80th Anniversary of D-Day: Canada’s D-Day Experience

There was mortar fire, and there were machine-gun nests in the cliffs which weren't seen by our intelligence people because they had them covered, and they had heavy six-pounder or more cannons shooting at us.

– Honorary Col. David Lloyd Hart, a communications operator with the Fourth Signal Regiment, Dieppe Vet

This 80th Anniversary of D-Day Tour honors the critical role that Canada played on this pivotal day in WWII history.

The 1944 Battle of Normandy — from the D-Day landings on 6 June through to the encirclement of the German army at Falaise on 21 August — was one of the pivotal events of the Second World War and the scene of some of Canada’s greatest feats of arms. Canadian sailors, soldiers and airmen played a critical role in the Allied invasion of Normandy, also called Operation Overlord, beginning the bloody campaign to liberate Western Europe from Nazi occupation.

Nearly 150,000 Allied troops landed or parachuted into the invasion area on D-Day, including 14,000 Canadians at Juno Beach. The Royal Canadian Navy contributed 110 ships and 10,000 sailors and the RCAF contributed 15 fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons to the assault. Total Allied casualties on D-Day reached more than 10,000, including 1,074 Canadians, of whom 359 were killed. By the end of the Battle of Normandy, the Allies had suffered 209,000 casualties, including more than 18,700 Canadians. Over 5,000 Canadian soldiers died.

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  • London: Tour the WWII places of interest in London, including the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum
  • Southwick House: In the spring of 1944 the house became the forward headquarters for the Normandy invasion. The large, specially produced, wall map on which the progress of the Operation was plotted still remains; the room in which it stands is now part of the Officers Mess of Southwick Park.
  • Dieppe: On the morning of August 19, 1942, Allied troops took part in Operation Jubilee, an amphibious assault on the French port of Dieppe. Along with 237 ships and landing craft, more than 6,000 soldiers — 4,963 of them Canadian — attacked from the beach, on foot, and in tanks.
  • Normandy: About 15,000 Canadian soldiers landed on the morning of June 6, as part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division or the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, which were assigned the task of taking Juno beach. Another 450 Canadians dropped behind enemy lines by parachute or glider while it was still dark.
  • Falaise Pocket: The First Canadian Army was ordered to capture high ground north of Falaise to trap Army Group B. The Canadians planned Operation Totalize, with attacks by strategic bombers and a novel night attack using Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers.
  • Chambois: The seizure of Chambois by American, Canadian and Polish forces saw the final closure of the Falaise Pocket on August 21, 1944 and the destruction of most of Army Group B.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 Overnight Flight to London (May 27)

Guests travel independently to London on an overnight flight from North America. If you would like to arrive early and have extra nights in London, we can arrange your hotel.

DAY 2 London (May 28)

After arrival, make your way to the tour hotel on-your-own. The entire group will gather for an evening welcome reception at the hotel. Our historian will treat us to our first lecture, with introductions all around.

DAY 3 London (May 29)

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 Britain's 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.

DAY 4 Portsmouth (May 30)

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 advanced 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 Army Commander-In-Chief General Montgomery.

DAY 5 Dieppe (May 31)

After a few stops in Portsmouth, we take a ferry from Newhaven, England, to Dieppe, France. Canadians were the force for the frontal attack on Dieppe, and also went in at gaps in the cliffs at Pourville, four kilometers to the west, and at Puys to the east. British commandos were assigned to destroy the coastal batteries at Berneval on the eastern flank, and at Varengeville in the west.

DAY 6 Dieppe (June 1)

Dieppe is a fishing port on the Normandy coast built along a long cliff overlooking the English Channel. On 19 August 1942, Canadian, British, American, and Free French troops staged a raid against the German-occupied town and nearby seaside villages. The result was a disaster. In one morning, 3,367 Canadian soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured out of a force of 4,963 men. 907 Canadian soldiers died in the raid, making it Canada’s deadliest day of the Second World War. 

Research suggests that Combined Operations Headquarters, under Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, designed the Dieppe Raid to steal secret German codebooks and materials. In early 1942, the German armed forces introduced the four-rotor Enigma cypher machine. Suddenly, signals intelligence (codenamed Ultra) the British and their allies relied upon to route convoys around German U-boats in the North Atlantic went dark. Sinkings skyrocketed. In their desperation to solve the problem, Combined Operations initiated Operation Jubilee. The result was a pathetic failure. Bravery could not overcome reckless planning.

DAYS 7-12 Normandy (June 2-7)

Besides seeing several major American and British sites in Normandy, the tour will visit these Canadian sites:

  • The Canadian Army was engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting in history. By some estimates, the daily casualty rate in the Battle of Normandy exceeded that of many First World War battles associated with atrocious slaughter — Verdun, the Somme, or Passchendaele. Indeed, Verrières Ridge resembles Vimy Ridge in that both were the sites of bloody clashes featuring Canadian troops in the lead. This was partly because Operation Spring, the II Canadian Corps assault up the ridge, was the largest Canadian Army operation since Vimy Ridge 27 years earlier. Unlike Vimy, however, the Canadian corps did not succeed in capturing the ridge as planned. 
  • The Juno Beach Centre is Canada's Second World War museum and cultural centre located in Normandy, France. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War, of which 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 381 on D-Day.
  • The Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery is a cemetery containing predominantly Canadian soldiers killed during the early stages of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. It is located in and named after Bény-sur-Mer in the Calvados department, near Caen in lower Normandy.

DAY 13 Paris via Falaise and Chambois (June 8)

After our morning departure from Normandy, we will visit the Falaise Pocket. The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. For the most part, those buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery died during the later stages of the battle of Normandy, the capture of Caen, and the thrust southwards - led initially by the 4th Canadian and 1st Polish Armoured Divisions - to close the Falaise Gap. Almost every unit of the Canadian 2nd Corps is represented in the cemetery. The cemetery contains 2,958 Second World War burials, the majority Canadian, and 87 of them unidentified. 

The Battle of Chambois was an August 1944 battle during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Prior to the battle, a pocket had formed around Falaise, Calvados, where the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army (formerly Panzergruppe West) were encircled by the Western Allies. The seizure of Chambois by American, Canadian, and Polish forces saw the final closure of the Falaise Pocket on August 21, 1944, and the destruction of most of Army Group B. 

We arrive at our final hotel, near the CDG airport for our Farewell dinner and easy transfers on Day 14.

Day 14 Home (June 9)

Transfers to the CDG airport.


Tour Dates

  • May 27 - June 9, 2024
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Prices are per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,690.

Please note that there are a limited number of single rooms available.

Also, note that prices are in U.S. dollars, not Canadian dollars.

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