The Build-Up & Invasion Tour,
D Day 6 June 1944
|On 6 June 1944, a fifty mile stretch of Normandy beach was the scene of the operation that would eventually lead to the liberation of Europe.
Our Tour begins, with the build up - the amassing of 3 million men and equipment - in preparation for the invasion. We will follow the US 1st Division (The Big Red One) and the 29th Division (Blue and Gray) from their training areas and camps in Southern England to the beach, code named 'Omaha'
Commencing our tour in London, we will see many of the sites that these young men saw and how the city suffered under intense bombing, but which continued to offer so much to these men so far from home. Much of the county of Dorset was taken over for training, we can experience through visiting museums and towns gain valuable knowledge of what life was like before the 6 June.
Boarding a ferry for an overnight crossing to France, our Landing will be unopposed, for many at Omaha it was their last morning. We will not only visit the American beaches but also the Canadian & British beaches and the landing zones of the 3 airborne divisions. Heavy fighting and strong German resistance was met before finally forcing their way out of the beaches onto the open plains.
The way to Paris was open.
We will end our tour with 2 nights in the French capital.
Overnight from North America to London.
Arrive London to be met by your director. On our drive into Central London we will visit Hampton Court (one of Henry V111's palaces) and see where General Eisenhower's headquarters were located prior to the invasion. Arriving at our hotel , you have an option for a late afternoon drive to see the magnificent historic sites of old London or you can just relax and enjoy the area close to your hotel, Covent Garden. Rest and Relaxation (R & R) for many soldiers during World War 2, was seeing the same sites that you will experience this afternoon. The city suffered intense bombing, yet continued to offer so much to men so far from home. Welcome Reception (overview of tour).
This morning we will drive to the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, to understand the valuable contribution made by the Allied Air Forces before, during and after the invasion. After lunch it will be the Army's turn when we visit the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
Second night in London.
We depart London this morning via Runnymede (where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215) and stop briefly in Windsor, the spectacular castle home of Queen Elizabeth, Arriving at Aldershot (the home of the British Army) we will have an opportunity to visit the Parachute Regiment Museum and study original maps and orders relating to the airborne drop on the night of the 5th June. With luck we will be hosted by a veteran of this unforgettable day. Our hotel tonight will be in the coastal town of Bournemouth in Dorset.
After breakfast this morning we drive the coast route to Weymouth, passing through the Dorset villages and training areas where the US 1st Division trained. At Portland we will see where the majority of the Division embarked for the landing beaches. On our return to our hotel, we will visit the Tank Museum, to look at the various types of vehicles used in Normandy, not only Allied but German.
Second night in Bournemouth.
On our way to Portsmouth, we visit General's Eisenhower & Montgomery headquarters at HMS Dryad to view parts of the original D Day battle map. The D Day Museum in Portsmouth offers a fine overview of what you will actually see later on the tour. This afternoon you will have an opportunity to visit the old town of Portsmouth and the famous dockyard where HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship is docked. Embark this evening for an overnight crossing to Cherbourg, France
June 6, landing in France with no opposition, we drive to our first objectives the landing zones of the US 82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions. At St. Mere Eglise we will see where PFC John Steele hung by his parachute cords on the church steeple, for over two hours. Here the first American flag on mainland Europe was raised. On to Utah beach where the US 4th Division came ashore, and where General T. Roosevelt Jr. wins the medal of Honor for bravery under fire. Our final visit today is to Pointe du Hoc, a German artillery position stormed by US Rangers at deadly cost. Our hotel tonight is Bayeux, the home of the famous tapestry depicting William Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066.
'Two kind of people are staying on this beach, the dead and those who are going to die - now let's get the hell out of here' Colonel George Taylor, 16 Regiment, 1st Division, Omaha Beach
This morning we will drive to the cemetery overlooking the landing beaches named Omaha. Here lies the remains of 9,386 US Servicemen, including General Roosevelt and his brother who were killed in 1918, buried side by side. It is a truly moving experience to witness their last resting place and to realize what horrors they faced on that day 56 years ago. Leaving Colleville-sur-mer we next visit the German gun battery at Les Longues, the Kriegsmarine battery of four 150mm guns taken from destroyers are still impressive after being so heavily targeted by naval guns and aerial bombardment. At Arromanches, the most westerly of the British beaches, we will see the remains of the Mulberry harbor, constructed in giant sections and towed across from the UK.
Second night in Bayeux
Today we will spend visiting the Canadian and British beaches and airborne landing zones (Gold, Juno & Sword) from the famous Pegasus Ridge, taken by a glider assault at midnight on the 5 June, to the German battery at Ranville. Returning to our hotel this afternoon you will have a chance to walk the old streets of Bayeux and visit the tapestry and fine military museum.
Third night in Bayeaux.
After 6 weeks of heavy fighting against strong defenses, the Allied Armies broke out into the open countryside, Operation 'Cobra' had commenced. At Falaise in mid August the Allied armies managed to entrap many hundreds of thousands of German soldiers. The way to Paris was open. Falaise is where William the Conqueror was born. On the 25 August Allied troops enter Paris, it has taken 2 and a half months of heavy, bitter fighting with high casualties on both sides. Our hotel for the last 2 nights will be in the center of Paris.
Now at the end of our tour, we will spend today visiting the sites of this beautiful city, from Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower to the French Kings Place at Versailles, a truly magnificent day of history and culture to end our trip. A final 'French' dinner together as a group.
Transfer to London airport for return flight to North America.