Great Battlefields of W. Europe

Great Battlefields of Western Europe:

"From Normandy to the Rhine"

September/October, 2011



     By the spring of 1944, the Allied forces were pushing up the Italian peninsula and the Soviet Union's Red Army was closing in on occupied Poland. Adolph Hitler’s Wermacht, however, still held an iron grip on most of mainland Europe. The Allies knew that their best chance of defeating Germany was to open a second front in the West. The decision was made to launch a massive cross-Channel invasion on the European continent at Normandy.  It was their best chance of crushing the Third Reich.

On this exciting two-week tour focused on those pivotal days of 1944 when the outcome of the war hung in the balance. Led by Historian Guide Ed Bearss, we followed the action, as the allies invaded Fortress Europe and slowly, surely pushed the Germans out of their stronghold in France, through the Low Countries of the Netherlands and Belgium to the banks of the Rhine River. We also examined two of Europe’s greatest battles: the WWI Battle of the Somme and Napoleon’s Waterloo.



Monday, September 19   Depart U.S. on an overnight flight to Paris. (We have blocked 20 seats on United #914 departing Washington Dulles at 5:25 pm, arriving Paris on Tuesday, September 20 at 6:45 am.)


Tuesday, September 20   Arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport this morning. We will transfer by coach on the four-hour drive to our hotel in Bayeux, our base for the next four nights. Toast our adventure at tonight's welcome dinner. O/N Bayeux


Wednesday, September 21   We will begin our examination of the Normandy invasion at Bayeux's Battle of Normandy Museum.  Then we'll continue to the American landing at Vierville-sur-Mer’s on Omaha Beach, highlighted in the movie Saving Private Ryan. We will walk the beach where the men of the "Big Red One" came ashore and fought their way to the top of the bluff. Veterans in our group will be invited to participate in a flag lowering ceremony at the American Cemetery. Later this afternoon, you'll have an opportunity to see the Bayeux Tapestries depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066. O/N Bayeux


Thursday, September 22   This morning we will visit the German Cemetery at LaCambe. Proceed to Pointe du Hoc, where Col. James E. Rudder and his Rangers stormed a seemingly impregnable position. In Ste.-Mère-Eglise, we will tour the Airborne Museum and revisit the disastrous night at when American paratroopers, illuminated by the flames of a burning house, became easy targets for German snipers. This afternoon, we will see the German Battery at St. Marcouf and the hedgerows at Brecourt Manor, a spot made famous in the mini series Band of Brothers. We will end the day with visits to Utah Beach and the Utah Beach Museum at La Madeleine. O/N Bayeux


Friday, September23   This morning we will explore the British and Canadian landing area at Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches. We will see the massive German battery at Longues, the remains of on eof the artificial Mulberry harbor at Arromanches, and the “Pegasus Bridge” captured by the British in the opening minutes of D-Day. O/N Bayeux


Saturday, September 24   Today we will focus on Operation Cobra,the allied breakout spearheaded by Lt. General George Patton, and the Avranches Breakout. We'll visit the medieval town of St. Lo where we will learn of Thomas Howie, the “Major of St. Lo.” We will stand with the 30th Old Hickory Division at Mortain and join the Polish units on Mont Ormel, as we travel the “Corridor of Death.” O/N Amiens


Sunday, September 25  More than 800,000 men fell in bitter trench warfare in the Battle of the Somme in World War I. We will visit Thiepval, the Ulster Tower, Newfoundland Park, and Beaumont Hamel. At Auchonvillers, we will refresh ourselves at Mrs. Avril Williams’ tearoom. O/N Amiens

Monday, September 26  Today we will visit the battlefield at Waterloo, stopping en route at Arras where Erwin Rommel, the future “Desert Fox,” and his Seventh Panzer Division were briefly checked by British armor and Rommel narrowly escaped death. At Waterloo, we will relive one of the most famous battles in military history, the greatest defeat in Napoleon’s career at the hands of the Duke of Wellington. We will stand on Lion Hill for a panoramic view of the battlefield. Exhibits at the Wellington Museum, Napoleon’s headquarters, and historic farms will set the scene for Ed’s interpretation of the battle. O/N Waterloo


Tuesday, September 27  Today we will examine the disastrous British "Operation Market Garden" which was memorialized in the movie "A Bridge Too Far.”  Here nearly 10,000 paratroopers of the British Red Devil parachute division were ordered to establish a bridgehead here. The Britons lost 70 percent of their men before surrendering after a week of bloody combat. O/N Nijmegen


Wednesday, September 28  After breakfast, we will head south to the German city of Aachen, in the foothills of the Ardennes, where one of the great battles of World War II was waged. It was in Aachen that Charlemagne was crowned Holy Emperor of the Roman Empire. It was also here that Gen. Courtney Hodge’s First Army troops breached the Siegfried Line of heavy German fortifications as they plunged into Germany. We will enter the Heurtgenwald, the haunted woods, where the 28th Division, nicknamed the "Bucket of Blood" Division, experienced heavy casualties. O/N Aachen


Thursday, September 29  We will relive the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and deadliest that Americans fought in World War II. For two days we will study this heroic battle which lasted nearly a month and a half, from December 16, 1944 to January 28, 1945. Today Ed will take us to the key sites on the ground hallowed by First Army GIs including Elsenborn Ridge, the site of the Malmedy Massacre, and Troi Ponts. O/N Luxembourg


Friday, September 30  Today we continue our study of the Battle of the Bulge.  We will  stop in Schonberg, site of the largest US troop surrender since 1942.  At St. Vith we will see the U.S. Memorial, then travel the Skyline Drive to Clerveaux and on to Bastogne to visit battle sites and the Memorial Museum. We will drive to Luxembourg via Houffalize, where on January 16, 1945 Hodge’s First Army linked up with George Patton’s Third Army.    O/N Luxembourg


Saturday, October 1  Before leaving Luxembourg, we'll visit the German cemetery and the U.S. Military Cemetery at Hamm, with its lovely stone chapel dedicated by the people of Luxembourg to the people of America. Among the simple white crosses dotting the extensive green lawns is the grave of General Patton. We'll visit  the Museum of American Military History and General Collins Headquarters at Beaufort and the Bollendorf Bridge. We'll see the Roman ruins in the historic town of Trier. O/N Koblenz

Sunday, October 2   Our last day we will visit Cologne (or Koln).  Situated in the center of the German industrial heartland, Koln was a principal target for allied bombers. It was utterly destroyed between 1942 and 1945. The city was restored including it's magnificent twin-towered cathedral. We'll continue to Remagen, where the U.S. First Army "one-upped" British Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery by crossing the Rhine first. Return to Koblenz for our farewell dinner. O/N Koblenz


Monday, October 3  Following breakfast we will bus to Frankfurt Airport for the return flight to the U.S. (We have blocked 20 seats on United Flight #953, scheduled to depart Frankfurt at 11:00 am; arriving at Washington Dulles at 1:56 pm)



* Historian: Ed Bearss

* Professional Local Guide fluent in French

* Tour Manager: Marty Gane

* 13 nights hotel first class or superior accommodations

* 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 afternoon tea, 8 dinners

* all taxes, baggage handling and gratuities; pre-trip notes, reading list and map book


Double Occupancy, Land Only:  $5,295 per person

Double Occupancy, Land + Air:  $6,325 per person

Single Occupancy, Land Only:  $6,195

Single Occupancy, Land + Air:  $7,225

To enroll on this tour, print & complete the attached registration form and mail it with a $500 per person deposit check to: South Mountain Expeditions, P.O. Box 204, Keedysville, MD, 21756. Or call us at (301) 988-1852 or toll free at 1 (866) 914-1862. We accept VISA, Mastercard and American Express.

Mortain Hill 317
U.S. Cemetery Omaha Beach