What Was It Like to Cross the Channel En Route to D-Day?

In this photo, from Germany’s Federal Archives, we see Field Marshal Rommel inspecting the “Atlantic Wall” coastline two months before D-Day. The Archive provides this description of the picture (translated into English):  “Field Marshal Erwin Rommel with officers on inspection of wooden barriers on the beach before the Atlantic Wall, April 1944.” Click on the image for a full-page view. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-719-0243-33 / Jesse / License:  CC-BY-SA 3.0 DE


Allied forces had trained for months before beginning their cross-channel journey to France. Many men had been onboard their ships for days, waiting to leave when the weather finally improved.

Imagine you are one of the people who will make the four-hour crossing, of the English Channel, in a boat which tosses you all around, sprays water in your face and generally makes you nauseous, knowing that soon you will face enemy soldiers who will do all they can to end your life. And—by the way—you will face German-placed obstacles along the French shoreline, making your landing, under intense fire, even more difficult.

What thoughts are going through your head during that crossing?

Does the four-hour crossing, in choppy water, help or hinder your personal sense of well-being as you move closer and closer to the Normandy shore? Explain your answer.

If your homeland (for example, America) seems less likely to endure immediate threats from Hitler than Great Britain’s homeland (for example), would that change your attitude about the crossing and your role in the Normandy Invasion? Why, or why not?

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