn more. As the organiser of a Battlefield Study for 44 serving British Army personnel, I draw particular attention to the proactive assistance and advice Frank offered throughout the planning process. He helped me from the outset, from securing clearance from the Army Chain of Command, to booking and funding accommodation and transport, all the way through to deployment on a highly successful five day Battlefield Study to Italy. Frank understands the complex and convoluted rules and regulations that bind Army Battlefield Study planning. Frank’s assistance above and beyond that required of a guide on the battlefields made my task of organising a Battlefield Study a pleasurable rather than stressful process.'
Capt Andrew Heckles. 16 Regiment Royal Artillery
'Frank de Planta says that he only does his tours of the Cassino battlefields as a hobby but, when it comes to organising, leading and explaining the events on the ground, he is a consummate professional. Whether it be in arranging accommodation, surface transport or preparing a comprehensive pre-tour briefing dossier, everything is taken care of: down to the last detail. But Frank is not only a superb organiser, he presents the phases of the campaign and the problems facing the commanders with in-depth knowledge, passion and humour that keep one riveted throughout. I would recommend his tour to anyone, whether they have some knowledge of military strategy, tactics and organisation, or none!'
Colin Graham. Doune by Stirling
'In three days, Frank de Planta managed to describe the four battles at Cassino with such clarity and energy that your attention and interest was held at all times. The locations visited allowed him to zoom in on the detail of small areas of the conflict and the experiences of those involved whilst never losing sight of the bigger picture. There was also time allowed to reflect, to discuss and to ask questions. The perfect battlefield tour.'
Andrew C Stadden. Rustington
'The 70th Anniversary was a personal journey for my family as my father was killed at Cassino serving in 26 NZ Inf Bn and his grave is in the CWGC cemetery. Frank’s indepth knowledge of all four battles was very much appreciated, we were able to envisage just what it must have been like and it confirmed to us that indeed huge mistakes were made. I would highly recommend Frank’s study trip to anyone wishing to know more of the battles and also to walk the actual sites.’
Jan Blake. Thames, New Zealand
'What a fantastic trip. The professionalism and expertise shown by Frank de Planta was second to none. His ability to project the information at the correct level was brilliant! Being there for the Amazon Bridge anniversary was very moving and being able to speak to relatives of that event was amazing. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Italian Campaign.'
Kev Wheeler & Wayne Geraghty. Southend on Sea
‘This tour was beyond all my expectations. If you want to do a battlefield tour of the Second World sites in Southern Italy that strikes exactly the right balance between cemetery visits, museum visits and extensive time on key battlefield sites, then this is the one for you. Frank de Planta clearly demonstrated that he had the ability to cater to the information needs of a diverse group and he achieved what I have always said is needed to understand a battle - you have to visit the area and walk the ground. I strongly recommend a tour with Frank de Planta: you will not be disappointed.’
Peter Nolan. Mount Isa, Queensland. Australia
Capt David Hayles. 5 Regiment Army Air Corps
'I have been on several military history tours, most recently Frank de Planta’s Valor Tour of the battlegrounds of southern Italy. By far and away, I found Frank to be the best military tour guide I’ve encountered. He takes one to the actual battlefields, and colorfully points out the tactical dilemmas and experiences of the men who fought there. But crucially, he also explains the larger picture - the strategies of the generals and politicians, their thinking, their motives, their mistakes - all necessary for one to understand fully the history of what one is seeing.'
Dr Jack Stauder. Professor of Cultural Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA
‘In July 2014, a mix of Regular and Reserve Officers, Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers from 159 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, conducted a study of the four battles for Cassino. The assistance provided by Frank de Planta in the planning stages was vital to a smooth deployment from the UK. The study was superb: a great blend of balanced historical context and military tactical awareness. Frank brought the battles to life and prompted intelligent debate in the audience, whose aim was to learn lessons from the past in order to apply in today's contemporary setting. We have already begun planning a visit next year to study either Anzio or Salerno under Frank's careful guidance. An unequivocal success and I would unreservedly recommend his service to anyone serious about military history.’
Capt Neil Statham. 159 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps
'Frank does a superb job leading military history groups through the complex campaign fought by the allies in Southern Italy. From Salerno to Anzio to Rome, Frank weaves elements of terrain, combatants, and very suspect leadership, into a detailed and fascinating analysis of the Italian campaign. He combines military expertise, superb preparation, and well-designed materials to provide a truly memorable experience for the historical traveller.'
'Frank de Planta runs a great battlefields tour, appropriate for both military historians or active military personnel. His background as a Lt Col of Infantry is quite relevant to any study of the Italian Campaign which, with its amphibious landings, mountain terrain, river crossings and coordination of different armies, presented a wide variety of challenges to the Allies in World War II.'
Charlie Carrigan. Manassas, USA
Lee Sanborn. Grosse Pointe, USA
'Frank de Planta is no dry historian. He tells living stories with details of the people and events that not only brings them to life, and make one feel that one is reliving the event, but he does so with the humor, fear, anger, hate, and vengeance that the soldiers felt. I personally have never heard better – and I have done a lot of battlefield tours around the world.'
Bob Desourdis. Fairfax, USA
'Enlightening, entertaining, masterful in describing and analyzing the complexities of the Salerno to Rome campaign. Total enjoyment. If only I could find a Frank de Planta to follow every European campaign.'
Phil Waldron. Merced, USA
‘As a military organisation wanting to research our predecessors and to learn of the conditions and experiences that they had to endure, Frank explained and highlighted this perfectly. From start to finish, our study was memorable, well executed and thoroughly enjoyable. Frank is just the person that you need as a military guide and the manner in which he delivers his briefings will make your trip that extra bit special for the whole group.’
SSgt Andrew Milton. 37 Signal Regiment
'Frank de Planta was a superb guide and his knowledge is extensive. He has a comprehensive grasp of this part of the Italian Campaign and is able to explain all the interwoven complexities with ease to all ranks. As a former Army Officer, his understanding of how the Army works was an enormous help in setting up, and then delivering, the battlefield study. I am most grateful for his guidance.'
SSgt Pete Janusz. 75 Engineer Regiment
'What a wonderful time we had thanks to Frank de Planta's enormous energy and passion for explaining exactly what went on in this theatre of war. We would, without hesitation, recommend this tour to anyone wishing to know more. It is done with a touch of humour that brings the point home whilst not undermining the enormity of the task nor the sacrifices made.'
Kevin & Liz Fordham. Stoneham Aspal
'I am not sure what I was expecting when I booked for a battlefield tour: perhaps something pretty dry but informative. What I got was a brilliant few days with a well-informed and enthusiastic guide who went out of his way to meet the needs and answer the questions of all members of the group. On occasion, we diverted from the script in order to search for places of particular interest to an individual with a personal connection to some aspect of the battle site. This was much appreciated. Everything was delivered with a great sense of humour, and Frank worked really hard to make the whole experience enjoyable, backed up by an excellent printed pack of maps and diagrams. He clearly loves his job, and his energy and enthusiasm is quite infectious.'
Helen Conrad. Ruthin
'Our Cassino battlefield tour, with Frank de Planta as our guide, was absolutely brilliant. He planned the whole trip exceedingly well, his information was well researched and informative, a true expert. Frank's enthusiasm and knowledge of the battle brought the whole conflict to life, and he covered all aspects of the battles of Cassino over the time we were there. We would definitely recommend Frank's tour of Cassino to anyone who wishes to experience a true battlefield tour.'
Moira & Barry Pomeroy. Stockport
'This was quite simply the best battlefield tour I have ever been on. Frank's commentaries and insights combine unparalleled knowledge of the background and the terrain in a style delivered with respect, gravitas and good humour that will appeal to the amateur historian, curious observer or hardened veteran. A recommended "must see" item for anyone remotely interested in the unglamorous Italian Campaign with all its heroes and villains and final Pyrrhic victor.'
William Maciver. Shoreham by Sea
'I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. I am not a military buff and I simply wanted to visit my Uncle Lt George Wright’s war grave and put his service into context in the actual theatre of war. I am now connected with so much more than that and am full admiration for Uncle George. A real journey of discovery.'
Victor Wright. High Peak
'As soon as I had spoken to Frank de Planta on the telephone prior to booking, I knew I had chosen the right man. Everything that was promised and more was delivered. The way Frank gets the information across is done so well that everyone leaves the tour fully aware the incredible story. He has a genuine passion for his subject and it really shows. If you are planning a trip to Monte Cassino then look no further: Frank de Planta is the man. A great experience all round.'
Jason Shuffe. Bicester
'Frank de Planta's Monte Cassino tour clearly illustrates how determined German paratroopers, with Wehrmacht support, perfect terrain for defence and the vaguries of the Italian climate, were able to turn the so called 'soft underbelly of Europe' into something reminiscent of the Allied strategy and manpower losses of the Great War 1914-18. A fantastic experience for me.'
'Frank de Planta led 201 Sig Sqn on a fascinating and intricate journey through the battlefields of Monte Cassino, Anzio and Rimini. His initial help in the planning process was invaluable and his many years of military experience allowed him to assist at every step of the way. Once on the ground, his avid passion for the history and his emotive delivery of the detail allowed everyone, from the most junior signaller to the most senior officer, to thoroughly engage with the topic. The whole group was captured by his enthusiasm and all participants were left with not just a comprehensive understanding of the Italian Campaign, but a passionate opinion on the events that happened there. I recommend Frank to any military unit organising a battlefield study and hope to work with him again.'
Lt Lindsey Hurst. 1 Signal Regiment
'Frank de Planta has an excellent, scholarly knowledge of the tactical and logistical considerations that shaped the battlefield at Anzio. We were very appreciative of the clear explanations given to us in regard to the distribution of troops as Allied operations in the beachhead developed, this particular aspect being especially of interest to us for personal reasons. We thoroughly recommend Frank de Planta as a battlefield guide. Moreover, on a personal level, he is attentive and well organised; qualities that are essential to a successful and fulfilling visit to the scenes in which so much important military history was made.'
David Jenkins. Caen, France
Frances & Roger Sparkes. Waringstown
‘All participants were very much looking forward to what would be an enjoyable and educational battlefield study. We were not disappointed. Frank de Planta our guide set the scene on the first day and proceeded to provide a fascinating insight into the strategic and operational level shanningans that led to a series of blunders on the Allies part. Frank surpassed all of our expectations with his knowledge and love for the subject, thoroughly enriching our understanding and appreciation of just how hard life was during this campaign. The stands, and content of the packs that he supplied provided the audience with the granularity required to bring the event to life, whilst the hospitality of the venues chosen and extra yard in personalising the event made for a fantastic and memorable experience. Many thanks from all ranks. We recommend you to other Regiments thinking about studying Cassino.’
Maj Dom Staveley. 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards
'Frank made the entire trip thoroughly enjoyable and highly educational, largely because it was clear to all from the very start that he was passionate and very knowledgeable about this part of the Italian Campaign. The group got along with him very well and it was a short time before Frank’s sense of humour came out, which fitted in well with the participants. Thank you from all 15 of us.'
Sgt Mark Frank. Defence College of Policing and Guarding
'Frank certainly knows his stuff when it comes to the battles of Salerno, Cassino and Anzio and, as a result, he is a great guide. The banter was brilliant and made the whole trip very enjoyable.'
Ian Walton and the Betley Chums. Betley
'Frank’s expansive knowledge, and boundless enthusiasm for the subject combined with a great sense of humour made the tour both extremely enjoyable and informative. I am enormously grateful to him for helping to make the organisation of the trip so manageable by pulling together his tried and tested network of contacts to make sure we were really looked after every step of the way.'
Lt Henry Painter. 16 Signal Regiment
‘I cannot thank Frank de Planta enough for the support and guidance he has given me throughout the initial planning stages and then during the study itself. He is simply excellent at administrating and delivering a first class, gold plated package. My group of 30 individuals were totally captivated with his depth of knowledge, relentless enthusiasm and cracking sense of humour – although some of his jokes need more work to improve them. Simply the best tour I have ever attended and I would highly recommend it.’
Capt Mark McMullan. 14 Signal Regiment
‘I simply cannot recommend Frank de Planta enough to anybody considering a Battlefield Study to Monte Cassino. His knowledge of the events leading up to, during and after the battles is second to none, and delivered with confidence, intellect and style. As the organiser, this left me to simply enjoy the week in the assurance that I was in safe hands! For the military planners amongst us – I was guided and assisted by Frank with all the ‘Application in Principle/Detail’ documentation, in addition to all the fine-tuning of the itinerary and associated admin. What a difference that made! The study day we enjoyed prior to the actual week in Italy was superb and all attendees were, not only impressed with the content of the day (and study packs) but were all suitably interested and enthused by Frank for the forthcoming battlefield study. For any civilian or military folk considering a battlefield study to Monte Cassino, I can confidently recommend Frank as a fantastic guide who will pull out all the stops for you and deliver a great study.’
Stuart Avery. Darwen
Capt Dougie Icke. 21 Signal Regiment
'Every minute of Frank’s guided study of the battlefields around Monte Cassino was more enthralling than the last. The Allied landings in Italy and advance on Rome present some of the most awe-inspiring military feats, on both sides of the war, from individual up to Corps level. At every turn, Frank enthusiastically brings the events to life with contemporary doctrinal context and analysis that he readily related to a mix of ranks from Corporal up to Lieutenant Colonel. I cannot imagine a better guide.'
Capt Andy Brown. Joint Ground Based Air Defence Workshops
‘I have been researching the doings of my Granddad in WW2 for the last three and half years. I was fortunate to join Frank’s Garigliano & Anzio battlefield study in Feb 16 and this opened my eyes to what my grandfather endured. Frank is a most affable chap with a wicked sense of humour whose narration I took great delight in watching and listening to. For what I paid for the tour, it would of cost a lot more to do it myself. Thank you Frank for a memorable experience. You made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end when you explained the role that my Granddad’s Regiment – 2/7 Middlesex, played at Anzio. A pleasant surprise.’
'Four very full days filled with facts, some rather grim but dealt with tact and sensitivity for those whose relatives had been involved. The fun and amusing anecdotes delivered by Frank made our visit to commemorate the fallen and those who served, superb.'
Diana Lewis. Lavenham
‘I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Monte Cassino with Frank. We were a group of 9 who have been visiting battlefield sites around Europe for the past 16 years, some with tour guides, others not. This was by far the best organised and interesting one yet. All we had to do was fly to and from Rome, the rest was sorted. Hotels, airport transfers, transport to and from sites and, most importantly, first class battle information. Frank said he does these trips because he loves it and not for the money - yea heard that before I thought. Well for under £300 per person sharing a room, I now know he meant it - what incredible value for money. Keep it up Frank and hopefully will see you next year on your Anzio trip.’
Bruce Davidson. Stowmarket
‘The battlefield study to Cassino in May 16 is the proudest thing I have ever done for my late father. Frank's knowledge, background and extraordinary personal research into our military memorabilia enabled me to walk the ground where Captain Wilfrid Henry Potter, 3/8 Punjabis, 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, 8th Indian Infantry Division, Eighth Army, saw action in the Fourth Battle. Will (grandson) and I placed poppies on the graves of every man in the battalion who did not survive the battle. I made the trip for Dad and have no doubt that those men with whom he served were in his mind every day, more so as he enjoyed retirement and the company of another generation.’
Sue, Bob & Will Hughes. Southampton
'Frank de Planta's tour of Cassino battlefield is simply superb. His encyclopaedic knowledge of Allied and German strategies, operations and tactics is imparted in an enthusiastic manner that vividly re-creates in one's mind various horrific battle actions that occurred where one is standing. Thank you, Frank.'
Charlie & Lou Haecker. Cerrillos, USA
'Frank de Planta's Cassino tour was well organized and executed. Frank shared his expertise and enthusiasm with us in explaining the battles at Cassino and I now have a much better understanding of what my father experienced while fighting there. Thanks for a great trip.'
Cindy Cochran. Denton, USA
'The tour was absolutely super-dooper. I’ve run out of superlatives so I’ve – sort of – made one up. Great to have with us a 97 years old veteran who was involved in getting a Bailey Bridge across the Rapido River and who came across himself sitting on the back of a tank. All power to your elbow.'
Derek Batten. Towcester
'Four days of a varied and constantly entertaining and enlightening tour of Monte Cassino has given me a renewed interest in the intricacies of World War II and the people behind it. There is no better way to get this enthusiasm than under the beating sun in a beautiful location in Italy that has more history than one could ever imagine and explained to you by a personable and engaging tour leader. Cheers Frank!'
Robert Davidson. Brussels, Belgium
'If you are looking for a battlefield tour full of passion and enthusiasm, Frank's Monte Cassino could be the one for you! The maelstrom that was the Cassino battlefield is expertly explained by Frank, such that you can vividly imagine the described events unfolding before your eyes. I suggest that you sign up for one of his battlefield tours at the double!'
Gareth Davis. Zurich, Switzerland
‘It has been a lifetime's ambition to walk in my father's RAMC's footsteps at Battle of Monte Camino and at the Garigliano crossing. No praise is too high for the professional skill, amazing knowledge and delivery of that which Frank displayed. The clearest insights into the significance of the breath taking scenery, strategy, tactics, the character of the Armies, their commanders and men of all sides were described with a rare passion, dignity and humanity but certainly not forgetting humour. Frank's attentive care for the group was always apparent and his personal thought for me was so much appreciated on what was a most moving pilgrimage. I finally stood on Camino some 73 years after my father thanks entirely to Frank without whom I would have not seen a fraction and would have known so little. I wholeheartedly recommend Frank and his tours. What an insight into the merits, courage and values of our Army.’
Stephen Smith. Ashbourne'I have done a great deal of research into the details of my father's movements between 18 Jan-4 Feb 44. The great value to me of Frank's tour was to see the big picture. What the plans were, where they went wrong, how they were executed together with how an attack should be conducted. I learnt a great deal for which I am most grateful. At times an emotional experience, at times an enlightening experience but always with a charming group of people. Well done! With sincere thanks for a great tour.'
'Frank is the best guide. I've done multiple tours and Frank exceeds them all.'
Dan Hamill. Dowagiac, USA
'Frank was instrumental to our battlefield study being so successful. From the outset, his hard work, eye for detail and willingness to help was second-to-none and he ensured that every 'i' was dotted and every 't'' crossed. What Frank does not know about the battles of Monte Cassino, and the Italian campaign as a whole is probably not worth knowing. Whether as a civilian or as part of the military, using Frank as a tour guide is a great way to get the very best from a battlefield study to Cassino.'
Lt Tom Lawson. 47 Regiment Royal Artillery
'Frank organised a superb Battlefield Study for 5 Regiment Army Air Corps. It was a highly insightful look at the Allied advance through the Anzio area which was really brought to life by Frank's energy, knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject.'
Capt Jon Bowles. 5 Regiment Army Air Corps
'Read all the books on Monte Cassino you like: but if you want to truly understand this battle you have to go there with Frank de Planta. Over four days, Frank brings to life the tactics, strategy and moving stories of the four battles. My wife - who has no interest in anything military - came home spellbound. There is no better, no more entertaining, and no more insightful guide than Frank de Planta.'
Steve Deput. Richmond
'Frank de Planta's thoroughly researched study is complemented by his presentation style - serious as befits the subject, but lightened by plenty of anecdotes. An excellent guided tour of Garigliano and Anzio, and made especially personal for those with a particular interest.'
Nigel Clark. Wakefield
John Strafford. Beaconsfield
'Thank you for a most memorable tour of Cassino. It was well organised and well run: unlike aspects of the battle itself. It was always informative and entertaining, also at times, poignant and moving.'
Mike Payne. Pinner
'This tour has something for everyone. From the macro level of why, when and how, to the who did what as the battle evolved. If it is just a fascination with history or a family connection to the battles, Frank uses his own experience and detailed research to bring the whole picture of the battles to life. Simply unforgettable.'
Martin Helmore. Gillingham
The tour was a fascinating and moving experience. Frank’s accounts, delivered with incredible knowledge at key locations on the battlefield, gave a detailed insight into the sheer scale of the problem that the Allies faced in breaking the German lines. Perfectly pitched at the audience, and always willing to answer questions from those without a military background, I couldn’t recommend a tour like this more highly.
Graham Hutt. Warrington
Photo: Three generations of Sterlings at the 6 GREN GDS Memorial on Camino Ridge in September 2017. Mike Sterling
Photo: Aerial view of the CWGC cemetery at Cassino in February 2018. Lee Oxenham.