Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, was one of the pivotal battles of the Second World War and Operation Neptune, the amphibious assault phase, was the largest amphibious invasion of all time. Spread across five invasion beaches - codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword - along a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast, naval personnel in 5,000 ships landed 150,000 troops, of whom thousands were killed or wounded. This tour of some of the most significant sites of the landings is a fascinating and extremely moving introduction to the events surrounding the D-Day landings. After a visit to Portsmouth where the HQ, Control and Command centre of Overlord was sited, the tour follows in footsteps of the troops in 1944 to Normandy and visits all five invasion beaches where the fighting is explained and placed in context and some of the individual stories of courage and bravery are re-told. Throughout, there will be illuminating talks on every aspect of the conflict from your expert guides, who hold a passionate interest in the subject.
4 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your journey to Portsmouth, where you meet your expert guides. Before our journey to Normandy, we begin with a visit to Portsmouth’s D-Day Museum - to understand the planning of the campaign - including the Overlord Embroidery, which depicts the battle in 34 2m panels and was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. We also visit the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, a tribute to those who lost their lives at sea. After free time for lunch, we board our Brittany Ferries sailing to Caen, with dinner included on board. We travel onwards and arrive late evening at the Novotel Caen Côte de Nacre (4T), for four nights.
Day 2 Britain’s Airborne Actions
Today’s visits concentrate on the actions of Britain’s airborne forces. The 6th Airborne Division were tasked with securing the eastern flank of the landing beaches and silencing the Merville Battery. Critical to their objective was the seizure of bridges across the Caen Canal and the river Orne. In a spectacularly successful attack, gliderborne troops and paratroops secured these objectives in the first action of D-Day and held them until relieved by troops advancing from Sword Beach. We visit the sites of the attack, subsequently named Pegasus and Horsa Bridges, the glider landing sites and the Memorial Pegasus museum. In Ranville we visit the Airborne graves in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) War Cemetery and churchyard, including the grave of the first Allied soldier to be killed on D-Day, Lt Den Brotheridge. We also visit Merville Battery, where only 150 men of 9 Para managed to rendezvous with one machine gun, but still successfully took the fortress. The awe-inspiring Mémorial de Caen museum is the last stop of the day. Dinner is included at your hotel tonight.
Day 3 The British and Canadian Seaborne Invasion
The British and Canadian beaches were codenamed Sword, Juno and Gold. Today we visit the area on Sword Beach where men from the 3rd Division landed and the new memorial to D-Day hero, Piper Bill Millin, who piped Lord Lovat’s commandos ashore. We visit the superb Juno Beach Centre, where the Canadian role in the Battle of Normandy is excellently explained. At Gold Beach we visit the site of some of the heaviest casualties suffered by British troops as they stormed the tough defences at Asnelles, including the area where the deeds of CSM Stan Hollis contributed to him receiving the only Victoria Cross awarded for actions on D-Day. At Arromanches we view where the portable and prefabricated Mulberry harbour was constructed, much of which is still visible out to sea, and watch the poignant film ‘The Price of Freedom’ at Arromanches 360 Circular Theatre, built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Free time is available if you wish to visit the museum at Arromanches. We complete the day at Longues-sur-Mer artillery battery - a fine example of the coastal fortifications that made up Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’.
Day 4 The American Airborne and Seaborne Invasion
The important sites of action included today are those that highlight the role the American forces played on D-Day and the days following. The relevant sites will include: Sainte-Mère-Église, the village where 82nd Airborne Division descended on D-Day including John Steele whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church; Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, where on 6th June 1944 vast numbers of 101st US Airborne Division dropped in darkness; Utah Beach, where the Utah Beach Museum, built around the German strategic bunker WN5, occupies the exact ground where American troops set foot on French soil on D-Day; and Pointe du Hoc, where the US Ranger Assault Group scaled the cliffs to capture the guns thought to be sited there and was then obliged to hold off elements of a German Infantry Division for four days. We then visit ‘Bloody Omaha’ where the attacking troops were pinned down on the beaches for much of the day, suffering by far the worst casualties of D-Day. We uncover the real story of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ by visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, and Overlord Museum. We also take in the battlefield of La Fière Bridge and then La Cambe German war cemetery, where over 21,000 who fell in the Second World War are buried, alongside the German tank ace Michael Wittmann who destroyed at least 138 allied tanks and 132 anti-tank guns. The largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France is the Bayeux War Cemetery. Here, we will lay a wreath to remember and respect all who were killed in the war. Our final stop is the Bayeux Tapestry, the inspiration for the Overlord Embroidery. Dinner is included at the hotel tonight.
Day 5 Bayeux - Caen - Portsmouth
We travel to Caen for an early morning Brittany Ferries sailing to Portsmouth, with lunch included on board. Arrive in Portsmouth this evening where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle for the journey home.