World War Two Battlefield Tours
Second World War: 1939-1945
On 3rd September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to their country's unprovoked attack against Poland two days earlier. The German army overpowered the Polish army and moved in to occupy the territory. Meanwhile, there was not much either Britain or France could do, except at sea where after an intense engagement, the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy forced the German Navy to scuttle the Graf Spee. In Europe, for several months, there was little or no activity along the Franco-German border and the period became known as the 'Phoney War'.
All this changed dramatically on 10th May 1940 when the German army launched its 'Blitzkrieg' into the Low Countries. The Dutch army was overwhelmed and the Belgian army tried bravely, but in vain, to resist. The Dutch and Belgians surrendered on 14th and 27th May respectively, leaving the French army and British Expeditionary Force to fight on alone and despite their best efforts they were forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal.
The Germans advanced using the weight of their armoured units to push the French and British back into an area around the coastal town of Dunkirk. From here between 26th May and 4th June some 338,000 troops were evacuated back to England. France surrendered on 21st June and on 30th June the first Germans troops arrived to occupy the Channel Islands. These were the only British territories Hitler managed to capture and held them for almost five years, being the longest occupation of any invaded territory during the war.
Over the next four years Britain launched a series of attacks against German targets in France, such as Bruneval, St Nazaire and the ill-fated assault at Dieppe in August 1942. Commando raids were also mounted against the Channel Islands, all of which allowed the Allies to build up an intelligence picture of German forces. When America came into the war US troops and supplies were transported across the Atlantic for the build-up in readiness for the assault against Hitler's 'Fortress Europe'. On 6th June 1944 the Allies invaded France on D-Day, landing in Normandy. It would take ten months of hard fighting to win the war, during this time the Allies tried strategies to shorten the war, such as capturing the bridges leading to Arnhem, they failed and three months later the Germans surprised the Allies as they launched an offensive called 'Wacht am Rhein', better known as the Battle of the Bulge.
In the Far East the British and Americans conducted a difficult campaign against the Japanese who proved to be a tenacious enemy. Fighting in the harsh mountainous jungle terrain of Burma and the Malay Peninsula led to the Allies creating specialist units known as the Chindits and 'Merrill's Marauders', these men conducted a guerrilla war against the Japanese and desperate battles were fought in the jungle and even in settlements around Imphal and Kohima. One famous engagement took place between April and June 1944, becoming known as the Battle of the 'Tennis Court', so-named from the location where the fighting took place in the grounds of the Deputy Commissioner's residence in Kohima.
The guides from CGT Battlefield Tours know these battlefields and will escort you to the sites of these actions and many more. Throughout your visit they will answer your questions and explain in great detail the events which took place in these locations. From the beaches of Normandy and across the French countryside to the forests of the Ardennes, the battles and all that took place will be described.
The guides from CGT do not shy away from examining the failures as well as the successes of both sides. You will stand on the spot where it all took place such as the Royal Square on Jersey where the island's liberation was proclaimed in May 1945. You will pass along the route along taken by British XXX Corps as it battled to join up with the 1st British Airborne Division fighting at Arnhem. You will walk through Bastogne where, surrounded and cut off, General McAuliffe gave his famous one word response to the German call for him to surrender. The Battle for Berlin in 1945 finally ended the war in Europe and your guide will take you around the city to show where events happened. In the Far East campaign your guide will escort you to the Tennis Court and many other locations where brave men fought and to visit the cemeteries where those who fell in battle are buried today.