Meet Randy Gaulke
I am the founder and driving force behind Knee Deep Into History Battlefield Tours. This concept represents the natural extension of my four+ decades as a student of military history and battlefield tours.
I have been studying 20th century military history, in one form or another, most of my life. It started with military strategy games during my teens and grew to include more than thirty years of battlefield touring and reenacting. A few highlights: In 1986 I took my first battlefield tour with Lt. Col. Graham Parker, OBE, of Flanders Tours, and in 1994 I began my preoccupation with the Meuse-Argonne by participating in a work weekend with the German association, Deutsches Erinnerungskommittee Argonnerwald.
During the Centennial of American involvement in WW1 I took my passion to the next level: In early 2017 I quit my job as a financial analyst in order to work and live in France as a freelance tour guide. For eight months during 2017-18 I led seventy-five days of individual and small-group tours for a wide range of clients. Most of the tours focused on the American battlefields of WW1. This included a six-day Small Group Tour of the Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel battlefields offered jointly with German historian, Markus Klauer, and a four-day Lost Battalion / I Corps Small Group Tour offered jointly with Robert J. Laplander.
My knowledge of the WW2 battlefields has grown over the last decade too; thanks to my son’s strong interest in this period. Numerous family “research” vacations since 2008 have included Normandy, Bastogne, lesser known areas of the Western Front, Berlin and Thuringia. One unique tour in June 2019 involved a commemoration ceremony and a visit to the crash site where my wife’s uncle, 1 st Lt. Laurence R. MacDonnell, a P-47 pilot, was shot down near Mortain, France on 9 August 1944.
I am fluent in German and am proficient in French. I have lived in Europe for more than two years, including a ten-month study at the Universität Hamburg in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar and eight months in France. As a result of these experiences, I can travel easily between cultures, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and connections with others.
There are other attributes required to be an effective tour operator: An understanding of logistics, flexibility and the ability to react wisely when something goes wrong, and the ability to deal with a wide range of personalities. My twenty-eight years work experience as a financial analyst, leadership roles in several historical organizations, including President of the World War One Historical Association, and my life abroad has helped refine these skills.
I especially encourage you to read the testimonials published elsewhere on this website.
My full CV can be found here.
Meet Markus Klauer
German historian Markus Klauer is a well-known and well-respected tour guide. Markus has been a passionate student of WW1 for several decades. He has guided countless German, French and American groups. He has also written five books in German and his website can be viewed here. He retired from the Bundeswehr in early 2018, where his military career included five years in an armored division. With his new-found free time Markus has been expanding his battlefield research to the battlefields of WW2, including the Ardennes, Sedan 1940, Normandy and the Seelow Heights near Berlin. Markus lives in Lille, France. He speaks German, French and English fluently.
Markus and Randy: A Strong Partnership
To be clear, Markus and I will be jointly leading the three tours scheduled in 2021, and we hope to continue this partnership into the future; adding an “international” aspect to the tours.
Markus and I first met in 1994, and we have enjoyed a wonderful friendship since then. We both share a deep love of historical research and a desire to get clients into the field. We also both understand the “other side” and both strive to present a balanced view of the combat.
In 2014 we jointly published articles on the German side of the Meuse-Argonne in “A Companion to the Meuse-Argonne Campaign” edited by Edward G. Lengel. (Wiley, 2014.)
In 2018 we offered a joint six-day tour of the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne battlefields that was very well received.
Meet Graham Gaulke
Graham Gaulke is an up-and-coming tour guide. His first trip to Europe was with Dad when he was eight years old. Since then, he has built a substantial knowledge and contact base. Graham is currently twenty years old and he is studying international business at Webster University’s campus in Leiden, the Netherlands. When not studying, he is busy researching and exploring WW2 battlefields. Already at this young age he has shown friends and fellow reenactors the battlefields. His father has learned to trust the depth of Graham’s research and preparation.