80th Anniversary of D-Day: Patton’s 3rd Army
Never take counsel of your fears.
The first part of this 80th Anniversary of D-Day Tour covers the planning and launch of the D-Day Invasion, Operation Overlord. We will begin in England, visiting the Churchill War Rooms in London and the key sites, and then ferry to Normandy. You will walk the sands of Omaha and Utah Beaches stirred by the memories of the young men who came ashore under fire in June of 1944. As we make our way to Patton’s Headquarters in Nehou, we will visit the town squares, woods, and fields significant to the Allied victory.
We will then follow Patton’s Third Army across France, to its relief of Bastogne and invasion of Germany. Along the way, you will learn about Patton, the man, the leader, and the general. We will pay our respects to the Maverick General at his final resting place at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg.
Tour historian Kevin Hymel, who has published three books on The Maverick General, is renowned for his extensive research and captivating writing on Patton and World War II, shedding light on his leadership style, military campaigns, and the broader historical context of the war. Kevin’s meticulous attention to detail and engaging storytelling will bring Patton to life and provide valuable insights into this pivotal period of history.
All guests on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day & Patton’s 3rd Army Tour will attend the official June 6 Commemorative ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer, when we will honor and pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
With the number of WWII veterans decreasing rapidly, it may be one of the last times that there will be veterans attending the ceremony. Join us for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Normandy: Attend the official Commemorative ceremonies at the American Cemetery at Colville-sur-Mer
- Avranches, France: Visit the Patton memorial at Avranches, where Patton's Third Army became operational as it broke out of the Normandy beachhead
- Mayenne: See the bridges of Mayenne where Patton's Third Army began its race across France
- Maginot Line: Tour Fort Hackenburg, part of the Maginot Line
- Bastogne, Belgium: Follow the Third Army's route into Bastogne, Belgium
- Mannheim, Germany: Visit the scene of Patton's car accident in Manheim Germany
DAY 1 Overnight Flight to London (May30)
Guests arrange their travel to arrive in London the following day.
DAY 2 London (May 31)
Arrive in London this morning and 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.
DAY 3 London (June 1)
The morning will feature key sites in London that figured prominently in WWII. 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 Poole (June 2)
Today we travel from London to Poole. Along the way, we will stop at the Bovington Tank Museum, which showcases a vast collection of tanks and armored vehicles, providing a comprehensive insight into the history and evolution of armored warfare. Some of the tanks here appeared in the movie FURY.
DAYS 5-9 Normandy (June 3-7)
Following breakfast, we will board the cross-channel ferry and embark for Normandy as the troops did in 1944. Over days 5-9, June 3-7, we will see the following sites. They are listed in no particular order. A detailed itinerary will be provided about 45 days pre-tour.
- Ste-Mere-Eglise, one of the villages where the American Airborne descended on D-Day. Here we will explore the iconic church and square memorialized by John Steele and his parachute drop onto the steeple.
- La Fiere Causeway, where a unit from the 82nd Airborne Division successfully delayed a German Panzer counter-attack against the Allied landing forces.
- Brécourt Manor, where Lt. Dick Winters, with members of Easy Company, successfully silenced German artillery firing on American troops landing at Utah Beach.
- Utah Beach, where the 4th Infantry Division landed, and the Invasion Museum, which depicts its heroics.
- Ste-Marie-du-Mont, where still stands the unique Renaissance-style steeple used as an observation post by the Germans.
- The town of Carentan, where we will follow the exact steps American Paratroopers took during the town’s liberation.
- Pointe-du-Hoc, where Lieutenant Colonel Earl Rudder’s Rangers scaled the cliffs to neutralize German heavy guns defending the American beaches on D-Day.
- Omaha Beach, where the Americans landed and faced the strongest German resistance of the day—and incurred the greatest losses. Along the beach, we get to visit some of the remaining 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 Infantry Divisions as they approached the gates of hell.
- The battery at Longues-sur-Mer, an example of the defense works that made up Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.
- Pegasus Bridge, where the first shots were fired on D-Day. Here the British 6th Airborne Division led by Major John Howard, with a miraculous glider landing, carried out a surprise attack that successfully took the crucial bridge across the Caen Canal.
On June 6, all SAHT groups will attend the official 80th anniversary of D-Day commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,387 American soldiers’ graves stretching along the top of the bluff overlooking the beach.
DAY 10 Mayenne (June 8)
Our day will begin at Patton’s Headquarters in Nehou where the general waited for the Third Army to become operational. Afterwards we drive to Coutances then Avranches, where Patton first took command. We stop at a monument to Patton where the Third Army broke into the Brittany Peninsula and headed east, west and south through the German lines. Finally, we will see the Pontaubault Bridge where Patton’s troops poured into the Brittany peninsula.
We continue to the hilltop town of Mortain, where the Germans attacked the 30th Infantry Division in an effort to cut off Patton’s base of supplies. Although surrounded, the Americans held out for seven days until relief arrived. The mountaintop affords an excellent view of the surrounding countryside
DAY 11 Reims (June 9)
In the morning, we will visit Mayenne, where one of Patton’s “hard luck” divisions turned itself around by seizing a vital bridge. We then travel to Argentan, where elements of the Third Army turned north to close the Falaise Gap. At Chambois, we will study where American, Polish and Canadian troops fought to halt the retreating Germans. The museum in Chambois provides an excellent overview of the battle at the Falaise Pocket.
DAY 12 Luxembourg (June 10)
From historic Reims, we will head to Verdun, where on December 19, 1944, Patton told General Eisenhower that he would be ready to relieve Bastogne in 72 hours, even though his army was pointed in a different direction. From there, we will visit Thionville for lunch, where elements of Patton’s army crossed the Moselle River. From there, it’s to Luxembourg City, where Patton kept his headquarters while he planned his breakthrough to Bastonge.
DAY 13 Luxembourg (June 11)
When the Germans launched their offensive that became the Battle of the Bulge, Patton turned his Army north towards Bastogne. We see the Patton statue in Ettelbruck and tour the Battle of the Bulge Museum in Diekirch. We break for lunch in Clervaux, where the Germans broke through the 28th Infantry Division. From there, we travel to Longvilly and Noville, where armor and airborne forces slowed, then stopped the German drive to Bastogne. We will complete the day with a visit to Patton’s headquarters.
DAY 14 Luxembourg (June 12)
From Luxembourg City, we retrace Patton’s mission to relieve Bastogne. We will see the site of the final attack by Colonel Creighton Abrams to reach the 101st Airborne Division. We will stop for lunch at McAuliffe Square, where you will learn the history of the Sherman tank on display. We complete the day with a visit to Patton’s grave at the American Cemetery in Hamm.
DAY 15 Darmstadt (June 13)
After breakfast, we cross into Germany to the city of Trier, which Patton seized despite orders to the contrary. When General Omar Bradley told Patton he did not have enough forces to take the city, Patton radioed back, “What do you want me to do, give it back?” We will visit the Porta Nigra, the black gate the Romans erected in 180 AD. We have the opportunity to review and reflect on our journey across Europe and our travels in the footsteps of General Patton at the Farewell Dinner on the last evening of the tour.
DAY 16 Flights home (June 14)
We will provide a morning transfer to the Frankfurt airport (FRA).