David O'Keefe + Joël Stoppels
The Black Watch Battlefield Tour

- Normandy - Dieppe - the Scheldt - Nijmegen - Groningen -

 with historian & professor David O’Keefe 

Driving through the Bocage of Normandy

Jul 13 - Jul 23

The highly prestigious Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (The Black Watch), one of Canada's most famous regiments, were virtually wiped out during "Operation Spring" on July 25th, 1944 - but their remarkable story of strength, tragedy, and determination against all odds doesn't end here.

Join us, with lead tour guide, historian and professor David O'Keefe, and special guest guide Joël Stoppels on this special journey retracing the footsteps of Canada's most prestigous regiments from the beaches of Normandy to the Liberation in Groningen. 

David O'Keefe.jpeg

tours led by David O'Keefe

David O'Keefe served as an infantry officer in the Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch of Canada) in Montreal and was later employed as their official historian for nearly a decade - who better to lead us on this much anticipated tour?

Learn more
 

The Black Watch Tour Info

Destinations:  France, Belgium & the Netherlands
Tour Dates: July 13th - July 23rd

Flight departure: [July 12th, to Heathrow LHR] 
Flight return: [JULY 23rd, from Paris CDG]

News & Updates about this tour

The Black Watch Tour Map & Outline

 

^^^ Explore by scrolling through the cities we will be visiting, and zoom in to get familiar with where we will be visiting on this tour.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
 

  • Join us to explore + honour the story of the Black Watch Regiment - from the shores of D-Day to the Liberation of the Netherlands
     

  • Enjoy beautiful, independent, superior tourist class accommodation throughout our stay with our favourite hoteliers
     

  • Extended orientations at Juno, Verrieres, Dieppe, in the Scheldt, Nijmegen, and Groningen
     

  • A special opportunity to the Liberation of the City of Groningen with our local battlefield host Joël Stoppels 
     

  • Executive coach transportation, with washrooms, air conditioning, and now ozone filtration!
     

  • Join our long time Battlefield team, along with the guidance of professor and historian David O’Keefe throughout the tour 

The Black Watch Tour | Itinerary

 

-- Tuesday, July 12th 2022

Depart from Toronto's Lester B Pearson Airport on your overnight flight to Paris CDG Airport. [Dinner and breakfast will be served onboard]

 

Day 1 - Wednesday, July 13th

This morning, upon arrival into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport you’ll greet the team, including our guide, historian and professor David O’Keefe. Together, we begin our journey to Normandy, with a stop en-route to visit the place where “D-Day” began. Pegasus Bridge, located in the small town of Benouville, was assaulted in the early morning hours of June 6th,1944 by the British 6th Airborne in an incredibly daring mission to gain control of its vital position. A full orientation will be provided at the bridge - take a look at the first house liberated in France, the Café Gondree. We then head to the City of Caen for our hotel check-in. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner and reception. [Overnight - Caen (B, D)]

 

Day 2 - Thursday, July 14th

After an early breakfast this morning, we’ll head out to explore the Canadian beaches and battlefields of Normandy. We will start with a visit to the darkly notorious Abbayes des Ardennes. This 11th Century Gothic Structure became the Headquarters of the 12th SS Hitler Youth Division in the time leading up to the Allied Invasion. We continue on to Point 67. This strategic position overlooks the Battlefield of Verrieres Ridge, one of the enemy’s strongest lines of defence in all of Normandy. During “Operation Spring” on July 25th, 1944, Canada's most famous of regiments, The Black Watch of Montreal were virtually wiped out. A complete overview of this highly controversial action will be explained at different angles from those involved. We continue from Verrieres to the cemetery of Bretteville-sur-Laize to pay our respects. This afternoon, we visit the exhilarating and informative Juno Beach Center, located right off the dunes where the Royal Winnipeg Rifles landed under heavy fire on the early morning of June 6th. Here we will meet with the Juno Beach staff, see the original enemy bunkers, museum, and memorials along the beach. After lunch, we visit the first house liberated by Canadians, the “Queens Own Rifles House.” This home is a pilgrimage point for all Canadians to see. By midday, we will pay respects to the Canadian men who lost their lives fighting in the early weeks of the Normandy campaign at Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. Two thousand forty-eight of our countries' bravest lie in peace at this immaculately keep sacred ground. Personal stories and accounts of a few of these individuals will be told for all to contemplate and reflect on. Tonight, enjoy a meal out on your own in the City of Caen. [Overnight - Caen (B)]
 

Day 3 -  Friday, July 15th

Saying our farewells to the Normandy region, we head east along the French coast to the seaside resort town of Dieppe.  Here we visit the Dieppe Canadian Cemetery before travelling to the Green Beach at Pourville. We will also view the main landing beaches of Red and White on the Dieppe seafront. This evening, we re-group for our welcome dinner in Dieppe.  [Overnight - Dieppe (B, D)]

 

Day 4 - Saturday, July 16th

This morning, we will begin our tour of the Red & White Beaches before having a private tour with the director of the Memorial Museum of Dieppe. This afternoon, we explore the Blue Beach at Puys, to view the gun emplacements on the cliff tops, which, on Aug 19, 1942, were responsible for such terrible Canadian casualties. Enjoy some free time this evening to enjoy dinner, while exploring the beaches & town on our own. [Overnight – Dieppe (B)]

 

Day 5 - Sunday, July 17th
This morning, after breakfast, we say our farewells to Dieppe before a long and leisurely drive up the coast to Antwerp, just as the Canadians cleared up the coast in September 1944. We’ll make a stop outside of Dunkirk in the small town of Spycker where David O’Keefe will speak to the difficult events that took place here in September 1944 as the Black Watch liberated the town. As we travel into Belgium, we make a very special stop in Adegem to meet up with our friends at the Canada Poland WWII Museum, Alex & Gilbert Van Landshoot, the proud and passionate owners of one of the largest Second World War collections in the whole of Europe. Together, we’ll explore their archive, all while learning valuable research skills. Later, Alex & Gilbert will take us to the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery as we connect headstones to archives. Tonight, we continue to Antwerp for our hotel check-in and welcome dinner. [Overnight - Antwerp (B, D)]

 

Day 6 - Monday, July 18th
After breakfast, we take the drive to Zeeland to visit the Liberation Museum of Zealand and Liberation Park to discuss the Battle of the Scheldt. Zeeland was the hardest-hit province in the occupation, and the effects of the Battle for the Scheldt were felt far beyond. This single operation cost the Canadians more casualties than any other operation during the whole of WWII. After our orientations, we head to Yerseke to sample some of their world-renowned seafood for lunch. We then head to the small village of Woensdrecht. Here, the Black Watch and the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry engaged with the German 6th Paratrooper Regiment in a fierce battle on October 13th, 1944 - "Black Friday” as it is known, due to the high losses of men from both Canadian units - however, victory was achieved, and it paved the way in cutting off a large number of German forces in the battle of the Scheldt. We end our day with a solemn visit to the Canadian War Cemetery of Bergen-Op-Zoom before heading back to Antwerp to enjoy our dinner and overnight on our own. [Overnight - Antwerp (B)]


Day 7 - Tuesday, July 19th

After breakfast this morning, we say our farewells to Antwerp and travel north to Nijmegen. Here, Canadian units faced fierce German counter-attacks and infiltrations, artillery shelling, dangerous patrols, rain, wind and bitter cold. See the remains of the Canadian foxholes. After lunch, we will enter Germany from Groesbeek to discuss the Battle for the Reichswald during Operation Veritable. British and Canadian units attacked from the north, while the Americans closed the trap from the south. To conclude our day, we’ll pay a visit to the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. After an early dinner, we’ll participate in the Sunset March Ceremony in Nijmegen. [Overnight - Nijmegen (B, D)]

 

Day 8 - Wednesday, July 20th
After breakfast, we depart for Wageningen to see the Airborne Museum before an extended visit at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Holten with a chance to see the extended information centre. Before returning to our hotel, enjoy lunch at the Canadian Clubhouse, home to the 005 Canadian Legion of the Netherlands. We’ll end the day with a private visit of the ​​Liberation Museum in Lochem before returning to Nijmegen. Enjoy exploring this historic city with dinner on your own. [Overnight - Nijmegen (B, L)]

 

Day 9 - Thursday, July 21st
After breakfast, we say our farewells to Nijmegen before making a stop in Gorssel to discuss Operation Cannonshot and the crossing of the River IJssel. In Apeldoorn, liberated on April 17, we will take a moment at the 'The Man with Two Hats’, Canada’s National Monument. After lunch, continue the drive up to Groningen, where we will pay attention to Operation Amherst, the last airborne operation carried out by French SAS paratroopers to support the Canadian advance. [Overnight - Groningen (B, D)]

 

Day 10 - Friday, July 22nd

After breakfast, we walk through Groningen with our fellow friend and battlefield guide Joël Stoppels, learning more about the Battle of Groningen. After lunch, we’ll visit the Canadian Liberation Forest in Groningen. Opened in 1995 on the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, you’ll find 30,000 maple trees here, planted to pay tribute to the Canadian troops who liberated the City. We then drive via Appingedam to the port of Delfzijl where the last fighting in the Netherlands took place during the Battle for the Delfzijl Pocket in April and May 1945. Tonight, enjoy our farewell dinner before we prepare for tomorrow’s journey home. [Overnight - Groningen (B, D)]

 

Day 11 - Saturday, July 23rd 

This morning, after breakfast, we say our farewells to Groningen and head back to Amsterdam AMS Schiphol International Airport for our return flights home. [(B) Meals onboard] 


 

TOUR END

Cafe Gondree .jpg

^^^ The Café Gondreé

Verrieres Ridge.jpg

^^^ Point 67 Memorial at Verrieres Ridge