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 an optional night of London theater. Departing London, 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 Portsmouth, on the Channel coast, where 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.
After six weeks in the bocage hedgerows, the allied armies broke out in Operation COBRA in late July and swept south and west around the German army before turning east to encircle them and move on to Paris. We will follow this advance from St Lo through Avranches (where Patton’s Third Army merged) and to the border of Brittany. There, we will explore the mystical isle of Mont St Michel, a World Heritage Site of renowned beauty and history.
We will return to Portsmouth to explore the shipyards, including the the Royal Naval Museum in the Historic Dockyard, with ships including Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar – HMS Victory. Our final night will be near London’s Heathrow airport for departing flights the next morning.