Military Themed Incentive Programmes
Looking for the perfect destination for a military-themed incentive programme or group visit? Cambridge is the answer!
To celebrate the premier of Masters of the Air, a new mini-series by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, we’ve put together a military themed itinerary for those who would like to retrace the steps of the US service men and women and other military personnel who lived, worked and made the most of their downtime in East Anglia during World War Two.
Perfect for history buffs, military enthusiasts and ‘set jetter’ groups, who would like to visit some of the locations mentioned in the series.
Arrive at your accommodation and check in. Choose to see Cambridge from the inside with a stay in a College or maybe your group would prefer a city centre hotel. From 4-star properties to boutique style and apart-hotels there's something for every taste and budget.
Take a Punt
Participate in a synonymous Cambridge activity; punting! Guests can take in the sights from the city’s famous waterway and marvel at some of the most famous landmarks in the world along the world-renowned 'Backs'. Take in St John’s College as you pass gracefully by; in March 1944, the Senior Combination Room at St John's was used to host a scale model of some of the Normandy beaches and to plan D-Day. Tip, take a chauffeured punt tour to save anyone from falling in the water!
Private Dining in a Historic Cambridge College
Delve deeper into Cambridge’s links with the military by experiencing a private dinner in a Cambridge College! Enjoy pre-dinner drinks in a range of stunning settings with plenty of photo opportunities, followed by a sumptuous meal and fine wines, guaranteed to suit every diner’s requirements.
With access to areas not generally open to the public, this is a unique and memorable way to entertain key clients, reward staff or simply celebrate in style. Bespoke menus are created by in-house teams and offered with fine wines from the College cellars. Guests are waited on by experienced butlers in ancient, majestic halls, some lit only by candlelight, or in historic dining rooms with warming open fires.
Looking to elevate the experience? Consider transporting guests via a chauffeured punt directly to the venue over a glass of champagne. Many of the Colleges also offer the opportunity of a tour before dinner or perhaps an expert after-dinner speaker could enlighten diners with a talk about the USAF deployment and those who flew daring missions from airbases close to the city.
A Walk Through Time
After a hearty breakfast at your accommodation, it's time to hit the streets with a bespoke guided walking tour to learn more about Cambridge's links with US service personnel. Hear the stories of Bull College (now part of St Catharine’s College) where members of the US Army could stay and study at the University after the war; the chapel windows at King’s College which were all photographed, taken down and stored for the duration of WW2 for fear of bomb damage. It took 5 years to put them all back! Or learn more about the Leys School being turned into hospital and the school students then evacuated to Scotland.
There are a range of organisations offering the services of Blue and Green Badge accredited guides covering a wide range of topics, from US influences to espionage!
Build Connections over Lunch
Cambridge is a foodie destination with an enviable independent restaurant scene offering plenty of private dining spaces for your group whether you would like a quick bite or a long, relaxing lunch. Enjoy a lunch and tour at the Cambridge Union Society, itself once a victim of an enemy bombing campaign. Step inside the library to hear learn more and see the shrapnel scarred books that tell the tale. Or if the weather is favourable, enjoy a picnic on one of Cambridge's many open spaces and parklands. Cambridge institution and famed bakery, Fitzbillies, provide picnics packed with a range of luxury baked goods and local delicacies, with advance notice.
Honour and Remembrance
A visit to Cambridge’s American Cemetery will be a poignant experience for groups who wish to know more and pay their respects. Donated by the University of Cambridge, to the US military, the site honours those who fought and lost their lives. The Cemetery is the final resting place for 3,811 US war dead; over 5,000 names are also recorded on the Walls of the Missing. Rosettes mark the names of those that were recovered and identified.
Try a Traditional English Pub (warm beer optional!)
On your second night in the city, why not go informal with dinner and a pint or two...Cambridge is overflowing with pubs from the traditional to the trendy. Check out the RAF Bar at the Eagle Pub where allied servicemen used candles, lighters, lipstick and soot to leave their mark on the ceiling. The Graffiti includes a signature from the pilot of the Memphis Belle! Many of Cambridge’s traditional pubs offer bookable private areas for groups or if you want to keep it very exclusive you can book out the whole bar!
After breakfast, it's time to leave the stunning surroundings of the city and head towards the IWM Duxford which houses the American Air Museum, home to the largest collection of American military aircraft on public display outside North America. Groups can see Spitfires take to the skies from the airfield where they first flew and walk in the footsteps of the men and women who served here. The brave can take to the skies in any one of a number of original aircraft and groups can enjoy incredible views of the airfield in private areas such as the Airside Suite. Combine your visit with a stay at Hinxton Hall, a historic mansion where many of the rooms and grounds once served as billets for the women and men serving in the war effort. Today, the estate is home to a world-leading centre of research, the Wellcome Genome Campus. Immerse yourself in its journey from wartime contributions to a hub for scientific innovation.
Within a 30 - 45-minute drive from Cambridge, there is a whole host of historic attractions with links to the Allied forces. Scattered throughout East Anglia you can discover numerous memorials to America’s WWII Bomber Fleet.
Head to Norwich, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the UK and home to the American Library or Bury St Edmund’s where the 94th Bomb Group is commemorated in a quiet rose garden at the ancient monastery.
We'd love to help you with your plans for a military-themed group visit soon. Get in touch for help and information about this itinerary or ideas for other incentives or group visits in Cambridge!