Peter started ‘Springs Military History’ in 2014, which offers family military research and personalised battlefield tour itineraries. His knowledge of military history and his many years of research make him the ideal person to lead the 2024 80th Anniversary World War II Military Tour. Peter has lead previous successful Military History tours with Travelrite and hopes you can join him on this incredible tour.VIEW ITINERARY
DAY 1 Monday 2 September 2024 Depart Australia
Today we depart Australia
DAY 2 Tuesday 3 September 2024 Arrive in London, UK
On arrival into London we will have a guided tour of the city. This tour will take in all the main sites around London including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. After checking into our hotel, the afternoon will be free to rest after our day of travel or if you wish, to head out into the city to explore for yourself.
Wednesday 4 September 2024 London
HMS Belfast/Imperial War Museum Today we will have our first connection to 1944 in the form of HMS Belfast. The Belfast was commissioned in 1939 and shortly after struck a mine. 3 years later she returned to service spending 18 gruelling months on convoy duty in the Artic. Later in 1944, HMS Belfast played a crucial role off the coast of Normandy supporting the landings on Gold and Juno Beach. This was the last time she fired her guns during the Second World War. Leaving the Belfast we’ll break for lunch and then head to the Imperial War Museum. The IWM is recognised as one of the great military museums of the world. Tonight we enjoy a Welcome Tour Dinner, at one of London’s excellent restaurants.
DAY 4 Thursday 5 September 2024 Portsmouth, UK
Bovington Tank Museum Leaving London in the morning we will head south to one of the embarkation points for the D-Day landings, Portsmouth. Portsmouth and the surrounding water ways were used extensively for harbouring the landing craft and other naval vessels that would eventually take the troops across to Normandy on D-Day and the continual flow of men and supplies after thereafter. On our way we will stop at the Bovington Tank Museum. The role of the tank in warfare really came of age during the Second World War and were used extensively by both sides in the Battle of Normandy. At the museum we will be able see the types of tanks that featured so prominently in the fighting in 1944 such as the Tiger I and Tiger II, the Panther and Jagdpanther, Panzer IV and the M4 Sherman plus over 250 other tanks and armoured vehicles.
DAY 5 Friday 6 September 2024 Channel Crossing
Portsmouth to Ouistreham Caen, France Today we will do our own English Channel crossing catching the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham. This will be the closest possible opportunity to retrace the path of the Normandy invasion fleet. As we near France we’ll get the landing craft view of the beaches, specifically Sword Beach, the most Eastern of all the invasion beaches. Boarding our coach we will head to Sword Beach and visit some of the prominent memorials along the beach such as the Free French Memorial and the Piper Bill Millan Memorial. We will then travel to our accommodation.
DAY 6 Saturday 7 September 2024 Caen, France
British Sector – Normandy Today we will cover the British paratrooper landings that secured the eastern flank of the Normandy Invasion. Our first place of call will be the British Cemetery at Ranville. Many of the paratroopers who gave their life are buried here. Following on from here we will visit the Merville Gun Battery. This objective was taken in the early hours of D-Day. Our lunch stop will be right next to Pegasus Bridge. There will be time to explore the area of the canal and visit Café Gondrée. The canal bridge was the first objective taken on D-Day by glider borne troops landing only a stones throw from the bridge. We can walk over the bridge and see the monuments to where the skilful glider pilots landed their craft. The original bridge is now located in the museum just across the road. This brilliant museum, which is our next stop after lunch wonderfully tells the story of this epic part of the D-Day story as well as the other operations by the British 6th Airborne Division in the Normandy invasion. From here our next stop will be the German fortification known as Hillman. It was here that the British thrust from Sword Beach towards Caen was held up on D-Day.
DAY 7 Sunday 8 September 2024 Bayeux, France
British Sector The Canadians, at Juno Beach, paid a heavy price for their success on D-Day We will learn about this at the Juno Beach Centre. A World class museum, it tells the story of the Canadian involvement in the D-Day landings and the Normandy Campaign. Then, on the way to Arromanches we’ll stop at the relatively knew British Normandy Memorial. It commemorates the 22,000 British service personnel who fell in the campaign and offers views over Gold Beach. Just before we head into Arromanches we’ll stop atop the hill which overlooks the town. The view from here is a great panorama of the remains of the Mulberry Harbour, a prefabricated harbour which was towed across the channel to be built off the coast, some of which remains in the water and some of the harbour sections are up on the hill. There are also small German fortifications to see as well. After we explore the town and have lunch we’ll head towards Bayeux, just as the British troops did on the morning of D-Day. Bayeux was the first major town liberated by the Allies. It’s here that we can pay our respects at the Bayeux War Cemetery containing over 4500 graves.
DAY 8 Monday 9 September 2024 Bayeux
American Sector Leaving the British sector of the invasion coast we will head west to the American sector. As with the British, the vanguard of the invasion was Paratroopers. Dropped over a wide area, they caused confusion and captured vital bridges, causeways and towns to pave the way for the infantry coming off the beach. Towns such as Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and Sainte-Mere-Eglise were central to the fighting. We will see some of these points of interest on the way to Utah Beach. Landing slightly in the wrong place the Americans here made good headway and moved off the beach and quickly inland. After leaving Utah Beach we will head to Sainte-Mere-Eglise, visit the museum and see the town square where troops dropped into, including onto the church steeple. On the way back to the accommodation we’ll visit the German cemetery at La Cambe. Buried within this cemetery are 21000 soldiers including one of Germany’s most famous tank aces, Michael Wittman.
DAY 9 Tuesday 10 September 2024 Bayeux
American Sector Today will be dedicated to Omaha Beach. The most costly of the invasion beaches, the carnage on Omaha Beach was depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Our day will start at the Overlord Museum, located just behind Omaha Beach. This museum tells the story of Omaha Beach and the whole invasion through photos, equipment and artifacts. Leaving here we will visit Pointe-du-Hoc. This was where the U.S Rangers scaled the cliffs to disable a German gun battery that could have fired into the invasion fleets off Utah and Omaha Beach. The area is pock marked with craters from the numerous bombing raids plus the remnants of the German bunkers. After this we will head down onto Omaha Beach itself, at Dog Green sector. This area saw the worst casualties in the initial wave. Standing down on the beach gives a great perspective of what an infantryman would have seen as he made his way off the beach under the nose of the great German bunker on the edge of the beach. Later we will see the German defensive position known as WN 62 and then finish the day at the Omaha Beach Cemetery. Overlooking Omaha Beach this beautiful yet poignant cemetery shows the true cost of what it took to liberate France in 1944.
DAY 10 Wednesday 11 September 2024 Paris, France
Leaving Normandy behind we will head to Paris. Along the way we will follow the route of the British, Poles and Canadians as they pushed towards Falaise and the closing of the Falaise Pocket. This battle is seen as the end of the Normandy Campaign so fittingly, it will end our time in Normandy before we head across France as the Allied did in August 1944. We will pause to see a Tiger tank which, being disabled during the fighting was left behind by Germans and remains in place today. The main drive of the Allies passed by Paris but, it was liberated in late August 1944. We will head to Paris for 2 nights.
DAY 11 Thursday 12 September 2024 Paris
Today we take in the sites of Paris. Ordered to be destroyed by Hitler, the local commander refused and this decision allows us to enjoy this beautiful city today in all it’s detail. In the morning will we have a guided tour and the afternoon will be free for individual sightseeing and maybe some shopping
DAY 12 Friday 13 September 2024 Bastogne, Belgium
At the end of 1944 Hitler made his last-ditch effort to defeat the Western Allies by striking through the Ardennes Forest with the idea to reach Antwerp and spilt the U.S and British Armies in two, this became known as the Battle of the Bulge. One town became the central focus of the battle, Bastogne, and this is where we will head today. On the way we will visit the Luxembourg American Cemetery. It contains the graves of 5000 US soldiers including General George Patton. In the afternoon we will see the restored foxholes of Easy Company in the Bois Jacques made famous by the mini-series Band of Brothers. Our final place of interest today will be main square in the middle of Bastogne with a Sherman tank and a bust of Gen McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne Division during the battle.
DAY 13 Saturday 14 September 2024 Bastogne
Battle of the Bulge Heading off today our first stop will be the Bastogne War Museum and Memorial. This memorial pays homage to the 75000 U.S casualties during the winter campaign of 1944-45. The adjoining museum is a modern, world class museum which tells the story of the Battle of the Bulge with interactive displays and many dioramas and relics from the battle. In the afternoon will we head to the northern edge of the bulge and visit St Vith, another important road junction heavily fought for. We will see a King Tiger tank which took part in the battle and the site of the massacre of U.S troops at Malmedy.
DAY 14 Sunday 15 September 2024 Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium
After the Allies broke out of Normandy they raced across France towards Belgium. They liberated Brussels but were running out of fuel. They needed a port. Antwerp would be perfect for their needs. Today we will have time to look around Brussels and the area around Antwerp. In September 1944 Britian lost one of it’s most courageous sons, Guy Gibson. Having received the Victoria Cross for leading the Dambusters Raid, Gibson was taken off ops. Later however he returned to active service only to crash his Mosquito over Holland. We will see the site of his crashed aircraft and visit his grave, along with his navigator.
DAY 15 Monday 16 September 2024 Arnhem, Netherlands
Eindhoven and Nijmegen In September 1944 Operation Market Garden was a bold attempt to use paratroopers to capture bridges ahead of an armoured column to drive the Allies deep into Holland. The plan worked up to a point where it is now known that they went a Bridge too Far. Today we will see the area of operation of the U.S Paratroopers around the main towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen. The bridges at Son and Grave will also be visited. In Nijmegen, the scene of heavy fighting within the town itself, we will have a chance to walk through the town and down to the river to see the main road bridge.
DAY 16 Tuesday 17 September 2024 Arnhem
Today we will travel around the Arnhem area looking at many of the main points of interest from the battle. This day will mark the 80th Anniversary of the start of the campaign and battle for the bridges. Today we will see the Museum located at the Hartenstein Hotel. This building was used as the Headquarters for the British 1st Airborne Division during the battle. Situated in the town of Oosterbeek, this area saw tremendous fighting as the bulk of the British were held inside a perimeter, which they held for 10 days until their retreat across the river. We will see various point around the perimeter and the cemetery in Oosterbeek, the landing grounds and routes to Arnhem Bridge. Our last stop on the tour will be the Arnhem Bridge, now named after John Frost, the battalion commander who lead his forces to hold the northern end of the bridge against all odds but unfortunately the British tanks never arrived from Nijmegen or any of his own airborne reinforcements. This evening we enjoy a Farewell Dinner, to celebrate the fabulous trip!
DAY 17 Wednesday 18 September 2024 Departure
Leaving our hotel in the morning we will head to Amsterdam to fly back to Australia.
DAY 18 Thursday 19 September 2024 Arrive in Australia
The tour concludes on arrival back into Australia.
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International touring can involve a considerable amount of walking and stair climbing in the places visited and it is important that all tour participants have a level of physical fitness that allows them to take part in this activity without the need of assistance from others.
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The tour costs are based on airfare, general transport, accommodation costs and foreign exchange rate at 1 June 2023. Travelrite reserves the right to alter the costs if any of these factors change, giving any passenger that has booked the right to withdraw with full refund of monies paid or modify arrangements. No alterations to price will be made within 60 days of departure from Australia.
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“All the sightseeing tours were interesting and enjoyable with excellent commentary by local guides.”
“Well organised, excellent tour group leaders and the museums visited were the best parts of the tour.”