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WWII Soldiers Reminiscences

Identifier: MS-BC712


In 1993 the Illinois Historical Society placed articles in newspapers around the sate announcing its intent to collect oral histories of people who had lived through WWII. As stated they wanted oral histories of “the common people’s memories.” Some of the WWII veterans responded by sending diaries kept during the war and others sent written remembrances. The respondents included soldiers from the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, a prisoner of war and a man who had worked at a factory in Decatur, Illinois where the barriers used in the atomic bomb were made. The prisoner of war had been transferred by International Harvester, with his family, to Manila. They were living there when the Japanese invaded and took over the island and the family spent three years as prisoners. Some diaries were sent by the children of veterans who had died since the war’s end. Some sent articles that they had written previously for some other purpose. All give a unique and personal memory of WWII.

Reminiscences, diaries and reports. The reminiscences came from men who had served in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. Some give an account of their life prior to their military service, their basic training including time spent at Fort Sheridan, Fort Sill, Fort Belvoir, Camp Grant and Camp Van Dorn, experiences in New York City before shipping out, sites and experiences in Scotland, England and Paris while on leave, battle experiences, the occupation and returning home. Many give accounts of the soldiers they are with and the people they meet in different countries, including Germans during the occupation. There is a copy of a completed questionnaire from the military sent out in 1990, asking about WWII experiences and opinions. One veteran wrote a history of the ship he had served on and another veteran gives an account of that same ship being hit and sinking. A Marine gives his remembrances of battle on Guadalcanal and Tarawa and listening to Tokyo Rose on the radio. An Air Force veteran describes experiences as a gunner on a plane, life on the ground between missions and life being hidden by the French after his plane is shot down. A diary account from a Navy veteran of the February 1945 attack on Tokyo.


  • 1940-1945, 1990-1995


.21 Linear Feet (1/2 manuscript box)

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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

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