2023 The Cinderella Army
WWII Canadian Battlefield Tour
Follow in the footsteps of the liberators, from D-Day to V-E Day
2023 The Cinderella Army Canadian Battlefield Tour
Follow in the Footsteps of The Liberators, from D-Day to V-E Day
At a glance
Sep 27 to Oct 12, 2023 • France, Belgium, Germany, Holland • 16 days
Paris • Bayeux • Rouen • Dieppe • Boulogne • Bruges • Vlissingen • Groesbeek • Rijssen • Groningen • Amsterdam
Juno Beach & The Battle of Normandy • Dieppe • Bruges • Battle of the Scheldt • Canadian War Graves Cemeteries • Liberation of Holland • scroll down to see complete details
Wednesday September 27
Departure from Canada for our overnight transatlantic flight to Paris, except for those who may choose to leave for Europe sooner to extend their trip.
Travelers on the optional group flight will enjoy gathering at a premium departure lounge prior to boarding.
Thursday September 28
Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport we will proceed to downtown Paris to drop baggage at the hotel. You are then free to explore this amazing city. In the mid afternoon we meet and head out into the heart of Paris for our Welcome Dinner, to share a glass of wine and set the stage for our special journey. Overnight Paris - hotel tba. [D]
Friday September 29
We make an early departure for the coast, to begin exploring the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. We will hear about the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and their key role in the airborne landings, and visit the spot where they set up their first command HQ on the evening of June 6, 1944.
We'll make a stop at Carpiquet Airport to hear about the battle there, and also pay a solemn visit to nearby Abbey Ardennes where Canadian soldiers were illegally executed in the early days following the allied landings. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tba. [B,L]
Saturday September 30
This morning we mark upcoming 79th anniversary of D-Day by walking the sands of Juno Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer, with story telling and much reflection. A visit inside the Juno Beach Centre is featured, along with a tour of the underground German command bunker just out front.
We then walk along the shore to hear personal stories of the men who landed here.
After a pause for lunch in Courseulles we move east, to the Juno sector at St-Aubin-sur-Mer where a 50-mm German anti-tank gun still sits ominously in its casemate. From here we venture along the shore a short distance to Bernières-sur-Mer to observe the famous Canada House and the nearby defenses.
In the afternoon we visit the hallowed grounds of Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the burial place of 2,044 Canadians who fell in the early hours of D-Day and the subsequent liberation of Normandy. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tba. [B,L]
Sunday October 1
Day Five takes us inland from the coast, where the Battle of Normandy played out in the days and months following D-Day. We'll visit various historical points related to Verrieres Ridge, including the monument at Point 67 which dominates the landscape. We stop in St-Lambert-sur-Dives where David Currie earned a Victoria Cross in the battle for the Falaise Gap. Our visit features a walk down the narrow laneway to the small bridge where the German Army attempted a desperate escape.
Our day includes stops at the German Tiger Tank in Vimoutiers, and also the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bretteville-sur-Laize - the largest Canadian WWII cemetery in France. Overnight Rouen - hotel tba. [B,L]
Monday October 2
We begin our journey north along the channel coast, following the footsteps of the Canadians affectionately known as "Cinderella on the Left." But today, we step back in time to 1942 and the Raid on Dieppe. We start with a morning stroll along the main beach of Dieppe to consider Operation Jubilee - the plans, the execution and the after-math of a plan that went horribly wrong.
The raid entailed three Canadian attack zones and we next move northeast to the beach at Puys, arguably Canada's darkest hour of WW2, followed by a visit to Pourville to the southwest and Merritt's Bridge. We pause for lunch, allowing time to explore the many restaurants which line the inner harbour.
In the afternoon we conclude the visit of the battlefields with a view of Dieppe from the coastal cliffs above, and close out our day with a visit to the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, tucked away up the hill and beyond the edge of town which beckons Canadians to visit. Listen here to CBC's Robert Bowman and his broadcast from Dieppe the day after the raid. Overnight Dieppe - hotel tba. [B]
Tuesday October 3
Today begins with a visit to the impressive site at La Coupole, a German bunker complex built to launch V-2 rockets against London and southwest England. The site was captured by the allies in September 1944 and abandoned, until the mid-1990s when it was restored and opened as a museum.
After a pause for lunch we stop at the old citadel to chat near the WWII plaques erected to the Canadians, who liberated Boulogne-sur-Mer in early fall of 1944. You are then free to explore the old town at leisure. Overnight Boulogne-sur-Mer - hotel tba. [B,L]
Wednesday October 4
Just a short drive north from Boulogne we pause to view the channel from the cliffs atop Cap Gris Nez, the closest point to England. It's then time for a fascinating visit to the Museum of the Atlantic Wall at Todt Battery, which was captured by the Canadians in their drive northward along the channel coast.
Later we cross over the Dragoons' Bridge, dedicated to the regiment from Manitoba who entered the city of Bruges at this very spot. The balance of the day is free time to explore this "Venice of the North." A canal boat tour is always a great option, along with exploring the many squares and their patio tables for coffee & tea. Overnight Bruges - hotel tba. [B,L]
Thursday October 5
Our Thursday morning will see us visit a number of interesting sites in the very southwest corner of the Netherlands. We will look at the crossing of the Leopold Canal and the fight for the Breskens Pocket. This is the beginning of the Battle of the Scheldt, a a costly battle for Canada and a crucial success story for the allied war effort.
We pause for lunch at the Canada-Poland Museum in Adegem, Belgium, to see their amazing one-of-a-kind collection followed by a group lunch in their wonderful, historic hall.
We will visit monuments at Eede, as well as Hickman's Bridge and the Hoofdplaat monument. Each visit tells a part of the story of the Canadians and the fierce fighting that took place in this region, as the liberation of Holland began. Of particular interest will be a walk to an original Bailey Bridge, still in place exactly where it was constructed by the Engineers in 1944. Overnight Vlissingen - hotel tba. [B,L]
Friday October 6
We continue our journey through the Scheldt region today, with a visit to the Walcheren monument to hear about the battle for the causeway, a seemingly impossible objective.
We also make a visit to Woensdrecht where we are joined by one of Holland's top WWII historians. He grew up here, and was just a young boy when the fighting raged in the streets. He will share the vivid stories of Canadian sacrifice in the fight to free the Dutch people in his little village. We then visit Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery to pay our respects.
After lunch we stop for a visit at the rarely visited monument at Kapelsche Veer, following in the direction taken by the Canadians as they gradually moved northeastward toward the German border in the fall of '44.
Overnight Groesbeek - hotel tba. [B,L]
Saturday October 7
Today we will dip our toes into Germany, visiting the spot where a Victoria Cross was earned and where very difficult, heavy fighting saw Canada suffer terrible losses in close-quarters combat.
From here, we venture back into the Netherlands and take a much anticipated tour of Overloon War Museum. The collection here is incredible. In the afternoon we return to the Groesbeek area for a tour of the Vrijheidsmuseum (Freedom Museum), another superb centre of artifacts, interpretation and history.
We close the day just around the corner from our hotel at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, the largest in the Netherlands. Overnight Groesbeek - hotel tba. [B,L]
Sunday October 8
Our Sunday morning drive takes us into the quiet countryside of the Netherlands, to visit a little monument raised by the citizens to honour the Canadians who died liberating their small village. Next we venture into the town of Zutphen, for a photo opportunity at Canada Bridge, so named for the place where the liberating army fought their way into the town in the spring of 1945.
Following lunch we pay respects at Holten Canadian War Cemetery, the final resting place of those who fell in the final months and weeks of the war. Overnight Rijssen - hotel tba. [B,L]
Monday October 9
Our morning is devoted to a tour of Camp Westerbork, a transit camp through which many Dutch members of the Jewish community were sent to the notorious camps in Germany and Poland. The camp was liberated by the Canadians in April 1945, and today stands as an important reminder of the horrors of war.
In the afternoon we tour the Delfzijl region on the north coast, to visit our final battlefield sites - poignant monuments in the villages of Holwierde and Wagenborgen honouring the Canadians who liberated the citizens in the final days of the war. Overnight Groningen - hotel tba. [B,L]
Tuesday October 10
We make for Amsterdam for two nights stay, pausing for a Farewell Lunch before taking the balance of the day to explore the historic city. The old inner canals are a UNESCO World Heritage Site - it is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. Overnight Amsterdam - hotel tba. [B,L]
Wednesday October 11
Enjoy a full free day. Overnight Amsterdam - hotel tba. [B]