World War Battlefields: 2005
This June 6th marked the 60th anniversary of World War Two's D-Day landings in Normandy. This summer was the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. Both wars engulfed Europe for years and traces of the battles can still be found. What evocative European sights have you discovered that bring these two conflicts to life?
My family and I (including my father, a Normandy veteran) took a private tour of the American Sector with Battlebus (www.battlebus.fr). The tour guide, Geert, was excellent. His knowledge and passion for the subject matter is unparalleled. The special touches Battlebus provided were quite moving. In addition, they were very accomodating to the whole group, including the two nine-year old boys, my son and nephew, that wer part of the group
Ridgewood, NJ USA Sat 12/31/2005
Good places to see relics of the Russian Front of WW2
Hi all, in my 4 trips to Europe, each time I have made a point to see old WW2 battlefields or museums. I'm especially interested in the Russian Front, the most brutal battleground in the history of mankind. It absolutely dwarfs the events of the Western Front and is where the German army was really defeated. Here's the highlights:
1) Zaporozh'ye, Ukraine, on the banks of the Dniepr River. This large ex-soviet city has several amazing monuments, including a T34 tank in the main square that was in the vanguard of the liberation, as well as an amazingly tall statue of a herioc Russian soldier driving his comrades forward.
2) Sevastopal, Ukraine, in the Crimea. Huge battleground area with excellent museum with "panorama" of the siege of Sevastopal by the Germans in 1941-42.
3) Moscow - 2 excellent museums, these are as good as they get!!!! One is the Red Army Museum, complete with tanks, planes, tons of weapons and uniforms, the Russian flag that was raised over the Richstag, Nazi banners galore. Also has a hall commemerating the Heroes of the Soviet Union. The second place is the "Museum of the Great Patriotic War". This place is also stunning, with a supremely tall statue out front with soldiers embossed all over it. Outside the museum is a stunning collection of WWII tanks and planes, including many German ones.
4) Berlin - There is one excellent Soviet Monument just west of the Brandenbueg gate and within Tiergarten Park. Around the monument are 2 T34 tanks. Its a moving place. The statue of the Russian soldier on the top of the monument is very powerful.
5) Thun, Switzerland. A little known Panzer museum lies within the confines of one of the largest Swiss military bases. Its not easy to get in as you need a soldier escort and they don't speak much English! The outdoor exhibit has dozens of tanks, the most memorable of which are the German tanks including Hertzers, Panther, King Tiger, Pzkw 4, etc. Well worth the trip to this out of the way spot. Some of these tanks are very few in numbers.
6) The Battle of the Bulge area in Luxembourg and Belgium. The McCaullife display in Bastogne is excellent, as well as the "1944 Museum" in the little hamlet of La Glieze in Belgium. Outside the museum is a real live King Tiger tank that ended up here after the battle. The museum itself is amazing, with dozens of diorams with real uniforms. Its one of the best military uniform collections in Western Europe.
Cheers all. Let's never forget those momentus days....
Surrey, BC Canada Thu 12/22/2005
Bonjour Roel, I'd like to thank you and Pia very much for a wonderful stay and an even better time on the D-Day tour. Austin still talks about it, saying remember this or that. My parents will be in town and my father would really love to come and do the tour with you. Thank you again for a wonderful time. Kim, Gary and Austin
Belgium Wed 12/14/2005
Battle of the Bulge/ Bastonge
We spent our honeymoon over there, and wanted to see some WWII battle sites, being short on time and as Normandy was out of the way for our itinerary, I settled on Bastonge as our stop. This was impressive. Have you seen Band of Brother? To get to Bastonge (prononced Bast-on-YAH) take the train to Libramont, then a bus to Bastonge. Eurorail pass works for all this. When you get to Bastonge, you go back in time. There are 4 local hotels, one is a Best Western. Be prepared to walk, there were no buses to the monument and visitors center, it is a mile walk east to the monument, which is located at the closest point that the Germans reached during the siege. The Visitors center was a wonderful museum with all kinds of artifacts relating to what they call the Battle of the Arden. Stop in at the church on your walk back from the monument and you can still see damage from the war. The resturants there were spectacular, the best ham I have ever tasted. A wonderful and very friendly place.
Fridley, MN USA Thu 12/01/2005
We took the American Highlights Tour with Geert. His depth of knowledge and personal stories about individual soldiers was wonderful. He lives WWII history, and it showed. The extra information and amount of time spent at each site made the day worthwhile and made it go so fast. We really enjoyed the tour and the minibus group size. We highly recommend this company. They were great to deal with.
Terry, Linda, Troy Kluthe
Scotland, SD USA Thu 11/17/2005
Overlord Tour/Alain Chesnel
We wanted to thank you so much for the truly amazing tour that you gave us in Normandy this last June. The memory of that trip has stayed with us and we view it as the highlight of our trip. Keija and I never imagined that we would be saying this. We thought the Normandy trip would be interesting, and we wanted to satisfy the passion of our son, but we came away with a profound sense of the history and sacrifice of D-Day that was most unexpected. Your level of enthusiasm, your depth of knowledge, your research, your incredible binders brimming with maps and photographs, all created an experience that we will never forget. You painted a perfect picture of the events of the greatest invasion in history. But you made it so personal with stories of so many individual soldiers and their courageous acts. The trip to the small church (sorry, can't remember the name) that was used as a hospital, where the blood stains from the wounded are still in the pews, was just one of the many many sites that created an overwhelming picture of the US invasion. Julian was so impressed with the trip that he's already planning another. Our friend Jean Claude had never experienced Normandy in such a comprehensive way, and he has been there many times. I hope that I can bring my father to Normandy to experience your tour before he's to old to make the trip.
Keija and Julian send their regards and hope that you stay as committed and enthusiastic as ever so we can all experience another leg of your D-Day Tour on our next trip to France.
Again, many many thanks,
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 11/14/2005
My wife and I visited Normandy in Sept 05. We decided to take a Battlebus Tour because I had read one of these Rick Steves commentaries which was very positive. Well, to say the least we were very much impressed with the American Highlights Tour. Our guide was named Geert, a Belgian who spoke 5 languages and made not only a career but a hobby of researching facts about WWII and the veterans who were there. He made the events of the beaches and St. Mere Eglise come to life. I appreciated the small vans from which one could enter and egress without difficulty and waiting for a large group. The places were facinating and for one who appreciates the freedoms we have in the United States it made me again stop and say thanks as I stood in the middle of the Omaha Beach Cemetary. This was a great tour.
Sunriver , Or USA Sun 11/13/2005
I am serving in 1st BN 18th regiment over in Germany. My company just recently took a trip to Normady. We visited a lot of pplaces ie... Utah and Omaha beach, ST Mere Eglise, and Point du Hoc. I enjoyed all these places and touched me in a way that I have never felt before. It was a very different experience for me. We also visited the area of Omaha beach that the 18th Regiment landed on during the invasion. What made this trip more realistic was when we all got in the water in our civilian clothes up to chest deep and took off running to the 1 ID memorial. Through the water up the beach racing to the top of the hill. not stopping until we reached the top. Now I have trained in a lot of environments to include the woods, desert, and the snow. But nothing has compared to what our previous soldiers had to go through on that day. To honestly tell you the truth I was so tired when I got half way up the hill. Because of this trip I not only learned a lot about my units history, but also have the upmost respect for those soldiers that gave their lives for us on that day of the invasion. To all those out there that do not understand from a soldiers point of view, I encourage you to go and visit these beachs and visit the sites of our history that first gave us out FREEDOM!!!!!!!
Terry J. Huling Jr.
schweinfurt, germany, Sat 10/29/2005
We visited the French Normandy Coast in Sept. and took the American Beaches Tour by Battle Bus Tours from Bayeux. We feel we were quite fortunate to have had Dale as our tour guide. He is very well-versed on most all of the details of the "D-Day Invasions as well as adding a lot of information from his own research, including the two "best friend" GI's who suffered for 60 years wondering of the demise of each other. A heart-warming story best told by Dale. We highly recommend this tour and hope you might be rewarded to have Dale as your guide.
RALPH and SHARRON Z.
SAN JOSE, CA USA Tue 10/25/2005
Victory Tour of D-Day battlefields
We recently took a half-day D-Day tour with Roel Klinkhamer's Vicory Tours and could not be happier! He was very knowledgable and entertaining. The tour was intimate, with only 4 of us in his van, which was a welcome contrast to the huge big-bus tours that herded people around. Roel has lived in the area for many years and his passion for the subject shows. He has met and learned personal stories of veterans who landed and shared those with us. It really moved us and made history come alive, and inspired us to learn more when we came back home He also owns a beautiful bed and breakfast in the area. It was our honeymoon and we had already booked another hotel, but wished we could have stayed - he promised it would have been a romantic stay, complete with champagne! We wished we had stayed there! We would recommend his tour to anyone interested in learning this fascinating history.
Mike and Kristy Fassio
Renton, WA USA Sat 10/15/2005
WW 1 sites
WW 1 significantly shaped our collective histories in Europe and North America and I would highly recommend a visit to many of the battlefields/museums/sites that are scattered across the Somme and north-eastern corner of France. My husband and I recently returned from our first visit to France and spent a few days around Arras, Albert and Peronne. We visited the following sites:
1. Vimy Ridge Memorial Park - this is a 100 hectare park that was bequeathed to Canada by France. The Vimy memorial is currently undergoing maintenance and won't be visible until Dec 2006, but the rest of the park is well worth a visit. Many areas are roped off from walking, but there are paths and trails around this beautiful area. Go to the tunnel and trenches area for a great tour of the underground tunnels (free!!). Tours are conducted by Canadian university students who are working in France on 4 month assignments. The students are rotated between Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel. These students are energetic, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the history of each of the sites and help make the visit very informative. They do a great job !!
2. Beaumont Hamel - this is one of the best sites available to see what the battlefields of WW1 actually looked like. This site is were the Newfoundland troops fought against the Germans. We took the time to wander the whole site with one of the student guides.. well worth the time. The information center is also well done. Also free !!
3. We went to the "Somme 1916" museum in Albert as well. Tickets were only 4 euro. This museum displays life in the trenches at the time of July 1, 1916. Very well done. Signs are in English, French and German. For those who would like to acquire some WW1 souveniers, the museum shop sells a variety of "stuff" collected from farmers fields.. you can pay 3 to 80+ euro for a variety of objects (helmets, broken lances, water bottles, etc.)
4. We also went to a great museum in Peronne called "l'Historial de la Grande Guerre". It presented complementary, information regarding daily life on the front line, cultural, social and political aspects of the war and the world during this time period. The museum store has a great bookstore for those who are looking for information on WW1 (english, german and french).
5. In addition to the information above, there are literally hundreds of other memorials, cemetaries, and sites that honour the thousands of French, British, Commonwealth, American and German soldiers who fought in this war. Lots of tourist and visitor information can be acquired at any of the visitor centres that will provide details on driving routes and other sites to visit.
Albert and Peronne are smaller towns that are easy to get around in when you're driving... much easier than Arras. They both have a good selection of grocery stores, banks, restaurants, etc. There's also lots of accomodation options available near-by. The information center in Albert was able to find us a very nice chambre d'hote in the Albert area.
Prince George, CAN Fri 10/14/2005
D-Day Victory Tour
In September, my parents, my two children, ages 10 and 13, and I went to Normandy to see the D-Day beaches. We took a tour with Roel Klinkhamer. He can be found at www.victorytours.com. I was concerned about my children staying interested in a tour that took all day. It was at the end of a two-week trip in Europe and my son had had enough of "walking tours". I didn't need to worry with Roel. The day flew by as he took us to the major D-Day sights. He kept the kids in mind, feeding them answers to questions he would ask our small group when we returned to the van. He had them running down and up craters left by D-Day bombs. They are still talking about it. One of the highlights was seeing the church at Angoville-au-Plain. It made a huge impact on my son to see the blood-stained pews where soldiers were attended to by the medics. He said that was one of the things that brought the war to life for him. We were sad to see the day end. Roel's deep knowledge of the war and his sharing of his family stories as well as experiences of the soldiers made for a delightful day. I have recommended this tour to other family members and think that you can't go wrong with Roel.
Salt Lake City, Utah USA Sun 10/09/2005
We recently visited Normandy with tour guide Michael Phillips of Perception Travel. It was a wonderful visit and we were all amazed at how much knowledge we gained from Mike along the way. He seemed to bring the entire surrounding to life as he recaptured for us the D-Day invasion. We were able to see more in the 3 days we were there than we thought possible and we did not feel the least bit rushed. We also had a WWII veteran along and Mike paid close attention to his needs. I particularly would recommend a comparison of the 3 cemeteries in the area. We visited not only the American, but also the British and German cemeteries. We came away with a greater appreciation of all the loss of life and a deep sympathy for the families at that time.
Naperville, Il USA Fri 10/07/2005
Battle Bus tour 2005
I want to thank Battle Bus for a truly excellent experience. We took the American beaches tour, with Geert, and the Band of Brothers tour with, Paul, during our Euro trip last August. The tours were the highlight of my time in France. Your tour guides are to be commended on not only their knowledge of the area and D-Day history, but the passion they show for the job, is well worth the cost of the trips. Thanks again, and I will not hesitate to recomend Battle Bus. Bob Sebby Elmhurst, IL
Elmhurst, IL USA Thu 10/06/2005
Dead Man's Corner Museum
I just returned from a 10 Day Battlefield Tour of WWII sites in Europe. I would recommend the Dead Man's Corner Museum in Carentan to anyone interested in WWII history. This is simply the finest museum in the Normandy area. The quality of the historical material (virtually all of which is attributed to specific participants in the Normandy Campaign), to excellence of the exhibit design, and the overall interpretation are without peer. It truly is must see!
Col Rob Dalessandro
Carlisle, PA USA Wed 09/28/2005
Victory Tours - Roel Klinkhamer
Roel was fabulous! I could not have been happier that the BIG tour companies kept turning me down due to lack of space.In fact, one tried to have me change my travel plans for them and the other told me that I was trying to water down my experience by shortening the trip by an hour (I only asked if there was time to get to the train station if we were dropped off at 5:30 like their website suggested, it seems the tour really ends at 6:30). Roel has a great personality, great understanding of the D-Day and Normandy operations, and a great respect for what this experience means to the people taking the tour. Roel started doing these tours about 5 years ago after retiring. It is a love for him and nothing else. Look Roel up I promise you will be happy you did.
Houston, TX USA Tue 09/27/2005
Battlebus - American Highlights
I have been a military history buff for most of my life. My wife and daughters, however, have not shared my interest in this subject (just imagine). For this reason I was apprehensive about their joining me on a tour of the Normany battlefields (Aug 2005). With Paul Woodadge leading the way, however, I needn't have worried. Not only did his expansive knowledge of the battles (strategic, operational, and tactical levels) allow him to answer all of my questions, he was also able to captivate those who thought they weren't interested. :) I am firmly behind Battlebus' ethos that there isn't a 'quickie' approach to the Normandy beaches - do it right, spend the time - our full day tour only covered about half the area of the invasion beaches. The small guide-to-tourist ratio they keep is among the reasons why this was such a great experience for my family and me. My kids felt utterly comfortable asking questions. The American Highlights tour we took started with Ste. Mere Eglise, then Utah Beach, then Pte. du Hoc, then Omaha, then the American National Cemetery. There were at least four additional stops at off-the-beaten-path locations where Paul's superior knowledge of the history of the battle and his broad contact with veterans and their families shone through. Battlebus' command of the big-picture history, the personal accounts many veterans have shared with them, and their broad knowledge of the less obvious locations have ensured that I will plan additional trips to Normandy and will tour with Battlebus.
Pasadena, CA USA Thu 09/22/2005
My family had the experience of a lifetime while touring Normandy due to the excellent day we had with Alain Chesnel, owner of Overlord Tour. His knowledge of the events leading up to June 6th, and the days after were very impressive. The ability to have such a fantastic guide, comfortable tour bus, and sense of knowledge were very successful in captivating my daughters as well, ages 11 and 13.
I would recommend Alain and his organization, as he made our trip one we are still discussing today and for the years to come.
San Franscisco, CA USA Sun 09/18/2005
Ann and I booked a tour with Roel Klinkhamer (Victory Tours) to tour the D-Day beachs from Bayeux, in Normandy. Roel arrived on time and spent eight hours with us touring the important D-Day sights. We loved every minute with him. He speaks better english than I do. He has spent many years educating himself in all aspects of the landings and the war which he imparts with humor and gusto. He can take you to little known sights such as the church that was used as a hospital and where the wounded left blood on the pews and he can explain the complex landing strategy that the Allied Forces used. We visited all the important sights and he was able to give us many stories that personalized much of what we saw. Roel is one of those rare individuals that is knowledgeable, funny and can make you want to shed a tear. Everyone needs to go to Normandy during their lifttime and when you go, call Roel to conduct your tour. Also, he can recommend the best restaurants in Bayeux.
Victory Tours 33 2 31 51 98 14
Austin, TX, Tx USA Tue 09/13/2005
Normandy D-day Tours
We loved Battlebus Tours. Our tour guide, Geert made the tour fabulous with his knowlegde and passion for the stories of the invasion and liberation of Normandy. He couldn't have made it any better!
The Greens & Sewells
Fayetteville, AR USA Fri 09/09/2005
I thoroughly enjoyed our day-long tour of the Normandy beaches July 2005...I spent 29 days in six European countries and I think the battlebus tour was my favorite thing that we did. Dale was our very knowledgeable tour guide. He was like a walking history book, with a sense of humor! Thank you so much for the wonderful tour.
Sacramento, CA USA Thu 09/08/2005
Battlebus - Geert van de Bogaert
We had a great time on the American Highlights Tour with Geert -- he was positively fabulous. Through miserable weather, Geert kept on going with such a refreshing brand of enthusiasm and intelligence. Our only regret was not being able to book space in the British/Canadian tour the following day. Please pass on our ultimate gratitude to Geert for such a wonderful time!!
Susanne Akins & Hao Lin
New York, NY USA Thu 09/08/2005
Alain - Stephanie and I were thrilled with your tour. Your knowledge and access to important areas is fantastic! To think that we stood in the same fields, courtyards, churches, let alone the beaches that were so crucial to the success of the landings sixty years ago is amazing. You helped me to realize a dream that I have had for many years. I intend to pass your name on to all that I know and would be interested. Thank you so much for a wonderful day! One memory that I hold special from our day with you was in the American cemetery. We had just left the wall of the missing and were walking to catch up with you in the cemetery. As I passed the flag pole there was a lone man in a wheel chair viewing the vast expanse of graves. I wondered what he must have been thinking. I wanted to approach him, but out of reverence to the moment he was having I did not. The sight of him amongst his comrades was so poignant! I believe that Stephanie's fondest memory was visiting the church that was used as an aide station and meeting the mayor of the village. An experience of this type can only be had by being with someone who has the respect and admiration of the people of the villages, and owners of the private lands. Your passion for the liberation of your land, depth of your knowledge, and enthusiasm in sharing this with your guests made us feel as if we were spending the day with a long-time friend. Thank you for a truly memorable experience! Dustan Bray
Cincinnati, OH USA Tue 09/06/2005
Alain Chesnel, Overlordtour
Alain Chesnel (Overlordtour), Hello Alain. My son Tommy and I took your full day "Band of Brothers" tour on July 16, 2005. I want to thank you for an incredible day and let you know I have been praising your efforts to all I tell about our trip. Please feel free to include me as a personal reference for your wonderful services. I found your website searching the internet and the Band of Brothers connection immediately jumped out. I have read that the D-Day experience can be adequately had by simply renting a car and driving to various spots. The day spent with you proved the wrongfulness of this notion. I cannot imagine your passion for the history and knowledge of the events could possibly be surpassed by any other tour guide and historian. Friends are considering a trip to Normandy next year and I am going to strongly recommend they contact you. Thanks again, and enjoy your visit to America. Bud Ellis South Portland, Maine, USA
South Portland, ME USA Tue 09/06/2005
My son Zach and I toured with you Sunday, July 10th. I want to thank you for a very enjoyable and memorable experience. You are a walking history book! The depth of your research and historical background knowledge made for an interesting and enjoyable experience. Neither I nor my 16 year old son will ever forget it. I would encourage anyone thinking of taking a one day tour of Normandy to sign up with you for the full day Omaha/Utah beach tour.
Again, thank you for a wonderful experience. It was the highlight of our trip to Europe. Best Regards, Lew
Glenwood, Maryland USA Sun 09/04/2005
Alain Chesnel was the best guide one could ask for. He listened to our requests and did everything in our power to grant our wishes. His knowledge of World War II is encyclopedic; his photographs of real sites and people brought the war to life. In addition, he always "went the extra mile" for us.
Highland Park, IL USA Sun 09/04/2005
RE: the June 6th, 1944, D-Day landings at Normandy. My husband and I were part of the semi private OVERLORD TOUR with Alain Chesnel. Unbelievably sad, yet accurate as Alain's real life pictures and info are from actual American veterans who showed him their locations, etc. from their own memories. Alain's pictures of the actual sites combined with his unsurpassed talent for telling the happenings made the day almost TOO realistic. Combined with the German concrete batteries, guns etc. in the museum we visited, I found myself reliving the day over and over again. We went to learn of history and found a new love for the Normandy/French people, the rural towns, and we learned respect for why ALL ntionalities of those involved would be a memory NEVER forgotten. After being at Utah and Omaha beaches, Pointe du Hoc, one can never again look at a beach and not visualize fallen soldiers, troop ships, etc. from Alain's EXPERT telling of the realities of war. Thank you for an unforgettable day.
Sun City West, Arizona USA Sun 09/04/2005
We want to thank Alain Chesnel for a great experience last week when we took his Omaha/Band of Brothers full day tour. We decided to do the tour thinking it would allow us to get the most efficient use of our time in Normandy and we were not disappointed - the tour clearly exceeded our expectations and we will enthusiastically recommend it for any potential visitors that we know. Alain's knowledge of the people involved and the stories about individual participants added a great deal to the experience and made it even more personal. We did go to St-Lo the next day and readily found the locations where Maj. Howie was killed and carried into the town as he had directed us. When I get back to Abbeville, SC I will take a picture of the monument there and email it to him. Our friend, Lark, that was with us on the tour went back to South Carolina and he accidentally encountered a veteran of D-Day that landed at Omaha Beach, whic h led to an interesting conversation about his experience and our visit. We have been living in the Netherlands for a year and half and Normandy is a place I have wanted to visit since we have been here. I will never forget our visit - it has been an almost constant thought in my mind since we there. Thank you for making the visit all the more memorable.
Bill and Linda Price
North Augusta, SC USA Sun 09/04/2005
My wife and I went on Overlord Tour's half day Omaha Beach/half day Band of Brothers tour on Aug 4th, 2005. It was a day we will not soon forget and it far exceeded our expectations. Alain Chesnel's knowledge and passion for these places and events of WWII is just remarkable. This was the highlight of our vacation. Overlord Tours, and especially Alain, cannot be more highly recommended.
Muscatine, IA USA Sun 09/04/2005
We took the Battlebus "American Highlights" tour in July, and it was excellent. It was sobering to stand on Omaha Beach at low-tide and imagine trying to run across that great open distance under fire. My jaw dropped at seeing the many bomb craters at Point de Hoc. No words can capture the impact of the cemeteries. You will be taken back by the enormity of it all. If you have just one day and want to see the major sites (and some smaller but just as interesting ones), then we highly recommend this tour. Our guide (Sean) was very knowledgeable and captivating to listen to. All of this in a small van tour. The meeting place for the tour in Bayeau is easy with plenty of parking. An added bonus is that you can walk to the Bayeau Tapistry exhibit from the same parking lot.
Bruce & Judy MacKenzie
Austin, TX USA Sat 08/20/2005
Being travelers on land, most tourist naturally visit the sites of Normandy and Belgium. Remember, the war was global and also took place on water. Memorials to sailors are few and far between, which I have found is normal. I'm not denigrating the memory of soldiers or airmen, but in many cases, the naval war is forgotten. One exception is the German War memorial at Laboe, near Kiel. Here, the seaman of both World Wars are remembered, albiet slightly skewed. I'm still having discussions with my German relatives over who won at Jutland. In any regards, the best part of the memorial is a Type VII-C U-boat. For those rusty on German submarine classification, that's the type in the film "Das Boot." Going inside, you are amazed at the cramped conditions that "Matrosen" put up for around two months at a time. My two children were amazed. I have a picture of both of them at the dive plane controls. I strongly recommend this site. Just go to Kiel and follow the signs north towards Laboe.
Stockton, ca USA Fri 08/19/2005
Visiting the Channel Islands
I have been to the channel islands. twice to Sark and seen the german history/WW II museum there and while traveled through and stayed in Guerney both times, I only went to the Victor Hugo (author of les mesreble) home and the gardens in a nearby park. I would love to get back and visit more of Guernsey and get to Jersey for the 1st time as well as over to Normady and of course revisit Sark. http://www.livejournal.com/community/2tour (has some of my pics from the islands and soon will have more)
Topeka, KS USA Tue 08/16/2005
Battlebus was great! Thanks Geert!
My husband, my parents, and I would like to recommend the Battlebus company for anyone looking for a great tour of the D-day beaches/the Normandy invasion. We took the American Highlights tour of the D-Day beaches the day before the 61st anniversary and it was the best experience we had on our 30 day tour of Europe. Geert (from Belgium) was our guide and he was so great. There is not enough room on this website to exclaim how informed, enthusiastic, and entertaining he was! The tour was taken on smaller vans, so it felt intimate and that we could communicate and listen much better than if we had been on a large tour bus. We believe we were able to understood this part of the war so much better than any movie we could have rented thanks to Geert and his enthusiasm and research. We were very fortunate to meet many WWII veterans , some scheduled and some that were there for the anniversary. We will certainly take this tour again and recommend taking it near the anniversary and with Battlebus. We would also like to recommend visiting the Germany cemetary near Mt. St. Michel to get a feeling for how very different the U.S. cemetaries are from the German. The view from the top of it has a great vista of Mt. St. Michel as well-it's worth the little side trip.
Windy and Ray Hammond
Charleston, SC USA Tue 08/02/2005
Overlord Tour is AP Normandy
Just came home from a WW II tour including our third trip to Normandy. This time I decided to spend a day with Alain Chesnel and his Overlord Tour. This was a great decision since my son Matt, a High School History teacher and I had a pretty good basic understanding but never had an expert to direct questions toward before. We spent a full day and the knowledge imparted by Alain was profound. I would suggest that this would be especially good for people who have but one day to take in the full scope of D-Day or people who thirst to compliment their previous knowledge base.
Penfield, New York USA Mon 08/01/2005
Battlebus Tours -- Normandy Beaches
We had a great one-day tour of the Normandy beaches with Dale of Battlebus Tours. Very knowledgeable, and a lot of obscure anecdotes along with his own collection of photographs really added a personal side to the tour. Our only regret was that we had set aside only one day; there are enough battlefields, memorials and museums in the area to take up close to a week. I highly recommend Battlebus Tours!
Plano, Texas USA Mon 08/01/2005
Re: Battlebus Tours.
I recently spent a week in France, and had three days to visit the historical sites in Normandy relating to D-Day. I found Battlebus Tours on Google and after exploring their website decided to book a couple of tours with them. Being on a tight timeline I wanted to ensure that I got the most possible out of every available minute, and in this respect Battlebus were truly outstanding. I took the Omaha tour and the British / Canadian highlights tour on successive days in order to get a good all-around picture of what happened. Both tours were phenomenal! Incredible in their detail and thoroughness, with guides (Dale & Paul) who were able to deliver the information in a very interesting manner. The small size of the groups (minivans) also makes for a more intimate experience. It really felt as though a group of friends had gotten together for the excursion. The days went by quickly, and I can honestly say that I would have cheated myself had I not taken these Battlebus tours. I hope to go back and take a couple more next year. I have never had such professional guided tours in my life. As my final testimonial, my second tour was on July 14th, which is a national holiday in France.(I didn't know this!) As a result, I had to take the taxi from Caen to Bayeux and back to make my tour as the trains weren't running regular schedules. The total cost of the cabs was more than the tour...But having taken the Omaha tour the day before it was a no-brainer!!!Absolutely incredible value for the money, and the best tours you can take, in my opinion.
Ottawa, Ontario Canada Wed 07/27/2005
Battlebus Tours are excellent. Paul's passion, love and respect for what he does is apparent with every story he tells. My son who is thirteen is still talking about it. It is wonderful for him, as well as all of us, to truly begin to appreciate the sacrifice that so many made. We highly recommend Battlebus Tours.
New Orleans, LA USA Tue 07/26/2005
Victory Tours in Normandy
While in Normandy, we decided to take a D-Day tour with Roel via his Victory Tours and we stayed at the B&B he and his wife [Pia] run. I have to agree with several other posters/travelers that Roel's tour was fantastic--his interesting, yet somber, D-day tour was probably the highlight of a recent vacation. He was extremely knowledgable, charismatic, and personable. As history buffs, we learned a lot about the D-day landings and surrounding areas. We would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a D-day tour. Additionally, the B&B Château de Lignerolles in the Normandy countryside was an outstanding, romantic, and relaxing location. Pia was extremely friendly and treated us to outstanding breakfasts during our stay.
Philadelphia, PA USA Tue 07/26/2005
This was our 2nd trip to Normandy and still have not seen it all. The first time was with l'memorial in Caen that was amazing and this time we rented a car and had a map from michelin and had another incredible day. From William the Conquerer to Band Of Brothers the amount of history here is staggering. One of the greatest regions in the world. We will be back again.
Greenwich, CT USA Sat 07/23/2005
We visited Normandy in early June. I can't say enough good about Battlebus and our guide, Dale. I'm not a WW11 buff, went along with my husband. Dale made the tour so interesting that I really enjoyed it. His stories of individual soldiers made it so much more meaningful. The unscheduled stop at a small church was a real bonus. The stop at the American Cemetary allowed ample time to view the church and spend some time cemetary. We normally shun bus tours but I would highly recommend this tour, especially if you are going mainly to accompany someone else!
Chehalis, WA USA Wed 07/20/2005
Victory Tours with Roel
We visited early July with Roel and his insight was amazing - he really gave us a sense of the magnitude and scope of not only D-Day, but also the entire battle for Normandy. He also brings a small binder of photos and diagrams to help you understand better.
His 8-person van was a great mode of transportation and an easy way for Roel to remain personable.
Philadelphia, PA USA Mon 07/18/2005
Band of Brothers Tour - Battlebus
My family and I were in Normandy in April for a U.S. Boys Scouts event and my wife arranged a Band of Brothers Tour for us while we were there. It turned out to be one of the best things we did. We were the only ones on the tour (4 of us)and Dale, our guide, devoted a lot of time and attention in helping us envision what it was like for Dick Winters and the men of E company. Having read the book and watched the miniseries, it was absolutely thrilling for us to be able to stand in the places Dale brought us to (e.g. Brecourt Manor, Bloody Gulch). By the way, these were places we could have never find on our own. Dale was especially good with our resident WWII historian, our 12-year old son, engaging him in serious discussions the whole time. It rained during most of our tour, but it didn't even matter to us. We were absolutely enthralled the entire time. We will definitely be back to do another tour with Battlebus. One piece of advice however--don't do the Band of Brothers Tour if you know nothing of the book or series. It makes things very challenging for everyone involved. Do a general D-Day tour instead.
Naples, Italy Sun 07/17/2005
More kudos for Overlord Tours
I simply have to add to the many glowing comments about Overlord Tours and Alain Chesnal. What a great day. I think everyone had at least one moment where we got choked up. Especially in the American Cemetery. Wow.
You should know, Alain is Overlord Tours. I think he is currently the only guide, so if he isn't available, that's why. He is self described as "passionate" about D-Day and the beaches, and I would say that's accurate. I think it's his mission in life to continue to discover information about that time and to share it with others. The coolest thing was being taken to places and seeing the photo of 1944, and simultaneously seeing what it looks like today.
He was very excited to tell us that he was going on a very special tour with Steve Smith from Rick Steves company a few days after our tour. I told him that I learned of him on RS website. He said if all goes well he may have to hire someone to help him. I told him if Rick Steves endorses him, he's going to need more than one person, because he'll have more business than he could dream of.
Bloomington, IL USA Sun 07/17/2005
The best way to see the D-Day battle fields from England is through Michael Phillips of Perception Travel. Michael provided us with a very comfortable, entertaining, and educational tour of the Normandy battle fields.This was all accomplished with minimal travel time from London.
Houston, TX USA Sun 07/17/2005
Pointe du Hoc in Normandy
If you really want to imagine what it might have been like on D-Day in Normandy, visit Pointe du Hoc. There are huge bomb craters blasted by the battleships the night before and some remaining German bunkers. My 17 yr old son is a WW2 buff, and this was the highlight of our trip to France for him. You would need a car to get to this.
Kenosha, WI USA Sat 07/16/2005
Victory Tours with Roel
I have recently returned from a great trip to France, including the D-Day invasion sites. Mr. Roel Klinkahammer of Victory Tours was our guide for an entire day. Roel's knowledge, courtesy, patience and humor are certainly unsurpassed. I can't imagine seeing all that we were able to see without him. Victory Tours..The very best!
Seattle, WA USA Thu 07/14/2005
Battle of the Bulge
We are planning a trip to France, Belgium, and Luxembourg next March; my father wants to visit battle sites associated with the Battle of the Bulge. What towns, exactly, would that encompass? Any museums, cemeteries there that are worthwhile?
Pella, IA USA Tue 07/12/2005
Quasimodo Tours in Bruges
I just returned from a weekend escape in Belgium and I can not say enough about Quasimodo tours (based out of Bruges). Today, I was fortunate enough to take their Flanders Fields - WWI battle-field tour. The places we visisted were fascinating and horribly sad at the sametime. It's one thing to see it on TV and it's quite another thing to be there. This tour makes it all come alive!!!
Our tourguide was Sharon and it was evident she knew her stuff and really really cared about what she was describing. Having someone like her, and not someone who was just rattling off statistics, made all the difference!
Worth every penny -- it truly was an experience of a life-time!
Karen E. Penate
Toronto, Ontario Canada Sun 07/10/2005
My husband and I recently returned from a two week visit to France. We only had one day to visit the Normandy beaches. After reading all the excellent reviews of Victory Tours on this web site we booked a full day tour on line. Very easy. We certainly were not disappointed. Roel lived up to all the excellent reviews he had received. He really knows his history and kept us informed and entertained the entire day. One of the things that sold us on Victory Tours was that Roel only takes small groups in a mini van. He can take you to out of the way places larger tour buses can't go. We had a picnic lunch for a nice break and then were on our way again. Roel really packs in a full day and we were able to make all the sites we were looking forward to seeing. There were only three in our group that day so we felt like we had a very personal tour. Roel's e:mail is email@example.com or he can be found on the internet at www.victorytours.com.
Oklahoma City, OK USA Wed 06/22/2005
Our tour with Battlebus (http://www.battlebus.fr/tours/) was my favorite of the four days we spent in Normandy. We had their guide Sean, a young man from England who is a WWII buff and he was excellent. I have heard some people say that they know a lot on their own about the D-day invasions and don't need a guide but I think that if you are that kind of person then there is even more reason to go with a tour like this..you will really enjoy it and there is always more you can learn especially from someone who has so much inside knowledge. These guides have taken many of the veterans around on their tours and have gained so much insight from them. Sean told us that they had to "share" the veterans as they all love to take them. . This was a FULL day until around 5 pm but it flew by. We started at St. Mere Englise..which is where the first paratroopers came in and followed the course of the invasion along the coast just as it actually took place. Sean took us to some things that we could have never found on our own..a church that was used as a makeshift hospital by American medics who ended up treating both Americans and Germans. Germans came and would have destroyed the church but when they saw that both sides were being treated they spared the church. Sean stopped and gave us a lesson among the hedgerows and explained how this terrain made the war so difficult for the land troops. He also took us to a wonderful overlook of Omaha Beach that was breathtaking...it is on private property but the owner is very generous in letting people share in the view from his land. This tour was especially meaningful to us as my husband's dad had landed at Omaha Beach a few weeks after the initial invasion as he was in charge of an ordinance company and came in with supplies. He spent the duration of the war in the Normandy area and in Belgium. Sean helped our family history come alive for us.
Sacramento, CA USA Mon 06/20/2005
Over my last two trips to Europe, I have visited a few interesting WW2 sites that don't necessarily show up in guidebooks.
Vienna has 6 original flak towers that were constructed by the Germans for air defense. We visited the two large towers at Arenberg Park (east of the Belvedere Museum on bus route 77A or 4A). These giant concrete structures/fortifications once housed flak guns to shoot at Allied bombers. The book "The Flak Towers in Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna 1940-1950" by Michael Foedrowitz provides some information on these towers. Others can be found at the Stiftskaserne, Esterhazy Park, and Augarten.
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Museum of Military History - east of the Sudbahnhof) was once a military school. It has a very impressive collection of WW1 & WW2 uniforms, cannons, vehicles, & memorabilia. I do recommend taking the time to visit it if you are in Vienna.
Berlin has one partially visible Flak tower at Humboldthain park. A portion of this flak tower protrudes from a hill (actually made up of WW2 rumble) on the north side of Volkspark Humboldthain overlooking the railroad tracks. It can be reach by crossing the bridge over the railroad tracks at the Gesundbraunnen S-bahn or U-bahn stop. It is an interesting relic of WW2. Information on this particular tower can be found in the above mentioned book.
The Karlhorst Museum is where the German surrender to the Red Army was signed on 8 May 45. This museum was once a German military Pioneer school and has kept the room where the surrender was signed just as it was in 1945. It is an interesting and historically significant museum.
The book "Berlin Then and Now" by Tony Le Tissier provides an interesting perspective of Berlin. This book provides both before and after photographs of various locations in Berlin showing what Pre-1945 Berlin looked like as compared to the same locations now. It also provides a lot of historical information, as well as, some good information on the battle for Berlin. I highly recommend browsing this book prior to a trip to Berlin.
The House of Terror was once the headquarters of the Fascist Arrow Cross Party and then the AVH communist secret police. This museum is really well done, and I was very impressed. It is interactive many aspects and provides an insight into what it was like to go from the repressive Arrow Cross rule to the repressive communist rule. Most rooms have pamphlets in English explaining the exhibits and history. The basement also houses reconstructions of prison cells.
The Military History Museum on Castle Hill has exhibits covering Hungary's military history. It has various uniforms and artifacts on display and is worth a short visit.
The book "The Siege of Budapest 100 Days in World War II" by Krisztian Ungvary provides an interesting perspective on the little known battle for Budapest on Nov 44 - Feb 45. After reading this book, you get some idea of the destruction that occurred in Budapest and the horrific affects on the civilians and soldiers from all sides. This book is worth reading prior to a trip to Budapest
Edmond, OK USA Mon 06/20/2005
A few weeks ago my husband signed up for an all-day tour with Overland Tours to see the beaches we've only seen in films. Alain Chesnel, the owner/guide brought all his passion for the subject to life. It was an unbelievably emotional day. By a stroke of luck, Alain met some veterans who fought on these beaches and they shared some of their memories with us. It is very special to be able to share one's knowledge in a subject one is so passionate about, but Alaine does it all effortlessly. We spent a wonderful, bittersweet day, with a great guy who shared so many stories and details with us. We recommend this tour to anyone wanting to know more about the d-day landings in WWII.
Boston, MA USA Sun 06/12/2005
Battle Bus American Highlights Tour
We returned from France three days before the 61st anniversary of the D-Day landings. We were extremely impressed with our Battlebus American Highlights Tour. Our guide, Dale, was professional and well informed. His "people" stories made the tour so meaningful. Dale arranged lunch, seamlessly ordered and picked up from a spotless little French house. We ate lunch sitting on the sand at Utah Beach. We experienced emotional moments at the American cemetery where the sacrifices 60 years ago were real, not just past history. Bayeux was the perfect place to stay--so clean. Our room at the Luxombourg was large and comfortable. If the French don't like Americans, they sure don't show it. They were polite and extremely helpful. On Monday, June 6 we watched "D-Day: First Men In" on the Military channel which showed battlefield footage and current views around La Fiere Bridge where we had just been standing four days before!
Deltona, FL USA Sun 06/12/2005
The Bridge at Remagen
On a recent trip to Germany, my cousin and I stopped in Remagen and visited the site of the former bridge across the Rhine. The tower on the western side is still there and has been made into a museum. A very interesting stop that I would recommend to all.
Hudsonville, MI USA Sat 06/11/2005
I recently took my parents on a tour of the Normandy beaches. We did not want to do a tour, so we did a lot of homework. I suggest reading Ambrose's D-Day. You will be at many places that he discusses in the book. I want to recommend one museum in particular. It is the Big Red One Assault Museum in Colleville, just before the US cemetery if you were coming from Arromanches. It is run by a 26 year old from Normandy, but do not let his age fool you. He has been studying the landings and subsequent fighting extensively. His family lived in the area through the war. His passion for the 1st division and for all of the US military actions was amazing. He has gathered quite a collection of artifacts from the landings and has volumes of information of the landings that he gathered while studying the war in the US. He speaks excellent English and provided us with detailed information about landing sites of the 1st division and beyond. He pointed out many sites that we would never have known and has detailed information about official Army reports on where particular units landed, etc. Stop by and engage him in conversation, particularly if you are not on a tour. We did not do the bigger museums for lack of time and I'm glad that we spent more time on the beaches and seeing a couple of smaller museums. You can find some great information in them and they are relatively inexpensive, 5 euros or so.
Geneva, Switzerland Fri 06/10/2005
Lidice, Czech Republic
Lidice, Czech Republic Recently while staying in Prague, I visited Lidice, a small town totally annihilated by the Germans on June 10, 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Imperial Nazi Protector a few days earlier. The assassins were Czechs living in England. On the most limited circumstantial evidence, the Nazis rounded up 172 men and boys over the age of 16, and mowed them down. They transported the women to concentration camps (many ended up in Ravensbruck, Germany). Those children that looked Aryan were taken away to be brought up as Germans, the others "disappeared," transported and probably killed in a Polish concentration camp. Some women returned after the war, and a wide-reaching campaign in many countries brought enough funds to rebuild the village about a mile from its original site. The site of the village is now a memorial (a museum will open in October, but there is a room with historical documents, photographs and explanations about the event). A sculpture commemorating the lost children can reduce you to tears. It was well worth the somewhat complicated trip. I took the Metro line C in Prague to Dejvice. Buses leave every half hour in the direction of Kladno. The drivers did not speak English, but some of the passengers did, so they told me where to get off. The cost was 21 kr. each way (about $1). Currently, the entrance is free.
Moorhead, MN USA Mon 06/06/2005
I returned a few weeks ago from a week in France, spending one day down south to see Oradour and then making the 7 hr or so trek up to Normandy for a week's worth of tours and sightseeing.
I read from this board that Battlebus was very good. I was on 3 different tours with them, each with a different tour guide, and yes, Battlebus is great! Sean, Dale and Geert know their stuff, and not only do you see the big sites, but they take you off the beaten path and bring you to places where, if you were doing the whole thing on your own, you would have no idea that something happened in the given area. One example is a church that Geert brought us to where American medics took care of wounded German soldiers. On the benches in the church were blood stains some 60 yrs old. You get the background and the whole story of each site and they add in loads of humor! It was a real pleasure going with Battlebus and I highly recommend them. Only 75 euro for a full day's tour. (The only negative was that Dale was wearing a Red Sox cap! Yuck!)
If you really like this kind of stuff, I also recommend renting a car. You can supplement the guided tours by going out on your own to see some museums and/or re-visit the areas that they took you to to spend more time there (i.e. Pointe-du-Hoc, American Cemetary, etc). Driving in the area is pretty simple, esp once you get used to things. You should stay in Bayeaux, which makes life very easy and it's really a nice place to stay. I stayed at Hotel Mogador, which is in Rick's book. Aside from having trouble closing the window (for May, it was cold, like March here in the northeast)), it was a very good place to stay and like Rick says in his book, the owner is very friendly and speaks perfect english.
You should leave plenty of time to visit the Caen Memorial Museum, and make a point to go outside to see the American Garden. You'll also want to see William the Conqueror's Chateau, also in Caen. Very cool!!
Going during Spring time is best because you have long days over there. Doesn't get dark until 9:30/10 this time of yr. So for things that are outside and don't have operating hrs (i.e. Longues Ser Mer gun battery) you can see later in the day.
I mentioned Oradour above. I highly recommend it. I rented a car at the airport, drive down to Limoges (about 5 hrs or so) stayed in a decent hotel, and then Sunday morning, drove 15 mins to Oradour. Driving on Sundays, like Rick says in his book, could be challenging. The gas stations on the autoroutes are all open, but when you take the N routes and go thru small villages, they are indeed closed. That provided a good dose of stress for me driving up to Normandy on Sunday, which was also VE Day, so the holiday compounded things.
Overall, if the French don't like Americans, they don't show it. Everyone was friendly. And for pete's sake, learn a few French words and please don't demand that they speak English, like some American did at the airport while I was waiting for my flight back home. Learn the basics: bonjour, merci, auvoir, oui, non, pardon, and parlay vous anglay. It takes nothing to say these words and if you don't have to say anything to them other than these words(i.e. at a toll booth), they wouldn't know you weren't French.
In closing, a big thanks to Battlebus for making my time there, which was so important to me, a real treat.
New York, NY USA Sat 06/04/2005
Normandy Beaches Guide
For people on a tight timeline, the D-Day landing sites can be challenging to cover because they are so spread out.
In May, my wife and I engaged Michael Phillips from Perception Travel Ltd.(firstname.lastname@example.org) to guide and educate us. He did a great job.
With only one day to tour the area, and not wanting to do it by airplane, Michael picked us up at our hotel in Bayeux, suggested picnic lunches to save time, and held our attention well into the evening.
Michael's knowledge of the history and locale is extensive, but what impressed us more was his respect and humanity towards the combatants who gave their lives.
If the D-day landing is truly of interest, plan for more than one day and a good deal of walking. However much time you have, a good guide will certainly optimize what you see and learn.
Ross and Bonnie Seider
Needham, MA USA Wed 06/01/2005
Overlord Tours/Alain Chesnel
I just retuned from France and wanted to send you this letter of appreciation. Thank you for an excellent tour of the Normandy invasion sectors. My wife and I took the Omaha Beach/Band of Brothers full day tour and were not disappointed! I have studied Operation Overlord since I was twelve years old and thought I had a fair amount of knowledge on the subject. I learned so much more on this tour, your map and photo presentations, combined with your precise, intimate knowledge of the topography made for a great learning experience, no matter what level of interest the listener has. A perfect example is my wife, born in Colombia, South America. She could not understand my fascination with WWII in general and Operation Overlord in particular. After just a few minutes of your discussion at ?Easy Red? using your maps, she was able to visualize the assault, the fields of fire, the total exposure and the cost of that terrible but necessary day that changed the World. More importantly, she now wants to know more!
I was not prepared for the emotions that this tour pulled from my inner soul, whether in the cemetery at Colleville or the church at Angoville au Plain, this was by far the most moving tour I have ever experienced. I had feeling of standing on hallowed ground at every step! Your in depth explanation, along with your photos at each stop helped me to actually visualize the scene as it was. I highly recommend Overlord Tours and Alain Chesnel to anyone who seeks to a deeper Understanding or a neophyte?s curiosity into the exploits of our ?Greatest Generation? Alain, please feel free to use me as a reference at any time. We will be back in a few years and will be contacting you for another tour!
Edison, NJ USA Mon 05/16/2005
I stayed in Normandy for six days last October and toured many of the sights there but also made an extended trip to Le Mont St. Michel. Due to some road construction, it was 2 hrs from Bayeux. After that visit I followed Rick's directions to a German cemetery that has a great view of St. Michel. Only two cars there when I visited, a German couple and myself. Not far south of there in St. James is the US Brittany Cemetery. Every bit a memorable as the Omaha beach cemetery. A beautiful setting, beautiful chapel, and the grounds are well cared for. Definitely worth the effort to get there. Again, few people visit. I was the only car in the parking lot. The attendant was glad to have visitors. Started from Bayeux, visited all the above, and was back by 7pm that night.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Thu 05/05/2005
D-Day with Victory Tours:My wife and I had an incredible time enjoying the tour of the D-Day sights given by Roel and his Victory Tours of D-Day. Roel gives a great personalized tour, which I found much more personal and informing than the mega tours we saw lumbering around the Normandy sites in their double decker busses. Roel not only hits on the big sights but he also takes you to the smaller villages and sites that still bear the scars of war and give a much more intimate sense of what it was all about. His knowledge was impressive and he communicates that knowledge so well that even the D-Day novice can comprehend the story of D-Day. As a bonus we spent that evening at the Chateau that Roel and his wife Pia run as a small Bread and Breakfast. The Chateau dates to the 1700s and is a real treat to stay in. The rates are a bargain for what you get and makes for a wonderful well rounded day in Normandy.
Olympia, WA USA Thu 05/05/2005
My wife and I just drove out to Normandy from Paris -- not a bad drive! We stayed in Bayeux at the Hotel Tardif which we would recommend it wholeheartedly. Bayeux is a perfect base for travel throughout the area. Just inland from Utah, you may take a right turn and then a left and you will see Brecourt Manor which was the scene of the Band of Brothers first major contact with the enemy. You might also drive ten minutes outside of St Mere Eglise to the Airborne Memorial. It's a nice quiet spot to sit, contemplate and have a picnic.
Winchester, MA USA Tue 04/19/2005
Have visited Verdun and the massive cemeteries and "Bone house" where 100,000 are interred twice. Americans have no idea of the losses of WWI byet 4000 Americans are buried at St Mihel. Read the tombstones. Boys from N Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri died in Sept 1918 for what???
Aurora, IN USA Sun 04/10/2005
Normandy beach tour
Add my voice to those praising Overlord Tours and its crackerjack guide, Alain Chesnel. We experienced a wonderful half-day tour of the beaches on 3/12/05 and were treated to a well-organized, knowledgeable presentation. Alain's personal relationship with many of the surviving D-Day veterans (he's very active in reunion organizing committees) and his passion for America's role in the invasion made the tour a unique experience and left us wanting more. This was my first trip to the beaches but I've read extensively on the subject, and Alain was able to pitch his tour and presentation to the right level. Four thumbs up from our satisfied group.
Indianapolis, IN USA Wed 04/06/2005
I recently finished watching the PBS series "Island at War", about the German occupation of these British islands near France. Up until then, I had no idea that Germany had their boots on British soil. With the Germans thinking the allies would attack the islands before the mainland, they built fortifications. And as it turned out the allies went directly to the beaches of France, so these fortifications remain untouched. Have any of you been to the Channel Islands to see these wartime artifacts?
CA USA Mon 03/07/2005
I went to London on business,had limited time, wanted to visit DDAY beaches. Michael Phillips (Perception Travel)gave me a one day (via private aircraft) comprehensive, one on one history of the landings, the massive German defenses and poignant stories associated with the American Cemetery.
Newport Beach, CA USA Thu 03/03/2005
A few miles past Pegasus Bridge (near Caen) there is a little museum called the Merville Battery. This is a don't miss place. It's small, it's homey, but there is a lot of very interesting stuff packed into this little museum! Not only uniforms and a diorama of the beaches which will light up, but also various letters to read, personal stories (of atrocities - how very sad) and even some comics/political commentary of the day to read. Outside there is some armament, and some maps on platforms (cut into the stone) to give you your bearings.
among many other things I found poignant, was that although it's clearly a battery - small, squat, brick and mortar building, shaped like an above ground bunker, which it is of course - the caretaker had seen fit to plant rosebushes on the outside of it, next to the wall. only in France!
Leesburg, VA USA Wed 03/02/2005
D-Day from the air !
Well sorry about that , here is the link to Normandy from the air!http://www.dday04.com/
Thomas S. Colones
Spartanburg, SC USA Mon 02/21/2005
My wife and I suggest that anyone wishing to visit Normandy sites contact Michael Phillips (Perception Travel). We found him to be extremely knowledgable and fun to be with. He will suggest sites that suit ones background and interest, and we do not hesitate in saying that we would tour with him again.Terry D. Sawyer
Terry D. Sawyer
Nashville, TN USA Sun 02/20/2005
Imperial War Museum, London
The Imperial War Museum in London is amazing! As this is the 60th anniversary of D-Day, they have a special exhibit on D-Day told mainly in the British perspective, but they highlight the contributions of Canada and the U.S.A as well. This was amazing because growing up in the U.S. all I ever learned was the U.S.'s involvement and effort in D-Day. It was interesting seeing how England and Canada were involved too.
What really brought the event to life for me was reading real letters of British service men writing home to friends and family. Beneath the letter was a plaque describing that man's role/outcome in the war. It was absolutely heart wrenching.
The museum also dedicates a hall to Britain's involvement in WWI, and on the main level they display replicas of tanks, planes, bombs and other military equipment used in past wars, which was cool too.
The Imperial War Museum in London is a great place to learn about WWI and WWII, and a great warm-up for visiting Normandy.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 01/21/2005
Powerful Normandy British Cemetary
After reading many interesting comments about the American Cemetary in Normandy, I must suggest that the British Cemetary at Ranville was a very moving experience for us. Each grave marker has a wonderful, personal message about the person and his sacrifice. Take a pen and you will have many tear stained entrys in your trip log to re-read after getting home. There are even a couple of American flyers who join the British effort before President Roosevelt offered our involvement.
Penfield, NY USA Thu 01/20/2005
Living battle field witnesses
This is general, and not specific to any single battlefield..... Those that were actual witnesses to these battles are rapidly dying off. If you get the chance, engage those that are locals for actual memories. Include Germans, or Austrians. While more difficult, once they realized that I wasn't going to find it necessary to denegrate them - or make self righteous pronouncements - I had fascinating conversations. I had one with a gentleman standing above beautifull Salzburg. History came alive as he described the distant whomps of explosions and pointed to the valley road where he saw the Russian tanks rolling into the city. He also pointed to where German (Austrian) soldiers fled west in a desperate attempt to surrender to Americans instead of vengefull minded Russians. Another was a guy in Luxembourg who glowed as he said that he was able to shake General Pattons hand as they rolled through during their liberation.
While not as predictable, remember that many of the older folks have lived locally their entire lives - so the "battlefield" you're visiting was in their backyard. We're in the last days of being able to talk with them.
OR USA Thu 01/13/2005
This is a very worthwhile place to visit. Very significant battle where Hitler sent 10,000 Panzer troops and roughly 1700 tanks to cut off Patton's supply troops. A group of 539 National Guard troops from the East - North Carolina, South Carolina and others - held the hill and stopped the advance. Gorgeous town, very interesting site. Highlighted by Brokaw in "Return to Normandy".
San Antonio, Tx USA Sun 01/09/2005