Obama, Brown and Sarkozy will all be heading to the Normandy beaches, the site of the D-Day landings for the 65th anniversary on June 6 2009 .
We’ve seen greater numbers travelling to Normandy this year too, far up on last year. Almost invariably, the parties have included a veteran; this year the youngest WW2 veterans turn 82.
The morning of June 6, 1944 saw the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time take place. Over 130,000 Allied troops crossed the English channel on landing craft, against an onslaught of machine gun fire, obstacles and heavily mined beaches to gain a foothold in occupied France.
Five beaches were used for the landings - Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword. The assault marked the strategic turning point of WW2, breaking the Nazi grip on Western Europe.
The June 6 ceremonies will be attended by Heads of State – Prime Minister Brown, US President Barack Obama and President Sarkozy of France. During the presidential campaign, President Obama often talked about his family ties to World War II – his grandfather Stanley Dunham served during the War.
A lottery fund is paying for British Veterans to attend the ceremony. It is estimated that 500 UK veterans are still fit enough to make the journey to Normandy.
Normandy is one of our best connected destinations. British Tours Ltd offers a private tour by train from London via Paris (3 days) and by private car, minibus or coach from Paris (12 hours). Private tours can also start from Bayeux, Caen and Le Havre.
The most dramatic option, though not the cheapest, is our private Private Normandy Plane tour from England which provides stunning aerial views of the invasion sights including the landing beaches and Mulberry Harbour, “Port Winston”, an artificial harbour which protected the men and vehicles during the landings.
The ground tours include visits to Pegasus Bridge where many British soldiers lost their lives in a successful attempt to take the bridge, Arromanches, Omaha Beach, the almost 100 meter high Point du Hoc cliffs taken by US Rangers under heavy machine gun fire, and the Normandy American Cemetery which contains the graves of 9,387 of military dead.