In the 1920s there was a hope in Europe and the United States that the Great War – what would later become known as the First World War – had been The War to End All Wars. The rise of the Nazis that turned peacetime Germany, in the words of one British visitor, into a nation that was like an army on leave, meant that by the late 1930s war was inevitable.
The war that followed was on a scale that dwarfed anything that had come before and saw fighting on land, sea and air that ranged from the Antarctic to the deserts of North Africa and tragically but inevitably through Europe and Russia.
The challenge for travellers on battlefield tours is that whereas the First World War was relatively static the Second World War was one of mobility and distances covered in a short campaign could sometimes be measured in hundreds of miles, then suddenly tanks and troop carriers would judder to a halt and fighting became as close range and intense as ancient combat.
At places like Dieppe, the rubble of Stalingrad, the deserts in North Africa at El Alamein, the mountains of Monte Cassino, the beaches of Normandy, the hills of Kohima, Imphal, and the wreckage of Warsaw or Berlin combat ranges shrunk to feet and gains could be measured by houses captured, rooms cleared or bunkers blasted.
Battlefield tours with the Spirit of Remembrance aim to explain and illustrate both the sweeping campaign and the house by house or ridge by ridge slog. In both - you will find a deep respect for those who fought – almost all of them youngsters - young men who who lived life at an intensity that was measured day by day and sometimes only hour by hour.
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