For anyone who wishes to delve deeper into the pages of history by visiting the sites of some of Europe’s most momentous events, a well-organised small group tour can be an extremely effective way of achieving an insightful total immersion. |
A group tour itinerary that takes in multiple WWII battlefield sites that were so pivotal to what’s become known as D-Day (June 6th, 1944), provides a window into one of the most defining moments of the twentieth century. These sites include not just the famous French beaches of Normandy, where the Allied forces set the course for the liberation of Europe, but also important historical locations in England, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Southwick House, in Hampshire, was General Eisenhower’s ‘Ground Zero’, from where he orchestrated the invasion by the Allied Forces of mainland Europe, which stopped Hitler in his tracks. The museum on site provides a comprehensive overview of Eisenhower’s ambitious manoeuvres, including his original detailed map with mark-ups.
The site is also home to the Royal Military Police Museum. The museum showcases the work and history of this highly important unit, which has been in operation since the Napoleonic Wars and remains so to this day.
Just 10km north of Bayeux (where the renowned Bayeux Tapestry is currently housed in an eighteenth-century seminary), the Longues-sur-Mer German gun battery stands as a monument to the sheer scale of Eisenhower’s operation on the beaches of Normandy, and its defensive fortifications. As his troops landed they faced up to the intimidating steel and concrete of the infamous Atlantic Wall, the defence intended to halt infiltration from the British Isles. Today the gun battery is an enduring reminder of this bloody, history-changing battle.
Breendonk Concentration Camp: Belgium
For anyone wanting to witness the full gamut of the WWII historical experience, a group tour that includes a visit to the sobering Breendonk concentration camp shows the alternative face of war. Even in Western Europe, the reach of the brutal Nazi rule left its horrifying stain on history, with more than 3,500 prisoners passing through the camp between 1940 and 1944. While visiting the camp is, today, highly emotive, its heritage pays tribute to the prisoners’ spirit of resistance as well as detailing the atrocities committed within its gates.
The Last Nazi Stronghold: The Netherlands
As the last Nazi stronghold before Germany, parts of the Netherlands were virtually crippled by starvation during WWII. Allied troops secured points on the Rhine at Oosterbeck, Nijmegen and Arnhem, in preparation for an attack into Northern Germany. Although it was ultimately a failure, the liberation of great swathes of Holland brought great relief to the locals. Today, traversing this route is an important part of an itinerary that seeks to unwrap the full story of the ramifications of Nazi rule during the war.
Get the Full Picture
A well-organised group tour to explore the important WWII sites in France, England, Belgium and the Netherlands brings history to life in a way no amount of research alone can do. In addition to their appeal as historical markers, each of them can stand alone for their outstanding culture and natural beauty.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays for over 30 years. Recently his well-received group tour itineraries, which venture to the far corners of the globe, have been included in Prestige’s luxury holiday portfolio. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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