80th Anniversary of D-Day: The Airborne

This 80th Anniversary of D-Day Tour tells the story of this pivotal moment in WWII history from the perspective of the Airborne Divisions.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, paratroopers from the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, along with the British 6th Airborne Division, were dropped behind enemy lines in Normandy. Their mission was to secure key objectives, disrupt German defenses, and pave the way for the amphibious landings. Despite facing heavy resistance and scattered landings, the airborne forces managed to accomplish their objectives, securing vital bridges, capturing key towns, and providing critical intelligence.

Throughout the war, airborne troops were utilized in various campaigns, such as Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Their ability to rapidly deploy, seize strategic positions, and disrupt enemy movements proved invaluable. The bravery and tenacity of these paratroopers and airborne units demonstrated the effectiveness of this unconventional warfare tactic and their significant contribution to the Allied victory in World War II.

This tour will be led by Senior Historian Chris Anderson who is an expert on the Normandy Invasion, Band of Brothers, and 101st Airborne. Chris was a personal confidant of Major Dick Winters, commander of Easy Company, as well as many other veterans of WWII. George Luz, Jr., the son of Easy Company member George Luz, Sr., will be the tour assistant. Chris and George will share personal stories of many of the men of Easy Company as well as other paratroopers, adding to your experience.

All guests on our 80th Anniversary of D-Day Tour: The Airborne 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.

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Highlights

  • Sainte-Mère-Église, France: This town was one of the primary objectives of the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions during the D-Day invasion. It is known for the famous incident where paratrooper John Steele got caught on the church steeple.

  • Pegasus Bridge, France: This strategic bridge over the Caen Canal was captured by British airborne forces in the early hours of D-Day. It played a vital role in securing the eastern flank of the invasion.

  • Arnhem, Netherlands: This site is associated with Operation Market Garden, an ambitious Allied operation that aimed to secure bridges and establish a path into Germany. The battle of Arnhem was a critical part of this operation.

  • Bastogne, Belgium: Known for the Battle of the Bulge, this town was defended by the 101st Airborne Division against a German offensive during the winter of 1944. It holds historical significance in the airborne campaign.

  • Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, France: This cemetery is located in Colleville-sur-Mer and serves as a solemn tribute to the American soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. It is a place for reflection and remembrance.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 Flight to London (May 29)

Guests travel independently to London on an overnight flight from the USA. Flights should land by 10 a.m. on Day 2.

DAY 2 London (May 30)

Arrive in London by 10 a.m. Guests make their way independently to the tour hotel in South Kensington. The group will depart by motorcoach from the hotel for Westminister. We begin the tour with a visit to the renowned Churchill War Rooms. The underground hidden network of chambers served as a nerve center for British operations and daily briefings with King George VI during the entirety of the War. From there, the group will go to the RAF officers club for a group welcome reception with cocktails, followed by a group dinner. After dinner, your lead historian will introduce himself with a brief lecture on the days to follow. This will set the stage for your in-depth study of the D-Day invasion and the following major campaigns of the war through the eyes of the Airborne Operations.   

DAY 3 London (May 31)

The group will begin their day with a visit to the Airborne Assault Museum at Duxford. Here we learn about the British Airborne forces from its inception to the present day. Guests will be able to see the C-47 on display, the plane that served as the leading transport for airborne troops throughout all the major war campaigns in Europe. After the day's visits, the group will return to their hotel for an evening on their own in London.

DAY 4 Poole (June 1)

After departing London, our first visit of the day will be to visit the 101st Headquarters at Greenham Common and Newbury Airfield. Here we will study how Churchill, De Gaulle, and Eisenhower planned the airborne element of the D-Day landings. If time permits, our day concludes with a group visit to the Bovington Tank Museum, where we uncover the stories of armored warfare and its impact on the war. The group will make their way to their hotel along the southern shore of England for a group dinner and final night before embarking on the ferry to cross the English Channel for Normandy.

DAYS 5–9 Normandy (June 2 - 6)

We will spend days 5–9 in Normandy (five nights), where guests will visit all the key sites of Normandy. In addition, we will include in-depth studies of the Airborne assaults in Normandy and attend the June 6 D-Day Anniversary Ceremonies. For the next few days, site visits in Normandy will include:

  • Ste-Mere-Eglise, one of the villages where the American Airborne descended on D-Day. Here we will view and study the iconic church where John Steele and his landing on the steeple are memorialized.
  • La Fiere Bridge, where the 82nd Airborne successfully delayed a German Panzer counterattack against the Allied landing forces.
  • Brecourt Manor, where we will study and learn about the longest day at Brecourt Manor, where Lt. Dick Winters, with members of the 101st Airborne, successfully silenced German artillery firing on American troops landing at Utah Beach.
  • Pegasus Bridge, where we will visit the first airborne landings of D-Day. The British 6th Airborne, led by Major John Howard, successfully captured the bridge and liberated the first house in Normandy.
  • Utah Beach, where the 4th Division landed, and the invasion museum depicting their heroics.
  • Ste-Marie-du-Mont, where the Germans used the unique Renaissance-style steeple as an observation post.
  • Carentan, where we will follow the exact steps American Paratroopers took during the Battle of Normandy.
  • Point-du-Hoc, where Rudder’s Rangers scaled the cliffs to neutralize German heavy guns defending the expanse of beaches on D-Day.
  • Merville Battery, where on June 6th British paratroopers silenced the guns at Merville and saved lives on the invasion beaches of Normandy.

In addition, the 101st Airborne sites will include the WXYZ complex and the town of Pouppeville. 82nd Airborne sites will include a visit to the town of Chef Du Pont, where the town's capture was a major Allied objective. British Airborne sites will include the British Cemetery and the town of Ranville.

80th Anniversary of D-Day Ceremony (June 6)

Guests will rise early on June 6th and go to the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. We will begin a day-long commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of D-Day with speeches from world leaders, dignitaries, and Veterans of the war in Europe, followed by an air show by the Blue Angels. This commemorative ceremony will memorialize the heroic endeavors of the American, British, Canadian, and French forces that took place on this Hallowed Ground on June 6, 1944.

DAYS 10–13 Operation Market Garden (June 7 – 10)

Following Normandy, we will spend the next few days analyzing the largest airborne operation of the War in Europe—Operation Market Garden. Key sites will include:

  • Leopoldsburg Military Museum: This will be our first stop as we make our way northeast for the Netherlands.
  • Market Garden Operation at the southernmost drop zone: We will explore this area after the museum and will go to the fields at Son, where the 101st Airborne landed to liberate the town of Eindhoven.
  • Hell's Highway: We will proceed north along Hell’s Highway, stopping at Best and Veghel.
  • Drop zone in Groesbeek: Starting with the “All American 82nd,” we will visit their drop zone in Groesbeek. The day includes a visit to the Groesbeek Museum and the town of Nijmegen, where we study the daring crossing of the Waal River by the 82nd Airborne.
  • Northernmost drop zone at Oosterbeek: The next day we will study the northernmost drop zone at Oosterbeek by the British 6th, following a visit to the British Airborne Museum and the British cemetery.
  • Arnhem: From there, we will study the battle at Arnhem and cross the memorialized John Frost Bridge, the story told through the acclaimed film “A Bridge too Far.”

DAYS 14–16 Battle of the Bulge (June 11 – 13)

On our way south to the Ardennes Forest, we will visit Fort Eben-Emael to study the German paratrooper assault in 1940 and the capture of the Benelux. We will begin at the North shoulder of the Battle of The Bulge. Here, we will learn how the 82nd Airborne was committed on the northern face near Elsenborn Ridge. Included in the study of the Northern shoulder, we will stop at Webermont to visit the 82nd Airborne Memorial. We will also stop at Trois Point and Parker Cross Roads.

The following day we will focus our attention on the 101st and the defense of Bastogne. The day's visit will include the foxholes at the Bois Jaques and the assault on Foy and Noville.

The following day we will conclude our visits of the Battle of the Bulge sites and make our way to Brussels, our gate city back home.

Guests arrive in Brussels on June 13 in the late afternoon for a final group farewell dinner.

DAY 17 Home (June 14)

Early morning airport transfer to Brussels International Airport (BRU).

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Tour Dates

  • May 29 - June 13, 2024 - We have reached our capacity of single rooms. All single room guests are waitlist only.
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Historians

TOUR COST $8,990

Prices are per person based on double occupancy. If you are rooming alone, there is a $1,890 single occupancy supplement.

Please note there are a limited number of single rooms.

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