75th Anniversary of D-Day: Churchill’s London to Battle of the Bulge
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so few by so many.
On the 75th Anniversary of D-Day: Churchill’s London to Battle of the Bulge Tour, a 15-night tour, we study not only History’s most influential men but also ordinary men that made the Allied victory possible. In London we will see where Winston Churchill led Great Britain through its “darkest hour,” and then we will land in Normandy, France, where we will follow in the footsteps of D-Day’s heroes. We will conclude our tour with visits to the Siegfried Line and the Ardennes battlefields where the Allies broke the back of the Nazi war machine.
Our 75th Anniversary of D-Day: Churchill’s London to Battle of Bulge Tour, honoring the men who landed on D-Day, leading to victory in Europe in WWII, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Our D-Day Tour: Designed by Stephen Ambrose
Our D-Day Tour was designed by Stephen E. Ambrose, who first led this WWII tour in the late 1970s. It was further developed by our Chief Historian, Capt. Ronald Drez, who assisted Dr. Ambrose with his research while at the Eisenhower Center. It is based on thousands of hours of interviews with D-Day veterans, studying of the battlefields, and other World War II research. Thanks to their experience with the terrain and its history, we are able to present a 75th D-Day Tour that is unmatched in its authenticity.
Our D-Day historians are experts in their field and world-renowned authors. Their years of extensive research and interviews with hundreds of WWII and D-Day veterans on the very battlefields on which they fought add a personal dimension to our D-Day tours that no other WWII tour company can offer. It is a highlight to hear them tell these harrowing tales of bravery and courage of America’s heroes at the very places where they occurred.
- London: Guests will visit Winston Churchill's home at Chartwell and see the study where he wrote some of his most famous speeches and his renowned history of World War II.
- London: Visit the tobaccanist where Churchill purchased his trademark cigars
- Normandy: Attend the 75th Anniversary Commemorative activities at the American Battle Monuments Commission Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mere.
- Normandy: See where Harrison Summers single-handedly took out more than 100 German soldiers during a daring D-Day morning attack.
- Battle of the Bulge: Explore the depths of the Hurtgen Forest to visit the hill where D-Day Ranger hero Leonard Lomell led a desperate defense. A fight he remembered as his, "Longest Day."
- Battle of the Bulge: Walk amongst the still formidable German defensive bunkers that made the Hurtgen Forest such a terrible struggle for the GIs who entered the "forbidden woods" in the autumn of 1944.
DAY 1 May 29 - Overnight flight to London
Guests travel independently to London on an overnight flight with arrival on May 30.
DAY 2 May 30 - London
Arrive this morning in London and make your way to the tour hotel in the neighborhood of Kensington.
Following a mid-afternoon meet-and-greet gathering we will proceed the Cabinet War Rooms, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s top-secret underground command center. It was from here, safe from the German bombs pounding London, that Churchill directed Britain's war effort. We cap off our informative visit with a lecture by Phil Reed, former director of the Churchill War Rooms and an expert on Churchill.
DAY 3 May 31 - London
We begin our day at the magnificent Blenheim Palace, residence of the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. The palace opened in 1722 as a gift from the British people to Churchill’s illustrious ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in honor of his great victory over the French at the 1704 Battle of Blenheim.
After Blenheim, we travel to Bletchley Park, the top-secret wartime codebreaking center that the prime minister called the, “goose that laid the golden egg and never cackled.” It was here that mathematical geniuses such as Alan Turing and others worked in tireless anonymity to decipher Germany’s secret codes and lay the groundwork for modern computers. We will see the restored war-time facilities as well as the famous bomb machine, which enabled the efficient breaking of German codes. We will discuss Churchill’s realization of the importance of the codebreakers and his crucial role in keeping Bletchley operating despite opposition.
DAY 4 June 1 - London
We will spend the morning exploring Churchill’s London, seeing some of the sites that were so important in his daily life. We stop at JJ Fox, where the prime minister obtained his favorite Cuban cigars and St. Margaret’s chapel, where Churchill married Clementine Hozier and other sites associated with his life. After lunch at Claridge’s, one of the prime minister’s favorite eateries, we will travel to the Battle of Britain Museum.
In addition to the restored aircraft and displays, at the museum we will see the “Ops Room,” the command center for British defenses during the Battle of Britain. It was from here that Churchill oversaw operations during the final climactic air battles over Britain in September 1940.
DAY 5 June 2 - Portsmouth
We leave London for Kent and what one historian called, “the most important country house in Europe” The house, Chartwell, home to Winston Churchill for 40 years. From Chartwell the future prime minister warned about Britain’s lack of preparedness to face the threat of Nazi Germany. He also would come here to escape the pressures of his office and convene his “little cabinet.” Our private tour will include access to sites normally inaccessible to visitors. We then continue south to Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy.
Here we will spend time at the Historic Naval Dockyards museum, and see Admiral Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar as well as an original copy of the Overlord plan at the Royal Navy Museum.
DAY 6 June 3 - 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 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 memorialized by John Steele and his landing on the steeple. We also visit La Fiere Bridge where the 82nd Airborne successfully delayed a German Panzer counter-attack against the Allied landing forces.
DAY 7 June 4 - Normandy
We begin The Longest Day at Brécourt Manor where Lt. Dick Winters with members of Easy Company successfully silenced German artillery firing on American troops landing at Utah Beach. From there we will visit Utah Beach itself, where the 4th Division landed, and the Invasion Museum that depicts their heroics. Next we will stop at Ste-Marie-du-Mont where still stands the unique Renaissance-style steeple used as an observation post by the Germans. From there, we will proceed to the town of Carentan where we will follow the exact steps taken by American Paratroopers during the Battle of Normandy. Finally, the day will conclude with a visit to Pointe-du-Hoc, where Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder's Rangers scaled the cliffs to neutralize German heavy guns defending the expanse of beaches on D-Day.
DAY 8 June 5 - Normandy
We’ll spend the morning at 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 tide's 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 Hitler's 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.
DAY 9 June 6 - Normandy
Today we attend the official Commemorative ceremonies at the American Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer.
DAY 10 June 7 - Paris
We arrive in Paris this afternoon. The French and American troops liberated the City of Light from four years of brutal occupation in August 1944. We will make a quick driving tour of the city, pointing out some of the most significant sites from the war before checking into our hotel. The evening is free.
DAY 11 June 8 - Aachen / Hurtgen Forest
After breakfast, guests depart on the Thalys high-speed train to Brussels. We meet our coach and driver and travel to Aachen, Charlemagne’s first capital and the first German city in Germany captured by the allies. There we visit the site of the German command bunker during the battle as well as the remnants of the famous Siegfried Line outside of Aachen. In the fall of 1944 these concrete emplacements guarded Germany’s western border from advancing British and Allied forces. Our visit to these impressive concrete fortifications will illustrate some of the obstacles our men faced battling their way into Germany.
DAY 12 June 9 - Hurtgen Forest
Today we journey into the forbidding woods of the Hurtgenwald, scene of the longest, and costliest battle fought by American forces during the campaign in northwestern Europe. From September-December 1944 that the U.S. First Army battled to penetrate the Siegfried Line. The Germans destroyed several American divisions and set the stage for what was to follow during the Battle of the Bulge. Our visit to the “Hell of the Hurtgen” will take in some of the most famous sites of this bitter battle, including Schmidt and Vossenack as well as the Kaall trail and the hidden German bunker complex at Simonskall. We conclude with a stop in Bergstein, the last great fight of the battle where Point Du Hoc hero Len Lomell experienced his “Longest Day” of the war.
DAY 13 June 10 - The Bulge
We start our study of the Battle of the Bulge at the Baugnez Crossroads and the site of the infamous Malmedy Massacre. From Malmedy we travel to the small Our River crossing of Dasburg, where Operation Wacht am Rein, the last great German offensive of the war began. From Dasburg we follow the route the Germans took as they battled the 28th Infantry Division all the way back to Bastogne. It was the defense of the 28th Division, which had suffered terrible losses in the Hurtgen, which bought the time Eisenhower needed to rush the 101st Airborne up to Bastogne. We will see the sites of some of the 28th’s most epic stands; including Marnach, Clervaux, Marvie and the Grotto of Notre Dame.
Arriving in Bastogne early in the afternoon, we will see sites associated with the “Battled Bastards” epic defense of the city, including the famous “Nuts” cave of General McAuliffe and the unparalleled collection of World War II armored vehicles and artifacts.
DAY 14 June 11 - The Bulge
The 16-mile perimeter around Bastogne is our focus today. We visit the most important sites associated with the siege and the epic counter-offensive. From Noville, where elements of the 101st first encountered the Germans, we travel around the perimeter to see the surviving foxholes around the town of Foy, the site of the Christmas Day attack that almost broke the perimeter, and Assenois where George S. Patton’s Third Army broke the siege lines. We then follow the American counterattack from Bastogne, finishing up at Houffalize, the final objective of the 101st during the January counter-offensive.
DAY 15 June 12 - Frankfurt
Before heading out for the airport we will have an opportunity to visit some of the sites associated with the four-day battle for Frankfurt in March 1945. Overshadowed by the famous Rhine Crossing at Remagen, the battle for the Bridge at Frankfurt was an equally important achievement. The centrally located bridge secured by the 5th Infantry Division and 6th Armored Division gave U.S. forces a much larger base from which to carry out further operations. We see the site of the famous bridge over the Rhine taken at great cost as well as the scene of some of the fiercest house-to-house fighting of the war.
DAY 16 June 13 - Home
Morning dropoff at Frankfurt airport, or continuation if taking one of our post-tours.