On your journey across France’s different regions, from the seaside of Normandy to the warmth of the south, you will find countless WWII-related sites, be they iconic or unsuspected. During WWII, France was occupied for four years until the liberation of Western Europe began in June 1944. Walk along Normandy’s landing beaches to remember the course of D-Day and you will find many museums and memorials built on these very beaches. Wander in Paris looking for traces of the occupation, such as hotels occupied by the Germans, streets and buildings that will remind you of some of the darkest times in regional and national history. Follow the steps of the Parade for the Liberation and visit the Memorial Leclerc and Jean Moulin Museum. In Alsace you will find a blend of French and Germanic cultures and you can visit the Struthof, the only concentration camp built in French territory. Head to southern France to learn about the second, less known Allied landing of August 1944.
IWM London is one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum in England. It comprises different exhibitions presenting the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by war, through unique documents and objects, art, sound, film and other means. The museum offers two permanent displays focusing on the Second World War: ‘The Holocaust Exhibition’ and ‘A Family in Wartime’.
IWM Duxford can be found near Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. The museum was built on a historic airfield and it was the first branch of the Imperial War Museum to be opened to the public on a regular basis in June 1976. IWM Duxford presents the history of aviation with hundreds of aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and other objects on display.
Opened in 2002 and located at Salford Quays in Greater Manchester, IWM North is one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. Its iconic building was designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The museum comprises different permanent and temporary exhibitions presenting the story of modern war and conflict since 1917.
The HMS Belfast warship is a floating museum which was originally a Royal Navy light cruiser. It became a branch of the Imperial War Museum in 1978. The ship is permanently moored on the Thames river next to Tower Bridge. The museum tells the personal stories of the crew who lived and served on board during the Second World War.
The Battle of Britain Memorial can be found at Capel-le Ferne on the coast of Kent, England. It features one central statue of a pilot and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. The Memorial was opened by the Queen Mother in 1993 and is dedicated to those who fought the Battle of Britain from July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940.
Located on the former site of RAF Uxbridge, the Battle of Britain Bunker housed the Fighter Command No.11 Group Operations Room during the Second World War. The Operations Room was responsible for planning and coordinating the air defence of London and South East England.
Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was the top secret home of the Codebreakers during WWII, where, among other codes, those generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines were decrypted. The grounds and historic buildings of Bletchley Park can be explored together with exhibitions on a variety of topics related to the history of the site.
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and tells the story of the Royal Navy’s submarine service. Set on the site on the Submarine Service’s 20th century base on the Gosport side of Portsmouth Harbour, the museum is home to the Royal Navy’s very first submarine Holland 1, the only surviving WWII-era submarine HMS Alliance and midget submarine X24.
The Solent Sky Aviation Museum depicts the history of aviation in Southampton and its international importance in the Solent area in England. The museum exhibits over 20 airframes, dating from the golden age of aviation and the Second World War, including the Spitfire and the Supermarine S6.
The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial site contains the remains of 3,812 of American soldiers who fell in the Second World War. A total of 5,127 names are recorded on the Walls of the Missing. Most of the victims died during the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe.
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre was opened to the public in 1998 on an original WWII airfield in Lincolnshire, England. The centrepiece of the museum is the Avro Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’, one of three working Lancasters worldwide. Other aircraft, military vehicles and a large private collection of wartime photographs are on display in the museum exhibitions.
The Sywell Aviation Museum in Northamptonshire was opened in 2001 by the legendary aviator Alex Henshaw MBE. It provides information on the history of flying in Northamptonshire, from the early days to the Second World War. The extensive ordnance collection includes rockets, bombs, a loaded bomb trolley with authentic tractor, and other weapons.