"An Army at Dawn "
This tour is a joint operation between Western Desert Battlefield Tours and Valor Tours, America’s oldest
battlefield tour company. The tour covers the American side of the three campaigns in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy.
These are three individual tours linked together to bring the story of the American involvement in North Africa
and Europe. Each tour can be taken singularly or combined tours i.e. Tunisia/Sicily or Sicily/Italy.
Arrive Tunis and drive south to our hotel in Sfax. (D)
After a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Sfax, where 4 Victoria
Cross (British equivalent of the Medal of Honor) winners are buried, we head
west to Kasserine via the 1943 American battlefields of Faid Pass, Sidi Bou Zid,
Kerns Crossroads and Sbleitla. Having halted the initial American advance at
Faid, Rommel then counter-attacked, driving the US forces back to Kasserine.
Overnight in Kasserine. (B D)
Today we visit the Kasserine Pass battlefield, where in February 1943 Rommel
personally led the Afrika Korps into action for the last time. Rommel would
advance 48 Km into the pass driving the American forces before him; he was
stopped at Thala by a well-timed British counter-attack. We shall also visit the
Kasserine Pass Memorial, before making our way to our hotel in Gafsa.
En-route we shall visit Thepelete airfield where Foy Draper a 1936 Olympic gold
medallist took off for his last flight. (B D)
Kasserine Pass Battlefield Tour
Guided by Steve Hamilton
“On this famous battleground of the ancient world two armies converged from the west and from the east
in the year 1943, to set free North Africa and make open the way for the assault on southern Europe”
(Medjez el Bab Memorial)
Home of the legendary Hannibal, yet 2,000 years later other great generals would arrive in
Tunisia - Patton, Montgomery and Rommel. This small country played host to the largest
number of battles fought in the North African campaign. This picturesque tour shows us the
contrast between the desert wastes of the south and the green hills of the north. We shall
be visiting such famous places as Kasserine where US troops met Rommel for the first time
and learnt a painful lesson. Longstop Hill fought over so many times by British and US
troops and the long Madjerda valley. Sidi Nsir where US troops would capture Hill 609 in
dramatic style. Chouigi Pass - where US tanks would take on the German panzers in the
very first US/German tank battle. We shall use 4x4 vehicles for all of the tour, so getting a
real feel for the battlefields, and the only real way to see the desert battlefields.
Today we shall visit the battlefields of El Guettar the American drive down the Gabes
road to link up with Montgomery’s 8 th Army. General Patton‘s Headquarters and
Gumtree Road the famous supply route along the base of the mountains to the coast in
the east, followed by a drive over the exciting Djebel Sened to the Maknassey Pass
battlefield before making our way to our hotel in Kairouan, which in earlier times was a
Foreign Legion fort. (B D)
Today we head north to our hotel in the Bay of Carthage. Day includes visit to the US
War cemetery at Carthage where 2,841 American servicemen and woman are buried,
including Medal of Honor winner Nicholas Minue, and 4 sets of brothers and Foy
Draper. Also here is the American Memorial to the Missing which commemorates a
further 3,724 servicemen who have no known grave. We shall also visit Takrouna and
the ancient military port at Carthage. (B D)
Today we visit Beja and the lofty heights of Hill 609 at Sidi Nsir captured in dramatic
style by US troops, the “Mousetrap” and Djebel Lanserine where Nicholas Minue‘s
bravery would result in a posthumous Medal of Honor, and Chouigi Pass/Coxens Farm
where in late 1942 American tanks met German panzers for the first time, before
returning to our hotel in Tunis. (B D)
Today we visit the dramatic 1942 and 1943 battlefields of Medjez el Bab and the
Medjerda Valley, Bord Toum Bridge where US artillery fought a heroic rear-guard
action.The much fought over Longstop Hill and Djebel Bou Akaz both with commanding
views over the valley. Tebourba, the limit of the Allied advance in December 1942. We
also visit the actual site where the world famous “Bovington Tiger 131” was captured.
Overnight in Tunis. (B D)
Tour ends with transport to airport for flight home, or onto Palermo for those
continuing onto Sicily with Steve Hamilton. (B)
Sicily 75th Anniversary Tour - Operation Husky
Guided by Steve Hamilton
The invasion of Sicily began on the 10th July 1943; by the 17th August it was all over. In just six weeks the
Allies had a firm foothold in Europe, which would pave the way for the invasion of Italy. Famous names like the
“Big Red One” and “Darby’s Rangers” would storm ashore and then find themselves on narrow winding roads
and high peaks fighting a very determined enemy.
Arrive Palermo airport. Transfer to our hotel. Group dinner at local restaurant.
After breakfast check out and drive to Agrigento to visit the Valley of the
Temples. Onto Licata to examine the landing beaches where Audie Murphy
landed and bridgehead of the 3rd US Infantry Division and the battle of the 505th
Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, making their first
combat drop. En-route to Gela we shall stop at the 3rd Division Memorial and the
Lt David Waybur Medal of Honor site.
Overnight in Gela. Our hotel is situated on the site of the German counter attack
of July 11, 1943 and just a short distance from where Luz Long a 1936 German
Olympian and friend of Jesse Owens was killed. Dinner at local restaurant.
Gela invasion beach memorial
After breakfast at hotel, check out and head for the U.S. landing beaches at Gela
where Darby’s Rangers stormed ashore to capture the Gela Mound and fight off
the German counter-attack which was delivered on 11th July 1943. Onto the
Scoglitti landing beaches of the 45th US Division, via Ponte Drillo, the scene of
the dramatic and costly action by US paratroopers. Follow the exploits of the
U.S. 45th Infantry Division who were operating on the right of the 1st US Division.
The 45th would capture the airfield at Comiso and enter Ragusa to link with
Canadian forces. Overnight at Syracuse (B D)
After breakfast at hotel, check out and drive to Catania via No3 Commando
Bridge and Primosole Bridge, scene of the action involving British Commando
and Paratroopers and the Durham Light Infantry. Free afternoon in the centre of
Catania or visit to the excellent Catania war museum. Overnight at Catania (B D)
After breakfast at hotel, check out for our day in the mountains with the drive to
lofty town of Centuripe captured by the 38th Irish Brigade, Gagliano and the site
of Sgt Gerry Kisters Medal of Honor action, Nicosia, the site of Patton’s first
slapping incident, Mount Basillio where Pte James Reese was awarded a
Posthumous Medal of Honor, and Troina, scene of severe fighting and the US
“Big Red One” hardest day on Sicily. Enroute we visit the Agira Canadian War
Cemetery. Overnight at Centuripe.
After breakfast, check out and drive to the north coast and along the US route to
Messina, the target of both Patton and Montgomery, which was finally reached
on the night of August 16, 1943 when leading elements of the 3rd US Division
entered the city. Visit the San Fratello Ridge and Brolo, and the Naso Ridge the
scene of two amphibious landings. Before reaching Messina we shall cross the
“bridge in the sky”. (B D)
Check out of hotel and Transfer to the airport for those ending their journey today.
Italy - Operation Avalanche
Guided by Frank De Planta
The Allied Invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on 3 September 1943, by General Harold
Alexander's 15th Army Group (comprising Lieutenant General Mark Clark's U.S. Fifth Army and General
Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army). The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the
Italian Campaign. The main invasion force landed around Salerno on the western coast in Operation Avalanche,
while two supporting operations took place in Calabria (Operation Baytown) and Taranto (Operation Slapstick)
Italy bound passengers’ board ferry at Messina to Villa San Giovana – the
southern tip of the Italian coast. Then drive by coach to Salerno with a stop
along the way for lunch (on their own account), meeting up with Frank de
Planta at Salerno. Overnight at Salerno.
After breakfast a brief tour of Salerno and to explore the decision to commit US
Fifth Army at Salerno in September 1943. Visit the 36 US Infantry Division
monuments at Paestum. After lunch at Paestum, study the VI (US) Corps
advance into the hills above the Sele Plain towards Eboli and Serre from La
Cattedrale del Granato & Point 386. Then drive to Cassino and study the
progress of US Fifth Army from the landings at Salerno on 9 September 1944
to their arrival at Cassino on 15 Jan 1944. Overnight in Cassino.
After breakfast at hotel, study the crossing sites of 141 Infantry Regt in the first
battle as part of 36 US Infantry Division on 20 and 21 January 1944. Study the
crossing sites of 143 Inf. Regt at Sant Angelo and 34 US Infantry Divisions
attack to get into the hills behind the Monastery in the first battle. Visit the
British and German cemeteries. After lunch break, study the second battle for
Cassino and the Monastery Hill as well as attack on Cassino railway station in
the Second Battle. Overnight in Cassino.
After breakfast at hotel, we examine the logistical problems of re-supplying
troops on the ridges from Portella, San Michele and Caira and the decision by
II (NZ) Corps to build the Cavendish Road. Study the terrain over which 2 New
Zealand Division fought for Cassino town and 4 Indian Division fought for the
eastern face of Monastery Hill: all in March 1944 and both as part of II (NZ)
corps. Study the route of the Cavendish Road tank attack of 19 March 1944.
View the memorial made from one of the tanks destroyed during the battle.
After lunch break in Cassino, study the titanic struggle for Snakehead Ridge
and Point 593 behind the Abbey during the Second and Fourth Battles.
Overnight in Cassino.
After breakfast at hotel, check out. Appreciate the role of the Poles whilst at the
Polish Cemetery. Travel to Anzio/Nettuno and visit the US Sicily-Rome Military
Cemetery and memorial site where headstones of 7,861 of American military
war dead can be found, and memorial to the Missing where a further 3,095
American casualties are commemorated. The majority of these men died in the
liberation of Sicily, the landings at Salerno Area and the heavy fighting
northwards, at Cassino, in the landings, stalemate and breakout of Anzio and in
air and Naval support in the regions. Study landings at Peter Beach.
Overnight near Anzio.
After breakfast study the landings at Anzio port, the struggle for Campoleone
railway station, the Rangers’ assault towards Cisterna up the Pantano Ditch
and the battle for the survival of the 1st British Infantry Division.
Overnight near Anzio.
After breakfast, study the role of 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards on Buonriposo
Ridge and 45th Infantry Division at Campo di Carne. Study the First World War
style defensive actions in the Lobster Claw and the Boot. Visit the Beach Head
Military Cemetery. Overnight near Anzio.
After breakfast at the hotel, check out. Study the outcome of Op Buffalo and
the initial success of the US breakout towards Valmontone on 23-25 May 1944.
In the Velletri Gap, study the brilliant 36 US Inf. Div. plans to slip between the
inter-Corps boundary for LXXVI Pz Corps and I Para Corps and break the
German Fourteenth Army’s defence on 29-30 May 1944. Lunch break at
Velletri. View the Anzio Plain from Monte Artemisio and study the progress of
Op Buffalo after General Clark’s controversial decision to change to Op Turtle
on 25 May 1944. Overnight Rome.
Hotel shuttle to airport for flights onward or home. Tour ends.
Bridge in the Sky