Tom Brokaw called the World War II generation "The Greatest Generation." Certainly, this generation saved our western civilization from Nazi terror. As President Roosevelt expressed it, the generation had a "Rendezvous with Destiny."
Among the very greatest were the soldiers who landed at Normandy on D-Day in the largest military invasion from
in the history of the world. These men fought in Normandy during the summer of 1944 and advanced across
France to the Siegfried Line. The Battle of the Bulge during the bitter cold winter of 1944-45 was the largest battle
ever fought by the
Our one week journey will follow the path of our soldiers from the D-Day landings in Normandy to the Crossing of the
Rhine in March, 1945.
Of course the war did not end at the Rhine. Much fighting still remained. Our troops crossed the Rhine in early
Marchand advanced across Germany to V-E Day on May 8. Our weekend extension will include Weimar and the
at Buchenwald. Enroute to Berlin, we’ll stop at Torgau on the Elbe, where our soldiers linked up
with Russian troops
advancing from the East.
The advance from D-Day to Berlin was not without mistakes. In Normandy our army was unprepared for
combat. The huge losses in the Hürtgen Forest served no significant purpose. Our army was initially
the German offensive of December 16, causing high casualties until the Germans were stopped and
These battles will be covered by our historians, and we will visit some of the sites.
The trip is more than a retracing of battles. Education sessions are included to enhance our understanding of World
War II in Europe. Our approach will consider both the “worm’s eye view” of Ernie Pyle, and the high command
environment of General Eisenhower and his staff.
Most of our historians are graduates of West Point or have taught at West Point; all have advanced degrees.
Our journey will be memorable; we hope that you will join us.
Round trip transatlantic flights
Hotel accommodations for seven nights
- USA to Paris
- Frankfurt (or Berlin) to USA
Breakfast and dinner each day
- Two nights near Paris (Airport)
- Two nights in Normandy
- One night in Metz
- One night near Spa/Monschau
- One night near Frankfurt
Five Education Sessions
Experienced historian as education host
D-Day Landings - June 6, 1944
Preparations in England
The Role of the Navy
The Battle of Normandy
On the Ground in France; St. Lô
The Role of the Air Force
||The American Experience in World War One
||Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Hürtgen Forest
Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Bayeux, Ste. Mère Eglise, St. Lô, Pegasus Bridge, Three Museums
Belleau Wood, Argonne Forest, Verdun, Luxembourg, Bastogne, Hürtgen Forest, Siegfried Line Pillbox, Remagen
Travel between cities via deluxe, air-conditioned motorcoach with English speaking tour manager
Round trip airport transfers
Fly this afternoon from your departure city to Paris. Beverages, dinner and continental breakfast will be served in flight.
There is also a movie for your in-flight enjoyment.
Arrive Paris in the morning, local time. Upon arrival, you
will be met and transferred to your hotel.
The balance of the morning is at leisure.
This afternoon we have included a panorama tour of the
major sights of Paris.
Those who already know Paris may wish to spend the
afternoon at the Louvre or another of the city’s world class
museums. Or, you may prefer just to stroll along the
Champs Elysees, or while away the afternoon at a
|3rd Day, Friday
Normandy: Caen – Pegasus Bridge
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This morning we'll follow the Seine west to Normandy, a land of rich pastures
and orchards; of castles, cathedrals and medieval towns.
“Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon
this great and noble undertaking.”
General Eisenhower, Order of the Day, June 4, 1944
Two of history’s greatest epics occurred in Normandy.
William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy
1066. In 1944, green and peaceful Normandy with its
picturesque landscape and villages was the setting for
greatest military invasion from the sea in world
history. On June 6, 1944 — called the Longest Day —
Eisenhower’s allied forces landed on the
beaches of Normandy.
This afternoon we’ll visit the Memorial Museum of Caen
to introduce us to the events of D-Day and the summer
of 1944 .
Next, we will pay homage to our British allies and visit
Pegasus Bridge, where British glider troops landed and
captured the span over the River Orne, preventing the
Germans from using the bridge to reinforce their defenders
at the landing beaches. Landing at 12:30 AM on June 6,
these British airborne troops had the honor of beginning
the Battle of Normandy.
|4th Day, Saturday
Normandy – Beaches and Battles
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“In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that
you can know and
appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both
dead and alive who did it for you.”
- Ernie Pyle, June 12, 1944
Today and tomorrow we will follow the paths of the
American infantry, rangers, and paratroopers in Normandy.
The first Americans to land on June 6 were our
paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions.
We will visit
the Airborne Museum at Ste. Mère Eglise,
the first village to be liberated. Today, this village still
hangs a parachute
on its church steeple as a reminder of
We will visit the bridge at La Fière, where the 82nd Airborne Division sealed the Ste. Mère Eglise - Carentan - Utah
Beach area against German reinforcements from the North. We will see the foxhole of General Gavin, Commander
of the 82nd, still largely intact.
Next, we will proceed to Utah Beach, where our troops
landed about a mile from its intended point. Theodore
Roosevelt, Jr., senior officer present, and at age 57 the
oldest person to land at D-Day, declared “We’ll begin
war right here.” We will visit the museum at Utah Beach.
“These are the boys of Pointe Du Hoc. These are the men
who took the cliffs. These are the champions who
a continent. These are the the heroes who helped end a war.”
- Ronald Reagan,
June 6, 1984, Normandy, France
|Pointe Du Hoc - Rudder’s Desperate Mission
Among the bravest of brave on D-Day were the Rangers,
led by Lt. Col. James E. Rudder, who scaled the vertical
cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc in face of opposing enemy fire.
As General Omar Bradley wrote, “Never has any
commander been given a more desperate mission than
that assigned to James Earl Rudder.”
We will visit Pointe du Hoc to see the German fortifications and pock-marked landscape resulting from the massive
We will walk on the beach at “Bloody Omaha” and visit
the cemetery overlooking the beach, where more than
9,000 Americans are buried.
The D-Day book of Cornelius Ryan was called The
Longest Day, as was the film staring John Wayne,
Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens.
The phrase came
from the analysis of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel,
Commander of the German forces in France.
“Believe me...the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive...the
fate of Germany will depend on it...for the Allies,
as well as
for us, this will be the longest day.”
Rommel was correct. D-Day was decisive. Fortunately for us, the
beaches were secured. Although terrible fighting
lay ahead, Germany's
fate was sealed on this fateful day. General Eisenhower's prayer
American infantrymen engage the enemy in a thick Norman hedgerow, June 1944. We will walk along a typical hedgerow near St. Lô.
During the ensuing weeks, fierce battles were fought throughout
the Normandy hedgerows. The largest battle was around the town
of St. Lô, which was almost totally destroyed. We will visit the surrounding hedgerow (bocage) country and see the monument
to Major Tom Howie, the “Major of St. Lô,” who was killed on the Martinville Ridge.
The hedgerows in the “bocage” (a French word meaning a mixture
of pasture and wooded land) are small fields ringed by earthen
banks of dirt and roots four to six feet high, with trees and shrubs growing out of them—tight enough to serve as fences that cattle
and other farm animals could not get through.
Our historian will walk with us along a typical hedgerow near
St. Lô, and show us why the Normandy hedgerows were so
extremely difficult for the American troops to attack, and so advantageous for the Germans to defend.
The break-out from Normandy took 75 days.
We will visit the museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux.
The invasion of 1944 was not the first invasion across the English Channel. Nearly 900 years earlier in 1066, William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy.
Pictures of William’s 1066 expedition can be seen in Bayeux.
Honest! The famous Tapestry of Bayeux, 230 feet long and 900
years old, shows in astonishing detail - via millions of stitches -
the life and customs of the Middle Ages and William’s epic
invasion of England.
This afternoon we will proceed east to the medieval city of Rouen
for dinner at a typical provincial restaurant.
Continue to Paris for overnight.
|Technical innovations helped turn the tide in Normandy. A Sherman tank is equipped with a hedgerow cutter constructed of materials from German beach obstacles. Invented by Sgt. Curtis G. Culin of the 2nd Armored Division, the “rhino” device was a huge benefit to our tanks in hedgerow combat.
|6th Day, Monday
Belleau Wood – Argonne Forest – Verdun
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What were the causes of World War II? The war can be
considered as an extension of the First World War, which destroyed the European civilization that existed in 1914.
Woodrow Wilson called World War I “The war to end all
wars.” Although hindsight is always 20-20, this prediction
was wildly wrong. In one of the ironies of history, our troops
in eastern France in 1944-45 retraced some of the same
battlefields where American “doughboys” fought in 1918.
We’ll visit Belleau Wood, where U.S. Army and Marine
Corps troops helped to stop the German advance from
Paris. In the Meuse-Argonne Region, we’ll see
the Pennsylvania State Monument and the American
Montfaucon. It was
in the Argonne Forest
that Sergeant Alvin York showed his extraordinary
courage and marksmanship,
Battalion,” led by a Wall Street lawyer called up from the
reserves, was surrounded by the Germans
for five days,
refusing to give up. A precursor of Bastogne!
World War I on the Western Front was largely trench
warfare - a four year stalemate where millions of soldiers
killed or wounded. Although American troops were
not involved, we will also visit Verdun. The Battle of
to December 1916, was
the longest and largest single battle in world history. In
planning for the Second World War, senior generals on
both sides were determined to
avoid the futile slaughter of
Next, we enter Luxembourg and return to World War II.
We’ll visit the American Military Cemetery, where General
|7th Day, Tuesday
Bastogne – Battle of the Bulge
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“They got us surrounded - the poor bastards”
American Army Medic
General Anthony McAuliffe
|The Bitter Woods: Battle of the Bulge, Winter 1944-45, John S.D. Eisenhower, Author
The Battle of the Bulge, as the Ardennes Campaign is
widely known, was the largest land battle of World War II. It
was also the largest battle ever fought by the American
The last offensive of the German Army, the battle cost
19,000 Americans killed in action. But our troops held the
line and the offensive was a disaster for the Germans,
who had put their soldiers in a noose to be cut off by
reinforcing Americans under General Patton. The above
comments during the siege, from an unnamed army
medic and General McAuliffe, became the most widely
quoted comments of the war in Europe. We’ll visit
Bastogne, where our soldiers were surrounded for a
week, and see the town’s monuments to this epic battle.
The noose was closed on January 16, 1945, when the
2nd Armored Division of our First Army linked up with the
11th Armored Division of our Third Army at Houfalize,
north of Bastogne.
Near Malmedy we will visit the site where Nazi troops
massacred 85 American prisoners.
We will visit the Battle of the Bulge Museum at Diekirch,
James E. Rudder and his troops fought
to prevent Germans from
expanding the southern
shoulder of their penetration. By this time,
Rudder was a
regimental commander with the 28th Infantry Division.
Greatly assisting General Patton’s 4th Armored Division in
its drive north
to relieve Bastogne was the close air
support provided by XIX Tactical Air Command under
General Otto P. Weyland. The book Air Power and
Ground Armies from the Air University at Maxwell AFB
described the cooperation between Patton’s Third Army
and Weyland’s XIX TAC as
“the most spectacular Allied
air-ground team of the Second World War
.” Patton himself
called the relationship “love at first sight."
|Because of its rugged construction, heavy firepower, and ability to haul large bombloads, the P-47 Thunderbolt was ideally suited for close air support missions. General Weyland’s command included six P-47 groups, two P-51 groups, and one reconnaissance group, totalling 400 aircraft.
|8th Day, Wednesday
The Hürtgen Forest and Siegfried Line
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“In the [Hürtgen] forest our gains came inch by inch and foot by foot, delivered by men with rifles–bayonets on one
end and grim, resolute courage on the other. There was no battle on the continent of Europe more devastating,
frustrating or gory.”
Maj. Gen. Wiliam G. Weaver
8th Infantry Division
“The Hürtgen’s voracious appetite for casualties was greater than the army’s ability to provide new troops.”
Michael Doubler, author
Closing With the Enemy
“The Hürtgen was a battle that should not have been fought.”
Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin
82nd Airborne Division
|Kall Trail, looking toward Vossenack in the Hürtgen Forest. Note thrown tank tracks. We will walk on the Kall Trail.
The battle of the Hürtgen Forest, lasting from September,
February, 1945, was one of the worst battles ever
the American Army. Negligently planned
by senior generals who had
no knowledge of forest
combat, we could not employ in the dense forest
advantages of air superiority, artillery, and armor, which
decisive for us since D-Day. The crucial
objective of the Roer River dams
was ignored for weeks.
The battle of the Hürtgen Forest has been overshadowed in
historical memory by the Battle of the Bulge. A textbook
example of high command negligence and its disastrous
consequences, the Hürtgen Forest battles
have been presented as case studies to classes at the U.S. Army
Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth,
Accompanied by our historian, we will walk on the Kall Trail near Vossenack, reflecting back on that horrible time
in the autumn of 1944 when thousands of American
soldiers became casualties among the firs of the black
“We’re gonna hang out our washing on the Siegfried Line if the Siegfried Line is still there.”
|Anti-tank “dragon’s teeth” along the Siegfried Line, still visible today. We will see dragon’s teeth close up.
This humorous song was popular in England and the U.S. during
World War II.
But nothing was humorous about the Siegfried Line
Campaign. There was enormous, brutal combat, with
American soldiers pitting their courage and stamina
against extremely cold weather and a fiercely stubborn
From D-Day on June 6, it took our troops 96 days to reach
the border of Nazi Germany and the Siegfried Line (also
known as the West Wall), a complex of pillboxes, dragon’s
teeth, and strongpoints built during the 1930’s to protect
the Reich against invasion from the West.
It took us almost five additional months to advance beyond
the Siegfried Line and continue less than 100 miles into
Germany to reach the Rhine River.
We will visit a German pillbox along the Siegfried Line, and
then drive east to Remagen.
Remagen – The Rhine – Darmstadt
|The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen after capture by American
troops on March 7, 1945. The bridge
collapsed on March 17.
By 1945, both the American and German armies assumed
that all permanent bridges across the Rhine would soon be
destroyed and any crossing by the Allies would be via
boat or pontoon bridge. But the retreating Germans failed
to bring down the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine at
Remagen; our Ninth Armored Division captured the
structure on March 7.
The capture of the bridge at Remagen enabled thousands
of our troops to cross the Rhine “with dry feet.” General
Eisenhower called the bridge “worth its weight in gold.”
The enormous benefit of the bridge to the Allied advance
was recognized by Hitler, who ordered an all-out assault
against the bridge by aircraft bombing, rockets (the V-2 had
just become operational), frog men, and artillery.
At Remagen, we will visit the site of Ludendorff Bridge and
the imposing towers that still stand today. We will visit the
small museum inside the towers on the West Bank.
This afternoon enjoy a delightful drive along the Rhine. See
the vineyards of the famous Rhine wines, the many barges
the busy waterway and perhaps best of all, the fairy
tale castles around almost every bend in the River. Of
are the famous Lorelei rocks, immortalized
in the classic poem of Heinrich Heine. Set to music, the
poem tells the story of
the boatmen lured to their death by
a beautiful maiden sitting on the rocks, combing her long
blonde hair while
singing her fateful song.
Dinner this evening, with German entertainment, will be at
a popular Rhineland restaurant.
This morning we will be transferred to Frankfurt airport to board our
return flight to the U.S. Cocktails and meals will
be served in flight,
and a movie will also be available. Arrive back in the U.S. this afternoon.
|Kenneth Hamburger, Ph.D.
||During two tours of combat in Vietnam, Ken Hamburger was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and thirty Air Medals. He holds a Master's Degree and Ph.D. from Duke University, and
has taught courses at West Point on the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Grand Strategy, and Leadership. His recent book is a study of combat leadership
in the Korean War.
|Harold Winton, Ph.D.
A graduate of West Point, Hal Winton received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Stanford. He is also an honors graduate of the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course and the Army Command and General Staff College. On active duty he served as a platoon leader, company commander, and battalion commander. Hal has taught history at West Point and Auburn University, and is currently Professor of Military History and Theory, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, at the Air University. He has published numerous books, articles and essays on air power, World War II, and the Battle of the Bulge.
|Heath Twichell, Ph.D.
A graduate of West Point, Heath Twichell served 24 years as an infantry officer and led troops in the U.S., Germany and Vietnam. He taught history at West Point, as well as policy and strategy at the U.S. Naval War College.
Heath has written books on military history. His biography of General Henry
T. Allen won the Allen Nevins Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in American history for 1972.
|Alexander P. Shine, M.A.
Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) Al Shine graduated from West Point in 1963.
His 27 years active duty as an infantry officer included a tour of Korea and
two in Vietnam. Al is the son and grandson of WWII and WWI veterans. All of Al's siblings served in Vietnam; both of his brothers were killed in action.
Al has a masters degree in history from Harvard and taught at West Point, Wheaton College (IL), and the Army War College. His articles on a variety of topics have appeared in the Airpower Journal, and Command. His awards
and decorations include the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Silver Star,
and Purple Heart.
|Williamson Murray, Ph.D.
Williamson (Wick) Murray received his B.A. and Ph.D from Yale and taught history at Yale. He moved to Ohio State University and received the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. He retired from Ohio State as Professor Emeritus of History.
Wick has taught at West Point, the Army War College, the Naval War
College, and the Air War College.
Wick has written numerous books and articles. A War to Be Won -
Fighting the Second World War, written by Wick Murray and Allan
Millett, is the leading operational history of World War II.Pacific.
|Kenneth E. Block, M.A.
A graduate of Princeton, Ken Block has studied at the University of Berlin
and holds a Masters Degree in history from Columbia University in New
York. He has served as a Naval Officer and as a Foreign Service Officer
with the Department of State in Europe and Asia.
Ken founded Matterhorn Travel and has 42 years experience designing
and operating history travel programs. In addition to World War II in Europe, Ken has put together history programs covering Colonial America and the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Western Expansion, and World War II
in the Pacific.
|* Other highly qualified education hosts may also participate.
|Left to right: Vonnie Block,
Kathy McCary, Ken Block, JoAnn West
Our holiday is operated by Matterhorn Travel.
Established in 1986, Matterhorn Travel has carried over
50,000 passengers to Europe. Matterhorn officers have
a combined experience of 102 years with the company.
Please note the all-inclusive nature of our trips. There are
no hidden operational costs. We include all features for a
complete holiday - breakfasts, dinners every evening, and
|Prices Per Person, Double Occupancy
|From the East
||Boston, New York, Newark
|From the Mid-Atlantic
|From Chicago and the Mid-West
|From the Carolinas
||Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston
|From the West
|From the Pacific Coast
||Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland
Inquire about prices from cities not listed above.
Land Only Price: $3295 per person, double occupancy.
Single Room Supplement $394. Triple Room Reduction $20 per person.
Add $292 U.S. and foreign airport and security taxes