Europe's wartime sites still matter

Why bother with war memorials? Who cares about abandoned battlefields and aged soldiers recalling their glory days? Why waste tax dollars on cemeteries and monuments? Why pay big bucks to go to Europe to visit old war zones and bomb sites?
Glad you asked. Because my long-time travel-writing colleague Tom Douglas, a Burlington, Ontario, journalist, author, historian and war expert, has the answers. He's passionate about the importance of Canada's role in the two world wars and about the valour and the sacrifice of the thousands of young Canadians who fought those battles.
And he shares his passion. This summer he'll participate as a resource person in an eight-day Globus/Avalon Waterways cruise tour called 'Paris to the Normandy Beaches', drawing on his extensive knowledge of military history that reflects the four books he's already written on the subject (and a fifth in the works.) He'll give a lecture on Canada's role in the D-Day landings and recount the personal stories of men, including his father, Sgt. Mel Douglas of the 19th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, who crossed the Channel and went ashore as part of the invasion force. The Seine cruise includes stops in Gonflans, near Napoleon Bonaparte's Chateau de Malmaison, and Rouen. A day-long coach tour includes stops at Canadian Juno Beach Centre, the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches and Canadian war cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer. The tour starts in Paris on July 23.
Tom and his wife, author Gail Douglas, have acted as resource people on various war-themed tours and cruises, including last year's Globus Great Canadian War Memorial Tour.
Tom has published four military-themed books and the power couple is now collaborating on a new book of military history that promises to be a magnum opus. (More details on that one as the work progresses.) Tom was copy editor of the Canadian Military Journal, the official magazine of the Department of National Defence, and associate editor of a Royal Canadian Navy publication, Maritime Engineering Journal. He has written moving accounts of Canadians who served in both world wars and his writing and speaking about Canada's military history earned him the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation last year.
To meet Tom Douglas, visit
For more cruise details, check out


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