The Mighty Eighth


September 6/7-16, 2016 



One of the most compelling chapters of the Second World War was written by pilots in the skies over England and Europe.  For four agonizing months in the summer of 1940, nearly 3,000 RAF pilots took part in a desperate battle against the German Luftwaffe. Outnumbered 3-to-1, these brave young pilots, armed with courage, dedication and tenacity proved themselves masters of the air.  For the first time the Third Reich had failed to accomplish what it had set out to do. Hitler was defeated and the tide turned in favor of the Allied Forces.


In 1942 the United States’ came to Britain’s aid with the deployment of USAAF in Britain. Hundreds of airfields were constructed in the farm lands of East Anglia to house the 60 heavy bomber groups who flew missions to and from heavily defended targets deep inside Fortress Europe. During almost 3 years of air operations from England, more than 30,000 American airmen were reported missing or killed in action and many still have their last resting place in British soil.


Join Historian Guide Ed Bearss and Duxford Aviation Historian David Lee this September as we celebrate the countless heroic and memorable acts of the men of the RAF and the US Army Air Force. To avoid disappointment, we urge you to make your reservations very soon.


***Please note:  If you are interested in joining us on this special trip, please let us know ASAP! Tickets for Duxford's September Air Show will be going on sale any day now. They sell out each year. Please let us know if you wish to attend, so we can purchase a pass for you.




Tuesday, September 6           Individual departures from the US.

 Note: Staff (Ed Bearss & Marty Gane) plan to fly to London four days early. They are scheduled to depart at 8:50 am on Saturday, September 3 from Washington Dulles Airport on United Airlines flight #122 and arrive in London Heathrow on September 3 at 9:10 pm.


Wednesday, September 7   (R, D)

 Individual arrivals in London. This afternoon you may wish to take an optional tour of tour the impressive exhibits at the Imperial War Museum.  Gather tonight at our welcome dinner to toast our adventure. Overnight at Millennium Bailey's Hotel, Kensington, London


Thursday, September 8  (B, L) Begin the day with a tour of the RAF Museum in Hendon to see their Battle of Britain exhibit hall and a superb display of over 60 historic aircraft. After lunch, return to London for a tour of the Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill and his chiefs of staff masterminded Britain's war effort from a complex of underground rooms beneath Whitehall. Overnight at Millennium Bailey's Hotel, Kensington, London


Friday, September 9  (B, L, D) Today we will visit RAF Uxbridge where we will descend 65 feet underground to the bunker that served as operations center of the Battle of Britain. The bunker has been preserved exactly as it was on September 15, 1940 when Churchill was present to monitor the largest, most decisive attack on London by the Luftwaffe. We will continue to Bletchley Park, the center of Allied crypto-analysis during World War II featured in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game.”  See a model of Colossus – the first programmable computer – and learn how the Brits broke the German “Enigma” code.   Drive to the historic university town of Cambridge and check into our hotel for a 4-night stay. Overnight at Quy Mill Hotel, Cambridge


Saturday, September 10  (B)

Spend the day at the famous Duxford Air Show where more than 50 vintage aircraft will take to the skies.  We will enjoy aerial displays by the Red Arrows, the RAF acrobatic team, and WWII vintage planes including Spitfires and Hurricanes.  Overnight Quy Mill Hotel, Cambridge


Sunday, September 11  (B, L) 

Spend a full day exploring several bases of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in Suffolk. Stops include Seething, one of the B-24 Liberator bases where a restored control tower is a tribute to the 448th Bomb Group; or Halesworth (Holton) Airfield Museum; and Thorpe Abbots Airfield, once home to the 100th Bomb Group. Overnight Quy Mill Hotel, Cambridge


Monday, September 12 (B, L)  Spend the day touring the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Britain’s largest aviation museum, including the recently American Air Museum which re-opens in the spring of 2016.  This afternoon, pay our respects to the 5,000 U.S. servicemen and women buried at the American Cemetery at Madingley just outside of Cambridge.  Join staff tonight for a pint of bitter at the Eagle Pub in Cambridge. A favorite haunt of the USAAF, we’ll see graffiti left behind by WWII pilots. Overnight Quy Mill Hotel, Cambridge


Tuesday, September 13 (B, D)  Proceed to Portsmouth.  We have requested a specially arranged private tour of Southwick House where General Dwight D. Eisenhower made the decision to launch D-Day on June 6. (Visit subject to confirmation). Overnight at Holiday Inn Winchester


Wednesday, September 14 (B, D) Spend a full day exploring the historic dockyards at Portsmouth. We will learn about the massive preparations that took place here for the D-Day Invasion.  We will also see Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory and the Henry VIII’s war ship The Mary Rose.  End the day with a visit to the D-Day Museum featuring the Overlord Embroidery that was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry.  Overnight at Holiday Inn Winchester


Thursday, September 15 (B)  “The 76th Anniversary of Battle of Britain Day.” Depart Portsmouth for Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill from 1924 until the end of his life. Continue to London to visit the RAF chapel in Westminster Abbey and the Battle of Britain Memorial by the River Thames. Stop at St. Paul’s Cathedral that was miraculously spared during the Blitz. Here we’ll visit the American Memorial Chapel and see a plaque in memory of the first American to die in WWII.  En route to Heathrow stop at Runnymede to visit the Air Forces Memorial situated on a hill overlooking the site where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.  The memorial  commemorates the 20,389 airmen and women of the United Kingdom who lost their lives in the Second World War and who have no known graves.  Bid farewell to fellow travelers at tonight’s dinner. Overnight at a Premier Inn Heathrow Airport Hotel (Bath Road)


Friday, September 16  Individual departures. Fly home or fly to Paris with tour staff to begin our 6-day tour of Normandy.

 Note: American staff, Ed Bearss & Marty Gane, are flying to Paris for our Normandy tour, September 16-21.  They are booked on British Airways flight #306, scheduled to depart London Heathrow at 8:50 am on Friday, September 16, arriving in Paris Charles de Gaulle at 11:15 am.


NOTE: When you take both our WWII England and our Normandy tour we will deduct $200 per person from the combined price. Plus we will include the cost of the September 16 flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.



Edwin C. Bearss is a National Treasure.  Author, lecturer and one of our nation's preeminent historians, Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy are legendary. A native of Sarpy, Montana, Ed is a decorated WWII Marine Corps veteran from the Pacific Theater. Ed has enjoyed a 41-year career as an historian for the National Park Service. In 1981, he was named Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1994. Ed has led many WWII tours from Normandy to the Rhine River; the Battle of Crete, and the Italian Campaign.


AVIATION HISTORIAN: We are delighted to have aviation historian David Lee join us on our tour. David was Deputy Director of Duxford and Curator of Aircraft for all Imperial War Museum sites. He managed the conservation, preparation and installation of the aircraft into Duxford’s American Air Museum.  Since his retirement inn 1997, David has pursued an independent career as a consultant on aeronautical history, and he continues to act as consultant to the Duxford’ Museums. David has had a number of aviation books published, the most recent Volume 3 of ‘Action Stations-Revisited’ for Crecy Publications.


UK BLUE BADGE GUIDE: Our favorite guide and dear friend, Ian Glennie, will join us on our WWII England tour to assist with logistics and to complement Ed and David's commentary.  Ian has accompanied all 5 of our "Normandy to the Rhine River" trips, plus Ian and Marty Gane have worked together on 2 National Geographic Normandy tours (including the 60th anniversary). Ian, a resident of London, is the consummate guide with years of experience leading tours focusing on English military and maritime history.


TOUR INCLUDES (11 days/9 nights):

* Historian Guide: Edwin C. Bearss is scheduled for this tour

* Aviation Historian: David Lee is scheduled for this tour

* Services of Blue Badge Guide, Ian Glennie

* Services of a professional tour director: Marty Gane is scheduled for this tour

* 9 nights in hotel accommodations

* Private, air-conditioned, motor coach for all sightseeing

* 2 wine/beer receptions, daily breakfast, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners

* All admissions, tours and excursions as described in the itinerary

* Gold pass to the Duxford Battle of Britain  Air Show

* All taxes, baggage handling (one bag per person), & gratuities

* Pre-trip notes, reading list and map book


What is Not Included:

Airfare; transfers between airport and hotel; trip insurance; personal items such as wines, liquors, a la carte orders, room service, laundry charges; and meals and other items not specifically mentioned as included.


Price does not include airfare, however, we are happy to help with flight arrangements. We will post staff flight details shortly in case you would like to book seats on the same flights as Historian Ed Bearss and Tour Manager Marty Gane.

Double Occupancy: $5,095 per person

Single Occupancy:  $6,250


NOTE: When you take both our WWII England and our Normandy tour we will deduct $200 per person from the combined price. Plus we will include the cost of the September 16 flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.


(NOTE: All costs are based on a minimum of 25 participants.)