D-Day 71

I have just returned from Normandy with a group from Leger Battlefield Tours which included members of the York Branch Normandy Veterans Association, with whom I have travelled to Normandy many times. As ever it was a memorable weekend and great to spend time in company with the veterans. However, it once more begs the…

Higgins Boat Memorial

The Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), or Higgins Boat, was the main type of landing craft used by the American military in the Second World War. On D-Day they were used extensively on both Omaha and Utah Beaches, being immortalised in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan showing the landings on D-Day. Designed by American…

Remembering VE Day

Today is the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – VE Day – when the war in Europe came to an end.   German troops had first surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery at Lüneburg Heath on 4th May 1945. This though only concerned German units facing 21st Army Group, so the fighting in the…

Lūneburg Heath Memorial

On this day in 1945 Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery signed the declaration of surrender of German troops in Holland, Northern Germany and in Denmark bringing to an end the fighting for his 21st Army Group. Monty was the first Allied commander to bring the Germans to the table for an unconditional surrender, and events…

WW2 Book Review: Over The Battlefield

Over The Battlefield: Operation Goodwood by Ian Daglish (Pen & Sword 2015, ISBN 978 1 84415 153 0, 272pp, illustrated, paperback, £14.99) The ‘Over The Battlefield’ series of books by Pen & Sword and authored by Ian Daglish take a different angle when examining some of the key battles of the Normandy Campaign by using…

Exploring The Hürtgenwald

The Hürtgenwald was a forested area just inside the German border and east of the city of Aachen. It was protected to the south and west by the Siegfried Line but was reached by American troops in September 1944. The fighting in the Battle of the Hürtgenwald lasted well into December 1944, and the final breakout…

Siegfried Line, Aachen

The Siegfried Line, or Westwall as the Germans called it, was a 390 mile long defensive wall built in the 1930s to screen Nazi Germany in from an attack from the West and was partially built in reaction to the construction of the French Maginot Line. During the Phoney War in 1939.40 it inspired the famous song…

Eyewitness Museum, Beek

Eyewitness WO2 is a new privately owned museum, which has only been open since 2013. I came across it while researching a new battlefield tour for Leger Holidays and this week had the chance to pay it a visit. It proved to be quite an experience! The museum is located in a large former private…

Ede Sherman

We ended our journey following the battles of 1945 in Holland, looking at the ground around Arnhem. Most people who come to Arnhem do so to follow the Airborne element of Operation Market Garden and examine the fighting here from a 1944 perspective, perhaps not even realising that there was a battle at Arnhem in…

Bergen-Belsen

 On International Women’s Day it is fitting to be sitting writing this at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where arguably one of the most famous female voices of the Twentieth Century died in 1945: Anne Frank. Her diaries have helped to define our knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, and for me personally they remain as…

Mulberry Whale, Vosges

  On our recce for the Last Days of WW2 battlefield tour we came across a Mulberry Whale roadway section still being used in the village of Horbourg-Wihr in the Vosges on the border with Germany. The Vosges saw heavy fighting in 1945 and was liberated by Free French and US Forces. Indeed in nearby…

Lorraine American Cemetery

The Lorraine American Cemetery is the largest American cemetery from the Second World War in Europe with 10,489 burials and 444 service personal commemorated on the memorial to the missing: meaning that it is even bigger than the US Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. It covers more than 113 acres and the dead here…