I arrived in London and got off at Westminster station so I could cross the bridge and take in the spectacular view of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The Trafalgar trip started a few days later and began with a tour of the city, but as I’ve been to London several times, I decided to explore on my own. I met up with the rest of the group in the afternoon and we headed to the RAF museum in Hendon. We got to see the Vulcan, but my favourite hangars were those with Battle of Britain and First World War aircraft. I wonder how the really old planes made from wood and fabric were ever airworthy!
My highlight the following day was stopping off at the Portsmouth D-Day Overlord museum before hopping aboard our ferry to Caen. What a fascinating place. They have some good examples of tanks and guns used in WWII, however I loved seeing the Overlord Embroidery. It’s 41 feet longer than the Bayeux Tapestry and depicts the events of D-Day. I can’t imagine the time it took to sew.
The next morning we visited the Normandy American Cemetery. I knew it was going to be a special day the moment I sat down to breakfast and began talking to a gentlemen who told me that his father was killed in WWII when he was 6 months old – and that he’s buried in said cemetery. He’d never had the opportunity to visit the grave before, and it was clearly a very moving experience for him.
Colin, our Travel Director, took us to a little museum that’s been built in the cemetery and my highlight was seeing Eisenhower’s letter to the troops ahead of the D-Day landings. Afterwards, he took us on a little trip to see a hidden treasure: a parachutist hanging off the church steeple in Ste. Obviously not a real person, but on D-Day an airman did get caught on the steeple with his parachute and a replica has been placed in his honour. A neat little stop.
There were plenty of other special moments throughout the trip, like when Colin took us into Ypres for a walking tour to show us the Menin Gate. We were seeing it that evening, but he felt we should visit without the throngs of people so we could really appreciate it. There are over 54,000 names on the gate of people whose bodies have either never been identified or never been found. It’s a place for reflection, that’s for sure.
And when we stopped at the Le Quesnal Communal Cemetery Extension so that one person on the trip could have the opportunity to pay tribute at her family member’s grave. Another of the very personal moments that I was able to be a part of.
Our farewell dinner, which was a ‘Be My Guest’ experience, was at the Pauw’s family farm. We were their very first guests and it was really lovely end to the trip. The dinner was a home-cooked meal and there was tonnes of food! The kids seemed to be enthused to have us there and to help out with serving.
I highly recommend this trip and I think it would be a great opportunity for families to share in the experience.
Find out more about the WWI and WWII Battlefields trip.