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Questions, questions, questions


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#1 William

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 03:37 PM

Hey gang. I've been bugging my unit buddies off and on for awhile, and I thought I'd open discussion up here.

For those of you who don't know me (which will be the majority of you), I began contacting WWII veterans in 1987, sending the GI's at least a 4 page questionnaire asking them questions about their time of service. Right now all the replies are recycled back into our unit (ask Doc who frequents these boards). Anyway, every so often I like to "freshen" up my questions-get rid of some, add others. Well, I'm to that point now.

So, if you had the opportunity what questions would you ask of:
-US veterans
-German veterans
-US civilians on the Homefront

Who knows? I may actually use your questions on my revised questionnaires.

Wm.T. Ripley

#2 Erich

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 04:51 PM

I always get some background information on the indivdual first as to combat record, dates of service, unit....before I formulate any questions. It also depends on whom I interview whether US/British or German. Some things are delicate and do not wish to be repeated so sometimes things need to be written in a most respectful way with a clear understanding that certain questions may not be answered.
It's obvious that questions to fly boyz are going to be different than to navy or ground guys....
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#3 William

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 05:24 PM

Hey Erich,
Quite true. Most "delicate" questions are not event dealt with, or if they are it is in a very vague, round about way. If the response is good, I start delving a bit deeper.

And yes, the answers to the questions coming from a bombardier will be completely different then those from a front line rifleman. That is why I don't send out questions to a person just because he is a vet. I keep only to those who were infantry, armor, para, or artillery.

So, any takers?

Wm.T.

#4 Stefan

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Posted 07 April 2003 - 10:27 AM

Could you give us some examples of the kind of question you have asked before please? I mean we generally only ask vets questions in person so it is up to the individual to judge what he can ask, what kind of thing do you ask in your initial questionnaires?
There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending.
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#5 William

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Posted 07 April 2003 - 04:09 PM

Okay, for an example, I ask about food-bear in mind this is how I ask for the US vets.

First, I ask which ones they recall having most experience with: C-, D-, or K-Rations, and if they were "typically" (and yes, I know that is a relative term) eaten cold or warmed, and if warmed, how they personally went about warming them.

A sub-question to that is if the GI's acquired any other food. If so, what they got and how it was gotten.

After the above is answered, this then leads into later discussions of the contents of the rations, favorite choices, least favorite choices, foods they scrounged for, where they scrounged, how they scrounged/borrowed/bought/stole food, stories about silly things happening in chow lines, while scrounging food, etc (seems a LOT of guys blew up cans of C-Rations in fires).

I am going for personal observations here in my questions. The answers are then recycled back into my Living History group's displays we do for the public.

And yes, I do realize that after 55+ years each answer needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

But, anyway, that is the type of thing I ask. Some other questions sent would be uniform/equipment used by the vet IN THE FIELD; personal items carried by the vet IN THE FIELD; items used in a way other then intended (condoms over muzzles, the miriad of uses for the helmet, etc). Things like that.

Oh, and to let you know, the veterans I ask are "limited" to those serving mainly in Infantry during the summer of 1944, but I also send out questions to veterans of Armor, or Airborne Divisions, in Europe after D-Day. I do that as my group portrays an Infantry unit.

Hope the above rambling makes sense.

#6 Stefan

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Posted 07 April 2003 - 06:28 PM

How about asking about use of captured equipment, how often it was used etc, similar question about weapons. How about kit being borrowed from other allied nations (Britain for example, I know we pinched US kit, just wondering if it happens the other way). Maybe an additional question about rations, how often were foreign feild rations nicked? I have heared loads of stories about US soldiers taking British rat packs (the 14 men for 1 day or 1 man for 14 day jobbies). I have also often wondered how common it was for US troops to beg, borrow or steal kit from different arms, for example was it common for infantrymen to take more comfortable boots from airborn men or that kinda thing (I know the M41 tankers jackets were often pinched but other examples of that kind of thing).

Just a couple of ideas.
There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending.
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#7 William

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Posted 07 April 2003 - 07:55 PM

Very good! Hadn't thought about the foreign aspect, although I have had some vets mention German rifle cleaning kits, personal stoves, combination spoon/forks, and gloves being the preferred "liberated" items. smile.gif

Great ideas. Thank you Stefan.

#8 Stefan

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Posted 09 April 2003 - 10:54 AM

I would like to ask similar questions of German veterans, to what degree was captured US or British kit used? I would like to use a pair of US boots because mine are uncomfortable, there are pleanty of photographs of 12th SS grenadiers nicking US boots. How much 'foreign' kit did the German soldiers use?'
There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending.
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