WWII Surrender 75th Anniversary/D-Day
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Date(s) - 01/05/2020 - 09/05/2020
All Day

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MAY 1- 9, 2020

This fully guided and immersive tour will explore the people and places of Operation OVERLORD, the June 1944 invasion of Normandy that began Europe’s liberation from Nazi rule. We will walk the beaches and cliffs, learn from local experts and our own historian guide, and experience the planning and control from London and England and follow the operations from the Norman beaches to the Allied breakout and on to the liberation of the French capital, the famed City of Light. Finally, we will join the 75th Commemoration events in Reims, Champagne where Eisenhower had his final headquarters and where the German military surrendered to the Allies.

Long before they launched across the Channel, the Allies transformed Great Britain into a vast armed camp, with millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen poised to assault Hitler’s Fortress Europa. We begin in London, examining the War Rooms of Winston Churchill’s Cabinet along with centuries of history and culture in the capital of the British Empire. We will also visit the grounds of Bletchley Park where, secret for decades, the ULTRA codebreakers worked tirelessly for allied victory. Then, it’s off to Portsmouth on the Channel coast to discuss seaborne preparations and visit the invasion headquarters of Dwight Eisenhower along with the British D-Day museum. From there we board the large, modern Normandie for the crossing to the beaches of France!

The events of June 6, 1944, continue to inspire long after the guns have fallen silent. The largest invasion in history, on the isolated Normandy coast, drastically altered the conduct of the war and demonstrated the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples. This D-Day tour will bring guests to the beaches, cliffs and fields; and villages, towns and cities where the Greatest Generation made their most indelible mark. From British glidermen at Pegasus Bridge, to the American infantrymen assaulting the beaches at Bloody Omaha; from American paratroopers jumping behind enemy lines at Ste Mere Eglise and Brecourt Manor to the Rangers climbing the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc to the building of the artificial harbors at Arromanches. We will then visit sites from Operation COBRA – the breakout from Normandy, including the crucial crossroads of St Lo and Avranches. In addition, we will visit the enchanted isle of Mont St Michel, an acclaimed World Heritage Site. Then, we will arrive in Paris to discuss the liberation of that city on August 24-25, 1944, as well as visit so many other iconic sites! Finally, we will visit the ancient city of Reims, where nearly all French kings were crowned and where the Germans surrendered to Eisenhower on May 7, 1945.

The WWII tour unfolds over nine days and eight nights with stories of all the Allied participants as well as those of the German defenders. In addition, EHE guests will visit the World Heritage treasure sites of William the Conqueror’s Bayeux Tapestry and Mont St Michel. The rich, verdant farmland, the quaint villages, the majestic cities and the dramatic cliffs and coasts create an incredibly memorable backdrop for this England – Normandy – Paris – Reims tour.

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While Europe is, of course, accessible to American travelers on their own, fully understanding a seminal event like the D-Day invasion, so large in scale and scope, requires months if not years of preparation. A professional, guided experience is essential in comprehending the complexities of the events and their timing, specific locations and personalities. Tours are available through many companies in Normandy. What sets Essential History Expeditions and Dr. Brian DeToy apart is his unique experience with 14 years as a university professor including teaching history and strategic studies at West Point, 28 years as a US Army officer with combat experience, and 26 years of leading groups at Normandy. Brian’s many Normandy tours, both large and small, include military leaders, West Point professors and cadets, and business leaders of international companies. Brian’s combined experience as a scholar soldier brings the events of this hallowed ground to life.

If a guest has a family member who served in Normandy, Brian will research the service member’s unit and weave that information into the tour, visiting all relevant locations and markers. Previous guests find this personalized approach to be emotionally gratifying and memorable.

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Day 1, May 1: Introduction to London in WWII

  • We will meet at noon at our central London hotel for a welcome lunch and overview of the expedition.
  • Group visit to Churchill Cabinet War Rooms — from this location, near both to Parliament and No. 10 Downing, the War Cabinet received information, held high-level meetings and conducted its world-wide imperial war effort.
  • Walking tour of central London from Parliament Square along Whitehall, the center of British government, to Trafalgar Square and its iconic monuments, museums and public buildings.
  • Group dinner in central London.
  • Enjoy a spectacular evening at a West End show or at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. We will survey guests in advance and select one play for all to attend.
  • London hotel.

Day 2, May 2: ULTRA at Bletchley Park, Portsmouth & Seaborne Preparations for OVERLORD

  • Breakfast
  • At Bletchley Park, we will visit the ULTRA Code Breakers compound — a vital component in Allied victory and real-life inspiration for the recent Oscar-winning film “The Imitation Game.”
  • Lunch on your own at Hut 4 Cafe in Bletchley Park.
  • Next, we’ll join the director of Southwick House, the Headquarters of the Allied High Command in the days before the invasion, and the location, where, in the dark hours of night iwth torrential rains beating against the windows, Ike made the decision — “Let’s Go!”
  • Group dinner in Southwick Village at the Golden Lion, a traditional British pub with a rich history of visits from legendary leaders Winston Churchill, Montgomery and Eisenhower.
  • On the Portsmouth harbor along the quays, we’ll discuss D-Day shipping.
  • We’ll stay the night at the Marriott in Portsmouth.

Day 3, May 3: Beach Landings, Air Landings & First Missions

  • Breakfast
  • We’ll board a Brittany Ferries ship (think small cruise ship) to cross the Channel, arriving in Ouistreham, France.
  • We will arrive just as the Allied soldiers and sailors did on June 6th, on the same Norman beaches!
  • We will visit Pegasus Bridge, where glidermen of the the British 6th Airborne Division captured the key bridge over the Orne and liberated the first French house in the invasion — today’s Cafe Condree, where we will enjoy coffee and may meet the owner, Madame Arlette Gondree, who saw the invasion from this house as a little girl.
  • Visit the nearby Ranville British Cemetery, where the first Allied killed in action are buried. (We will also visit cemeteries of the Germans and Americans to see how each remembers their fallen.)
  • Visit Caen Memorial Museum. There are a plethora of museums throughout the region but none tell the story as well as this official site with its incredible collection that goes into both depth and breadth of the vast enterprise.
  • We will drive west along the SWORD and JUNO beaches, where the British 3d Infantry Division and the Canadian 3d Infantry Division landed.
  • We will visit Courselles, the heart of JUNO Beach, where we will discuss the Canadians, Free French and the French Resistance in the success of the invasion.
  • Arromanches is next, the site of GOLD Beach, another British landing site for the 50th Infantry Division and the location of the British Mulberry artificial harbor; option to visit the museum on your own.
  • Four-course dinner at the fabulous Ferme de la Ranconniere.
  • Lodgings at the gorgeous Ferme de la Ranconniere, a charming chateau in the heart of Normandy.

Day 4, May 4: American Airborne, UTAH Beach & Bayeux

  • Breakfast
  • We begin the day at the western end of the battle for Normandy. First up is the UTAH Beach Memorial with 4th Infantry Division where Americans first came ashore on June 6th.
  • Next is the 101st Airborne Division landings near Ste Marie du Mont, and the Band of Brothers of Easy Company at Brecourt Manor. The monuments to these men are a perfect place to examine the minute tactical battle detail of Americans in combat.
  • At La Fiere Bridge we will observe the tough defense by the 82d Airborne Division to hold the town of Ste Mere Eglise.
  • In the quaint town of Ste Mere Eglise, we will discuss the 82nd Airborne Division in the first French village liberated by Americans. You will have the opportunity to visit the church, which beautifully commemorates the airborne paratroopers, and walk the town.
  • Lunch on your own in a cafe in town that still regards the Americans as their best friends and liberators!
  • Heading back east, we will stop in La Cambe to visit the German Normandy Cemetery. The somber landscape stands in contrast to those of the Allies although the remembrance remains extremely moving.
  • In the old town of Bayeux, we will visit the famed Tapestry Museum, where the story of William’s conquering of England has been portrayed for 1,000 years!
  • A walk through the ancient center of Bayeux will include the glorious Cathedral and medieval streets.
  • Dinner on your own in one of the excellent restaurants in historic Bayeux.
  • Lodgings at the fabulous Ferme de la Ranconniere, founded in the 13th century and beautifully refurbished.
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Day 5, May 5: Pointe du Hoc & OMAHA Beach

  • Breakfast
  • Our first stop is one of the most dramatic landscapes of the entire region! Marvel at the climb of the 2d Ranger Battalion up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. The capture of the guns here was critical to invasion success.
  • At the western end of OMAHA Beach, we will discuss the 29th Infantry Division at Vierville. This is the area where the fierce landing scenes in “Saving Private Ryan” took place. It is also the location of the remains of the American Mulberry artificial harbor.
  • Moving to the eastern end of OMAHA Beach, we will see the incredibly difficult high-ground facing the 1st Infantry Division at Colleville and we will follow their climb to the top of the bluffs for success against great odds. (The bus is available if you wish not to hike up the ridge.)
  • Atop the bluffs, we will visit one of the most memorable, beautiful and awe-inspiring sites in American military history: the incomparable American Cemetery.
  • Happy hour in the lovely courtyard of the Ferme de la Ranconniere.
  • Four-course dinner at Ferme de la Ranconniere; the restaurant is listed in the MICHELIN Guide 2017.
  • Lodging at Ferme de la Ranconniere.

Day 6, May 6: Normandy Breakout & Mont Saint-Michel

  • Breakfast
  • After six weeks of tough, difficult fighting, the Americans finally captured St Lo in mid-July 1944 and we will visit the beautiful town center where the battle of Normandy began its final phase — the breakout!
  • Operation COBRA and the breakout commenced at St Lo and swiftly moved to Avranches where we will visit the site of General Patton’s 3d Army entering the fray. It is also the site where Henry II paid his public penance for the death of Samuel a Becket.
  • Next, we will visit the stunning Mont Saint-Michel, home of the still-active abbey and monastery build in the 8th century.
  • You will enjoy time on your own at Mont Saint-Michel for lunch and to explore the winding street and abbey.
  • We will return to Ferme de la Ranconniere in time for a social hour in the beautiful courtyard.
  • We will enjoy our final delicious four-course dinner at Ferme de la Ranconniere.

Day 7, May 7: Paris and WWII

  • Breakfast
  • Drive to Paris, arriving in the early afternoon.
  • Walking tour of WWII Paris events and personalities, with numerous sites including the Ritz Hotel and the German HQ and liberation site near the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens
  • Time to explore Paris to visit one or more of the following:
    • Myriad museums, including the Louvre, Legion d’Honneur, Invalides/Army/Napoleon, Musee d’Orsay
    • Famed cemeteries
    • The Americans in Paris — a walk along Montparnasse
    • Shakespeare’s bookshop on the Left Bank
    • The Latin Quarter
    • Walk and shop along the Champs Elysees — Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries
    • Notre Dame and Ste Chapelle churches
    • Market at Les Halles and St Eustache church
    • Eiffel Tower
  • Dinner on your own in one of Paris’ countless restaurants
  • Paris hotel

Day 8, May 8: Reims and End of War

  • Following breakfast, we will travel from Paris to Reims in the gorgeous countryside of Champagne.
  • In Reims, we will visit the museum dedicated to Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters and the German surrender 75 years ago on this date.
  • We will visit the famed cathedral, where nearly all French monarchs received their crowns, most notably Charles VII when brought there by Joan of Arc!
  • The inner town has numerous Roman ruins and other historically significant sites, including famed Champagne houses!
  • Throughout the day, we will participate in commemoration activities associated with the 75th.
  • In the early evening we will return to Paris for a final group dinner.

Day 9, May 9: Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • Onward journeys from Paris
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  • Eight and a half days of in-depth guided tours, led by an expert historian
  • Accommodations for eight nights in London, Normandy and Paris
  • All meals, except five lunches and two dinners as indicated in the itinerary
  • All museum entrance fees
  • Daily transportation
  • Personalized tour support
  • Alcoholic drinks are excluded
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  • Let’s set up a conference call! We would love to chat with you to answer any questions you may have!
  • Just complete the contact form below and let’s set up a call.


  • Pricing: $4,650 per person, double occupancy; $700 single occupancy supplement.
  • Down payment: $1,000 per guest due upon registration.
  • All active duty and career retired military, and current and career retired educators will receive a 10 percent discount on the Normandy tour.
  • All repeat guests of Essential History Expeditions receive a 10 percent discount on all future expeditions.
  • Please see Terms and Conditions for payment schedule and cancellation policy.
WWII Surrender 75th Anniversary/D-Day 01/05/2020 - 09/05/2020 All Day WWII Surrender 75th Anniversary/D-Day WWII Surrender 75th Anniversary/D-Day Join us to commemorate the the largest military invasion in history and the turning point of WWII. The events of June 6, 1944, continue to inspire long after the guns have fallen silent through the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples. Mission Critical Systems 01-05-2020T00:00 01-05-2020T23:59 Active Active 01-05-2020 Active $0.00 01-05-2020
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