NORMANDY   SPEARHEAD   TOURS

for a unique experience

NEPTUNE "B" TOUR (full-day tour)

Merville Battery (optional) - The members of 9th Para, British 6th Airborne Div., commanded by Lt. Col. Otway, were to train for months for the taking of Merville battery.  However, only a few things went according to the plan on D-Day. Paratroopers drowned in the marshes or had been scattered over several kilometers. Yet the "Red Devils" improvised on the assault of the battery and finally managed to seize the bunkers one after another. Their decisive actions led to a mission accomplished before dawn.
 
Ranville British Cemetery - Ranville was the first village to be liberated by British paratroopers and its churchyard was used as burial ground for the men who had fallen on D-Day. Shortly after, adjacent to the church a graveyard was created. When the war ended, the site was chosen to regroup burials from this part of the battlefield. Graves were moved from Amfreville, Colleville-sur-Orne, Houlgate, Colombelles and Villers-sur-Mer. The Cemetery contains today 2,235 Commonwealth WWII burials, 97 of them unidentified, but also 330 German graves.
 
Pegasus Bridge (photo 1) - The delicate task to capture the bridges over Orne River and Caen Canal fell to a selected group of men, members of D Company, 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and the Royal Engineers. Six gliders were to land very close to the bridges in order to allow Maj. John Howard and his "chaps" to seize them quickly and intact. It came to be known as the most outstanding flying achievement of the war and the bridges were taken in less than 15 minutes! Nowadays, one of the original bridges captured on D-Day and baptized Pegasus is displayed in the courtyard of a museum inaugurated in 2004 by HRH Prince of Wales.
 
Sword Beach and Ouistreham Bunker - "Sword" represented the easternmost sector of the landing beaches as well as the narrowest of them all. Nevertheless, for many reasons, this beach was the key of the Normandy landings. Being the closest to Caen, region's capital and gateway to Paris, the Allies knew that getting a foothold in this area was indispensable for the success of the operation. At Ouistreham, the "Grand Bunker" (photo 2) overlooking back in the day "Riva Bella" was rebuilt after the war. Today a museum, this 52ft tall concrete blockhouse reflects the German stubbornness and the amount work they put into the fortifications the deemed necessary to stop an invasion.
 
Colleville-Montgomery and "Hillman" - This German strongpoint was part of a series of defenses located inland from "Sword Beach", the same beach on which the British 3rd Infantry Div. was to land on D-Day. The attack on this objective was launched around 01.00 p.m by the 1st Suffolk Regiment but "Hillman" was to fall only after two subsequent offensives in which the British forces suffered heavy casualties.
Mont Fleury Battery (Ver s/ Mer) - Located at Ver sur Mer ("King Sector", "Gold Beach"), this battery presented itself as a threat to the Anglo-Canadian landings since the Allies thought it had a field of fire covering both "Gold" and "Juno" beaches. Although the works started in April 1944 according to the latest time-saving methods, the battery was still under construction in June when it was captured by Sgt. Maj. Stan Hollis and the members of D-company, 6th battalion of the Green Howards. They had stormed the beach that morning only a few hundred yards in front of the battery. 
 
Green Howards Memorial (Crepon) - Unveiled by His Majesty Harold V, King of Norway and Colonel-in Chief of the Green Howards, the memorial commemorates the men of 6th and 7th Battalion of the Green Howards who gave their lives for freedom during the Normandy Campaign. The monument is also about CSM Stanley Hollis and the D-Day actions which earned him the highest British military distinction - Victoria Cross. He was the only man to be awarded one on D-Day!
 
Asnelles - The mission of taking Le Hamel ("Gold Beach" - "Jig Sector") was assigned to 231st British Infantry Brigade. 1st Hampshire were to take the brunt of the fire coming from the 88-mm gun placed in the blockhouse located on this section of the beach. The Dorsets, landing further east, out of the range of fire from Le Hamel, had slightly fewer difficulties. This was the strip of beach on which the 8th Armored Brigade quickly opened three beach gaps enabling later waves to have a swift drive inland.
  
Mulberry B, (Arromanches) This was one of two artificial harbours designed by T5 branch of the Royal Engineers. Its components had been built in England but assembled in Normandy. Set-up right in the heart of the assault area, Arromanches harbour was a masterpiece of Engineering. The numbers show that the amazing work of the Royal Engineers allowed the Allies, during six month of intense activity, to land at Arromanches 25% of the stores, 20% of the personnel and 15% of the vehicles brought to Normandy in the whole course of the campaign.

Longues s/ Mer Battery - This site is an excellent example of a WWII German Coastal battery. Today a historic monument, the battery is considered an illustrative type of strongpoint for Hitler's Atlantic Wall in Normandy. In its bunkers one can still see three of the four original 150-mm guns which had a range of fire of miles!