Week Nine Reading
It would be absolutely nerve-racking to go through this experience of waiting, training, and trying not to think about what all the waiting and training was really all about. I would imagine that there would be an extreme sense of urgency to just get on with it and get over it, but impending doom is also something easy to try and put off. I think the emotional state of each man depends on his personality, his life situation, his age and his disposition with the other men. Because the vast majority of them are young men, I think that it still has the feeling of being an adventure. The distractions of youth are all around in England including the excesses of youth. Still, whether angry or depressed, eager or fearful, the state of purgatory is not an easy one to sit through.
Connecting this to another experience or historical event is tough to do because of the circumstances. On a superficial level, it's just like men in most every war prior and most wars since. A state of waiting just goes with the territory in preparing for war. In each case the age of the men is similar, distractions exist, preparations occupy the time, emotions are all over the board.
The closest thing I can think of this being like is the experience of a good friend who battled brain cancer for three years before it finally took his life. The seizure he had that made the problem apparent was like his own version of Pearl Harbor. A previously unknown problem suddenly came up and the enemy was then identified. An assessment of resources was taken, plans made for attack, and then he proceeded to receive treatment. The tumor was operated on, irradiated, shrunk and blasted with chemo but it still remained. Each new treatment had the same pattern: learn about it, learn the risks, spend time considering it, make the appointment and then wait for that date to come. The period of time from making the appointment to showing up for the appointment is probably what it felt like for the soldiers pre-D-Day. You know that this could be the end, you feel prepared but for what you aren't sure so how do you handle it? Live like life is almost over? Live like life is going to have another chance? Seeing it was not easy because there was nothing that could be done except for help from the sideline. I'd believe that the experiences of me and most of his friends was similar to those of soldiers' loved ones. Focus on preparation and support knowing that the final battles are out of your control and not your fight to make.
Matti's Response--A slightly different prompt than the teacher prompt this week....you'll see that first then Matti's response to it.
Discipline can be defined many different ways; “training to act in accordance with rules “ , “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training” , “punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.” In both of the readings from this week multiple examples exist for each of these definitions. The intense discipline involved in the preparation of Operation Overlord is much more than the standard idea we have of “military discipline” or organization.
The soldiers themselves experienced first hand multiple forms of discipline. They were expected to follow orders to the nth degree and even when small things such as failure to inspect the latrine occurred, harsh reparations often followed. Yet this discipline was not always bad, when describing his first encounter with tanks in Band of Brothers, Webster hinted at how had it not been for the discipline he had encountered he would have quite possibly been squashed by a tank.
Another example of the theme of discipline can be seen in the precautions taken by the government officials. The strict secrecy through censored letters, and cover ups of incidents such as that at Slapton Sands shows extreme discipline. Not only was every outgoing letter read and censored but every letter leaving the US as well, in addition to the fact men of the 4th Division Infantry were not even permitted to speak to cooks shows just how committed all parties involved were to war effort.
Discipline in all of these situations is crucial because when everything hits the fan and everything is happening for real, it is discipline that will hold a unit together. When the time to live or die comes, it is those who are prepared, who have trained and who show discipline that ultimately come out on top. Discipline allows you to function when everything else is crumbling. The brass knew that Normandy was going to be a blood bath and weren’t entirely sure it would be successful. Troops had to be disciplined to tough it out no matter what, to reorganize and problem solve no matter what and to maintain order when it was not clear who their commander was after all the officers were dead. Had it not been for the extreme discipline, there is no certainty that the landing could have been achieved.