People in History: A soldier in World War II

Main Page: World War II

A scene from the Normandy Landings in 'Saving Private Ryan'.
© Paramount Pictures
Have you seen Saving Private Ryan? If you have, you're probably familiar with what life was like for Allied soldiers trying to take Europe back from German control. For a soldier People in History question, sometimes you might just be asked to write about "a soldier", other times you could be asked to write as a British/American soldier or a German soldier. We're going to go with an American soldier here.

The thing you (hopefully) have noticed about History by now is that a lot of the different topics you study link in to each other. Most of the points in the tips below you should know from studying World War II, but you might notice there's also a point you learned when you studied Northern Ireland. Keep an eye out for links like that.

  • Start by introducing yourself. Say you're an American soldier.
  • First, talk about your training. US troops deployed to Europe underwent training in Northern Ireland. Where did the other soldiers come from?
  • Now, talk about the aim of your mission: what was the aim of Operation Overlord?
  • Mention how the war has been fought in the air and sea, and describe how you and your fellow troops will be travelling to Normandy. What is the plan?
  • What beach did you land at? What did you encounter when you got there? Describe briefly what would have happened.
  • You and your men have defeated the Germans in Normandy. What next? You're making a slow advance to a certain city, which is it?
  • You're not alone of course. Talk about the Resistance in France.
  • You're nearly in that city, and France will soon be liberated. But who's attacking the Germans from the East? How do you think this war will end?

So, in short...

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. The aim of your mission.
  3. How battles have been fought and how you will get to Normandy (the plan).
  4. The beach you landed at and what you encountered.
  5. What happened after you defeated the Germans at Normandy.
  6. The French Resistance.
  7. The Soviet troops attacking Germany from the east.

  • get confused between battles and places. You're in France in 1944, nowhere else.
  • write anything irrelevant.
  • make anything up!