BRITISH & COMMONWEALTH D-DAY TOUR
A full-day private tour of the British and Canadian D-Day sites in a modern air-conditioned minivan (up to 8 passengers). During the day we will walk in the footsteps of the troops who took part in history’s most ambitious military operation – Operation Overlord. Overlord involved more than 10,000 aircraft and 7,000 ships, and landed over 156,000 allied servicemen on the beaches and in the hedgerows of Normandy during the 6th of June 1944. We will visit Pegasus Bridge, strongpoint Hillman, Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, Arromanches and the mulberry harbour, and the Longues-sur-Mer battery.
Pegasus Bridge, Ranville
We begin with an early pick-up from any hotel in the Lower Normandy** area allowing sufficient time to arrive at our first stop, Pegasus Bridge Memorial, around 9:30am.
We’ll learn about Operation Deadstick – the 6th Airborne Division’s textbook capture of the Caen canal and Orne bridges in the early hours of D-Day – then step across the original bascule bridge, renamed Pegasus after the paratroopers’ flying horse insignia.
There’s a short and informative film introduced by HRH Prince Charles who inaugurated the memorial in 2000, and some fascinating exhibits including a full-scale replica of a Horsa Glider.
Lord Lovat's Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade.
"We Love Normandy is a fantastic one-shop guide to one of the best known and most historic destinations in France. Nicky and Patrick offer everything from expert guide services to tips and information about what to see and where to go in Normandy."
Fortress Hillman, Colleville-Montgomery
Colleville-Montgomery, Strongpoint Hillman
After disembarking at Sword Beach, the 1st Suffolks advanced towards Caen and encountered two German strongpoints codenamed ‘Hillman’ and ‘Morris’. The garrison at Morris surrendered, but the defenders in the underground fortress of Hillman fought on (many to the death) until the evening of D-Day. We will visit the bunkers and trenches that cover an area of over 20 hectares. The village of Colleville was renamed Colleville-Montgomery in Monty’s honour (and to distinguish it from the village of the same name above Omaha beach).
We arrive at the eastern end of the landing beaches at Ouistreham and pause to visit Lord Lovat’s statue, the 70th Anniversary Sword Beach Memorial, and the Kieffer Monument (a tribute to the French commandos). By the end of D-Day, over 28,000 men had come ashore at Sword for 683 casualties. We will then follow the coastal road through the villages of Riva Bella, Lion-sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer to the Canadian sector.
Le Grand Bunker museum, Sword Beach
From Sword we arrive at Juno: six miles of beach from Langrune-sur-Mer to Graye-sur-Mer. Here Major General Keller’s Canadian 3rd Infantry came ashore. 21,000 troops landed but several companies – notably the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada – suffered heavy casualties. Resistance from the German 716th Infantry Division and elements of 21st Panzer resulted in nearly 1,000 troops killed, wounded or captured. We will see Canada House in Bernières-sur-Mer (one of the first private residences to be liberated on D-Day), the Juno Beach Centre and the charming marina at Courseulles-sur-Mer – the port where Winston Churchill first disembarked on June 12, 1944. Here we can pause for a quick lunch at one of the many cafés and restaurants on the harbour front.
Canadian Memorial, Juno Beach
Gold beach, just north of the cathedral town of Bayeux, was the responsibility of the British XXX Corps under Lieutenant General Bucknall. 25,000 men disembarked on Gold’s five miles of sand but the German defence resulted in over a thousand British casualties. One man’s courage – Sergeant Stan Hollis – earned him the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day. We will visit the tram stop on the beach (misidentified by allied reconnaissance as an enemy pillbox) where Hollis came ashore, the Mount Fleury Battery which he neutralised almost single-handedly, and the village of Crépon where a memorial to his Brigade, The Green Howards, now stands.
The Green Howards Memorial, Crépon
Continuing westwards, we arrive in the seaside village of Arromanches-les-Bains. The gently curving bay, sheltered on two sides by cliffs, was the ideal location for the Allies’ artificial harbour, codenamed Mulberry. We will view the remains of the harbour from the cliffs and descend to the beach where several of the giant caissons used to support the floating piers can still be viewed. On June 15 1944 the harbour began operating and by the end of the war 2.5 million troops, half a million vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies had been brought ashore.
Phoenix Caisson, part of the Mulberry Harbour, Arromanches
A little further west we arrive at the gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer. On D-Day, four 152mm guns in concrete casemates fired on targets at sea and on the beaches. The British cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Argonaut put the battery out of action, but we will see three of the original guns that are still in position. If we run to schedule we can visit the Fire Control bunker which is remarkably intact.
152mm gun at the Longues-sur-Mer battery
Bayeux, British Cemetery
We end the day with a solemn visit to the final resting place of 4,648 British servicemen and the memorial to over 1,800 missing, at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Bayeux. For Canadian guests we can visit the Canadian cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer near Juno Beach.
British Cemetery, Bayeux
At the end of the tour we will return you safely to your hotel.
Start/End : Winter period from 9:30am to 5:30pm / Summer period from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Private tour prices including pick-up and return to your hotel or other residence** and all taxes for up to 8 guests, excluding museum entry charges, refreshments and gratuities.
* If time allows we may include one or two of the museums mentioned. However, the longer we spend in the museums the less time we can dedicate to our tour’s objectives: to experience the actual places where D-Day’s momentous events took place. The choice is yours!
** Within 1-hour's drive of the town of Bayeux.