History at Your Fingertips; New App Will Give Tours of Battlefields

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Butcher

NORTH East entrepreneur Mark Jackson is putting the Battle of the Somme in people's pockets.

The engineer and Territorial Army (TA) soldier has launched the world's first battlefield tour app.

He was inspired to come up with the digital guide after visiting the battlefield with a group of TA trainees.

Pocket Tours aims to bring history to life, allowing users to view photographs, hear original sound clips and see film footage of some of the world's most famous battles.

The application - for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch - also includes commentary from world-renowned historians on what happened, who was involved and how history was shaped.

Father-of-one Mark, who lives in Rowland's Gill, Gateshead, says the Battle of the Somme app will allow users to explore famous sites from the comfort of their own armchair.

But if you happen to be visiting, the app will also give you a GPS guided tour of where key historic events actually took place.

"Imagine walking over the ground that shaped history alongside an expert who can explain the events as they unfolded," said Mark, who has been in the TA for over 26 years.

"The GPS feature guides you from point to point using the knowledge of the historians to make sure you see things from the best vantage points.

"This makes a tour of the battlefields accessible to anyone, anywhere at any time."

Mark, 45, formerly worked for Knowledge House at Northumbria University and is the chair of the North East Institution of Mechanical Engineers, so he's no technology caveman.

But he's new to history and says his passion for the past has been sparked by seeing events brought to life.

"I have never been interested in reading history books, but going to these places and seeing how close these guys were to each other, that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up," he said. …