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D-Day and the Liberation of France

Flagler College Study Abroad Program


Summer 2015

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Summer 2014

Study Abroad Bermuda
Study Abroad Peru
Study Abroad France


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Program Description

Starting in London, students will visit all the hallowed battlegrounds and critical sites of our forefathers, as they march towards Paris. Go deep into Allied leadership at the still-intact subterranean command center from which Churchill and his advisors "directed the war." Get your bearings in the Map Room, then take the English Channel by sea and Normandy by foot. Nothing can simulate the experience of wading up to the French shores during Operation Overlord, but the eerie quiet that remains offers as much insight as the expert there.

Course Description

The class will allow students to examine World War II from the 1940 London Blitz through the 1944 liberation of Paris from numerous perspectives. During the 9 day tour, students will visit a variety of sites in London, Normandy, Rouen, Bayeux, Paris, and other historic locations. The itinerary is customized by the professor leading the tour to emphasize areas and sites of particular relevance to the course topic. The program is built around the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, and Flagler students will participate in a variety of commemorative events that will take place on June 6, 2014. The uniqueness of the program makes it a once-in-a-lifetime cultural and educational experience for students.

Expected Student Learning Outcomes

This course will provide the student, through the travel itinerary, lectures, and outside reading, a high-impact learning experience. Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Exhibit an increased factual knowledge of World War II through the recognition and understanding of key events, personalities, places, and social developments through written assignments, exams, and group discussions
  • Understand the roles that the Blitz, D-Day, and the liberation of Paris played in the Second World War
  • Develop skills in expressing oneself both orally and in writing through classroom participation, writing assignments, and the final travel journal project
  • Improve their abilities to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view through the reading of primary and secondary source documents
  • Better comprehend how historians reach conclusions concerning the past and will become more familiar with the research tolls, tactics, and approaches that such professionals use

Tentative Program Schedule

Day 1: June 2nd

Overnight flight to England

Day 2: June 3rd


Arrive in London and take a walking tour of the city's main landmarks, along with an orientation of the city's famous Tube underground transportation network. We will start our journey on the banks of the River Thames, which gave the city its name (Llyn-Dyn, Celtic for "city of the lake"). We will walk along the Strand and see the spot considered London's geographic center.

Some of the other places we will visit on our walking tour are Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square, where medieval duels were held. Our stroll will end at chic Covent Garden, where we can have a coffee, watch street performers, and just may hear opera singers practice. The class will have a traditional fish and chips dinner on our first evening in the country.

Day 3: June 4th

Churchill's London: The Blitz

Its role in World War II contributes to London's rich history, which we will learn about on a guided bus tour of the city. We will start in Governor Square, called "Little America" because it's the site of the US embassy and the house where General Dwight Eisenhower lived prior to the D-Day invasion. Among the sites we will see are Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, and several World War II monuments (including those dedicated to firemen, women, and animals!). If scheduled, we will watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Visit the Imperial War Museum: Founded in 1917, the museum originally sought to serve as an active memorial to those who died during World War I but has since added to its collection from all of England's 20th century conflicts. The class will spend most of its time in collections related to the Blitz and Britain's World War II experience.

Visit the Cabinet War Rooms, where Winston Churchill and his advisors worked during the war. The rooms still look almost as they did decades ago with large military maps and charts from the 1940s still hanging on the walls. We will even see the bed where Churchill slept when it was too dangerous for him to return to his primary residence during continuous German bombardments in 1940.

Day 4: June 5th

Portsmouth - The Point of Departure

Transfer to Portsmouth, headquarters of the British Navy for 500 years and the point from where Allied troops set sail to invade German-occupied France on June 6, 1944. The class will visit the D-Day and Overlord Embroidery  Museum. The displays of this fabulous collection will take you through D-Day using personal stories, original artifacts, documents, photographs, and film footage in realistically  reconstructed settings. Dr. Butler is in contact with the museum's curators and is working with them to give the class a special experience for the group alone.

In our free time, see the so-called "Bombing Church," a functional place of worship that was destroyed during World War II but is still maintained as a religious site.

Cross the English Channel to Caen in the Normandy Region via an overnight ferry.

Day 5: June 6th

Normandy: The 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

Arrive in Caen, the historic town that experienced intense combat during the Battle of Normandy. The battle that took place here was part of the largest seaborn invasion in history.

  • We will spend time at Omaha beach, where the worst fighting of the day took place, and see the bomb craters and Arromanches that still remains.
  • Continue to Pointe du Hoc, the 320-foot cliff that American troops scaled to
    capture German fortifications and secure the beaches below.
  • Pay respects at the American Cemetery, where almost 10,000 soldiers are buried. The graves overlook the English Channel facing the United States and are marked by white crosses or Stars of David. Take a moment in the Gardens or the Missing and at the bronze statue names Spirit of American Youth.
  • Visit the Caen Memorial: Museum of Peace.

There will be many events today that will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the battle, and the class will participate in as many as possible.

Day 6: June 7th

Rouen to Paris

Travel to Paris via Rouen. Time permitting, we will see the Bayeux Tapestry, a piece of medieval art that documents the 1066 Norman invasion.

In Rouen, the class will visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, which Claude Monet painted in a series of famous portraits and considered one of his favorite items to paint. Our group will also visit the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.

When we arrive in Paris, receive a walking tour of the city's main landmarks, and become acquainted with the Paris Metro underground transportation system. We will start our orientation on foot near the Latin Quarter, an area where the Sorbonne, the most famous University in France is located, and will stroll past the Pantheon along Boulevard St. Michel toward the River Seine. As we walk along the Seine, check out les bouquinistes, the bookstalls that sell old books, maps, art prints, and postcards.

We will end the walking tour with a visit to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, where Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804. Novelist Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame inspired a 23-year restoration of the cathedral that saved it from destruction. Take time to examine the stained­ glass rose windows and the Gothic Era vaulted ceilings. Before we depart, the class will visit a site behind the cathedral where a memorial to Jewish Parisians who were deported during the German occupation is located. One candle is burning for every local who left Paris for the Nazi concentration camps.

Day 7: June 8th

Paris at War

A guided bus tour of the city will focus on its German occupation period, the active La Resistance movement, and 1944 Allied liberation of Paris. We will start on the elegant Champs-Elysees and pass through the Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon had built to commemorate French military might. The German army arched under the arc in 1940 to symbolize its conquest of the country. Pass the Tuileries Gardens and the Nazi Headquarters in Paris, which is now a plush hotel.

After lunch, the class will visit the Shoah Memorial, a museum and shrine near the Marais District Jewish Quarter that is dedicated to the memories of Parisians who perished in the Holocaust.

At dusk, the class will visit the Eiffel Tower and witness the 30 second light display that occurs every hour after 9 pm. One optional excursion would be a nighttime cruise of the Seine.

Day 8: June 9th

Paris Liberated

Spend the majority of our day at the Musee de L'Armee, which is the French Military Museum. The impressive, vast collections are located in the Hotel des Invalides, a former veteran's hospital constructed during the reign of Louis XIV in 1670. At the Musee, we will visit exhibits pertaining to World War II, "The
Historical Charles De Gaulle," "The Liberation," "Jewish Deportation," and "The Resistance."

Accompany Dr. Butler to the "Memorial due Leclerc et de la Liberation de Paris" and the "Musee Jean Moulin." The three memorial-museum complex is located in the Atlantique garden at the heart of Montparnasse, which played a key role in the Liberation of Paris. General Marechal Leclerc established his command headquarters in the former metro station on 25 August 1944, the first place in Paris that the Allies secured since its fall over four years earlier. The Germans signed their cease fire here, which officially liberated Paris.

Day 9: June 10th

Depart for Home