ITINERARY

day 1

Overnight Flight -

This tour is the brainchild of the late Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose and further developed by Capt. Ronald Drez. Ambrose and Drez designed this itinerary after thousands of hours of interviews with veterans, study of the battlefields, research and writing. Thanks to their experience with the terrain and its history, we are able to present a tour that is unmatched in its authenticity.

Please sit back and relax on your overnight flight!

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day 2

London

Check into the hotel where the entire group will gather for an evening welcome reception. Our historian will treat us to our first lecture, with introductions all around.

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day 3

London

The morning will feature key sites in London that figured prominently in the War. We then proceed to the Churchill War Rooms, the underground nerve center for Britains war effort. We will also visit the Imperial War Museum, which houses authentic examples of World War II weaponry, tanks and aircraft and an exhibit of WWI trench warfare. We will have free time to enjoy London in the evening.

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day 4

Portsmouth

Depart London for Bletchley Park where we will visit the nerve center for intelligence used in the Allied War effort, code name Ultra. Here we will see the place where the Enigma machine is housed and where the cyphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted during the war. This afternoon we will tour Southwick House, the advance command post of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. In the months leading up to D-Day in 1944, the house became the headquarters of the main Allied commanders, including Naval Commander-In-Chief Admiral Ramsay, Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower, and the Army Commander-In-Chief General Montgomery.

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day 5

Normandy

Following breakfast, we will board the cross-channel ferry and embark for Normandy as the troops did in 1944. In the afternoon, we will begin our visit to Normandy at Ste-Mere-Eglise, one of the villages where the American Airborne descended on D-Day. Here we will view and explore the iconic church where John Steele and his landing on the steeple are memorialized. We also visit La Fiere Bridge where the 82nd Airborne successfully delayed a German Panzer counter-attack against the Allied landing forces.

We will visit Omaha Beach where the Americans landed and faced the strongest German resistance of the day and incurred the greatest losses. We will walk the beach and visit some of the German defense fortifications. We explore these sands from the tides ebb to the distant dunes to understand the emotions of the young soldiers of the 1st and 29th Divisions as they approached the gates of hell. We will pay our respects at the American Cemetery with its 9387 American soldiers graves stretching along the top of the bluff overlooking the beach. In the afternoon we will view the battery at Longues-sur-Mer, a fine example of the great defenses that made up Hitlers Atlantic Wall. We will proceed along the British Beaches from there to Pegasus Bridge where the first shots were fired on D-Day. Here the British Sixth Airborne led by Major John Howard with a miraculous glider landing carried out a surprise attack that yielded great success in overtaking this crucial bridge across the Caen Canal.

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day 6

Normandy - 70th Anniversary Commemorations & Ceremonies

On this 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, we will attend the commemorative events for the Normandy invasion. We will receive the exact schedules from the French government in 2014. If time permits, we will visit some notable historic sites after the ceremonies.

America sent her best and brightest to the beaches of Normandy, Sicily, Iwo Jima and many other battlefields oceans away from her shores. The American sailors, soldiers and airmen came not to conquer, but to liberate, not to loot or destroy, but to bring life and freedom. As Eisenhower told his troops, “We will accept nothing less than full Victory!” After horrendous sacrifices, that is what they produced.” – Stephen E. Ambrose

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day 7

Normandy

In the morning, well visit Ste-Mere-Eglise, taken by the American Airborne on D-Day, and hear the stories of the veterans who took it. We follow the route of 101st Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment; the route Lt. Richard Winters and a handful of men took on the first night of the invasion of Brecourt Manor. In 1944, the manor was the site of a German battery that threatened the invasion beaches at Utah. Today Brecourt Manor is a working farm usually closed to the public. We will have the unique opportunity to visit the site of the battery and follow the exact route of the assault by Easy Company.

From the manor we proceed to Utah Beach and the Utah Beach Museum. The museum was built around the German strategic bunker WN5, in the exact place where American Troops set foot on French soil on D-Day.

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day 8

Normandy

Rising early, we will travel to Pegasus Bridge, where the first shots of D-Day were fired. A glider borne company of the British 6th Airborne Division, and an early success in the invasion captured this bridge over the Caen Canal, called Pegasus Bridge in honor of the symbol of the British airborne force. Our historian will describe the taking of this key crossing. We will study the British and Canadian Beaches, Sword, Juno and Gold, as our historian brings us back to June 6, 1944.

Sitting on the cliff top overlooking Arromanches, we will visit Cinema Circulaire 360 and view The Price of Freedom. The 360 degree film utilizes archived film, previously unseen footage, and footage of the towns and countryside where so many battles were fought. The combination of the historical D-Day imagery and the present day landscaping stunningly portrays the courage, suffering and heroism of the war.

We will end our day at Longues-sur-Mer, the battery of guns against which HMS Ajax scored perhaps the most accurate (and maybe the luckiest) hit of the war. We’ll see the evidence that remains.

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day 9

Paris

On the way to Paris we stop at the Bridge at Troarn, the D-Day objective of the 3rd Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers.

We arrive in Paris early afternoon. Tour members can explore the city on their own. Our hotel offers convenient access to the area around the Seine River, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides (site of Napoleons tomb), Notre Dame cathedral, the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre. The evening is free.

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day 10

Arnhem

After breakfast, we board a high-speed train to Brussels and begin our study of Operation Market Garden. This was the earliest and only attempt by the Allied forces to strike directly for Berlin. Control of the bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem would enable British armored forces to reach the far side of the Rhine and then have an open road to Berlin.

Our travels continue along Hells Highway, the route followed by the British XXX Corps as it attempted to reach its embattled 1st Airborne Division in Arnhem. Our first stop will be at the famous bridge over the Rhine that was the objective of Operation Market Garden, the Bridge at Nijmegen. Following this we go on to the bridge Too Far at Arnhem where we discuss the desperate three days that the British 1st Airborne held firm. We then visit the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek, which focuses on the Battle of Arnhem, and the British Cemetery near there.

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day 11

The Ardennes

From there we will drive through the Ardennes to the Siegfried Line to see the remnants of German communication trenches, the pillboxes and dragons teeth, gun pits and foxholes that American GIs fought so hard to take in late 1944.

The Ardennes is where Hitler put everything he had into his only counterattack. On December 16, 1944, Lt. Lyle Bouck was one of the first people to see the German columns advancing. We will stop in , the town where Bouck and a platoon of 19 men held off a full strength German SS Battalion for an entire day. Upon examining the American positions and hearing the story, we will appreciate this breathtaking tale of heroism.

On December 17, 1944, the second day of their offensive, the Germans had several breakthroughs and many Americans surrendered near the town of Malmedy. Outside the town, the leading SS Panzer Division lined up about 150 GIs and fired at them point blank. Less than half escaped alive. We will see the site of the massacre and the American Memorial at Malmedy.

In the forested hills of eastern Belgium we visit a hamlet called Baraque de Fraiture at the intersection of two highways. Here in a grassy plot lies a carved granite boulder that proclaims it Parkers Crossroads for the commander and his men who held out for two days against a massive German onslaught.

From here, it is a beautiful drive through the Ardennes Mountains to our evening lodging.

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day 12

Luxembourg

We will drive to Bastogne where the Americans rallied and stopped the German attack. Here is the route of the initial American retreat and the place where the 101st Airborne and elements of the 10th Armored held off fifteen German divisions for eight days. Our historian will take us through the sites in the picturesque town. Well also see the Memorial to the troops and the Battle of the Bulge Museum nearby. After our visit, its a short ride to Luxembourg.

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day 13

Frankfurt

Our morning will begin by paying tribute to the many fallen at the German Cemetery, American Cemetery in Hamm and General George S. Pattons grave. Gen. Patton rests among his men in a cemetery as beautiful and moving in its own way as the one at Normandy.

The afternoon holds a special treat as tour participants will venture on an afternoon lunch cruise along the Rhine River, with its spectacular scenery and landscapes.

Finally, we travel to Frankfurt where well enjoy a free afternoon in the city prior to a farewell dinner. At this last gathering, we will have an opportunity for reflection and good conversation about the tour. We will bid farewell after an enriching campaign into history.

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day 14

Flight Home

Early morning departure to the Frankfurt International Airport for flights back to the United States. Those extending their historical journey and participating in the optional post tour to Berchtesgaden will remain on the bus.

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