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Britain at war                  

                                     September 2010  


Britain at War

Britain at warThis month marks the 71st anniversary of the start of World War II and last month saw another major anniversary, the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s Commons oration.

This was the famous speech when he praised the courage of the Battle of Britain pilots who were fending off German air attacks and included that famous and emotive phrase...never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

But this wasn’t the only anniversary this year. Earlier we had seen a number of ceremonies to commemorate the 65th anniversary of victory of Japan plus there were celebrations to commemorate
65 years since the liberation of the Channel Islands from German control. There was also an anniversary of a far less known skirmish between a downed German bomber crew and a group of British soldiers that took place in Graveney Marsh in Kent on September 27th 1940.

Members of the London Irish Rifles had been billeted at the Sportsman Inn in a coastal village of Seasalter when a German Junkers 88 plane came down on the nearby Graveney Marsh. The soldiers armed themselves and approached the plane, expecting the four Luftwaffe crew to give themselves up.

The Germans had other ideas and as the British soldiers neared the plane, they opened up fire with a machine gun. The British men hit the deck and returned fire, while a smaller group crawled along a dyke to get nearer the plane before they started shooting too. There was quite a vigorous exchange of fire before the Germans finally surrendered. No one was badly injured in the shooting although one German was shot in the foot.

Interesting to note that the British took some of the airman back to the pub and had a pint of beer with them before they were picked up as official prisoners of war.

Today there are a large group of tour companies that offer excellent battle and memorial tours but it is worth knowing that there is also a number of operators that concentrate on tours covering specialist areas and some of the less well-known aspects from the second world war.

Through Google and other search engines, you can find companies offering a variety of more specialised trips. The main ones we found were:

Pegasus Normandy tours specialize in exciting tours of the whole Normandy region and while they concentrate on D Day packages, they also offer a range of more unusual trips for people with special interests. These include a Monty Tour, covering the British 2nd Army’s push into Normandy; a Red Devils tour, the dropping of the British 6th Airborne Division into Normandy and even a Rommel Tour, a trip that covers the Normandy battle through the eyes of the German army.

Viator tours offer a range of second world war tours, including visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, trips to the Normandy Beaches, a private tour of Bayeux, Honfleur and Pays d’Auge; and a trip to a Polish concentration camp,

It is also sometimes worth looking overseas for specialist tours; many overseas based tour companies welcome British participants. For instance, the American based Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours specializes primarily in WWII itineraries but many of the trips are very individual. These include the Italian Campaign; World War II in Poland and Germany, and even a tour concentrating on Iwo Jima, the War in the Pacific.

British company Holts offer traditional Battle of Britain and D Day tours but also a special Stalingrad tour concentrating on the winter of 1942 and 43 and the turning point of war on the Eastern Front, plus a trip to Peenemunde, based on the Baltic coast, where the development of V weapons and a visit to Hitler’s “Strength through Joy” complex and documentation centre is included. They also do a special war trip to Guernsey and the Islands, looking at the occupation years.


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