"Poor ******s," said a US soldier on D-Day, seeing the slaughtered earlier arrivals on Omaha beach, "but at least they ain't seasick any more." I can't remember now where I read it but I've wondered on and off ever since whether he got back across the Atlantic.
The late Bill Waddington, who got back to play Percy Sugden in Coronation Street, landed on Gold Beach on D-Day. He wasn't seasick, enjoying 4 tins of soup on the way because all his mates were too ill to eat. In his biography, Stafford Hildred's 1994 Percy's War, he says of them: "They were in quite a bad state. It was a wonder some of them could walk, let alone fight, when they got over."
With uncharacteristic insight, the military had anticipated the problem. They sought help - to no avail -
from the medics helping to lay the foundations of the modern double blind clinical trial as the extract
from this old textbook [with my parenthetical comments] shows:
Whenever there was a prospect of sufficiently rough weather…soldiers were sent to sea in small ships, again and again, [my father once spoke of such an occasion] after being dosed with a drug or a dummy tablet and having had their mouths inspected to discourage attempts to dispose of the tablets by means other than swallowing. The ships returned to land after forty per cent of the soldiers had vomited. “On the whole the men enjoyed the trips”, [so that’s all right then] some of them, however, being soldiers, thought the pills were given to make them vomit [fitted my father] and some “believed firmly in the efficacy of the dummy tablets” [didn’t fit my father].
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).