Two Day Tour of Canada in France in World Wars I & II
Canada was an autonomous dominion of the British empire with a population under 8 million when WWI began in 1914. Before its end in 1918, 619,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders had volunteered to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Canada’s population had reached 11 million by 1939 and by the end of the second world war in 1945 over a million Canadians had served in uniform in that effort. Relative to its population, Canada’s contribution was nothing short of remarkable and it weighed heavily on the German adversaries that they fought.
This private two day tour of Canada in France World Wars I and II takes you to the sites of some of the most important engagements of Canadian forces in those conflicts. On the first day we take you to see Vimy Ridge and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Courcelette, and the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. We end the first day in Dieppe, the site of the costly but invaluable raid staged primarily by Canadian commandos, known as Operation Jubilee, in August of 1942.
For details of the WWI sites and itinerary mentioned above which we visit in this tour, please refer to our day tour from Paris of Canadian World War I Battle Sites in France, which follows the exact same itinerary up to and including the Newfoundland Memorial.
Operation Jubilee was an audacious morale-boosting plan hatched in 1941 to give the adversary a bloody nose. Allied morale by that time had reached sub-basement levels as Germany powered from one victory to the next between 1939 and 1941. Dieppe wound up being a catastrophic loss for the Allies and Canada in particular, with only 700 of roughly 5000 commandoes surviving. Nevertheless, lessons learned from the failed raid at Dieppe pointed the way to the later success of Operation Overlord in June, 1944.
We engage the services of a local guide in Dieppe to visit the key sites of Operation Jubilee, which allows you to comprehend the scope of the operation and the obstacles faced by the raiders.
As of this writing (June, 2020) there are no brilliant hotel choices in Dieppe, and the best current choices are the 4-star Mercure La Presidence and Grand Hotel du Casino de Dieppe.
We start the second day by driving from Dieppe to Bernières-sur-mer in the eastern half of Juno Beach, where elements of the Third Canadian Division landed. We will take a walk on the beach, both to see the many memorials, some of the German fortifications that are still intact, and the iconic Canada House, reputed to be the first building ‘liberated’ by Canadian forces.
We stop for lunch in Courseulles-sur-mer, further west, after which we will walk on the beach in front of the Juno Beach Centre, which is devoted entirely to the role of Canada in Operation Overlord and the Battle of Normandy that ensued. You will have an hour and a half to visit the center and explore it thoroughly.
We then proceed to the Canadian cemetery at Bèny-sur-mer, the final resting place of more than two thousand members of the Third Canadian Division. Among the countless cemeteries in Normandy, this is one of the most eloquent, and is beautifully maintained. Its location on a rise provides a vast perspective on the surrounding countryside, the peacefulness of which is in sharp contrast with the cemetery-filling events of June 6, 1944.
Interested In Our Two Day Tour of Canada in France in World Wars I & II?
Our final stop on this second day of your tour of Canadian sites in France in WWI & WWII is at the Ardennes Abbey in Saint Germain la Blanche-Herbe, just outside Caen. There you will visit a memorial to 20 Canadian soldiers who were savagely executed at the site by members of the German SS. They were some of a total of 156 Canadian prisoners murdered by the 12th SS Panzer Division (the Hitler Youth), in small groups, in various parts of the country-side, over several weeks. The Hitler Youth SS was renowned for fanaticism.
The drive back to Paris will take about two and a half hours and we will drop you where you wish in Paris.
Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour of the Loire Valley [Custom Loire Valley Day Tour from Paris of 2 chateaux and 1 wine estate]. Let me start by saying the best part of the trip was meeting you and listening and learning about the history of France and specifically Chenonceaux. Your comments and guidance throughout the day made the experience far more than just a sight-seeing trip. Lunch was great and so were Amboise and the wine tasting. I can’t thank you enough for putting this tour together for us, we will enjoy the memories for years to come.
Stephen Kelly – San Francisco, CA