UNT Partnership: Operation OVERLORD
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Date(s) - 22/09/2020 - 29/09/2020
All Day


University of North Texas Military History Center Partnership: Operation OVERLORD

September 22-29, 2020

Join the University of North Texas’ Military History Center and Essential History Expeditions’ Dr. Brian DeToy for an on-site exploration of London, Portsmouth, and Normandy, walking the cities and beaches where Churchill schemed, Ike commanded, and soldiers fought for Europe’s liberation.

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 UNT friends 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.

EHE University North Texas

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.

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London D-Day Tour
D-Day tour London

Day 1, Tuesday, September 22nd: 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 in WWII.
  • 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.
  • Dinner on your own 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: Central London vicinity

Day 2, Wednesday, September 23rd: ULTRA at Blechley Park, Southwick House & Seaborne Preparations for OVERLORD

  • Breakfast
  • Load luggage and depart hotel.
  • At Bletchley Park, we’ll 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.” Guided tour and lecture with Bletchley Park’s Director, David Kenyon.
  • Lunch on your own at Bletchley Park’s Hut 4 cafe.
  • 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 with torrential rains beating against the windows, Ike made the decision — “Let’s go!” Director COL (Ret) Jeremy Green will provide our lecture. For the visit to Southwick House, each person must have a photo ID available. The dress code also dictates nice attire with no torn jeans or sportswear.
  • Group dinner in Southwick Village at the Golden Lion, a traditional British pub with a rich history of visits from legendary leaders such as Montgomery and Eisenhower.
  • Check in to Portsmouth lodgings at the Portsmouth Marriott.

Day 3, Thursday, September 24th: American Airborne & UTAH Beach

  • Breakfast
  • Load luggage and depart hotel.
  • On the Portsmouth harbor along the quays, we’ll discuss D-Day shipping.
  • We’ll board the MV Normandie Express for the Channel Crossing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, France. The Brittany Ferries fleet of ships are modern seagoing ships similar to a small cruise ship with restaurants, bars, and entertainment options. We will enjoy comfortable reserved lounge seating for our crossing.
  • Lunch on your own on the ship.
  • Arriving in the port of Cherbourg, we will discuss its importance in Allied planning as the first major seaport that must be taken, as well as its actual capture.
  • At La Fiere Bridge we will observe the tough defense by the 82nd Airborne Division to hold the town of Ste Mere Eglise and secure the crossings over the Merderet River.
  • In the quaint town of St 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.
  • Next is the 101st Airborne Division landings near Ste Marie du Mont, and the Band of Brothers of Easy Company, including their leader Dick Winters, at Brecourt Manor. The monuments to these men are a perfect place to examine the minute tactical battle detail of Americans in combat.
  • At the UTAH Beach Memorial with 4th Infantry Division, we will see where Americans first came ashore on June 6th.
  • When we arrive at our lodgings, we will discuss the June 6 capture of Crepon and the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day as well as La Ferme de la Ranconniere’s use as logistics point and air field.
  • Check in to lodgings at La Ferme de la Ranconniere.
  • Four-course dinner at the Michelin-rated, charming La Ferme de la Ranconniere.
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Day 4, Friday, September 25th: British Airborne, Beaches & Bayeux

  • Breakfast
  • Our first stop is the Caen Memorial Museum. There is 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. Lunch on your own at the café.
  • Next, we will visit Pegasus Bridge, where glidermen of the British 6th Airborne Division captured the key bridge over the Orne and liberated the first French house in the invasion – today’s Café Gondree, where you can enjoy a coffee and may meet the owner, Madame Arlette Gondree, who saw the invasion as a little girl.
  • The critical capture of the Merville Battery by British paratroopers is our next stop. An American C-17 that dropped 101st Airborne troopers on D-Day is a must-see part of this visit.
  • Visit the nearby Ranville British Cemetery, where the first Allied killed in action are buried.
  • Drive along SWORD Beach.
  • 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.
  • At 5:45pm, 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 1000 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 many great restaurants in old Bayeux.
  • Normandy hotel: La Ferme de la Ranconniere in Crepon.

Day 5, Saturday, September 26th: Pointe du Hoc & OMAHA Beach & Cemetery

  • Breakfast
  • 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. (We will also visit cemeteries of the British and Americans to see how each remembers their fallen.)
  • Our next stop is one of the most dramatic landscapes of the entire region! Marvel at the climb of the 2nd 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. Group lunch.
  • Moving to eastern 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.
  • Atop the bluffs we will visit one of the most memorable, beautiful and awe-inspiring sites in American military history – the incomparable Normandy American Cemetery. The bus is available to drive those who do not wish to hike up the ridge.
  • Group dinner at Ferme de la Ranconniere.
  • Hotel: Le Ferme de la Ranconniere in Crepon.

Day 6, Sunday, September 27th: COBRA and Mont St Michel

  • 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, Monday, September 28th: Return to England

  • Depart for England by way of the cross-Channel ferry from Ouistreham to Portsmouth.
  • In Portsmouth, visit the Royal Naval Museum in the Historic Dockyard, with ships including Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar – HMS Victory.
  • Bus back to London hotels near Heathrow Airport for flights the following morning.

Day 8, Tuesday, September 29th: Departure & Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • Airport departures to the US other destinations and end of the expedition!
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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.

Sheryl Rankin Shafer serves as full-time expedition director, committed to meeting the unique needs of each group. She is also a freelance writer, researcher and editor focusing on educational leadership and business marketing communications. She is passionate about exploring worldwide cultures through travel.

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  • In-depth guided tours and lectures for all sites by professional historians
  • All lodging, arriving September 22 and departing September 29; we can assist with hotel extensions if desired
  • All transportation
  • All admissions fees for museums and activities
  • Tickets to London theater
  • Meals as indicated
  • Full-time tour manager for personalized support
  • Airfare not included
  • Optional travel insurance through Travelex
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  • To register, click the Join Us link or contact sheryl@historyexp.com
  • Pricing: $4,500 double occupancy ($750 single supplement)
  • Itinerary subject to minor changes
  • Down payment: $1,000 per guest due upon registration
  • Contact sheryl@historyexp.com for information on travel insurance through Travelex


Bookings are closed for this event.

UNT Partnership: Operation OVERLORD 22/09/2020 - 29/09/2020 All Day UNT Partnership: Operation OVERLORD UNT Partnership: Operation OVERLORD Join the University of North Texas' Military History Center and Essential History Expeditions’ Dr. Brian DeToy for an on-site exploration of the seminal D-Day invasion that changed the course of history. Mission Critical Systems 22-09-2020T00:00 22-09-2020T23:59 Active Active 22-09-2020 Active $0.00 22-09-2020
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