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Suggested Questions for Veterans

Minnesota men posed with their bomber squad, Station 145, near Norwich, England, April 1944. Photograph Collection. Location no. E448.24 r3
Minnesota men posed with their bomber
squad, Station 145, near Norwich, England,
April 1944.

Use these suggestions questions as a guideline to help in preparing oral history interviews with men and women who served in the armed forces during World War II.

Each interview should begin with a brief introduction, which the interviewer may record before leaving for the interview. Include the date, the names of the narrator and the interviewer, and describe the place where the interview will take place - such as the narrator's home.

For best results divide the interview into a series of topics, with questions relating to each topic asked in sequence. While there may be some overlap, the interview will proceed more smoothly if it is organized around topics like those suggested below.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

  • What is your full name? For married women ask for a maiden name as well.
  • Where were you born, and when?
  • Briefly describe your life before the war (particularly education and the job you held)
  • Were you married or single?
  • Where were you when you heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  • Did you enlist or were you drafted?
  • What did you deal with your job at the time your enlisted or were drafted?
  • If you were married, how did you arrange things with your spouse?
  • Describe why you enlisted or how you felt when you were drafted

WARTIME EXPERIENCES

  • What was your branch of service?
  • Why did you choose that branch of service?
  • When did you enter service?
  • Where did you enter service?
  • Where did you receive your basic training?
  • How did you travel to the training site?
  • Describe basic training.
  • Describe the people you trained with in basic training.
  • What weapon(s) did you qualify on during basic training?
  • What was your job?
  • Were you sent overseas? If so, describe where you were sent and how you got there
  • What theater of operations were you in?
  • How long did it take for you to reach your theater of operations?
  • Describe any training you received after you arrived overseas?
  • What type of equipment were you issued before you were sent overseas?
  • Were you involved in combat? Describe your most memorable combat experiences
  • If you were not in combat, describe the most memorable experiences in your work
  • Were you ever a prisoner of war? If so, describe that experience
  • How long did you serve overseas?
  • When and where did you return home?

OTHER EXPERIENCES DURING THE WAR

  • During service how did you keep in touch with your family?
  • How was the food during the time you were in service?
  • What did you do for entertainment?
  • Did you ever go on leave? Where did you go and what did you do?
  • Did you feel stress? How did you deal with it?
  • How did you feel about the people with whom you served? Describe some of them

LIFE AFTER THE WAR

  • Where were you when your service ended?
  • How soon were you able to come home? Describe your homecoming
  • What did you do in the months after coming home?
  • Did you return to the job you left? If not, why?
  • Did you take advantage of the G. I. Bill?
  • If so, where did you go to school what did you study?
  • What has your career been since the war?
  • How did your military service affect your life in the years afterward?
  • Do you still have friends you made while in service?
  • How often do you see them?
  • Would you like to add anything to this interview?
  • Thank the narrator for his or her time and for sharing their memories.

If the interview will be deposited in a library or other repository, remember to have the narrator sign the donor agreement forms! Leave one with the narrator and take the other as a record of donation.