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D-Day Tour - 76th Anniversary


1-9 June 2020


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

Monday. The Tour commences on Monday afternoon as you check-in to our London hotel. 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

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 head to the River Thames to visit the D-Day warship, HMS Belfast. Here you will have a private guided tour of the famous Second World War survivor and which is 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

Wednesday. It's time to leave the UK and make our way to Normandy just as the troops did in June 1944 (although we'll 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's 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

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's regiments 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 are visiting the Pegasus Museum for a guided tour. You will see the original Pegasus Bridge and there is the opportunity to cross the canal and have a drink at the Cafe Gondree, still run by the daughter of the family that owned it on that infamous night and the first building to be liberated in Europe. 

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

This afternoon, it's 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 all of the beaches, batteries, bunkers and the famous American Cemetery. (*Subject to weather conditions. If the flights can't take place on Tuesday we'll reschedule for another day. If there is no opportunity to fly during the week we will refund the price of the flights at the cost price.)

The American War Cemetery from the air. You will get to see this and all five of the D-Day beaches during your helicopter flight

Friday.  Back on the ground today, in the morning we head for the fantastic Overlord Museum at Omaha Beach. Rated as one of the best in Normandy it chronicles the period of the Allied landing until the liberation of Paris. The collection was created by someone who was both a witness to the conflict and involved in the reconstruction of Normandy. Personal items from individual soldiers and armoured fighting vehicles from the six armies in Normandy are presented as a series of reconstructions showing over 35 vehicles, tanks and guns.

After lunch we visit Pointe-Du-Hoc. Set between Omaha and Utah Beaches, where the American Rangers fought a bloody battle whilst scaling the vertical 30 metre high cliffs. In the late afternoon the tour takes in the American War Cemetery to pay our respects to the heroes who died whilst helping to liberate France and Europe.

The American Cemetery in Normandy contains the graves of over 9,000 soldiers, a poignant reminder of the huge losses incurred during Operation Overlord

 For those of our tour group who want to extend their day we offer a complimentary excursion after dinner. At around 10pm we make our way to Pegasus Bridge for the official and unofficial commemorations taking place. There are re-enactors at the bridge and a Scottish Bagpiper who creates the most amazing atmosphere. At just past midnight there is an official tribute to Major Howard, as his daughter leads a reading and plays part of an original recording from his interviews about his exprience on D-Day.

June 6th 1944. June 6th 2020.
Exactly 76 years ago today the D-Day landings began. There are numerous events and ceremonies planned throughout Normandy to remember this historic day. From unofficial gatherings of veterans and re-enactors on the beaches as the sun rises, to the the pomp and pageantry of the official ceremony. Once the definitive event diary is announced in early 2020 we will confirm the exact locations that we will be visiting, but rest assured that you will have plentiful opportunities to take part in the commemorations.

 Official ceremonies take place all over Normandy today- This was at Utah Beach in 2018

By 5am on the morning of 6th June 1944 the Stars & Stripes flag was flying proudly over Sainte Mère Église which became the first town in France to be liberated. The town was made even more famous by John Steele whose parachute caught on the church steeple where he hung helplessly on the side of the church during the intense ground battle.

The D-Day commemoration weekend is always an amazing spectacle of re-enactors from all over the world taking part in the commemorations in jeeps, on motorcycles or on foot. The centre of these activities is a small town called Sainte Mère Église and that's where we are spending the day. There is lots to see and do including musical events, parades and parachute drops. Our base for the day will be in the first floor of a cafe overlooking the square. From here you'll be able to watch the proceedings whilst enjoying lunch and afternoon tea.

Lunch and afternoon tea in our cafe above the square in Sainte Mère Église

The excellent American Airborne Museum is situated just off the town square in honour of those D-Day paratroopers from the US 82nd Airborne Division and you will have access to the museum for the whole afternoon. In the evening we are having dinner in a fabulous Bayeux restaurant.

. After the brisk pace of the last few days it's time to relax! There are a couple of options for today; either sightseeing and shopping in Bayeux, or a visit to the 360 Degree Cinema and Arromanche. Arromanches is the location where a Mulberry harbour artificial port was installed allowing the disembarkation of 9,000 tons of material per day.

It was on the beach of Arromanches that the Allies established an artificial temporary 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.

Finally we pay our respects at the British War Graves cemetery in Bayeux and then round off our week in Normandy with our end of tour farewell dinner.