THE D-DAY ACADEMY
It is a cultural concept of supervised teaching that looks at the year 1944, a pivotal year when sciences and techniques capitalized on by the Allied Forces made the Liberation landings in Western Europe possible in the face of the more advanced technologies of the Nazi occupying forces.
The Academy is sponsored by the British "Normandy Veterans Association" and supported by American and Canadian regimental associations.
In France, Basse-Normandie, Calvados, in the town of Rots near Caen.
By offering a unique "hands on" and dynamic experience, under the guidance of experts, with the vehicles and equipment of 1944, these programmes fill the gap left by traditional museums whose displays are behind glass, separated from the visitor and with often only a scripted commentary. Through the five senses, the ACADEMY approach is the key to a better understanding of the reality of 1944 as it impacted on the participants from different nations. What were the social and economic conditions of the time?
How did technology, weaponry and logistics condition the outcomes of battle? What were the medical facilities like? How important and effective was propaganda? How terrifying was (and is) the confusion and friction of war?
The DEMACA programme captures the essence of the experience of the khaki clad men and women of the "Special Generation" who liberated France in 1944. By using contemporary artefacts and the tools of war you will be able to:
- Touch and compare the weapons and equipment used by Allied and Axis soldiers. To embark aboard vintage trucks and armoured fighting vehicles.
- Smell the lingering odours of military vehicles and equipment, wartime food and also the delicate Parisian perfumes of the era.
- Taste: the American GI was the best-fed soldier in the world in 1944. Re-discover famous brands of food already familiar at the time and you will taste them different.
- Hear the popular music of the period distilled through contemporary on-board loud speakers, broadcasts of great men on wireless sets of the period and the distinctive sounds of military engines, grinding gears and clinking tracks.
- See letters, original newspapers, photographs, maps and propaganda of the time. Most importantly, you will glimpse the landscape where some of the momentous events of the battle for Normandy in 1944 took place.
These expeditions embody the essence that underpins the creation of the D-DAY ACADEMY as a mobile, open-air museum, taking visitors to historic sites in vintage transport with on-board historians and D-Day Memorabilia.
This is truly "History on the move". Opportunities will also be provided to visit other traditional museums. Thanks to this unique concept, the sites of D-Day and the Battle for Normandy in 1944 are united as one great museum. All of which adds greatly to the visitor experience.
The EXACA Expeditions are a series of carefully constructed programmes, conducted by military historians, which, following in the footsteps of the soldiers of 1944, will explore some of the key engagements which took place over the Norman countryside between June and September 1944.
It is hard to imagine when viewing today's bucolic landscape, the devastation wrought by the actions of three million combatants in a campaign that at times exceeded the intensity of the Western Front in World War One.
By re-discovering the sites where often-pivotal events took place, under the guidance of an historian and with the artefacts and weapons of the time available, visitors will more accurately be able to understand, at every level, the importance and drama of the events that took place there. At the personal level, visitors will be able to re-live some of the aspects of life, which governed the lives of soldiers of all nations: dealing with censorship, distilling truth from propaganda, medical facilities and casualty evacuation procedures.
The welcome of the locals to the Allies will be replicated by taking lunch in a typical Norman Farmhouse whose walls are impregnated with history.
Enjoy a traditional meal of local produce, calvados and cider such as the soldier of 1944 would have experienced.