Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 8, 2005 22:35:32 GMT 12
I have always wondered this, as I was never in the ATC. Do the many ATC squadrons in New Zealand that have the same squadron number as a real existing or past squadron of the RNZAF keep ties or affiliations to the real squadron?
I mean, does say No. 40 Squadron ATC have a more special bond with No. 40 Squadon RNZAF than other RNZAF squadrons?
Or does No. 30 Squadron ATC keep in touch with veterans of No. 30 (Avenger) Squadron RNZAF through their Association?
Do you guys meet the real current or past airmen and women of the equivalent squadron, and share stories, learn, etc from them?
Well , Sir i do not know about other squadrons but as for myself being in 30 squadron (thanks for the mention of our squadron by the way) i don't really keep in touch or have a bond at all to the veterans of 30 Squadron RNZAF.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 18, 2005 18:02:33 GMT 12
Hey, stop calling me Sir, just plain Dave is fine!
Do you guys and gals have any contact as an ATC unit with WWII veterans at all?
If not, I for one would highly recommend that you think about makign contact with some. The experience can be really awesome.
I'm sure if you went along to your local RSA's or RNZAF Association branch and asked for RNZAF veterans to talk with, you'd find many willing chaps and even WWII Waafs. If you do so, take a tape recorder and many prepared questions and ask if you can record their memories and stories for the future.
Sadly the WWII veterans are disappearing fast, and we have so much to learn about them. We all need to act fast to record as much as we can.
You'll find, as I have, the more of them you talk to, no matter what they did or who they were/are, you'll soon develop a real sense of the history of the RNZAF. You'll also develop and extend the respect you may already have for the veterans to the point where you realise that these old chaps were once really amazing people, and still are!
The things they have seen and experienced and endured are beyond anything we'll ever see, both good and bad.
My website project, which i hope you've taken a look at, www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz all developed simply by talking to veterans and recording their stories and by looking through old newspapers.
If you 30 Squadron members are genuinely interested in doing something like this, starting a project of interviewing veterans, I can help you and pass on my suggestions, assistance and experience.
You could turn it into a school project, or a book, or a website, or simply a squadron exercise, but I guarantee you'll learn a great deal, and you'll record stuff you can pass onto future generations and future ATC squadron members who'll join up after all the verterans have gone.
Post by atcassidy_30hobby on Dec 18, 2005 18:18:07 GMT 12
I'm keen! Last night i was at the new lynn RSA and i spend quite alot of time at the swanson RSA through some connections made on poppy day. But yeah, knowing me i am up for anything and this project sounds really awesome! Then we will actually have something to pass on to cadets of the future.
well Dave, i have alot of veterans which i know at Swanson RSA. because my Grandad is the Ex-President of The RSA. so hes well known and so am i. but i will still keep in touch. i will also try to make some connections with other RSA's or RSL's (Oz).
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 18, 2005 19:06:32 GMT 12
Cool guys. Are you keen to work as a team on this?
I can put together a list of suggestions for you guys, and email them to you. As I have been doing it for a while I've found some good tips and techniques. I'm sure you'll get some great results. You could asdd it as a section on your squadron website and get the squadron involved, that way you can cover more veterans, and it will make the squadron look good too. It may spark other squadrons to do the same in their areas, and we can cover all sorts of areas of NZ.
Let me know if you want me to put together some ideas and suggestions for you.
Post by atcassidy_30hobby on Dec 18, 2005 19:36:05 GMT 12
well okay, although i do not see how i handicap the learning of others but thats your opinion and i respect it, I will work with a few others and i am sure you will get a team together, once we finish our projects i am sure they will compliment eachothers and the "competition" will make it even more interesting than it already is.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 18, 2005 19:41:32 GMT 12
Cool guys. Well, I think it would be great if we can all work together on this, and produce a good result.
The actual interviewing can be done by individuals, or perhaps in pairs because two people can come up with better results than one sometimes so long as they're focussed on the same goal.
The real team work will come later in the typing up of the interviews and presenting it in a readable, usable form, whether it's a book or website or wahtever.
Do you two really have serious difficulty in working with each other or is this purely a bit of ribbing? I was under the impression you were good mates in reality. I hope this is the case. Remember a project like this is all about the veterans, not the people doing the work, if you see what I mean. They are why we're doing it.
Do either of you think you could rustle up a few more keen people to form a team of four or five of you? That'd be a good number so you can all go off and do interviews then come back and work together on the results.
Something to remember too, the people who worked in the wartime RNZAF on the ground, as mechanics or drivers or admin or whatever, have just as much to tell as the aircrew, and they are often more interesting because they remember more detail about the little things, and it's often these types of things that have not yet been recorded by anyone.
I am really pleased you two are both keen, we will certainly do something about this. I'll work on it as soon as I can and get something to you guys. In the meantime, see if you can find anyone else interested in helping. Also talk to your ATC CO and see if the unit will support the idea, i.e. in perhaps putting the results on their website.
Also, as you're the Hobsonville unit, I'd suggest a visit to Hobsonville RSA too, as well as New Lynn and Swanson. There is also something called the Hobsonville Old Boys Association which I think's still going. They were mostly ex-RNZAF Catalina and Sunderland pilots, crews, groundcrews, etc.
Post by atcassidy_30hobby on Dec 18, 2005 19:51:44 GMT 12
it had the quotation marks which idicated that it wasn't an actual competition rather knowing that there is another group doing the same thing adds a bit of life. douglas knows. we do not have trouble working together, once upon a time we worked quite well if i might say so myself but (off the record) the age thing grows tiresome.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 18, 2005 20:35:47 GMT 12
Here are some tips, off the top of my head. I'm sure more will come. These will make the results better, though some may seem obvious...
OK, so you're going to go to RSA's and seek people. First thing I'll say is if you do make contact with people there, don't do the interviews straight away then and there. The best thing to do is ask politely if they'd be interested in taking part in an important research project. If they're keen, arrange a time and place to do this.
Now, the reason I say this is because if they're in the RSA, that is their social time. they may not be so keen to have their pool or darts or drinking interupted. Plus they may not be so keen to talk in front of their mates. If you did interview them with others there, it may turn into a mess as all will start adding to the conversation and it'll drift off track.
So, I suggest you arrange a time and day, and the place would be best if it's there home. I say this because a) they'll be much more comfortable to talk at home and b) if they want to look up something like photos, log books, etc, it's right there for them.
Plus, arranging a later time for the interview like this gives them time to menatlly prepare, to think about their days in the RNZAf in the meantime. This always helps I find, because their memories are not what they were.
I'm not sure if you'll be up for this but I think in your cases it might be a good idea to wear ATC uniform when going round RSA's looking for people as they'll recognise that it's a bit more official. If you can arrange support from your CO, all the better.
When you're arranging the interview, take a notebook and write down their name, address and phone number, just in case you need to cancel on them and need to contact them. Also briefly ask what trade they did, what sqns they served on, and where they were based. If they worked on or flew in aircraft, find out which types. Make quick notes of these as they'll really help.
OK, so, once you have made contact with someone and they're willing for you to come around and interview them, which will be in a few days time (don't make it too soon as you'll need to prepare, and don't make it too far off in the distance as they'll forget), now you need to prepare for the interview.
basically preparation is mainly getting a load of standard questions together which work for most ex-Airmen and WAAFs, but also tayloring some individual questions around the info you've already found out. So, if in that first meeting they say they were a P40 pilot and served at Ohakea, Guadalcanal and Whenuapai say, in such-and-such a squadron, go look up those snippet and find out about it. If you cannot find anythign on the net or in your library, post about it here and we'll try to fill in the blanks. That way you'll go along to the interview knowing a little background on the type of thing they did, and not be completely bewildered when they mention certain things.
I've found if you have a little knowledge already, they trust you much more because they see you're genuinely interested and they'll open up more to you.
Now, once you get to an interview, remember to be polite and address them as Mr or Mirs, etc. This you'll probably do anyway, as you're all nice young cadets and not hooligans ;D
Now, at the interview you must have a recording device, like a tape deck with a microphone, or a digital recorder. A video camera would be great but most of them hate the idea of getting on film, where audio tape seems fine to most. If you do decide to use video for this project, ensure they realise this at the first meeting, and also make it really inobtrusive, so they forget it's there and talk freely. They won't otherwise.
if you choose to use just an audio recording device, but you do not have one that is really good and clear, see if your school has one. I'm sure that they'd support such a research project.
No matter what you record onto, afterwards make sure you label it clearly with the interviewee's name, the date, your name if you were the interviewer, and pull the tab out so it cannot be recorded over accidentally.
Back to the interview.
Always start them off slowly into it, with questions you know they can answer. Full name, date of birth, Service Number (I find every airman rememebrs his, and almost every WAAF has forgotten theirs! True story).
Then start into the interview and keep your questioning linear, what's the word, chronological. So ask them about early days first. Where were they born? Where did they grow up, and go to school.
It may not seem too relevant but it is actually important because it gets them comfortable talking about the olden days. Then ask them what they did between schhol and joining the RNZAF. A lot of them worked in jobs, many were in the Territorials, some of these stories are really interesting.
I'll make up the list of standard questions I start with and post them very soon.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 18, 2005 21:18:09 GMT 12
I hope all that I just wrote hasn't put you off. It gets easier with each interview you do, believe me, and also more rewarding to you personally.
OK, here is the basic list of questions I always start with to work an interview around. Of course as you'll do a bit of preparation about their particular area in the RNZAF before doing the interview, you'll have more questions to add in to this list. But these are basic questions to ask:
As mentioned above, ask their full name, the rank they achieved, date of birth nd service number.
Talk a little about their background, where they were born, where they grew up, where they went to school.
What they did before the war for a job.
A good one that I like to ask, and always evokes a good story is the first time they saw an aeroplane. Remember aircraft were very rarely seen before the war, and most of them remember vividly their first plane. if they went for a ride in it, even better story.
Ask when they joined the RNZAF (some didn't join till later on in the war of course. A lot of RNZAF men actually transferred from the Army in 1942 under a scheme to bolster the RNZAF numbers. That can bring out interesting comparisons between the two services to talk about if they say that's what they did).
Ask them why they chose the RNZAF over other services.
Ask them where they first joined up, and about the basic training. Usually this was at Levin or Rotorua, but some other stations also did intakes. Ask about the culture shock, the food, the discipline, the comradeship, etc. A lot of it will relate to your own ATC experience, you will find much in common I'm sure.
After basic training they'll have gone onto learning their trade. Discuss the training, whatever it was (pilot, mechanic, whatever). Ask where this was done.
Then basically let them take the reigns at this point, though most Air Force people started their careers in the same way, usually the same place, their stories usually start to become more individual at this point. And they're usually into the swing of things with telling you by then, so it should flow.
Remember to ask questions about anything they mention if you a) don't understand what they refer to, or b) want to know more about the topic. But always try to bring them back to the main thread of the story once it's explained.
If they mention a particular aircraft they flew or worked on, ask about it. Was it a good aircraft to fly? Was it safe? Well-liked by crews. What were it's flying characteristics. Things like that. Often such questions will lead to stories about particular missions, etc.
Don't ask about combat directly, about the nasty side of the war. Asking things like "How many planes did you shoot down" or "how many of your mates were killed?" can often clam them up. They don't want to remember the nastiness. But you can ask such things indirectly with questions like "What were the scariest moments of your time in the RNZAF?"
I use that one often, sometimes they'll then talk about the combat, others will talk about equally wonderful stories but not involving combat.
Also ask about the social like in the Air Force. Dances, life in the Mess, whether they got alcohol or newspapers or mail, etc when in the islands. Did their stations have cinemas, etc. Or whether they had a squadron song or unit mascot, etc. All that sort of stuff is fascinating and has not been recorded too much by historians. Obviously the social life at say Wigram would be totally different from at Espiritu Santos, etc. So ask them to make comparisons between such lives they had in the RNZAF.
Lastly, every interview is totally different. They will all tell you a different and equally interesting story of their experience. If they mention anything that you think is of interest, get them to elaborate on it. Really get them talking, casting their mind back. Some of these people may be the last living link to an event.
And that's something too, in your preparation if you note any famous events that they might have had some part in, because their squadron did, etc, ask them about it. I recently talked to a Hudson crew member who was aboard the Hudson that escorted the first No. 14 Sqn P-40's to the Pacific. This was quite an incident as the Kittyhawks all either turned back to Norfolk or force landed on a beach out of gas, except for Stan Quill who had to bail out. A real big event in the history of the RNZAF, and I got the story direct from a man who watched it all unfold. Stuff like that is priceless.
You will find as you go along, the more you do the better you get at asking the right questions. You'll become more astute at knowing what to ask and when.
So maybe if you can and want to, you can go back and re-interview the people you start with at a later date, you just might get much more out of them on a second visit when you're more experienced. i have done this on a couple of occasions.
other points to remember: Ask if they have photos - if they do, ask if you can borrow and scan them. If they say yes, ensure you do so quickly and get their photos back to them safely so they don't worry about them. Often when you take the photos back, they'll want to tell you more they've remembered in between too, so take the tape recorder the second time too in case.
Also see if they have a log book. The inside back page is always worth copying. Take a digital camera if you have one, much to easier photograph the pages than take the book away to photocopy or scan, so long as the camera's a good one.
It is easier to keep in contact with them here in a small town than in Auckland for you guys, but you might find, as I have, that you'll make some wonderful new friends though this. It really is a great project, and I wish you guys well.
Remember to be patient and polite in the interviews, and let them ramble up to a point because the story that comes out slowly can be a gem in most cases, so don't keep cutting in and changing the subject just for the sake of speeding things up - remember they're trying to recall events from 65 years ago. Not easy.
This is all I can think of right now. Any questions, fire away. In the meantime, go find some veterans to interview. As soon as you set up an interview, email me the details I'll see if I can add some more specific questions for the situation.