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.
Our D-Day to the Rhine Tour itinerary 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 D-Day Tour that is unmatched in its authenticity.
On our D-Day Tour you will follow along the path where America’s best and brightest fought in World War II. The itinerary features a Normandy tour that visits all of the American cemeteries along the Normandy beaches, including Omaha Beach and Utah Beach.
Evolution of the D-Day to the Rhine Tour
Stephen Ambrose founded the Eisenhower Center at UNO in the 1980s, when he began work on the book Eisenhower: Soldier and President. As part of Dr. Ambrose’s research, he began interviewing D-Day veterans about their firsthand experiences fighting during WWII. He set them up with tape recorders and each soldier started with his name, rank and serial number and then told his story.
Stephen Ambrose also began traveling with these veterans to the battlefields of Normandy to record their firsthand recollections. Not only did he use this research for many of his best-selling books, including D-Day: June 6, 1944, but he also began to tell the stories of these citizen soldiers on his D-Day tour at the very places where they fought. In addition, WWII luminaries like British Major John Howard were among the speakers Ambrose had on the early D-Day tours. Their collective input is what makes the D-Day to the Rhine tour that we run today the most historically accurate D-Day tour you can experience.
Our Historians are D-Day Experts
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.
Travel on a Special D-Day Secret War Tour in September 2018!
In 2018, in addition to offering our regular D-Day to the Rhine tours (June, July and September), we are also offering a special D-Day tour—D-Day Secret War. This tour, which will run September 16 – 29, 2018, is the same price as our other D-Day tours.
The D-Day Secret War Tour follows along the path of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, the extraordinary deception soldiers better known as the Ghost Army. This tour focuses not only on the planning and invasion of Normandy, but also the contributions made by this top secret U.S. Army unit. Led by Historian Rick Beyer, the director and producer of the award-winning PBS documentary, The Ghost Army, Rick was a star among guests who heard him speak at our recent History Symposium.
In England, you will visit Bletchley Park, the Churchill War Rooms, Walton Hall and Southwick House. In Normandy, you’ll explore the American cemetery, Omaha and Utah beaches, Ste-Mere-Elgise, the Pegasus Bridge and the village of Trevieres. After Normandy, you will spend two nights in Paris, with a free day to take in the the shops, restaurants and cultural sites. We then head to Luxembourg for three nights, where you will study the Battle of the Bulge in depth. The farewell reception is in the town of Wiesbaden, near the Frankfurt airport.
On this year’s Ghost Army of WWII Tour we will be dedicating a Ghost Army historical marker in Bettembourg, Luxembourg on the EXACT spot where the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops impersonated the 6th Armored during Operation Bettembourg in September 1944. We expect the American ambassador, reenactors, and other officials to join us as we honor these heroes. Travel this fall to be a part of this extraordinary event!
Don’t miss this very special opportunity to travel with Rick on this very special two-tours-in-one tour!
D-Day Post-Tour Options for 2018
Berchtesgaden Extension (June and September tours)
After leaving Frankfurt, visit the solemn site of Dachau Concentration Camp. Continue for two nights in the Berchtesgaden area where you have a city tour of Berchtesgaden and visit the Obersalzberg bunker and Eagle’s Nest. Enjoy a night on-your-own in the Berchtesgaden area. Last full day will include a city tour of Munich, as well as the farewell reception. Next morning is a transfer to the Munich airport (MUC).
Nuremberg and Berchtesgaden Extension (July tour)
The July post-tour will depart Frankfurt to the historic city of Nuremberg, where Hitler staged his infamous Nazi rallies and the International Tribunal conducted the Nuremberg Trials. After lunch in the picturesque market center dominated by the Frauenkirche, we will have a guided tour of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and visit the Nuremberg Trials Courtroom 600. The second day, the group will visit Dachau Concentration Camp and have a city tour of Munich. The last full day will include a day trip to Berchtesgaden, where you will have a city tour and visit the Obersalzberg bunker and Eagle’s Nest.
There is no post-tour option for the special D-Day Secret War Tour.
DAY 1 Overnight Flight to London
Book your overnight flight the day before you'd like to arrive in London.
DAY 2 London
Arrive in London on the morning of Day 2 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
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
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 advance 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 the Army Commander-In-Chief General Montgomery.
DAY 5 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 to Normandy 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 where John Steele and his landing on the steeple are memorialized. We also visit La Fiere Bridge where the 82nd Airborne successfully delayed a German Panzer counter-attack against the Allied landing forces.
DAY 6 Normandy
We will 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 Rudder's Rangers scaled the cliffs to neutralize German heavy guns defending the expanse of beaches on D-Day.
DAY 7 Normandy
Well 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 8 Paris
We arrive in Paris this afternoon. The Allies, preceded by Free French troops, symbolically reclaimed the French capital from the Nazis in August 1944. As did the American troops on leave, you may explore the city on your own. The evening is free.
DAY 9 Arnhem
After breakfast, we board a high-speed train to Brussels and begin our study of Operation Market Garden, the early attempt by the Allied forces to strike directly for Berlin. Control of the bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem was essential for the push into Germany. We drive Hell's Highway where the 101st and 82nd Airborne broke through to connect with the British in Arnhem. We visit Nijmegen to see the daring crossing of the Waal River by the 82nd Airborne.
From there we proceed to Arnhem where again we cross the "Bridge Too Far." Our historian will recount the desperate three days that the British 1st Airborne under General John Frost held it. Afterwards, we finish at the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek.
DAY 10 The Ardennes
This is where Hitler put everything he had into his final counter-attack in the Ardennes that became the Battle of the Bulge. On December 16, 1944, Lt. Lyle Bouck was one of the first people to see the German columns coming. We'll make our first stop in the Ardennes at Lanzereth, the town where Bouck and a platoon of 19 men held off a full strength German SS Battalion under the infamous Joachim Peiper for an entire day. Well visit the American positions and hear their story, a breathtaking tale of heroism.
On December 17, 1944, the second day of the offensive, the Germans had several breakthroughs and many Americans surrendered near the town of Malmedy. Outside the town, Peiper's SS lined up about 150 GIs and fired at them point blank. Less than half escaped alive. We will view the site of the massacre and the American Memorial at Malmedy. From there, we have a scenic drive through the Ardennes Mountains to our evening lodging.
DAY 11 Luxembourg
We continue our study of the Battle of the Bulge. After breakfast, we drive to Bastogne where the Americans rallied and stopped the German attack. Here we 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. Our group will visit key sites in and around this historic crossroads town. We will also go to General McAuliffe's HQ where he replied to German surrender demands with one word: "NUTS." After our visit, it is a short ride to Luxembourg. This afternoon affords some relaxing free time in the center of this bustling but charming old world city.
DAY 12 Frankfurt
We drive to nearby Hamm and the American cemetery and the site of General George S. Patton's grave. America's foremost WWII field general rests here among his men.
Well drive to the Siegfried Line to see remnants of the German communication trenches, pillboxes and dragon's teeth that American GIs fought so hard to take in late 1944. This evening we gather for a farewell dinner and discussion after an enriching campaign into history.
DAY 13 Flight Home
Early morning departure to the Frankfurt International Airport.
Post-tour - DAY 1 - Berchtesgaden
We continue our journey toward the Bavarian Alps. We will visit Dachau, site of some of the most nefarious acts against humankind during the war, as we travel south through Bavaria. In total, over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were housed in Dachau: notably Jews, resistance fighters, clergymen, politicians, communists, writers, artists and royalty. The second camp liberated by British or American forces, Dachau was one of the first places where the West was exposed to Nazi brutality.
Post-tour - DAY 2 - Berchtesgaden
The morning begins with a city tour of Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg where we will visit the Eagle's Nest and the remains of the vast Nazi Party complex liberated by the Allies in May 1945. Eagle's Nest was built as a 50th birthday present to Hitler from the Nazi party. Perched at 6017 feet, the complex and the road network leading to it were considered feats of engineering as they were completed in only 13 months time in 1937-38.
Post-tour - DAY 3 - Munich
Today, the group will enjoy a city tour of Munich including the sites related to the rise of the Nazi Party. Farewell dinner.
Post-tour - DAY 4 - Flights Home
Drop off at Munich Airport.