80th Anniversary of D-Day: Churchill’s England and D-Day to the Rhine

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so few by so many.

– Prime Minister Winston Churchill

On this 80th Anniversary of D-Day tour, you will begin in London, where Sir Winston Churchill led Great Britain through its “darkest hour,” and then follow Eisenhower’s Army from England to the Rhine. Prime Minister Churchill was the single individual who led the Allies from the early days of the American and British alliance to defeat the Nazis in World War II. Opening this window into his life, you will visit the command center of the British war effort, the Churchill War Rooms in London. You will also enjoy a Welcome Dinner featuring experts on Churchill and other VIPs who will join and speak to your group. 

In England, you will visit two important Churchill homes, his birthplace, Blenheim Palace, and his exquisite brick manor home called Chartwell Home and Gardens. Investing his architectural imagination in his estate, its gardens, the arts, and diplomacy, Churchill master-minded the Allied war effort from this country home. You will see his living quarters and the very dining table where Churchill and famous guests conducted governance, and enjoy the gracious gardens where he spent many hours, painting, reading, and writing.

Stephen E. Ambrose first designed this itinerary in 1978 when he began his intense study of the D-Day invasion, the Normandy Campaign and western front in WWII. As part of his research, Ambrose travelled with countless veterans to find the sites where they trained in the United Kingdom and the battlefields where they made history in Europe. His extensive study of the European Theater of Operations led to his bestselling books on the subject, D-Day: June 6, 1944, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, and Pegasus Bridge, among others. Ambrose also wrote several volumes about General Eisenhower during WWII, including his two-volume set of biographies and The Supreme Commander: The War years of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ambrose’s research produced the unrivaled experience that we offer guests on all of our tours. His expertise was directly handed down to the next generation of historians who have continued to document the battlefield memories of hundreds of WWII veteran soldiers and officers at the very places where they fought. Their vast canon of knowledge is what makes our D-Day tour so authentic. Your historian will share these personal stories and their WWII expertise with you at every stop.

All guests on our 80th Anniversary of D-Day tours will attend the official June 6 Commemorative ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer where you will honor and pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

NOTE: You can expect that unpredictable closures and/or logistical changes might interfere with any scheduled visit. This is especially true for the Commemoration ceremonies and the days surrounding 6 June 2024 in Normandy. If necessary, we will re-route and/or substitute an alternative when required. If logistics permit, you will enjoy surprise stops along the way.

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Highlights

  • England: See the Churchill War Rooms, the underground British command center; Bletchley Park, the intelligence center where the Enigma machine decrypted Axis codes; and Chartwell House and Gardens, where Churchill lived and worked
  • Normandy Beaches: Visit the invasion beaches of Omaha and Utah, one of the most moving things you will ever do, and stand at Pointe-du-Hoc, where the Rangers scaled the cliffs
  • American Cemetery: Attend the official June 6 Commemorative ceremonies
  • Ste-Mere-Eglise: See where the first American Airborne troops landed on D-Day
  • Arnhem: Study Operation Market Garden, drive along “Hell’s Highway” and cross the “Bridge to Far”
  • Bastogne: Wrap up the tour learning about Bastogne, the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 - May 28 - Overnight flight to London

Guests travel independently to London on an overnight flight with arrival on May 29.

DAY 2 - May 29 - London

Arrive in London on the morning of Day 2 and check into the hotel.

In the afternoon you will visit the Churchill War Rooms. In the evening, the group will gather for a Welcome Reception and dinner. With introductions all around, your historian will give your first lecture. Experts on Churchill and additional VIP’s will join and address the group as well.

DAY 3 - May 30 - London

You will visit some of the important sites that figured prominently in Churchill’s England, including Blenheim Palace and Bletchley Park. You will have free time in the evening to enjoy the city on your own.

DAY 4 - May 31 - London

You will have a tour of the city featuring more of Churchill’s favorite places in London and visit the Oxbridge Bunker, the command center used by Churchill during the Battle of Britain, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

DAY 5 - June 1 - London to Portsmouth

After breakfast, you will begin the short ride to Portsmouth, where we will take the ferry to France. We will begin our tour of WWII sites in Normandy as time permits. Dinner at the hotel.

DAYS 6-9, June 2 - 5 - Normandy

Following breakfast at the hotel, you will visit the Historic Portsmouth Dockyard and cross the English Channel by ferry in the afternoon, embarking for Normandy as the troops did in 1944.

During the several days you spend in Normandy, your visit will include the following sites, and maybe others:

  • Pegasus Bridge: Where the first shots were fired on D-Day

  • Brécourt Manor: The medieval family home where Lieutenant Dick Winters led the men of Easy Company to silence the German artillery firing at Utah Beach on D-Day

  • Utah Beach: Where the American 4th Division landed, and where the Invasion Museum stands today amid the stunning dunes.

  • Omaha Beach: Where the Americans experienced the greatest losses on D-Day

  • Pointe-du-Hoc: Where the Rangers scaled the cliffs and neutralized the heavy German guns

  • Normandy American Cemetery: Pay your respects at the deeply moving cemetery where nearly 10,000 graves memorialize the dead from the Normandy Campaign

  • Ste-Mere-Eglise: Where the first American Airborne troops landed on D-Day

  • La Fiere Bridge: Where the 82nd Airborne successfully delayed a German Panzer counterattack against the Allied landing forces on D-Day

  • Ste-Marie-du-Mont: The church where the Germans used the unique Renaissance-style steeple as an observation post

  • Carentan: Proceed from this town captured by the 101st in the exact steps taken by American Paratroopers during the Battle of Normandy

  • Longues-sur-Mer Battery: A fine example of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall of defense

DAY 10 - June 6 - 80th Anniversary of D-Day Commemorative Ceremonies

Starting early in the morning, you will spend several hours observing the pageantry that marks June 6 every year. At the close of this momentous day, your bus will depart towards the Netherlands with an overnight in historic Compiegne, France.

DAY 11 - June 7 - Normandy to Lille

After a half day of final site visits in Normandy, we work our way to the Netherlands with an overnight in eastern France.

Day 12 - June 8 - Lille to Eindehoven

After breakfast, you will begin your study of the Operation Market Garden campaign, the daring and early Allied strike directly for Berlin that failed. Control of the bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem was essential for the Allies to make the strike into Germany. Your bus will drive along “Hell's Highway,” the road the troops used to get there, and you will view where the Allies broke through to connect with the British in Arnhem. You will also visit Nijmegen where the 82nd Airborne crossed the Waal River at tremendous risk.

You will re-cross the Rhine at the “Bridge Too Far” in Arnhem. There, your historian will recount the desperate three days that the British 1st Airborne under General John Frost held that bridge. We will finish the day at the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek.

DAY 13 - June 9 - Arnhem to the Ardennes

The Ardennes is where Hitler risked almost every bit of firepower the Nazis still possessed in his last-ditch counterattack. It was a massive and overwhelming, but failed and final, German offensive that American historians named the Battle of the Bulge because of the bulbous enormity of the attack. The offensive started on December 16, 1944 and it came as a complete surprise to the Allies.

You will begin the day by viewing the German line of defense called the Dragon’s Teeth. The next stop is at the town of Lanzereth where Lieutenant Lyle Bouck of the 394th Infantry Regiment of the American 99th Division was one of the first soldiers to see the German columns coming on, and where he and his platoon of eighteen men held off a full-strength German SS Battalion for ten hours until relief arrived. You will see and hear how they did it, a breathtaking tale of heroism.

On the second day of the 1944 German offensive, the enemy experienced several breakthroughs that forced many Americans to surrender near the town of Malmedy. At that location, the blood-thirsty German battalion commander Joachim Peiper lined up about 150 GIs and fired at them point-blank, killing more than half while the rest barely escaped alive. You will pay your respects at the memorial to their sacrifice. Along the way, you will stop again to see Parker’s Crossroads where a Memorial and Howitzer M2A1 mark the spot where the 589th Field Artillery Battalion under Major Arthur C. Parker controlled the only route to supply the Seventh Armored Division during the Bulge for several days. As you proceed on to your evening lodging, you will enjoy a scenic ride through the Ardennes Mountains.

DAY 14 - June 10 - The Ardennes to Luxembourg

After breakfast, you will visit Bastogne where a critical siege during the Battle of the Bulge forced the American defenders to rally and stop the German attack. Here you will view the route of the initial American retreat and the place where the 101st Airborne and elements of the 10th Armored Division held off fifteen German divisions for six days. At this historic crossroads town, you will feel the energy of that week. As part of the captivating town of Bastogne, you will tour General McAuliffe’s Headquarters where he replied “NUTS” to German surrender demands. Your visit will also include the Bastogne Barracks and such battle sites as Noville – Foy and some of the foxholes used by Easy Company. You will also view the German Cemetery.

After leaving Bastogne, you will travel to Luxembourg and view Patton’s Grave, where the field general rests among his men at the American Cemetery. The afternoon will afford relaxing free time in the center of this bustling and charming old-world city followed by dinner on your own.

DAY 15 - June 11 - Luxembourg to Frankfurt

After checking into the hotel in Frankfurt on this last evening, you will enjoy a Farewell Dinner and a general discussion about your enriching tour into history.

DAY 16 - June 12 - Flight Home

Early morning departure to the Frankfurt International Airport for flights home.

Itinerary Changes and Delays: We take all reasonable efforts to adhere to the published itinerary. However, if the services and accommodations described for this tour cannot be supplied due to causes beyond our control, we reserve the right to change or substitute comparable services and accommodations. We also reserve the right to pass on to tour participants additional cost or savings.

OPTIONAL BERLIN POST-TOUR

Day 16 - June 12 - Free day in Frankfurt

For logistical reasons, the Berlin extension begins on June 13. Churchill guests wanting to take the Berlin extension can enjoy a free day in Frankfurt.

Berlin Extension Day 1 - June 13 (Day 17)

Your tour begins at the “The Bunker” where Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, marking the collapse of National Socialism, the Nazi Party, and World War II in Europe. It is just a parking lot now, but the location still provides the opportunity to analyze the historic moment that happened here. Your solemn meditation on this tragic history will continue at your next stop, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which stands nearby. After that moving experience, you will view the Reichstag where the fire on February 27, 1933 set in motion the consolidation of Nazi authoritarianism. Along the way, you will admire the Brandenburg Gate, which is still one of Germany's most famous landmarks. Your day ends at the Soviet War Memorial with a lesson about the Battle of Berlin and its repercussions.

Berlin Extension Day 2 - June 14 (Day 18)

The site of Gestapo headquarters on the Niederkirchnerstraße in Berlin is now a museum known as "the Topography of Terror." You will begin the day by touring its galleries and learning about the ways that the schizophrenic National Socialist security apparatus operated a police state throughout the Second World War. It is not a positive or uplifting experience, but it offers a cautionary tale to the contemporary world that should not be ignored. After that gross reminder, you will proceed to the Berlin Story Bunker, a former World War II bomb shelter that is now a raw and powerful museum. Your day ends with a visit to "Checkpoint Charlie," the location that allowed the only movement between East and West Berlin when the Berlin Wall divided the city for a period of 28 years, until November 1989.

Berlin Extension Day 3 - June 15 (Day 19)

Not every German blindly followed Adolf Hitler, and the National Resistance Memorial Center at the Bendlerblock demonstrates the surprising degree of German resistance to the Nazis, honoring such figures as Claus von Stauffenberg who led the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler. Your next stop is at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park where the Red Army commemorated the 81,000 troops it lost during the Battle of Berlin. Last on this day, you will tour the nearby Karlshorst neighborhood of the city where the German-Russian Museum offers exhibits that relate to the end of the war. This is also where the German forces signed the surrender that ended World War II in Europe on May 8, 1945, VE-Day.

Berlin Extension Day 4 - June 16 (Day 20)

A brief 30-minute ride in your coach to the southwest of central Berlin will bring you to Wannsee, where a notorious conference took place on January 20, 1942, in a villa owned by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Force or "SD"). The villa is now a museum that documents the way that SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann presided over the initial meetings with top Nazi officials to organize the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe. There is no better place to understand the dark truth of genocide.

In the afternoon, you will travel the five miles to the Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam. Here, President Truman met the Soviet leader Josef Stalin for the first time at the last Allied Conference of the war. The critical Potsdam Conference also featured two British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee. In laying the plans that would shape the postwar world, they issued the Potsdam Declaration here that demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan. Hence, your visit to Schloss Cecilienhof also concludes your tour.

Berlin Extension Day 5 - June 17 (Day 21)

Return flights to the USA

 

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Tour Dates

  • May 28 - June 12, 2024 - Two rooms available!
  • Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden Extension (three nights) - Waitlist Only!
  • Post-tour option: Berlin Extension, June 13 - 17
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TOUR COST $8,490

Prices are per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,790.

Berlin Extension

$2,390 per person based on double occupancy; for a post-tour single room add $690.

Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden Extension

$1,790 per person based on double occupancy; for a post-tour single room add $490.

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