Beating the Boredom

The men of the 6th Airborne, in the words of Stephen Ambrose, “had many virtues, patience was not one of them”.

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Because of the nature of their operation, the men that would take part in the raid on the bridges at Benouville and Ranville were highly trained.
As no date was widely known of when the invasion would actually take place, the men needed to be at the top of their fitness and training at all times. Consequently, the training was relentless.
The problem that this gave to the commanding officers was the issue of monotony, the training was often the same thing every day, leading many of the young, ambitious men to get bored.
To combat this, those in charge of the airborne troops had to come up with new, exciting ways of entertaining the men which would also have the training benefits they needed.
General Browning decided to send his troops down to Devon for two months, in order for them to gain some cliff climbing experience.
In the hot summer of 1942, General Browning then ordered his men to march the 130-odd miles from Devon, back to their base at Bulford, with the added incentive of making it a race between the companies.
The first two days of the march was hot and sticky and the men were granted permission to change to lighter gear. The two days that followed included a hard, driving rain that soaked the men, now in their lighter gear.

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For the full 130 miles, Major Howard marched up and down his column of men, urging them on. Major Howard was even offered the use of a bike, which he turned down in no uncertain terms.
D Company arrived back at Bulford on the evening of the fifth day, loudly singing, keeping the pace. Only two out of 120 men in the company had dropped out.
D Company had won the long march by half a day.

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