"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.
1st  July  Arrive Tunis and drive south to our hotel in Sfax. (D) 2nd July 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) 3rd  July 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.
Kasserine Pass 4th  July 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) 5th  July 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) 6th  July 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) 7th  July 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)
Madjerda Valley 8th  July  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.
8th  July  Arrive Palermo airport. Transfer to our hotel. Group dinner at local restaurant. 9th  July 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 10th July 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) 11th July  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) 12th July 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. 13th July 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)
14th July   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)
14th July  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. 15th July 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. 16th July   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.
Cassino Monastery 17th July   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. 18th July 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. 19th July 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.
20th July  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. 21st July  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. 22nd July  Hotel shuttle to airport for flights onward or home. Tour ends.
Bridge in the Sky