Undertakings and Rules for the Students of the Albert H. Small Normandy Institute
- Complete all of the assignments on time to the best of my ability.
- Make three presentations about my soldier and the Institute to groups in my community after I return home and to tell the Institute Staff about those presentations (and maybe provide photos).
- At all times be respectful to all members and staff of the Institute and to those we encounter in our travels – we are representatives of our schools, our communities and the United States of America.
- Be on time to all events and dress appropriately for the occasion.
- Be positive and flexible.
- In each location (GW campus, hotels, field trips), we will establish boundaries for all students. You must be with a teacher or staff member when out of boundaries. If you do accidentally become separated, please call the Academic Director, one of the Head Teachers, or the Staff Director as soon as possible.
- Check in with the Academic Director, one of the Head Teachers, or the Staff Director if you are leaving boundaries.
- ALL reasonable requests by ANY adult in the Institute (your teacher or not) must be followed.
- No alcohol, drugs, or tobacco or other smoking products are to be possessed or consumed at any point during the Institute. The US drinking age is in effect through the trip; students are not allowed to purchase, drink, or transport these substances at any time.
- Phones may be used during the trip at appropriate times, but should not be used during presentations, discussions, or while touring a site or museum.
- Take advantage of this opportunity! Take pictures, ask questions, engage in every session and tour. Learn as much as you can. Enjoy yourself.
Below is a selection of important dates for the course. A full set of courses can be found in the Home Page, under Reading Materials and Travel Plans.
- September 16th, 2019: The application period for the Class of 2020 opens.
- December 1st, 2019: Deadline for applications to be turned in.
- December 21st, 2019: Successful applicants will be informed via email by this date.
- June 20th, 2020: Welcome Dinner in Washington DC
- June 27th, 2020: Depart for France
- July 2nd, 2020: Return to Washington via Washington Dulles International Airport
Some of the Places Where History Was Made
(And You Will See)
Just after midnight on 6 June, three British gliders from the 6th Airborne Division landed under the cover of darkness and captured a critical bridge over the Orne River and Caen Canal, firing the first shots of Operation Overlord. They held the bridge all night, holding off heavy assaults until they were relieved the next morning.
While the Atlantic Wall was broken in a day, many remnants of it still dot the Norman coast. Longues-Sur-Mer holds many such remnants; four concrete casemates protecting rusted 152-mm naval guns, a command post, and multiple pillboxes.
Sainte Mere Eglise
During the paratrooper assault on D-Day, the 82nd Airborne was tasked with taking this strategically important town. Unfortunately, in the mass confusion in the early morning hours, much of the 82nd was dropped right on the town, resulting in heavy casualties. One of the most unique monuments to the fallen is in Sainte Mere Eglise today: a (dummy) paratrooper hanging from the church steeple.
Arromanches Harbor and Gold Beach
After the landings, the titanic task of keeping Allied forces supplied through the larger campaign required a port, and Cherbourg to the north was heavily damaged. In response, the Allies created fake harbors, known as "Mulberry"s that could match the capacities of the docks at Dover. Arromanches was, and still is for some parts of the Mulberry, the site of the British harbor. Unfortunately for the Americans, their harbor at Omaha Beach was destroyed by a storm in late June 1944.
Vierville Draw, Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach has become etched in the collective memory of American history for its brutality, but nowhere was the fighting as bloody as it was at Vierville Draw, also known as Dog Green Sector. As one of the few places where American forces could exit the beaches, it was heavily defended by German troops, and many Americans died trying to get off the beach. If this area still does not ring a bell, this was the infamous opening scene in Saving Private Ryan (1998.)
One of two American coastal zones of operation, Utah Beach saw the landing of the American 4th (led by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.) and 90th Infantry Divisions. Despite landing almost a mile off-course, the landing was a critical success.
Juno Beach and Canada House
Canadian forces landed at Juno Beach at 7:35 on June 6th, near the village of Bernieres-sur-Mer. Despite opposition, the landing was a success, and Canadian forces were able to secure a house that has become so famous in Canadian military history that it has become known as, "La Maison des Canadiens." This house was one of the first French houses liberated by Allied forces in the Normandy Campaign.
Pointe du Hoc
Situated between Omaha and Utah Beach, this heavily fortified German artillery position had a clear view of both beaches. It was so important that Allied bombers were instructed that if they could not drop their payloads on their targets, they were to drop them on Pointe du Hoc instead. On D-Day, US Army Rangers scaled the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc and captured the position despite heavy resistance. They then learned that the artillery that they had been sent to destroy had been moved.
La Fiere Bridge
While this little bridge may seem nondescript, this site was a critical communications route close to Utah Beach. Because of this, the bridge at La Fiere was heavily contested between German forces and the 82nd Airborne Division and is described as some of the deadliest small-unit combat of the Western Front.
This is another site etched into Canadian military history, but not for the same reasons as Canada House. This was the site of the massacre of twenty Canadian prisoners by the infamous 12th SS Panzer Division, known as the Hitlerjugend. This unit, originally called the Baby Legion by the Wehrmacht due to most recruits being drawn from the Hitler Youth, soon earned a much more sinister moniker: The Murder Legion.