The GIs experienced the typical physical symptoms of fear when they eventually faced battle with the Axis foe. Upon nearing the front, hearts pounded and pulses beat rapidly. Some soldiers shook, perspired excessively, experienced a sinking feeling in the stomach, or felt weak or faint. Others suffered from muscular tension, vomiting, or involuntary urination or defecation. Tense soldiers chewed gum or stuffed snow into their mouths to detach their tongues from the roofs of mouths that had turned dry from fear.1 “Each measure of our journey toward the front,” observed a private of the 99th Infantry Division who traveled from Le Havre to the Monschau sector in the fall of 1944, “had affected my nervous system like the gradual turning of a key on a mechanical toy.”2
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