Tour Dates: 6 - 10 September 2020 Price Per Person: TBC
Hotel: Royal Caen, Normandy (or centrally located 3 Star Hotel with AC and WiFi)
Described as the turning point of the Battle in the West, the D-Day invasion on 6th June 1944 has captivated the attention of millions for decades and remains moving and evocative. This tour will travel the entire D-Day front of 50 miles and give you an insightful look into each sector and what challenges it posed to both the assaulting troops and the defences. We shall study the Airborne Operations on either flank as well as the seaborne landings at each of the named beaches. From quiet hedgerows of Bocage to the expanse of the infamaous Omaha beach, this trip wil reveal the real story of Operation Overlord 1944, including myths, legends, and heroes.
Travel to Normandy via Calais. Before checking into our hotel in Caen we start our Normandy tour with a walkthrough of one of the most spectacular Coup de Main missions in military history. Operation Deadstick – The daring Glider Assault on Pegasus Bridge. We will stand on the tiny Landing Zone used by the Horsa gliders carrying Major John Howard and the men of D Company, the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. With the bridge secured we will head off for the comforts of our hotel in Caen.
We spend our first full day in Normandy touring the British beachheads and taking a close look at the battles fought by British 6th Airborne Division. We will visit Merville Battery, scene of a bloody action fought by 9th Para Battalion after all that could go wrong, did go wrong. After lunch we visit the superb Pegasus Bridge Museum and the iconic Café Gondree – the first house liberated on D-day. Later in the afternoon we turn our attention to the landing beaches, starting with 3rd British Division’s landing at Sword Beach. Here we also put ourselves in the boots of Rommel and consider the defensive dilemmas faced by the German defenders. Includes a visit to Hillman Bunker system.
Day 3 of our Normandy tour takes us further East along the invasion coastline and further into the British and Canadian beachhead. We will visit Juno and Gold beaches, taking time to examine the role played by the Hobart Funnies of the British 79th Armoured Division in breaking through the German defences. We will spend some time at Arromanches where we will view the remains of the Mulberry Harbour. An innovative and sometimes controversial engineering project built to land the vital combat supplies required to sustain the Allied Armies. Our stop in Arromanches also includes the opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere of the 360-degree Overlord cinema. Our day culminates at the impressive Longues Coastal Battery; the battery was targeted by the Royal Navy on the 6th June and was later featured in the classic D-day film The Longest Day.
Today we head further west to tour the US sector including Omaha Beach. It is always important to understand both sides of any campaign and for that reason we are going to visit the German VDK cemetery at La Cambe. We will then continue westward and out to the far extreme of the US flank taking in the US Airborne Drop Zones around St Mere Eglise. Having gained an understanding of the US Airborne experience we go to visit Pointe du Hoc. The battery at Pointe du Hoc was considered such a vital target that the task of neutralising it could not be left to chance, Naval gunfire or bombing was not enough. Elite US Rangers were ordered to scale almost vertical cliffs from the sea and put the heavily defended battery out of action. What followed is surely one of the most dramatic actions of D-day and we will walk the ground ourselves. Finally, no visit to the US sector would be complete without a visit to the open expanse of Omaha Beach and the nearby US cemetery.