Motion Sickness Pills Put Soldiers to Sleep on D-Day

Motion sickness pills were handed out to American soldiers on the evening prior to D-Day.

motion sickness pills

Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division prepare for the D-Day invasion of Normandy

On June 5, 1944, Paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions prepared themselves for their part in the upcoming invasion of Normandy. Some of the men from the 82nd Airborne Division were combat veterans, having made prior combat jumps in Sicily and mainland Italy at Salerno. The men of the 101st Airborne Division, though well trained, were new to combat.

As the paratroopers boarded their C-47 transport planes, they were given army motion sickness pills to ward off airsickness.  The pills consisted of Dramamine, a medicine still in use today that was developed to combat the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and dizziness brought on by motion sickness.

As the paratrooper laden C-47’s took off from their English bases, soldier and sailors on more than 5,000 ships sailed out of their harbors destined for the shores of Normandy.

The sea was rough, and the soldiers were also given motion sickness pills to prevent sea sickness.

The army Motion sickness pills, designated: “Motion Sickness Preventive” were issued in a small rectangular cardboard box that contained six pills. On the reverse of the box is a warning stating: “These tablets contain a sedative and cause drowsiness if taken to excess”.

motion sickness pills

Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division Hook up in preparation for their jump

Although it is not clear who gave the order to distribute these pills, or if proper instructions for their use were given, many of the paratroopers heading to Normandy had trouble staying awake or fell asleep during their two hour flight to France and had trouble staying awake the following day.  

motion sickness pills

US Army issue Motion Sickness Preventive

motion sickness pills

Reverse of the box with the instruction and warning label

motion sickness pills

Box with interior pill wrapping

In the invasion fleet, the effects were similar.  A rumor even started that the Army was handing out sleeping pills to calm soldier’s nerves on the eve of their baptism of fire.  

Although the motion sickness pills had little effect on the outcome of the battle, they remain an interesting side note on the human aspect of the D-Day invasion.

For More Reading Check Out:

101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy

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