1700: with the invasion fleet at sea

Eisenhowers letter to the troops about to depart for Operation Neptune, distributed to some men directly, read out by commanding officers and ship's captains.

Eisenhowers letter to the troops about to depart for Operation Neptune, distributed to some men directly, read out by commanding officers and ship’s captains.

Captain Walter E. Marchand was a Battalion Surgeon with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division headed for Utah Beach:

June 5, 1944

A.M. still strong winds, but clear weather.

P.M. This is it, anchors aweigh! – we start out of the harbor – with strong convoy of Destroyers – will pick up Cruisers and battleships later. Captain makes announcement – giving plan: we are to sail eastward parallel to the English coast as far as the Isle of Wight, then turn south, then turn westward until we are 7 miles off the beach on the east coast of the Cherbourg peninsula.

The convoy forms up – hundreds of boats of all sizes: the battleships Texas, Arkansas are right next to us, as are several large cruisers and many destroyers and mine sweepers. It is an Impressive sight, and in the PLAN for the landing, they are to help us by covering fire of large volume and also against possible air attack.

Orders have been issued to the troops that no one will fire at any aircraft during D day – this makes it certain that we will have air superiority at all costs.

5 P.M. Isle of Wight sighted and passed and we change our course and veer south. Pulled a tooth of an infantryman who complained of a toothache. After supper which I ate rather nervously, I laid myself down to sleep – but couldn’t, but I rested. Hyperkinesia is evident – all very talkative.

All remains quiet on board and around us except the splash of water over the bow and the wind thru the masts. The captain of the ship reads a message from President Roosevelt, General Eisenhower. The Captain himself gives us a message of hope and a prayer of safety and he was followed by Lt. Col. Teague, our Battalion Commanding Officer, and the Chaplain. I gave a brief last minute message to the troops, telling them again of the various emergency First Aid measures to be taken if they became casualties.

All then was quiet on board as midnight passed.

Read the whole of his diary at D-Day Doctor’s Diary

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