From the beginning, the men are taught how it's really done by Sergeant Saunders and White Rook. It's interesting to note most of the Germans carry a heavy load compared to the men of White Rook who are almost always streamlined right down to the lack of a mess kit. Along the way the 4 make their share of mistakes and the viewing audience learns it's best to be humble, quiet, observant, and ready to follow orders. Private Tate bucks this concept from the start. Private Tobin has a short attention span and appears to not follow crucial instructions. Private Loomis means well and appears to be simply unfortunate at times. And Private McBride appears to be honest and the most focused of the four.
Writers' Mitchell did an excellent job on this screenplay. There's good character development, the story flows, and each rookie except Loomis appears to reap what they sow. Mc Bride - humble, honest, and focused; Tobin - boastful, cocky, lack of attention span; Tate - know it all, dishonest, little or no focus, extremely self-centered; and Loomis - well meaning, focused, inquisitive, and unlucky. Each man's story is very believable with respect to their individuality.
Combat scenes are well done and realistic; they're fun to watch. It's interesting to note the wounded German crawling toward the Americans could have been the inspiration for "The Dove," a much later James Bond movie villain.
All in all I enjoyed "The First Day" and it was refreshing to get a realistic taste of what it's like for a new replacement coming in under fire.