We begin the day with a visit to the Colleville American Military Cemetery, the memorial and its excellent visitor center for an emotional, sobering, but rewarding and unforgettable experience. Memorabilia and videos at the visitor centre give a true sense of what it would have been like for the troops and prepares us for the trips to the beaches. All explained by our guide, D-Day historian “Colonel Jack” – Lieutenant Colonel (QM) Jack A Matthews, British Army (retired).
We then head along the coast to Omaha Beach and ‘Dog Green’ where GIs of the 29th Division fought and died, as accurately portrayed in “Saving Private Ryan”. This was the bloodiest of all the beaches where the landings very nearly failed, but for the bravery of the ‘Greatest Generation’. Following in the footsteps of men like Congressional Medal of Honour winner Brig. Gen. Teddy Roosevelt, Jr, we lunch overlooking the beach at ‘Hotel du Casino’.
After lunch we move on to ‘Pointe du Hoc’ – the infamous German gun position that many thought would threaten the Allied ships off Omaha Beach. Heroically attacked up the cliff side by the elite 2nd U.S. Rangers, the bomb craters and ruined fortifications and bunkers still remain for all to see.
Our final stop for the day is the famous Utah Beach where the objective was to secure a beachhead on the Cotentin Peninsula, the location of important port facilities at Cherbourg. The amphibious assault, primarily by the US 4th Infantry Division and 70th Tank Battalion, was supported by airborne landings of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division. The intention was to rapidly seal off the Cotentin Peninsula, prevent the Germans from reinforcing Cherbourg and capture the port as quickly as possible.
8.00 An early rendezvous to set off by private transfer to Colleville American Military Cemetery, Museum and Memorial
9.45 A brief pause for coffee and croissants before the final leg of the journey to Colleville
11.00 Meet our distinguished guide, ‘Colonel Jack’ Lieutenant Colonel Jack Matthews (QR) British Army (retired) who will take us through the museum and cemetery.
12.00 On to Omaha Beach
12.30 Lunch at the ‘Hotel du Casino’
14.30 Discover Omaha Beach
15.00 Go to Point de Hoc
16.00 On to our final destination – Utah Beach
17.00 Optional Coffee break before respectfully leaving the past behind and heading back to Le Mans for dinner and qualifying