Tour Dates: Sep 26th - Oct 4th, 2015. 9 days/8 nights.
They came between 1914 and 1918, from across the seas in answer to the desperate call of the Motherland. They came as representatives of a dominion; they left as representatives of a new Nation. Then in 1939 they again heeded the call, this time to help liberate Europe from the Nazi horde.
This tour visits some of the most memorable and important sites where young Canadians fought and died for their new county’s honour and the countries of their ancestors. Their ferocity and courage, on both land and in the air, earned them legendary status. They were often ‘shock troops’ who achieved victories where others had failed. The names of the various sites are etched into Canadian history for all time; Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Courcellette are but a few. This is as much a pilgrimage as a tour, honouring those whose actions helped ‘The Forging of a Nation.’ This tour begins in Paris and finishes in Amsterdam. We recommends enhancing your touring adventure by spending some independent pre/post-tour time exploring these wonderful capital cities independently.We are happy to assist you with incoming journey if you wish. Please ask us for details.
Day 1: We depart our Paris meeting point at approximately 9 am, making our way to Normandy via a rare bit of motorway driving. We have today and tomorrow to explore and pay our respects to those brave soldiers who fought in the Normandy Beach Landings.
Juno Beach is of course a main site that will be visited. We can follow the battle from the initial beach landing to Caen, finding memorials and plaques en route. Appropriate Canadian interest sites for our time in Normandy include Bene Cemetery, Carpique, and the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer where troops engaged in house-to-house combat before liberating it. There’s Authie, where the first tank battles took place, where Kurt Meyer’s 25th SS Panzer Grenadiers encircled the Royal Winnipeg Rifles at Putot-en-Bassin, and the terrible experience at Abbaye d’Ardenne. Nightstop: Bayeux.
Day 2: A full day exploring the Normandy Beaches. In addition to the poignant battlefields, as guests wish, some time to see the medieval city of Bayeux. This beautifully restored city offers the famed tapestry, a fine cathedral and several lovely shops and cafes. Nightstop: Bayeux, as above.
Day 3: This morning, discuss Operation Spring which, other than the Dieppe raid, was the Canadians Army’s costliest single operation of the Second World War. Our main destination today is Dieppe, where, on 19 August 1942, five thousand troops of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, along with a thousand British troops, attacked. The purpose was to make a successful raid on German-occupied Europe over water but the results were disastrous. We’ll visit the Canadian cemetery and actual beach battle site. Nightstop: Amiens area.
Day 4: Turning our attentions to WWI, today we concentrate on The Somme battlefield. Fought on these chalky fields in 1916, the Battle of the Somme was one of the most costly. Almost 60,000 men fell on the very first day. Amazingly, even after ninety + years, the area still yields up from its soils the remnants of man and machine. There are still areas one cannot walk through because of unexploded ordinance. One point of our day sure to be indelibly imprinted in the visitor’s memory will be our walking tour of the amazingly well-preserved battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel, site of the Newfoundland Regiment’s bloody loss of innocence. Also, Courcellete and the town and museum at Albert as time permits. Nightstop: Amiens area, as above.
Day 5: Today will take us to Vimy Ridge, where it is generally agreed the Canadian Nation was forged over Easter, 1917. Here, subject to opening conditions, you’ll have a guided tour the underground tunnels. You’ll hear in detail how this tremendous victory was achieved, and see the magnificent memorial. Later, we’ll continue our way north into Belgium and begin to explore the sites around the Ypres Salient, perhaps the bloodiest of all Imperial held lines in the First World War. The many sites that make this such a special area for Canadians include Hooghe, John McRea’s Essex Farm, Hill 60, Passchendaele, Hill 62 and Tyne Cot Cemetery.
This evening, the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menen Gate in Ypres. NightStop: Ypres.
Day 6: A day ‘on leave’ to explore the town of Ypres. Your guide will be on hand for advice and an orientation walking tour. Ypres is home to a lively Grote Markt with many restaurants, cafes and pubs so a perfect place for some relaxing time sampling the local cuisine, world famous beers and to savour your ‘Olde Worlde’ surroundings. There is the wonderful In Flanders Field Museum and, like most Belgian towns, there is no shortage of chocolatiers and quaint local shops too! Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake. Nightstop: Ypres, as above.
Day 7: We turn our attentions back to sites of the Ypres Salient, a place that struck fear into the Great War ‘Tommy’ for being the hottest spot on the 70 mile front line. Over a quarter of a million men gave their lives to hold this last bit of Belgium from the Germans. Although history records three great battles fought at Ypres, it was in fact a constant battle against shell, bullet, bomb, gas, water and rats. Later, we will make our way into Antwerp, following the Battle of the Schelde. Canadian involvement here, along with the Polish troops, was crucial in opening up the river and liberating Antwerp and surroundings. Antwerp itself is a charming city with a lovely Grote Markt and a stunning cathedral. Tonight, dinner offers the opportunity to sample some local Belgian cuisine such as mussels and frites or a hearty Flemish stew – Carbonnade (beef) or Waterzooi (seafood.). Nightstop: Antwerp.
Day 8: The campaign in Holland was all about bridges and river crossings. Today “A Bridge Too Far” and the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. In Groesbeek, there’s the Canadian Cemetery near the landing zones of the American 82nd Airborne as we begin our investigation of Operation Market Garden. Nightstop: Arnhem area.
Day 9: Today we continue to relive the heart-wrenching disappointment that was the failure of Operation Market Garden. Discover the ongoing gratitude of the local population for the Canadians in Arnhem and beyond, when II Corps advanced into northern Germany, liberating Dutch cities on the way and putting an end to the starvation of the Hunger Winter of 1945. We will arrive into Amsterdam early evening, where our tour concludes. Accommodation is separate tonight. SGT is happy to assist you with post-tour arrangements as you wish.
Why not ‘Link It?’ For a change of pace, our April departure joins up with the Holland Tulip Time Garden tour visiting Keukenhof gardens, Holland’s Bulb Fields and annual Holland Flower Parade starting Tuesday, 16 April.
We recommend spending some time in this famed Dutch city. Amsterdam is a place where you can turn your attentions to every day life during the war. Here is the Dutch Resistance Museum, which recreates the atmosphere of the streets of Amsterdam during the German occupation and the Anne Frank House Museum. The city is easy to navigate via public transport, either tram or canal ferry/cruise. There’s simply so much to see and do – the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum for the finest collection of Dutch old masters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Vermeer among others; there’s the flower market, Dam Square, Rembrandt House…Garden fans may enjoy the immaculate eighteenth-century garden at the Willet-Holthuysen Museum. Where to begin?!
Please Note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we do our utmost to include all properties, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to visit due to change in opening times, days.
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