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Europe

D-Day Tour - 76th Anniversary

Dates

1-9 June 2020

D-DAY TOUR 2020 - 76TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NORMANDY LANDINGS - OPERATION OVERLORD

2020 marks the 76th anniversary of D-Day and Twynhams Tours are hosting a special remembrance tour to commemorate this monumental event in world history. Commencing in the UK, this inclusive eight-night tour will visit strategically important sites including a private guided tour of Southwick House, Churchill’s War Rooms and dinner on HMS Belfast, an original D-Day warship.

Following in the footsteps of the Allied forces in 1944 we make our way to Normandy and the infamous beaches Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword where the amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment. A highlight of your tour will be a 30-minute helicopter flight over the historic Normandy beaches and landmarks. We also visit key Allied locations such as Pegasus Bridge, the iconic church and steeple of Ste-Mere-Eglise, the American Rangers landing zone at Pointe-du-Hoc and finally, we pay our respects at the Allied cemeteries. Numerous official remembrance ceremonies are planned throughout the week and we will attend the major events during the tour.

A unique, engaging, informative and relaxing tour which includes charming hotels, premium transfers, hand-picked restaurants and knowledgeable guides. This is an event that no military history enthusiast will want to miss.

 "Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: 
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.
The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking".

General Dwight D Eisenhower. Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe
D-Day Pre-invasion Order June 1944

DAY ONE
Monday. The Tour commences on Monday morning with complimentary private transfers from local airports and stations to the luxury 4* Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge. Nestled in the heart of the Brooklands Estate, home to the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit, it is a modern boutique hotel that effortlessly combines contemporary style with classic elegance. The award-winning 1907 restaurant, bar & grill pay homage to the golden age of motor racing  and the modern, luxurious rooms feature contemporary architecture and iconic art deco-inspired interiors.

The Brooklands Hotel & Spa, your exceptional 4* hotel for the first two nights of the tour

In the early evening we make our way to the Churchill War Rooms for our welcome drinks and dinner. Here you will step back in time to explore the labyrinth of rooms and corridors of the underground bunker below the City of Westminster. This was the key location from where Britain's leaders plotted the Allied route to victory during the Second World War. We have a special guest speaker to entertain you during dinner.

The Churchill War Rooms - The underground bunkers where the Prime Minister and war cabinet sheltered and strategised

 DAY TWO
Tuesday. Leaving our hotel after breakfast we travel to Southwick House near Portsmouth. In 1944, in the months leading up to D-Day, the house became the headquarters of the main Allied commanders, including Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower, Naval Commander-in-Chief Admiral Ramsay and Army Commander-in-Chief General Montgomery. The large wall maps that were used in planning D-Day are still in place in the house, with the various markers showing the positions of the involved forces at the moment the first landing commenced.

The original map of the D-Day landings at Southwick House, headquarters of SHAEF in the build up to Operation Overlord

In the late afternoon we make our way to the River Thames in Central London and visit the D-Day warship, HMS Belfast. Here you will have a private guided tour of the famous Second World War survivor, now an iconic London landmark. Get up close to the inner workings of this warship from the guns that fired some of the first shots on D-Day right down to the engine rooms three metres below sea level. After our tour we have a private dinner arranged on board to help you get to know your fellow shipmates!


HMS Belfast an original D-Day warship completes day two of your tour

 DAY THREE
Wednesday. It's time to leave the UK and make our way to Normandy just as the troops did in June 1944 (although we will be using the slightly faster route via Eurotunnel to make the crossing). On the way to France we will call in at Winston Churchill's family home, Chartwell. A country estate near the town of Westerham in Kent, it was Churchill's home for 40 years. Now owned by the National Trust it is decorated in original 1930's designs and is displayed as if the family are still in residence. Throughout the house there are some fascinating insights into D-Day including a scale model of the famous Mulberry Harbour that was used during the landings.

After dinner en-route we arrive at our charming hotel in Bayeux, your home for the next six nights. Ideally located in the heart of the region, it's perfectly situated for all of the D-Day landing beaches and events that will be taking place during the 76th anniversary commemorations.

Our charming hotel surrounded by magnificent formal gardens in central Normandy

DAY FOUR
Thursday.
The first British landings in Normandy were at the now famous Pegasus Bridge. On the night of the 5th June 1944, 181 men, led by Major John Howard, took off from southern England in six Horsa gliders to capture the two bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne. Five of the Ox and Bucks regiment gliders landed as close as 50 metres from their objectives. At 16 minutes past midnight they poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and took the bridges within 10 minutes of landing.

This morning we visit the Pegasus Museum where you will see the original Pegasus Bridge and have the opportunity to cross the canal and enjoy a drink at the Cafe Gondree. It was the first building to be liberated in Europe and is still run by the family that owned it in 1944.  

The original Pegasus Bridge is on display in the superb Pegasus Museum, dedicated to the British Paratroopers of 1944

On leaving Pegasus Bridge we will visit Ranville Cemetery and then make our way to the Caen Memorial. Our attention here will be focused on General Richter's headquarters. Located beneath the Mémorial de Caen museum, this command post played a crucial role during the occupation and the Battle of Normandy.

The Caen Mémorial museum was built on top of an underground gallery which contained the command post of General Major Wilhelm Richter, commander of the 716th German infantry division which guarded the coastal sector from Omaha to the mouth of the Orne. In 1943 the German commander decided to base his general headquarters in this former quarry, which had also been used as a firing range by the French Army. A tunnel measuring 70 metres long and 3 metres high was dug in the limestone rock. The Allies were aware of the existence of this structure through information provided by the French Resistance.

A new display presents the military aspects of the German occupation, as well as the history of the Atlantic Wall, from its construction to its role during the D-Day landings.

The Caen Memorial and
General Major Wilhelm Richters command bunker

During the drive back towards Bayeux we pass Sword, Juno and Gold beaches. Our expert tour guide will talk you through the significance of each location and we will stop off at the 'Grand Bunker' on Sword beach and also the new Normandy Memorial to the British troops on the headland above Gold beach. Dinner is at a local restaurant in Bayeux this evening.

DAY FIVE
Friday. This morning we visit the 360 Degree Cinema and Arromanches where an artificial port was installed. The Allies established an artificial 'Mulberry' harbour to allow the unloading of heavy equipment without waiting for the conquest of deep water ports such as Le Havre or Cherbourg. Although it was at the centre of the Gold beach landing zone, Arromanches was spared the brunt of the fighting on D-Day so the installation and operation of the port could proceed as quickly as possible without damaging the beach and destroying surrounding lines of communication. The port was commissioned on 14 June 1944.

From Arromanches it is a short journey to the Longues-sur-Mer battery, sited on a cliff overlooking the sea and forming a part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications. It was located between the Allied landing beaches of Gold and Omaha and shelled both beaches on D-Day. The battery was captured on June 7 and played no further part in the Normandy campaign and is the only one in Normandy to retain all its original guns in situ.

One of the original artillery guns at the Longues-Ser-Mer battery

This afternoon it is time for a highlight of the tour, your opportunity to take to the skies and get a birds eye view of the Normandy beaches. Your 30-minute helicopter 'commentated' flight will take you over the beaches, batteries, bunkers and American Cemetery.*