Americans in Normandy

Ed Forteau's picture

Retrace America’s Fallen Heroes On A World War Two Tour of Europe

A new specialist European vacation is offering US veterans, their families and military history enthusiasts the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding into the American involvement into World War Two and the Normandy landings.

Launched by the UK’s leader in Battlefields tours with specialist guides, Leger Holidays, the five-day trip will re-trace the steps of the US Invasion Force as it played a vital role in securing the success of the Allied liberation of Europe.  Recently I had a chance to talk with Leger Holidays, about their Americans in Normandy Tour. Let's see what they have to say...

WE:  Tell us a little bit about the Americans in Normandy Tour...

LH: This tour concentrates on the Normandy landings and some of the following actions, which would result in the retreat of the German Armies through the ‘Falaise Gap’.

At 6.35a.m. on 6th June 1944, ‘D-Day’ troops of the American 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions approached a beach in Normandy for what they thought was to be a walkover. By the end of that fateful day this beach would be forever known as ‘Bloody Omaha’. Meanwhile, further to the West, American Airborne troops had landed, during the hours of darkness, on the Cotentin Peninsular to pave the way for the American 4th Infantry Division, who were to land on ‘Utah Beach’. Two totally different stories, but, each equally important in the success of the Allied liberation of Europe.

Day 1  We travel to our hotel in Caen in Normandy.

Day 2 Omaha Sector (included).
On this day we concentrate on the ‘Omaha’ sector, visiting the beach area itself, where you will see for yourself some of the difficulties that had to be overcome by the assaulting troops.
We then visit the American Military Cemetery overlooking the beach, to pay our respects to the American troops. After lunch, in the small fishing port of Port-en-Bessin, we visit the famous German gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer, forever immortalised in the film ‘The Longest Day’. From there we move along the coast to the German gun battery at Pointe du Hoc, taken, and held, at considerable cost by American Rangers. We end the day at the German War Cemetery, formerly an American Cemetery, which now holds some 29,000 fallen German troops from the battle for Normandy.

Day 3 Utah Beach (included). This day takes us to the westernmost sector of the landings, the Cotentin Peninsular. We start by visiting the seaborne landing area known as ‘Utah Beach’, followed by visits to German gun positions which could have had a detrimental affect on the landings.
We then move inland to look at the exploits of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. On the success of these two Divisions depended the success of the ‘Utah’ landings.
We visit the town of Ste.Mère-Église and some of the surrounding villages, so important to the success of the landings. Ending the day at Carentan, as featured in ‘Band of Brothers’.

Day 4 Operation Cobra and Falaise Gap (included). Takes us inland, to follow the advance down the Cotentin Peninsular. The battles for St. Lô and ‘Operation Cobra’, Montgomery’s famed ‘American Break Out in the West’, which resulted in the battle for the ‘Falaise Gap’. We travel down to Avranches, see the start of the Battle for Brittany and the start of the Battle for the Falaise Gap. Taking time to visit the American Cemetery at St. James (Brittany) before returning to our hotel via the American advance to Mortain.

Day 5 Return to UK.

Four nights, bed and breakfast at the 3-star Mercure Caen Côte de Nacre, Herouville St Clair. The hotel is situated on the outskirts of Caen. The hotel has a lounge bar and restaurant. All bedrooms are comfortably furnished with T.V., telephone and hairdryer. The hotel does not have a lift.

Leger also offers the option of travelling on-board a luxurious Silver Service coach. This exclusive service offers luxury seats, extra leg room, separate rear lounge, DVD and video, free personal in-seat headsets and more excursions on some tours, plus porterage in all hotels.

WE:  What other military tours do you offer?

LH:  Leger is the UK leader in Battlefield tours, with the widest range of tours, departure dates, and specialist guides. Our customers can choose from over 20 WWI and WWII battlefield tours such as:

All Quiet on the Western front - A definitive introduction to the Battlefields of Flanders and the Somme, learning about the battlefields around Ypres and Passchendaele and attending the last post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Also a day to the Somme Battlefield including Thiepval Memorial. 5 day tour also includes Vimy Ridge and Arras.

Operation Market Garden - The race for Berlin was on! September 1944 saw Montgomery’s heroic grab at victory in Holland in Operation Market Garden, a combined assault by land and airborne forces. We explore the Arnhem area, Hell’s Highway, Nijmegen and Overloon. A fascinating story of grim determination in the face of staunch German resistance.

The Battle of the Bulge - Hitler’s last gamble in winter 1944/1945 resulted in fierce fighting in the Ardennes in freezing conditions. Discover heroic feats attempted by both sides and learn the stories of heroism and defeat in this intriguing battle, studying the fighting itself and also the harsh reprisals taken by the enemy army in the depths of winter weather.

Other tours include: Gallipoli Battlefields, Colditz, Dambusters and the Great Escape, The Italian Campaign and The story of Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler and many more. New for this year are Arras – Britain’s bloodiest Battle and The War Underground and Western Front Explorer.

Leger’s Battlefield tours are truly inspirational journeys of remembrance and discovery.

WE:  Who leads the tours?

LH: We have over 20 Specialist battlefield guides, who work closely with Leger and select and contribute hugely towards our itineraries.

Our expert guides help our customers to understand why battles were fought, show them the places of conflict and tell them revealing human stories to cast light on what really happened, and how people were affected. They pitch the explanations of the places visited and the background to the battles at just the right historical level for our customers making sure our customer get the full battlefield tour experience.

WE:  Who generally attends the tours?

LH: People with a general interest wanting a short break with a difference (which is how we launched and grew the product initially). Plus specialists - military enthusiasts, historians, people tracing their family history, regimental associations, schools and veterans.

Tours appeal to all ages and many customers travel on several of the tours every year and wait in anticipation for the new tours that we bring out each year.

WE:  Are families with children welcome?

LH: We have specially selected our two main introductory tours, All Quiet on the Western Front and D-Day Landings in Normandy and allocated special departures, within our school holidays, to make it easy for families to experience the battlefields of Europe.

WE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

LH: Leger Holidays sponsor several visitor centres and events every year, one being the Merville Battery museum, a landmark site of WWII which we contributed 1000 euros in 2007 and are a regular sponsor for the Last Post association.

Personalised tours can be put together for groups; they can choose their itinerary, departure date and duration. Groups can start from as little as 11 passengers and offer up to 4 free places on one coach. We have dedicated specialist advisors that will take care of every detail for you, making the groups organisers job so easy.

WE: Thank you so much! This tour sounds so very important in understanding our global history. 


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