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Our Finest Hour – Britain at Bay, led by Will Fowler In the summer of 1940 Britain stood alone. The armed forces of Nazi Germany had conquered the nations of Western Europe and now it seemed were poised to launch an amphibious assault on the British Isles. We had been here before but then the enemy was the French. German army staff officers began drafting a plan code named Unternehmen Seelöwe - Operation Sealion. It was ambitious but feasible if the Luftwaffe could ensure air dominance – this would mean that they would be in a position to neutralise the Royal Navy and ensure safe passage across for the shipping that was being prepared to cross the English Channel. Our tour will look at some of the beaches where the Germans intended to land, the plans to defend the British Isles if the Germans had achieved a foot hold, but crucially the role of the Royal Air Force in the air battle that has been immortalised as The Battle of Britain. Britain had been threatened before – in the late 18th Century French forces had massed on the cliffs overlooking the Channel and the British Army had manned defences - Martello Towers along the south and east coasts. The last successful invasion had taken place many centuries before when the Normans under King William had landed and defeated the Anglo Saxons north of Hastings. The country would endure a brutal occupation under what was then Europe's superpower.
To use our NEW itinerary, simply click a day below and a detailed overview will appear.
Independent travel to the Ashford International Hotel to meet your guide and hear about the days ahead. Following dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, enjoy an after-dinner talk by Will Fowler on ‘Occupied Britain’.
During today's full day tour, we will drive for the town of Battle and the site of the Battle of Hastings. Here we see the ruins of Battle Abbey and hear about the decisive fight between the Normans and Anglo Saxons. We’ll travel west to the River Cuckmere and see where the German 6th Mountain Division would have landed in 1940. The bunkers, anti-tank obstacles and ditches are well preserved and give a good idea of the “outer crust” defences along the coast. We will visit The Bomber Command Memorial at Beachy Head where we will hear stories of bravery and sacrifice before driving along the coast to view what would have been the bulk of the invasion beaches for German forces and consider the strategic importance. Our day will conclude as we ride on the narrow-gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway – a tourist attraction that became the smallest armoured train in the world with a machine gun, antitank weapon and armoured plate protection.
Today we will visit the Royal Military Canal and hear about Lympne Airfield before making our way to Dover Castle, the Norman castle that dominates the seaward approaches to the port and enter the tunnels carved into the iconic chalk cliffs. Here we see the Operation Dynamo exhibition – the evacuation operation that lifted many of the men of the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches and port of Dunkirk. The castle also has exhibitions about the Home Front that give a feel for what life was like in Britain between 1939 and 1945 We will also visit the Battle of Britain Museum on the site of the RAF fighter base at Hawkinge which houses the World's largest collection of Battle of Britain memorabilia and the remains of over 700 aircraft that crashed during the battle before paying our respects to the fallen with an Act of Remembrance at Hawkinge CWGC Cemetery.
This morning we will visit the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne overlooking the white cliffs close to Folkestone and attend the memorial ceremony which honours the men and women who fought in the battle between July 10 and October 31, 1940. We will also spend time at the visitor centre named ‘The Wing’ which replicates the shape of a Supermarine Spitfire wing. The building also contains ‘The Scramble Experience’; a central ‘cockpit’ area with an open balcony offering superb views across the Channel to France, from where the Luftwaffe would have appeared in 1940.
When it comes to getting you to your destination. Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you to choose from
For complete flexibility, make your own transport arrangements to and from the ship. We will provide you with times and locations as well as some useful information for you to make your own arrangements to join your cruise.
If you require any further information to assist with your travel plans, please contact our Holiday Advisors who will be happy to help.
Travel down to Dover and jump onboard your coach for your ferry crossing.
Alternatively, travel the day before your departure and enjoy an overnight stay, with complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise, before being collected after breakfast the following morning.
Step aboard Eurostar at London St Pancras for a fast and comfortable journey to mainland Europe. You can even upgrade your reserved seat to Standard Premier – speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information. On arrival in Paris, Lille or Brussels, you will then join connecting services for your onward journey.
Return flights from London Heathrow with transfers to and from the ship are included in our package on our specific arrival and departure dates. We also include one item of checked in luggage per person.
If our included flights are not suitable, alternative flights may also be available from other airports on our arrival and departure dates. These may have an additional supplement and are subject to availability at the time of booking.
For those travelling from further afield, you can also book overnight accommodation in London, before and after your holiday. Speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information.
For an even more relaxed start to your European holiday, why not stay overnight in Dover or nearby Ashford the night before your cruise from only £65pp? All our quoted prices include car parking for one vehicle for the duration of your cruise and cooked breakfast the following morning. Our coach will collect you and return you to the hotel on its way to/from the port of Dover. And if you don’t want that holiday feeling to end, why not do the same on your return journey?