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“The Longest Day,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers” are but a few of the dramatizations that have highlighted the heroism of D-Day over the years. From Churchill’s War Rooms in London to the fortified cliffs of Pointe du Hoc in France, this tour will retrace the first steps in the historic liberation of France. This specially curated journey tells the story of the battle for France, from the planning grounds of England, where the complex campaign for freeing Western Europe from the Nazis was hammered out, to the landing beaches of Normandy, where the fruits of that labor played out for the world to see. The final resting places of hundreds of Allied soldiers tell a story of duty and bravery by all who fought in the largest amphibious landing in history. The 76th-anniversary observance of June 6, 1944, is a vivid reminder of a time when the fate of Europe hung in the balance of a single battle.
Jun 2-8, 2020
England and France
Learn about the buildup to D-Day and the battle staging that took place in England by visiting important sites in London and Portsmouth, including Churchill’s War Rooms, Bletchley Park and the Portsmouth D-Day museum.
At a local pub hear tales of the role it played during World War II.
Get access to Southwick House in Portsmouth, normally closed to the public. It was there, on June 5, 1944, that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower made the historic and risky decision to launch Operation Overlord.
Walk with a historian along Omaha Beach, where approximately 1,000 American soldiers died, and gain an in-depth perspective on the coastal landings and air invasion by the Allies.
Arrive in London and transfer to your centrally located hotel. In the early afternoon, meet your journalist-host and fellow Los Angeles Times Expedition travelers for a guided tour of the Churchill Museum, an interactive collection exploring Churchill’s 90-year life, as well as the Cabinet War Rooms. The War Rooms, located below Westminster and protected from German aerial bombings due to their underground location, are where Churchill directed the British war effort. This “safe place” contains maps, telephones and bunks that have been preserved since 1945. This evening, attend a welcome reception and dinner. (R, D)
Travel today to Bletchley Park, home of the first machines designed to break German code. Gain an in-depth perspective on this top-secret location as you learn how the machines, called the Bombe and the Enigma, were created and used by the British during World War II. They are credited with shortening the war by successfully deciphering the encryption used by the German Wehrmacht to safeguard its messages. (The life of their inventor, Alan Turing, was dramatized in “The Imitation Game.”) After lunch at a local pub, visit the HMS Belfast. Launched in 1938, the Belfast almost immediately went to war, hunting down enemy raiders and protecting Allied convoys in the North Atlantic. It led an expedition force at Normandy on D-Day and was preparing to join the battle in the Pacific when the war ended. The ship last saw action in the Korean War and returned home permanently in 1962. This evening, dinner is on your own. (B, L)
Today travel south to Portsmouth. Just outside Portsmouth, visit the Map Room at Southwick House (subject to confirmation) and see where Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower made the historic decision to launch Operation Overlord. At the D-Day Museum, examine the Overlord Embroidery — a stunning, 270-foot handcrafted depiction of D-Day events. Then cross the English Channel by ferry and arrive in Normandy in the late evening. (B, L, D)
Explore the village of Sainte-Mère-Église, where the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division paratroopers dropped from the sky in a rain of gunfire on the night of June 5. View the church steeple upon which one unlucky paratrooper was entangled for hours and visit the village's Airborne Museum. Stop for lunch at Le Roosevelt, a restaurant built around a former German bunker just steps from Utah Beach. Stand on Utah Beach, site of one of the two American amphibious landings in the early hours of D-Day. Time permitting, visit the German war cemetery at La Cambe. (B, L, D)
This morning, visit one of the most dramatic sites along the Normandy coastline, Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers used hooks and ropes to scale cliffs some 100 feet high to destroy key German gun positions. Walk along clifftop pathways still cratered by mortar blasts and venture into the concrete bunkers from which German forces unleashed a barrage of artillery fire. Then travel to the American military cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, where we will lay a wreath in honor of the brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Afterward continue to the Overlord Museum, which chronicles the two months between the invasion and the liberation of Paris, then walk on Omaha Beach, site of the bloodiest fighting of D-Day. (B, D)
This morning, visit Pegasus Memorial bridge and museum, dedicated to the men of the 6th British Airborne Division. Hear a private talk by the director of the museum, then tour the exhibits that recount the battle in 1944 for this strategic location. Travel to Bayeux and take a guided tour of the Bayeux Tapestry. Have lunch in Bayeux and explore the city. This evening, attend a farewell reception and dinner with your fellow travelers. (R, D)
After breakfast, transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for individual flights home or onward. (B)