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Maréchal Leclerc & the 2nd French Armoured Division

Information
Start Utah Beach, France
End Berchtesgaden, Germany
Duration 4 Days
Developed By
Name Liberation Route Europe Foundation
Country Netherlands

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Philippe de Hauteclocque, best known under his war-name of Leclerc, was one of the officers who refused to accept the defeat of 1940 and continued to fight in the ranks of the Free French Forces in exile.

His first mission was to rally the Free French Forces in French Equatorial Africa. After the Allies’ success in North Africa, Leclerc united a variety of forces from Free France and the former Vichy Army in the new 2nd French Armoured Division.

The 2nd French Armoured Division landed in Normandy on 1 August 1944 and took part in the liberation of Paris before pursuing the German army towards the Alsace region. Strasbourg was liberated in November 1944, which honoured Leclerc’s oath made in Kufra in March 1941, when he swore before his men that “we shall not lay down our arms before our colours, our beautiful colours, are flying above the Strasbourg cathedral”.

At the end of the war, the 2nd Division arrived in Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s alpine residence in southeastern Germany.

Maréchal Leclerc & the 2nd French Armoured Division
Day 1

Normandy, France

Upon your arrival in Normandy, walk down Utah Beach where the 2nd French Armoured Division landed on 1 August 1944. Visit the Utah Beach D-Day Museum before heading towards the Caen Memorial Museum. Head further south towards the Falaise area and visit the Falaise Memorial. During the Normandy invasion, the liberation of the vicinity of Alençon and Argentan on the southern flank of the Falaise pocket was the responsibility of the 2nd French Armoured Division.

Day 2

Paris, France

Following the German defeat in Normandy, Leclerc and the 2nd French Armoured Division marched to Paris to liberate the French capital. After arriving in Paris, walk through the Champs Élysées where the Liberation Parade took place on 26 August 1945 after the Germans surrendered the city on 25 August. Different museums in Paris recall the liberation of the city: the Order of the Liberation Museum and Historial Charles de Gaulle, both part of the Invalides Army Museum, as well as the new Leclerc Museum that will shortly reopen in a new location at the square Denfert-Rochereau.

Day 3

Alsace, France

Continue to the Alsace and Lorraine region, where Leclerc’s Division encountered fierce combat before liberating Strasbourg on 23 November 1944. Stroll around in the city of Strasbourg and be sure to admire the gorgeous Strasbourg cathedral. Head to Schirmeck for a visit to the Memorial Alsace-Moselle and check out the MMPark exhibition in La Wantzenau to learn about the history of the region.

Day 4

Bavaria, Germany

On the last day, stroll through the town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, southern Germany. In Obersalzberg there is the opportunity to visit the location of Hitler’s alpine residence, the Berghof, which was Leclerc’s latest target during the war. End of the tour.