Battlefields of Europe That Helped Define Canada
Join Travac as we visit some of the many sites that have been built to commemorate the contribution of our brave young men and woman who fought during the Great War and World War II. The courage and battles fought by these men and women during these wars made Canada the wonderful respected country it is today. You will have a chance to see some of the locations where the fieriest battles were fought.
We will travel to the liberated countries of the Netherlands, Belgium and France visiting some of the Commonwealth and Canadian cemeteries, memorials and museums built to show the thanks and appreciation to these men and women.
During the tour you will experience the enduring gratitude from the people of the region towards Canadians for the ultimate sacrifices made in two world wars.
Your experience in France, Belgium and Holland will be enhanced by the natural and architectural beauty of the towns and villages you will visit. While each of these towns played and important role in either the first or the second world wars, they have since flourished in peace. Their attraction is their magnificent past- a past that in some cases goes back over a thousand years. Indeed, these villages are an important part of the fabric that draws us to Europe.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lest we forget
Depart Ottawa on your overnight flights to London Heathrow. You will be served a dinner and a continental breakfast on board your overnight flight(s). (D)
Maidstone 1 night
Upon arrival in London, our local guide will join us for a scenic tour of London. If time permits, we will visit The Memorial to the Merchant Marine, commemorating the sacrifice of merchant sailors during both world wars. By 1943 Canada provided 48% of escort ships for the convoys bringing vital supplies to Britain during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Afterwards we will make our way to our hotel.
Calais 1 night
On our way to France, we will visit the Battle of Britain Memorial and Visitors Centre at Capel le Ferne overlooking the English Channel between Folkestone and Dover.
This afternoon we cross the Straight of Dover for our overnight in Calais.
Caen 2 nights
Canada’s experiences in war have been marked by great triumphs but also by harsh setbacks. The Dieppe Raid during the Second World War was one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s military history. It did, however, help lead to important lessons learned.
The Dieppe Raid saw more than 6,000 men come ashore at five different points along a 16 kilometer-long stretch of heavily defended coastline. The raiding force was made up of almost 5,000 Canadians, approximately 1,000 British commandos, and 50 American Army Rangers.
While many men were lost and the raid did not meet most of its objectives, many historians feel that the lessons learned played an important role in the success of later actions. For example, the Dieppe Raid and later beach assaults contributed to improvements in amphibious landing techniques. While the cost of gaining this knowledge was steep, it likely saved many lives on the beaches of Normandy when the Allies returned to the shores of continental Western Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The men who participated in the Dieppe Raid paid a great price. Of the 4,963 Canadians who went on the mission, approximately 2,200 returned to England and many were wounded. More than 3,350 Canadians became casualties, including approximately 1,950 POWs. 916 Canadians died as a result of Dieppe on the beaches, in the air or at sea supporting the landings. Some died as German captives or of their wounds after returning to England. A total of 210 British and Americans also lost their lives.
The Dieppe Raid also took a considerable toll on the ships and aircraft that supported the assault. The campaign saw the war’s single worst day for Allied aircraft losses, with 119 aircraft shot down as they protected the supporting ships.
The Canadians who participated in the Dieppe Raid were among the more than one million men and women from Canada who served in uniform during the Second World War. The efforts of all of these Canadians helped ensure that victory was achieved. The sacrifices and achievements of those who gave so much to restore peace and freedom to the world cannot be forgotten.
Today we will visit the Juno Beach Center. We will have a guided tour of the beach and bunkers (German Observation post and command post) and a self-guided tour of the museum. We will also visit one of the Normandy beaches.
By the spring of 1944, Germany had occupied France and much of the European continent for almost four years. A narrow stretch of water, the English Channel, was all that separated the German forces from Great Britain.
Even with all these preparations, the Normandy campaign would be very difficult. The shores of Northwest Europe were littered with German land mines, barbed wire, heavy artillery batteries and machine-gun nests. There were also anti-tank walls, shelters constructed of thick concrete, anti-aircraft guns and many other types of defensive positions. For these reasons, the coastline from Denmark to the south of France was known as “Fortress Europe.”
Many Canadian soldiers in the Normandy campaign were young and new to battle, but their courage and skill meant they often helped lead the Allied advance against a determined enemy. Canadians soon captured three shoreline positions on D-Day and established themselves near the village of Creully, but this was to be only the beginning of the struggle to liberate France.
Against difficult odds, the Canadians advanced against the best troops the enemy had. Victory in the Normandy campaign, however, would come at a terrible cost. Three hundred and forty Canadians were killed on Juno Beach on D-Day alone and the Canadians would suffer the most casualties of any division in the British Army Group during the Battle of Normandy. More than 5,000 made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives, and lie buried in a place far from their homes and loved ones. Others returned home with injuries to body and mind that they carry to this day.
Victory in Normandy would be only the beginning of many months of hard fighting on the ground in Western Europe. Canadians would play an important role in the offensives that would finally defeat the Germans and end the war in this part of the world.
On return to Caen, we’ll stop to visit Abbabye D’Ardeene.
Arras – 2 nights
Depart Caen for Arras. We will make a stop at Le Quesnel Canadian Memorial – at this battle the Canadians fought along with the British, French and Australians to capture 5,033 prisoners and 161 guns.
This morning we will visit the Beaumont Hamel, where you will find the Newfoundland Regiment Memorial, a memorial site in France dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I. The 74-acre (300,000 m2) preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful attack on 1 July 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Battle of the Somme was the regiment’s first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out. Purchased in 1921 by the people of Newfoundland, the memorial site is the largest battalion memorial on the Western Front, and the largest area of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of memorials and cemeteries contained within the site. Keep your eyes open for the danger tree, a skeleton of a tree that lay in No Man’s Land and had been utilized as a landmark.
Next we visit Lochnagar Crater. At 91m wide and 21m deep, this is one of the largest war-time craters ever created. You can walk around the rim on a duckboard trail. The mine dug by the 179th Tunneling Company Royal Engineers, under a German field fortification known as Schwabenhöhe, is the front line south of the village of La Boisselle in the Somme department of France. The mine was sprung at 7:28 a.m. on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
We will also visit Thiepval Memorial – the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme battlefields bears the names of 72,194 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces. These men died in the Somme battle sector before 20th March 1918 and have no known grave. The date of 20th March was the day before the German Army launched a large-scale offensive, code-named “Operation Michael”, against the British Army Front in the sector of the Somme. Over 90 percent of those commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial died in the 1916 Battles of the Somme between July and November 1916.
Ypres 3 nights
This morning you will be visiting Vimy Ridge, where Canada became a nation. This is a site all Canadians should have an opportunity to visit. A guided tour will be available.
We will stop to visit a memorial to the Airmen of the Great War, where the names of 46 Canadians are listed. We will also stop at the Dury Canadian Memorial, recognizing a battle in which seven Victoria Crosses were won by Canadians.
Today we will visit Passchendaele Canadian Battlefield Memorial that marks the site of Crest Farm where Canadians encountered some of the fiercest resistance they were to meet during the war, and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele which tells the story of the war in the Ypres Salient with special emphasis on the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Tyne Cot Cemetery will be visited today. Tyne Cot Cemetery is the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces. This is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world.
Every evening at 8:00 pm at the Menin Gate Memorial, a deeply moving ceremony takes place under the vast arch of the Menin Gate. The traffic stops and buglers from the local fire brigade play ‘The Last Post’. The Menin Gate is the most famous Commonwealth war memorial in Flanders and perhaps the world. Tens of thousands of soldiers passed through here on their way to the front, many of them never to return. Opened in 1927, the memorial bears the names of 54 896 soldiers who were reported missing in the Ypres Salient between the outbreak of war and 15 August 1917. The Menin Gate was designed in classical style by Sir Reginald Blomfield. This ceremony takes place every evening at 8 pm. Sometimes the ceremony is attended by just a few spectators, or on more formal occasions hundreds can be present. Irrespective of numbers, the Last Post remains a unique and moving experience.
Today we will visit Hill 62 Memorial, St Julien (the Brooding Soldier), Langemark (German Cemetery) and Essex Cemetery. It is in this cemetery where John McCrae (1872–1918) wrote his famous poem In Flanders Fields. A cenotaph for McCrae is located in the cemetery.
Mons 1 night
Today we will depart our hotel, heading towards Dunkirk. “Dunkirk spirit,” an expression used to describe the tendency of the British public to pull together and overcome times of adversity, is still heard in the United Kingdom today.
Dunkirk, and the evacuation associated with the troops trapped on Dunkirk, was described as a miracle by Winston Churchill. As the Wehrmacht swept through Western Europe in the spring of 1940, using Blitzkrieg, both the French and British armies could not stop the onslaught. For the people in Western Europe, World War Two was really about to begin. The “Phoney War” was now over.
The advancing German Army trapped the British and French armies on the beaches around Dunkirk. 330,000 men were trapped here and they were a sitting target for the Germans.
The beach at Dunkirk was on a shallow slope so no large boat could get near to the actual beaches where the men were. Therefore, smaller boats were needed to take on board men who would then be transferred to a larger boat based further off shore. The little ships of Dunkirk were 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate in England to Dunkirk in France between 26 May and 4 June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, the rescue of more than 338,000 British and French soldiers, who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War. It is thought that the smallest boat to make the journey across the Channel was the Tamzine – an 18 foot open topped fishing boat.
We will continue to Mons where we will visit the Price Memorial.
Nijmegen 2 nights
Depart Mons for Nijmegen.
This afternoon, stop at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Nijmegen holds an annual walk in which both military and civilians participate- this event is over 4 days and the participants walk 30km, 40km or 50km in a day ending at the Groesbeek Cemetery.
Today we will head toward Hoogeveen, where we will visit Kamp Westerbork.
**Kamp Westerbork was the site of a large transit and work camp in the Dutch province of Drente. Over 100,000 Jews, Gypsies and resistance members were taken to Westerbork. The camp consisted of an orphanage, school, industrial barracks, punishment barracks, housing barracks, a larger square for roll-call and a railway. While interned at Westerbork in 1942, Bob Cahen described camp life in a letter:
“More and more new people have arrived in the camp. The barracks have become crowded, overcrowded. The smithy is working flat out producing beds, one after the other. Straw mattresses or other mattresses haven’t been available for a long time now. The people just have to lie down without one, on the iron. People were lying or sitting outside. At night, they would sleep in or under barrows or under the open sky. There was not enough food.”
Anne Frank was among the thousands held at Westerbork. Anne died with her sister in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945, just weeks before the end of the war. The last train left Westerbork September 13, 1944 carrying 77 young children who had been taken away from their hiding places by the Nazis. Westerbork was liberated April 12, 1945 and 876 prisoners were set free when the Canadian Army came upon the camp. After the liberation, the camp remained in service and various
activities took place there, but in 1971 the last barracks were torn down. Kamp Westerbork is now a commemoration centre. (For more info visit www.veterans.gc.ca)
After our visit we will make our way back to Nijmegen, with stops in Apledoorn to see a Man with 2 hats statue – the twin to this statue can be found at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa Commissionaire Park and Arnhem the location that you may remember from a bridge too far.
Transfer to Amsterdam for our flights back to Ottawa.
Mercure Maidstone Great Danes
Maidstone , UK
+44 1622 528565
Nijmegen- Mercure Hotel Nijmegen Centre
Hotel AddressStationsplein 29
+31 24 323 8888
Mons- Hotel Lido
Hotel AddressRue des Arbalestriers 112
+32 65 32 78 00
Ypres- Novotel Ieper Centrum
Hotel AddressSint-Jacobsstraat 15
+32 57 42 96 00
Caen- Ibis Styles Caen Centre Gare
Hotel Address52 Quai Amiral Hamelin, 14000
+33 2 31 34 20 00
Holiday Inn Calais
Hotel Address6 Boulevard Des Alliés
Portugal and Spain
Portugal’s Algarve province, with its magnetic Moorish appeal has become a Mecca for snowbirds trying to escape the harsh reality of winter. It’s also one of Europe’s most picturesque and friendly holiday destinations. The Algarve is what most of us envision the Mediterranean to be. The whitewashed villages cascade into the sea. Cobblestoned streets are lined with outdoor cafes, bistros, wine bars, and markets full of fresh fruits and vegetables. The weather is wonderfully spring like and invigorating.
The Costa del Sol region of southern Spain is remarkable for its diverse landscapes, fabulous beaches and coastal sites as well as a wealth of small villages that dot the shore line. This Mediterranean coastline is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, hosting millions of tourists on an annual basis. Villages have grown into robust towns with great restaurants, shopping and nightlife. The area’s history dates back thousands of years and it has developed a unique and warm culture that defines the region.
Whether this is your first visit to the Costa del Sol or you have enjoyed its pleasures in the past there is always something new to discover.
Early booking is your best guarantee of enjoying this great holiday!
Dates and pricing for 2023:
Luna da Oura
Hotel AddressRua Dunfermline, Areias de São João
8200-278 Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal
(+351) 289 590 170
Sunset Beach Club
Hotel AddressAv. del Sol, s/n, 29630 Benalmádena
+34 952 57 94 00
Hotel AddressR. do Município 27
Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal
+351 289 580 420
Southern Caribbean Cruise– No Flying
Norwegian is a Contemporary Cruise Line known for its fun, laid-back ambiance and inventive “freestyle cruising” concept, which features no enforced dress codes, no fixed dining times and a plethora of onboard entertainment and family-friendly activities. Your ship, Norwegian Getaway, combines the most magnificent amenities Norwegian has to offer with unforgettable destinations. Stroll The Waterfront, an innovative, industry-first open-air promenade designed to connect guests with the ocean like no other cruise line. Indulge in 20 dining options, experience the thrill of five water slides, and three levels of action-packed activities in the sports complex. The excitement and entertainment continue with Broadway style musical presentations. Your cruise package on Norwegian Getaway will include your choice of the following amenities (2 for Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins receive all four): Premium Beverage package (gratuities not included); Specialty Dining package (gratuities not included); Internet package with 250 minutes; or $50 USD Shore Excursion credit.
Coming soon- stay tuned for dates and pricing!
This morning you will depart Ottawa for your trip to New York. You will be overnighting in Manhattan before starting your cruise. You must pack an overnight bag for tonight as your large, checked bag will stay on the coach.
This morning the magic begins with a guided tour of New York City. Your local tour guide, a knowledgeable New Yorker, will take you through the city giving you a chance to see some of the fabulous sites that have made this city a cosmopolitan gem. After the tour you’ll be taken to the port for embarkation. Your ship, the Norwegian Getaway, sails today at 3:00pm. (D)
Leisurely spent at sea
There are plenty of activities aboard the Norwegian Getaway to entertain everyone or simply relax and enjoy your surroundings. (B, L, D)
Leisurely spent at sea
(B, L, D)
San Juan, Puerto Rico (4 pm – 10:30 pm)
Founded in 1521, San Juan’s picturesque cobblestone streets, plazas and chapels reflect its Spanish heritage. But the second oldest city in the Americas also boasts fine beaches, lush rainforests, verdant mountainsides, imposing forts, and a lovely tropical climate. (B, L, D)
Basseterre, St. Kitts-Nevis (12 pm – 7 pm)
Although founded by the French in 1627, St. Kitts is a very British paradise where cricket and tea are the norm. The dramatic mixed island landscape is rimmed in gold-sand beaches and dotted with well-preserved plantations left over from when the island was covered with sugar cane. (B, L, D)
Castries, St. Lucia (8 am – 5 pm)
A mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with thriving coral reefs and rain forest preserves. Explore the world’s only drive-in volcanic crater at Sulfur Springs. Visit the Diamond Botanical Gardens and Falls and the Morne Coubaril Estate. (B, L, D)
Bridgetown, Barbados (7am – 4pm)
The most British of all the Caribbean islands, games of cricket are as common here as the typical island water sports. Visit the third-oldest Parliament in the entire Commonwealth. Stroll the inviting beaches of Carlisle Bay, tour a rum factory, or visit the historical Garrison area. Bridgetown is the only city outside continental North America that George Washington visited. The George Washington House, the actual house where he stayed, is now part of the Garrison Historic Area.
(B, L, D)
St. John’s, Antigua (9 am – 6pm)
Bask in the grand sight of the city’s skyline, dominated by the white baroque towers of St. John’s Cathedral. Sample local cuisines, visit the Botanical Garden, witness the magnificent Antigua Lighthouse, the historical Fort James and much more as you discover this grand city. (B, L, D)
St. Thomas, US Virgin Island (7 am – 3 pm)
The town of Charlotte Amalie has one of the most breathtaking harbours in the world. Once home to pirates of long ago, today visitors find treasures of a different kind, for now beautiful beaches and bountiful duty-free shopping are truly its claim to fame. (B, L, D)
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (9 am – 4 pm)
Puerto Plata (or officially known as San Felipe de Puerto Plata) is the ninth largest city in the Dominican Republic and the capital of the province of Puerto Plata. For spectacular city views, take a ride up the Pico Isabel de Torres mountain which stands over 2,600 feet high. History buff? Visit Fortaleza San Felipe, which was built in the 16th century and served as a prison under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Or head to the Amber Museum, a museum filled with a unique collection of valuable Dominican amber which is semiprecious tree sap that has hardened for millions of years capturing many fossils of plant and insect life. (B, L, D)
Leisurely spent at sea.
(B, L, D)
Leisurely spent at sea.
(B, L, D)
New York to Ottawa – This morning the Getaway will arrive back in New York. After breakfast we will meet as a group and disembark the ship, where we will be met by our motor coach and begin our journey back to Ottawa, with a stop enroute for lunch. You can expect to arrive in Ottawa about 8:00 in the evening. (B)
Cruise itinerary is subject to change by cruise line.