Canadian War Sites Tour
Occupation of the Channel Islands
1940 to 1945
May 5 - 21, 2012
Small group tour (20 - 25)
From June 30, 1940 until the liberation on May 9, 1945,
the Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany.
Hitler was obsessed with the idea that the Allies would try to regain the islands at any price, so hundreds of concrete, reinforced bunkers and gun emplacements, anti-tank walls and tunnels were constructed.
As a result, an incredible number of WWII German defence works can still be seen in these tiny islands. We’ll visit many of them, as well as museums of the Occupation
and some of the lovely spots and castles on the islands themselves.
With visits to Bovington Tank Museum in Weymouth, Portsmouth,
and the Churchill War Rooms as well as the Imperial War Museum in London,
this tour will prove an unforgettable journey into the realities of the Second World War on British soil.
Your Executive Worldwide Travel Tour Itinerary
|Day #1 Saturday May 5th|
Our departure day from Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto for the flight to London and then directly on to the island of Jersey.
Day #2 Sunday May 6th
Arrive Jersey and transfer to our hotel (6 nights).
We will have free time for settling in and then introduce ourselves to Jersey with a visit to La Hogue Bie.
Described as one of Europe's finest prehistoric monuments this Neolithic ritual site was in use some 6000 years ago.
It is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves in Europe telling the story of different ritual and ceremonial functions.
There is also evidence here of German WW11 trenches built in 1942.
Day #3 Monday May 7th|
Today we will visit the fortifications of Hitler's Atlantic Wall.
We will start at Noirmont Command Bunker and Battery with Ian Chatterley, a local historian, as our guide. There is a coastal artillery observation tower and an underground command bunker.
Moving up the western coast we will include a visit to the Military Museum, the Jersey War Tunnels and underground hospital, hewn out of rock by forced labour.
Dug deep into the hillside within St Peter’s Valley, the Tunnels were originally intended to be a barracks and ammunition store for the occupying forces. Today they tell the story of the Occupation, looking at how all sides coped under such extreme conditions and examining the daily dilemmas that were faced by island residents and the authorities, whether Jersey, British or German.
Also we'll stop at St Matthew's (Glass) Church. Opalescent panels, a magnificent altar cross, a glass font, the Jersey lily motif, and truly wonderful Art Deco angels make the church one of the Island’s treasures.
Much of the magic of the effect created there comes from the material chosen by Rene Lalique, verre blanc moule-presse. This milky opaque glass makes light behave strangely, bathing the interior of the church in a soft, serene, ethereal glow entirely fitting for a place of reverence, worship and commemoration.
Day #4 Tuesday May 8th
Today’s activities will include a visit to the Maritime Museum and the Jersey Occupation Tapestry, with its 12 embroidered panels, rich with colour, illustrating major events during the German Occupation.
We will have some time to explore St Helier's port including Elizabeth Castle with its story of the Occupation. The castle is administered by the Jersey Heritage Trust as a museum site.
Among the historical displays are the Jersey Royal Militia Museum holding several centuries of military memorabilia.
Day #5 Wednesday May 9th
This is Liberation Day in Jersey.
There are many Military processions and displays on this day including the Weighbridge area where we will go to join the reenaction of the British Troops coming ashore. The Occupation Society will have many German Bunkers and German Military sites open this day.
This may also be a good day to visit the memorial to the Forced Workers.
Main shops, banks etc. are closed for the day.
Day #6 Thursday May 10th
Today we will visit Mont Orgueil Castle which towers over Gorey harbour with spectacular views over the island and across the sea to France. Later we will experience everything from wine to chocolate inside the extensive grounds of the La Mare Vineyards and Distillery. If time permits we will make a stop at beautiful Rozel Harbour.
Day #7 Friday May 11th
Today we will board the ferry for St Malo, France, and have a day trip to marvellous Le Mont St Michel and the historic walled city of St Malo, each with strong war connections.
Le Mont St Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a rocky tidal island.
|Day #8 Saturday May 12th
This morning we will set out by ferry to the island of Guernsey where we will stay for 6 nights.
Our first point of interest will be La Valette Underground Military Museum housed in a series of tunnels built by prisoner-of-war labour during the Occupation as a refuelling station for U-boats.
Our afternoon visit will take us to Fort Hommet where the fully restored 105mm coastal defence gun casement bunker was part of fortress Guernsey constructed by the forces of Nazi Germany.
Day #9 Sunday May 13th
Today our tour will take us to the German Occupation Museum where among so many other things we will learn the details of the food shortages and distribution during the Occupation.
As we turn west from here we can find numerous bunkers and wartime relics that have survived, including the impressive Pleinmont Tower.
The German Underground Military Hospital will be our next stop and is a reminder that Hitler fully expected the British to try to recapture the Channel Islands.
|Day #10 Monday May 14th
Today we will visit the superb German Naval Command Bunker at St Jacques which was the headquarters of the German Naval Commander Channel islands (Seeko-Ki). Here all important radio signals traffic for the German forces was handled especially after the Allied landings on D-Day.
Later we're off to the RAF Squadron museum that along with the Maritime Museum, the Militia Museum and others are housed in the Castle Cornet.
| Day #11 Tuesday May 15th
This will be our day excursion on the island of Sark.
We will enjoy a carriage ride, tour the gardens, have a guided walk detailing the Occupation, visit the Occupation Museum and the heritage library of Sark.
|Day # 12 Wednesday May 16th
Today we are off for a day trip to the island of Alderney.
Here our visits will include the MP3 fire control position, the 88mm anti-aircraft battery on the Mannez Garenne, and, if available, access to the Luftwaffe command position and possibly the Kommandant's bunker.
|Day #13 Thursday May 17th
This is an optional day trip to the island of Herm which is Guernsey's nearest neighbour. Herm is described as having an unspoiled and other-worldly atmosphere, free of cars and bright with meadow flowers and butterflies.
Otherwise you have a free day to explore whatever you may think we've missed...perhaps a day on a Guernsey beach.
Day #14 Friday May 18th
Today we will leave the Channel Islands by ferry for Weymouth England.
From here we will explore Bovington Museum...I am told THE tank museum offering a collection of tanks and action-packed live displays, boasting almost 200 vehicles on display in six large halls. This is the home and the story of the tank...the history of tanks and tank crews brought to life. (1 night in Weymouth).
|Day #15 Saturday May 19th
Today we will work our way to London with a stop first in the Portsmouth area.
In Portsmouth you can pursue your own special interest...HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose, the Royal Naval Academy or the D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery.
We move to London for two nights.
|Day #16 Sunday May 20th
On our day in London we will visit the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum.
The Churchill War Rooms museum comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout the Second World War, and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum exploring the life of British statesman Winston Churchill.
Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. They became operational in August 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war in Europe. They remained in operation throughout the Second World War, before being abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan.
The Imperial War Museum explores the stories of those who have lived, fought and died in conflict, from the First World War to the present day.
This evening will be our farewell dinner.
Day # 17 Monday May 21st
Our return to Canada.
Please note that the itinerary may be subject to minor changes - if it is necessary to change hotels the same standard will be maintained.
Tour Escort and Guide
Marilyn Minnes is a former high school teacher who, while teaching for DND in Germany, took many opportunities to tour Canadian memorial sites. During these visits Marilyn felt a need to play a continuing role in recognizing and remembering the sheer bravery, determination and sacrifices of her fellow Canadians buried on foreign soil, as well as those who were able to return home.
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