UK & Normandy

Over two weeks in May and June 2019, the Europe Remembers’ team had the amazing opportunity to go on tour in the United Kingdom and Normandy during the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In London, we officially launched the Liberation Route Europe’s International Hiking Trail. The historic trail stretches from London to Berlin, tracing the footsteps of the western Allies during the liberation of Europe in 1944-1945. Consider showing your support today to help make this hiking trail a reality by making a small donation to our crowdfunding campaign.

United Kingdom: May 20 - 23

“Following the path of our Liberators and walking the Hiking Trail was a moving and impressive experience for me.”
- Jurriaan de Mol, Chairman and Founder of the Liberation Route Europe

UK Day 1 London: Kick-Off

On Monday, May 20, we headed to London for the official kick-off of the tour. Our first stop for the opening ceremony was The Churchill War Rooms. This was a significant event for us as we officially launched the Liberation Route Europe’s International Hiking Trail and Vectors of Memory. Broadcaster, presenter, and historian Dan Snow was on hand as a special presenter. As a surprise to the audience and the World War II veterans present, Zazi, the Dutch pop-trio, premiered the official theme song of Europe Remembers on Tour, their cover of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.”

In the afternoon, we went on a WWII tour of central London with Dan Snow and Frank Baldwin as our tour guides. We visited the Royal Military Chapel or the “Guards Chapel” at the Wellington Barracks – which was destroyed by a German V-1 rocket in June 1944. We then visited several memorials and monuments near Whitehall including the Battle of Britain Monument to the Royal Air Force; the statue of Viscount Montgomery, Field Marshal of the British Eighth Army; and the Monument to the Women of WWII near the Cenotaph memorial. After we walked to the former Headquarters of the French Free Forces, the French government-in-exile led by Charles De Gaulle, and then onto the Allies Statue of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and PM Winston Churchill. We concluded the walking tour at the Roosevelt Memorial and the Grosvenor House, whose Great Room served as the Officers’ Sunday Club and the largest U.S. mess hall.

The first day ended at the Armoury House of the Honourable Artillery Company, where we had a live panel discussion on the Preparations for D-Day with Dan Snow, Peter Caddick-Adams, Frank Baldwin, Dan Hill, and Anthony Tucker-Jones.

UK Day 2: "Friendly Invasion"

On Tuesday, May 21, we started the first day of hiking from Alton to Petersfield in Hampshire where we discussed the “friendly” invasion, stopping at three pubs along the trail. This part of Hampshire, like much of the United Kingdom, welcomed hundreds of thousands of American, Canadian, and Commonwealth servicemen who came to assist in the war effort.

We also visited the Brookwood War Cemetery in Surrey, one of the largest military cemeteries in the UK. It was a somber moment to reflect on the sacrifice of these men and women, many of them Canadians and other Commonwealth soldiers who died during the evacuations from Dieppe.

UK Day 2: "Friendly Invasion"

On Tuesday, May 21, we started the first day of hiking from Alton to Petersfield in Hampshire where we discussed the “friendly” invasion, stopping at three pubs along the trail. This part of Hampshire, like much of the United Kingdom, welcomed hundreds of thousands of American, Canadian, and Commonwealth servicemen who came to assist in the war effort.

We also visited the Brookwood War Cemetery in Surrey, one of the largest military cemeteries in the UK. It was a somber moment to reflect on the sacrifice of these men and women, many of them Canadians and other Commonwealth soldiers who died during the evacuations from Dieppe.

UK Day 3: "Preparations for D-Day"

On Wednesday, May 22, we walked from Petersfield to Rowland’s Castle along the Shipwrights trail. The topic for this day was the “Preparations for D-Day”. Seventy-five years ago, this region was abuzz with tens of thousands of troops preparing for the journey across the Channel to Normandy.

Our final stop of the day, Rowland’s Castle, was an especially important location as it lay 13km north of Portsmouth along the main railway line to London. Much of the village during this period was turned into a major supply depot of equipment that would be used during the D-Day landings. The surrounding forests, through which we walked, were the home of elaborate camps that even had a cinema.

UK Day 4: "Embarkation D-Day"

On Thursday, May 23, our final day in the UK, we hiked from Rowland’s Castle to Portsmouth via Hayling Island. Along the way, we had the opportunity to see the location where the components for the artificial Mulberry harbor were constructed.

We also visited the Southwick House, a requisitioned manor house that became the HMS Dyrad. In the days leading up to D-Day, it became the headquarters of the main allied commanders with a notable map room where the movements of individual boats were charted on their way to Normandy.

On our final approach into Portsmouth, we had a guided historical tour with local expert Tom Stoneman ending the hike at The D-Day Story. Afterwards, we had a special celebration with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, David Fuller, where we presented him a special Vector and appointed him as a special ambassador of the Liberation Route. Just like allied forces 75 years ago, our journey in the UK ended in Portsmouth before making our to Normandy.

UK Day 4: "Embarkation D-Day"

On Thursday, May 23, our final day in the UK, we hiked from Rowland’s Castle to Portsmouth via Hayling Island. Along the way, we had the opportunity to see the location where the components for the artificial Mulberry harbor were constructed.

We also visited the Southwick House, a requisitioned manor house that became the HMS Dyrad. In the days leading up to D-Day, it became the headquarters of the main allied commanders with a notable map room where the movements of individual boats were charted on their way to Normandy.

On our final approach into Portsmouth, we had a guided historical tour with local expert Tom Stoneman ending the hike at The D-Day Story. Afterwards, we had a special celebration with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, David Fuller, where we presented hum a special Vector and appointed him as a special ambassador of the Liberation Route. Just like allied forces 75 years ago, our journey in the UK ended in Portsmouth before making our to Normandy.

Normandy 75th Anniversary of D-Day: June 3 - 7

“Europe Remembers On Tour in Normandy has been a great success. We hope that our videos and social media activities were able to give those who could not participate a glimpse of what happened during this 75th anniversary. We met dozens of people who, in their own way, are working to keep this history alive and to make sure that we don’t forget the significance of D-Day.”
- Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the Liberation Route Europe

Normandy Day 1: Utah Beach & Airborne Landings

On Monday, June 3, we started the first day in Normandy at Utah Beach D-Day Museum (Musée du Débarquement) in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Utah Beach was the westernmost allied landing beach, assigned to the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. We had the opportunity to present a copy of Rough Guides: Travel the Liberation Route, available now for preorder, at the Utah Beach Museum.

From Utah Beach, we visited the memorial to one of these brave paratroopers, Major Richard D. Winters, who was immortalized in the hit television series, Band of Brothers. Our next stop was Notre-Dame Church in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, location of intense fighting between U.S. Airborne troops and German soldiers, who used the tower as a lookout. Numerous bullet holes can still be seen inside the church today.

We concluded our hike at Dead Man’s Corner in Saint-Côme-du-Mont. It was here in a house that the German Paratroopers established a command post, which was then taken over by the Americans on June 8th. Today the house can be visited as part of the D-Day Experience Museum, a unique interactive museum that give the visitor a first-hand experience of the history of D-Day.

Normandy Day 2: Omaha Beach

On Tuesday, June 4, we began the day in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy where we visited the Maisy Battery – a gun battery that had been buried for 63 years hidden in the trenches. We then hiked towards our first destination – the famous Pointe-du-Hoc. It was here that the 2nd U.S. Ranger Battalion scaled the 30-meter cliff faces to capture the German artillery battery – that, in fact, were empty. Here we encountered several American soldiers from the modern-day U.S. Ranger battalion who were displaying the techniques the rangers used on D-Day.

Next, we arrived at Omaha Beach, which is probably the most famous of the five D-Day beaches. Here the Americans experienced the highest rate of D-Day losses, with 4,700 killed, wounded or missing. We visited a German bunker and Les Braves Omaha Beach Memorial – a modernist artwork that represents “The wings of Hope”, “Rise, Freedom!”, and “The Wings of Fraternity.”

After 33.8km we ended the hike in Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, then headed to the Château Bellenau for a reenactment of its capture by Allied forces on D-Day.

Normandy Day 2: Omaha Beach

On Tuesday, June 4, we began the day in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy where we visited the Maisy Battery – a gun battery that had been buried for 63 years hidden in the trenches. We then hiked towards our first destination – the famous Pointe-du-Hoc. It was here that the 2nd U.S. Ranger Battalion scaled the 30-meter cliff faces to capture the German artillery battery – that, in fact, were empty. Here we encountered several American soldiers from the modern-day U.S. Ranger battalion who were displaying the techniques the rangers used on D-Day.

Next, we arrived at Omaha Beach, which is probably the most famous of the five D-Day beaches. Here the Americans experienced the highest rate of D-Day losses, with 4,700 killed, wounded or missing. We visited a German bunker and Les Braves Omaha Beach Memorial – a modernist artwork that represents “The wings of Hope”, “Rise, Freedom!”, and “The Wings of Fraternity.”

After 33.8km we ended the hike in Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, then headed to the Château Bellenau for a reenactment of its capture by Allied forces on D-Day.

Normandy Day 3: Gold, Juno & Sword Beaches

On Wednesday, June 5, we had a marathon day covering the final three beaches of Gold, Juno, and Sword on the final day of our hike. We started the day in Arromanches-les-Bains that was part of the British sector of Gold Beach. Here the British constructed one of two massive artificial harbors that became known as Mulberry Harbor or “Port Winston.” At Gold Beach, we caught up with Alan King, a British veteran with the Royal British Legion, who had a message for young people that, “It was very difficult what we went through. You’ve got to live it. You can’t describe it. You can’t make a film about it.”

From Gold Beach, we made our way to Juno Beach and the Canadian sector. We visited the Juno Beach Centre and the Canada House, the first building to be liberated on D-Day. At Juno Beach, we had the chance to visit with Vanessa Zappi, a Canadian tour operator working with Education First Tours, a partner of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation. She is visiting Normandy with a few thousand American and Canadian students who are partaking in the 75th anniversary ceremonies. We concluded the hike in Normandy at Sword Beach in Lion-sur-Mer. Here, British, French, and Polish forces landed with the aim to establish a beachhead and later liberate the city of Caen.

In the evening, we watched one of the historic flyovers of Daks over Normandy. Hundreds of paratroopers flew in Douglas DC-2/C-47 Dakotas from Duxford Airfield in the U.K. to the historic drop zones in Normandy. Later, we joined the mayor of Ouistreham, Romain Bail, and former NATO General, Wesley Clark, for the Liberty Concert Normandy featuring the Dutch group, Zazi for an evening of classic WWII songs with a modern twist.

Normandy Day 4: 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Thursday, June 6 marked a special day as the 75th anniversary of the Normandy D-Day Landings. At midnight, we partook in the ceremony at the Pegasus Memorial, the vital bridge crossing the Canal de Caen captured by 6th British Airborne Division. We woke up early to watch the sunrise at the Omaha Beach and to take the opportunity to reflect on the memory and sacrifice of those who died for freedom and liberation on this historic day. We concluded the day with a visit to the Ranville Cemetery, a British Commonwealth war cemetery in Calvados.

Normandy Day 4: 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Thursday, June 6 marked a special day as the 75th anniversary of the Normandy D-Day Landings. At midnight, we partook in the ceremony at the Pegasus Memorial, the vital bridge crossing the Canal de Caen captured by 6th British Airborne Division. We woke up early to watch the sunrise at the Omaha Beach and to take the opportunity to reflect on the memory and sacrifice of those who died for freedom and liberation on this historic day. We concluded the day with a visit to the Ranville Cemetery, a British Commonwealth war cemetery in Calvados.

Normandy Day 5: Tribute Ceremony to Czech Soldiers in Arromanches

To mark our final day in Normandy, we attended a special ceremony in Arromanches recognizing the role Czech soldiers played during the D-Day landings. Here a special plaque was installed in tribute to these brave Czech men who landed in Normandy in late August 1944 and later helped liberate the French city of Dunkirk.


In August, Europe Remembers on Tour will be in Paris for the 75th anniversary of the liberation. You can follow our journey via our social media pages @EuropeRemembers. Be sure to check out the Liberation Route Europe’s YouTube channel for the latest videos from our tour. Europe Remembers is a campaign of the Liberation Route Europe to commemorate and celebrate 75 years of freedom in 2019-2020.

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