D-Day 75th Anniversary: SMU Partnership
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Date(s) - 19/05/2019 - 27/05/2019
All Day

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75th D-Day Anniversary: London, Normandy, Paris; SMU Partnership

ADULTS: MAY 19-27, 2019
STUDENTS: MAY 19-28, 2019

Join Southern Methodist University’s (SMU’s) Center for Presidential History’s Jeffrey A. Engel and Essential History Expeditions’ Brian DeToy for an on-site exploration of London, Shrivenham, Portsmouth, Normandy and Paris, walking the cities and beaches where Churchill schemed, Ike commanded, and soldiers fought for Europe’s liberation.  This intergenerational tour offers three credits for students, and for alumni/friends of the university and EHE guests the opportunity to see the places history took place.

Join us for a fully guided and immersive tour of the people and places of Operation OVERLORD, the June 1944 invasion of Normandy that began Europe’s liberation from Nazi rule. Participants will walk the beaches and cliffs, learn from local experts and guest lecturers, and be assigned a renowned (or reviled) figure from history to investigate and role-play. Plus plenty of time to explore these iconic sites on your own and to join with SMU friends and students and EHE guests in some of Europe’s most scenic sites.

This trip features in-depth guided tours and lectures for all sites, all admission fees and transportation, all lodging and most meals (as detailed on the itinerary). Airfare not included.

Essential History Expeditions is thrilled that SMU has opened this phenomenal trip to EHE guests this year for the 75th anniversary of the seminal D-Day invasion.

“We were educated, inspired, and deeply moved by the D-Day program and tour!  The tour was life-changing.  Thanks to you and your team for doing an outstanding job in conveying the extraordinary bravery, courage, and sacrifice by U.S. and Allied military personnel during WWII.  We are forever indebted to them for the freedom to live our lives as we do today. The group on the tour was a terrific mix of students, alumni, and friends of the University.  You and Sheryl are now members of the SMU family. Cheyenne and I have already told others about the extraordinary quality of your work and that you have an effective business that delivers the tours.”

     –Steven Currall Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Southern Methodist University

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, including a tour of Westminster Abbey and an optional night of London theater. We will visit the grounds of Bletchley Park where, secret for decades, the ULTRA codebreakers worked tirelessly for allied victory. Then, it’s off to Shrivenham and the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom for hands-on exploration of WWII-era weaponry. In Portsmouth on the Channel coast, we will discuss seaborne preparations, and visit the invasion headquarters of Dwight Eisenhower at Southwick House. From there we board the large, modern MV Normandie Express 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. And so many other iconic sites.

The culmination of the Operation COBRA breakout from the Norman hedgerows was the capture of Paris in late August 1944. We will trace the route of soldiers from Normandy across the plains to the French capital. In the City of Light we will visit numerous sites connected with the war, along with time to sample the treasures of several millennia of Western culture, including a visit to the Palace of Versailles. From Ernest Hemingway’s bar in the Ritz Hotel to the Holocaust Memorial to the chance to visit the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and so much more, or simply stroll the right or left banks of the Seine as you wander from one amazing location to another.

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normandy tours


Essential History Expeditions London tours
SMU Bletchley Park Essential History Expeditions
SMU Southwick House Essential History Expeditions

Day 1, Sunday, May 19th: Arrival

  • Arrival and check in to London lodgings
  • Enjoy London on your own
  • Adults: Optional evening of London theater
  • Students: Plan to arrive in time to enjoy an evening of London theater
  • London hotel: Conrad London St James (alumni/friend) or Doubletree Westminster (student)

Day 2, Monday, May 20th: Introduction to London in WWII

  • Late morning welcome 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
  • Guided tour of Westminster Abbey
  • Lunch on your own
  • 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 (mandatory for students and optional for alumni/friends)
  • Group dinner at Royal United Services Institute at Whitehall
  • London hotel: Conrad London St James (alumni/friend) or Doubletree Westminster (student)

Day 3, Tuesday, May 21st: ULTRA at Bletchley Park, Royal Defence Academy, Southwick House & Seaborne Preparations for OVERLORD

  • Breakfast
  • Bletchley Park: 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”
  • Defence Academy of United Kingdom at Shrivenham for hands-on experience with WWII weapons and equipment, followed by relevant lecture
  • Lunch on your own
  • Southwick House: HQ of the Allied High Command in the days before the invasion, and the location where, in the dark hours of night with torrential rains beating against the windows, Ike made the decision — “Let’s go!”
  • Group dinner at the Golden Lion Inn in Southwick Village
  • Check in to Portsmouth lodgings
  • Portsmouth hotel: Portsmouth Marriott

Day 4, Wednesday, May 22nd: American Airborne & UTAH Beach

  • Breakfast
  • Discussion of D-Day shipping in Portsmouth harbor along the quays
  • MV Normandie Express Channel Crossing from Portsmouth, England, to Cherbourg, France. The Brittany Ferries fleet of ships are modern seagoing ships similar to a small cruise ship with restaurants, bars, entertainment options and, for overnight sailings, private cabins. We will enjoy comfortable reserved lounge seats for our crossing.
  • Lunch on your own on board ship
  • 82nd Airborne Division at La Fiere Bridge outside Ste Mere Eglise
  • Walking tour of Ste Mere Eglise, the first town liberated by Americans, including famed 11th century church
  • 101st Airborne Division and Dick Winters’ statue/Easy Company (Band of Brothers) and assault on Brecourt Manor
  • UTAH Beach and the 4th Infantry Division
  • La Cambe German Cemetery
  • Discuss June 6 capture of Crepon (the only VC awarded on D-Day!) and La Ferme’s use as logistics point and air field
  • Check in to lodgings at Ferme de la Ranconniere
  • Four-course dinner at the Michelin-rated, charming La Ferme de la Ranconniere

Day 5, Thursday, May 23rd: British Airborne and Beaches & Bayeux

  • Breakfast
  • Caen Memorial Museum
  • British 6th Airborne Division at Pegasus Bridge
  • Lunch on your own at Brasserie les 3 Planneurs or Cafe Gondree, the first house liberated in France
  • Ranville British Cemetery
  • Drive along SWORD Beach
  • Canadians and Free French at JUNO Beach
  • British at GOLD Beach and Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches
  • Bayeux Tapestry Museum, the millennium old story of William the Conqueror
  • Walking tour of old town Bayeux, including the Cathedral
  • Dinner on your own in one of the many great restaurants in old Bayeux
  • Normandy hotel: La Ferme de la Ranconniere
normandy wwii tour
WWII normandy tours
Pointe du Hoc Normandy D-Day Tour
Essential History Expeditions WWII tour
EHE France tours

Day 6, Friday, May 24th: Pointe du Hoc & OMAHA Beach

  • Breakfast
  • Capture of Pointe du Hoc by the 2d Ranger Battalion in a cliff assault
  • OMAHA Beach: Western end — 29th Infantry Division and 5th Ranger Battalion, and American Mulberry Harbor
  • OMAHA Beach: Eastern end — 1st Infantry Division with group lunch on the beach
  • Climb the cliffs from the beach to the Normandy American Cemetery (bus is available to drive those who do not wish to hike up the ridge)
  • Visit the profoundly beautiful and moving Normandy American Cemetery
  • Group dinner at Ferme de la Ranconniere with lecture
  • Hotel: Le Ferme de la Ranconniere in Crepon

Day 7, Saturday, May 25th: Versailles & Paris

  • Breakfast
  • Depart for Paris
  • Guided visit of the Palace of Versailles with lunch on your own
  • Check in to Paris lodgings
  • Time to explore Paris on your own
  • Dinner on your own
  • Hotel: Westin Paris Vendome (alumni/friends) or TBD (students)

Day 8, Sunday, May 26th: Paris in WWII and the City of Light

  • Breakfast
  • 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
  • Lunch on your own and time to explore Paris to visit any 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
  • Farewell group dinner with lecture
  • Paris hotel: Westin Paris Vendome (alumni/friends); TBD (students)

Day 9, Monday, May 27th, Students: Reims; Adults: Reims Extension or Departure and Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • Students will join a tour of Reims for a focus on the end of WWII
    • We will take the train from Paris to Reims
    • Tour V-E Day May 8, 1945, World War II surrender site in Map Room of Eisenhower’s SHAEF HQ
    • Visit cathedral where nearly all French monarchs were crowned
    • Relax with lunch on your own on the plaza
    • Enjoy cellar tour and tasting at La Maison Mumm, the famed vineyard in the capital of the Champagne region
    • Return to Paris by train and dinner on your own
  • Alumni/friends are welcome to join the students in Reims OR check-out of lodgings and begin onward journeys
  • Hotel night included for students and alumni/friends who join extension

Day 10, Tuesday, May 28th, Departure and Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • Check-out of lodgings and begin onward journeys
SMU Paris Essential History Expeditions
Paris history tour EHE
Essential History Expeditions Reims Tour
French Countryside

Optional London Extension: Sunday, May 19th: Exploring Historical London

  • Breakfast
  • Visit the Tower of London, William the Conqueror’s Castle
  • Guided walk through the olde City of London to St Paul’s Cathedral (2nd largest in Christendom) with lunch enroute; visit St Paul’s with its incredible monuments and crypt where so many British heroes are buried
  • Travel from St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey
  • Attend Choral Evensong at Westminster Abbey, home to a millennia of English history and culture
  • Guided tour of the highlights of the National Gallery
  • Dinner on your own
  • Hotel: Conrad London St James (friends), Doubletree Westminster (students) included for May 18th for participants in the London extension

Optional Reims Extension: Monday, May 27th: Reims in Beautiful Champagne

  • Breakfast
  • Visit V-E Day May 8, 1945, World War Two surrender site in Map Room of Eisenhower’s SHAEF HQ
  • Notre Dame de Reims, the great cathedral where nearly half of all French monarchs were crowned
  • Lunch on the plaza
  • Cellar tour and tasting at famed La Masion Mumm in the capital of the Champagne region
  • Return to Paris
  • Dinner on your own
  • Hotel: Westin Paris Vendome (alumni/friend); TBD (student) included for May 27 for participants in the Reims extension


Jeffrey A. Engel is founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a Senior Fellow of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. Author or editor of ten books on American foreign policy, his latest is When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War.

Essential History Expeditions’ president, expert historian and guide, Lt Col (Ret) Brian DeToy, PhD served as Director of the Defense & Strategic Studies program at the United States Military Academy, West Point from 2007-13. He has appeared in numerous documentaries for programming such as History, Discovery, A&E and Military channels. He is also an accomplished author and presenter at international history conferences.

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  • In-depth guided tours and lectures for all sites by professional historians
  • All lodging, arriving May 19 and departing May 27 for adults and May 28 for SMU students
  • All transportation
  • All admissions fees for museums and activities
  • Tickets to London theatre
  • Meals as indicated
  • Full-time tour manager for personalized support
  • Airfare not included
  • Optional travel insurance through Travelex
American Cemetery Normandy d day tour


  • To register, complete the registration form by clicking the “Register Now” button below
  • Pricing: $5,975 double occupancy ($750 single supplement); $2,000 is tax deductible and used for student scholarships
  • Students: Contact the Study Abroad office for pricing
  • Optional London extension: $650, lodging included
  • Optional Reims extension: $850, lodging included (included for students)
  • Itinerary subject to minor changes
  • Down payment: $2,000 per guest due upon registration
  • Terms & Conditions available at the SMU Center for Presidential History
  • Contact sheryl@historyexp.com for information on travel insurance through Travelex


Bookings are closed for this event.

D-Day 75th Anniversary: SMU Partnership 19/05/2019 - 27/05/2019 All Day D-Day 75th Anniversary: SMU Partnership D-Day 75th Anniversary: SMU Partnership Join SMU’s Center for Presidential History’s Jeffrey A. Engel and Essential History Expeditions’ Brian DeToy for an on-site exploration of London, Shrivenham, Portsmouth, Normandy and Paris, walking the cities and beaches where Churchill schemed, Ike Mission Critical Systems 19-05-2019T00:00 19-05-2019T23:59 Active Active 19-05-2019 Active $0.00 19-05-2019
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