We arrange to meet each other in our London hotel, where we will be staying for 6 nights to tour London and its environs.
Our hotel is within walking distance from Churchill’s “Cabinet war Rooms” and on our way we pass by the War Office, the Admiralty, the present Ministry of Defence with the statues of Field Marshal Montgomery, Field Marshal Alanbrooke, Lord Moutbatten, a Gurkha soldier and the Cenotaph. The Cabinet War Rooms are underneath the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, very close to Downing Street 10. In addition to the war rooms there is a brilliant exhibition about Winston Churchill’s political career.
On the Thames, opposite the Tower, HMS Belfast. It is a WWII-cruiser that participated in the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst in 1943 and the Invasion in Normandy in 1944. The tour will take you around inside the 6-inch gun turrets, the boiler rooms, the bridge etc. and gives you an idea of weapon capabilities and the daily life in a wartime cruiser. Lunch is served on the riverside off of the cruiser.
The Imperial War Museum has a large collection of equipment from WWII, including a large number of aircraft. Here you will also find smaller exhibitions on special themes from WWII. While in London we will also will visit the Army Museum in Chelsea, the RAF Memorial Chapel in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Going North to the Cambridge area we will visit Duxford. It was a fighter base during the Battle of Britain in 1940, but in 1942 it was turned into an American base for USAAF. Here we find both American and British WWII aircrafts in large numbers on display. Some of them are still in a flying condition, participating in air shows. A memorial outside the American museum describes in details the huge losses the US Air Forces suffered over Western Europe from 1942 to 1945.
The British part of the Duxford exhibition is part of the Imperial War Museum. Here you will also find an army exhibition on the Normandy campaign. The exhibits include Field Marshal Montgomery’s vans habitation and operation vans from the campaign – conquered from the Italian Army during the dessert war. From Duxford we go to a hotel close to Bletchley Park. Next morning you will be guided through the former Naval Code- and Cipher School, which in 1939 slowly was turned into the most important and war winning British institution. At the end of the war 10.000 people, a large part of them recruited from Oxford and Cambridge, worked here, cracking mainly German and Japanese codes and ciphers. Most famous is the cracking of the German “Enigma” ciphers.
Outside London you will see RAF Hendon, a museum dedicated to the Battle of Britain, but here you will also find German and Japanese fighters, a Lancaster bomber from the nightly RAF bombing campaigns over Germany and many other RAF and WWII-related history.
In the Portsmouth area we will visit General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s headquarters during the Normandy campaign, Southwick House. You will see the original weather maps and the plot on the wall, and your briefing will be in the same room, where Eisenhower finally took the decision to go for the Normandy coast, not on the 5th of June, but on 6th of June 1944. On the promenade in Portsmouth we will visit a museum dedicated to the invasion in 1944, and here you will find the “Normandy Tapestry”, which is inspired by the “Bayeux Tapestry” describing the opposite invasion in 1066 – from Normandy!
At almost all of the museums and exhibitions you will find a bookshop with additional reading, and in central London you will find some of the best WWII-book shops.