Oral history link revealed in Kentucky

Almost 70 years to the date of combat in the small town of Tremensuoli, Italy, during World War II, the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History along with a researcher in Italy have connected to reveal an amazing discovery about an American GI who served in the battle and left his mark on that community.   Several months ago, Giovanni Caruso contacted the Nunn Center at UK Libraries researching a story he wanted to write on a battle in the small town of Tremensuoli in 1944. He had discovered a carving in a stone wall there that identified an American soldier, name and date from hometown and state (M.A. Webb, C-ville, Ky., 1944 March 30). The writer had connected the name to an oral history interview in the Nunn Center’s collection with World War II veterans. The interview, recorded in 1986 by Col. Arthur L. Kelly, was with Marshall Webb of Campbellsville. Read full story and watch video here.

OHAA National Conference – Women in Munitions Factories

And she said, “I’m going to work in the munitions factory: and then Mum asked, “But, who’ll get Ted’s lunch?”

11.00 am 21 September 2013

Dr Julie Holbrook Tolley

Resize of Julie Holbrook Tolley1Women’s personal memories of War can contribute significantly to the knowledge of individuals and their experiences.  Dr Tolley interviewed munitions factory employees from World War II.  She learned about the tasks they carried out, the clothing they wore and what they did when the War ended.  They were given very little recognition at the time.  The interview process gave them an opportunity to re-evaluate their work.  Their participation in the project acknowledged the value of the work they did.  In December 1943 there were three large government munitions factories in Adelaide and some also in country towns. 

Dr Tolley interviewed Eunice, Dot and Nancy.  Eunice worked from 1940-1945.  She said it was a dangerous job but she was proud to be helping the War effort.  Dot saw “The Australian Women’s Weekly” advertising for workers and she joined.  It was her “duty”.  The propellant used was cordite and could be dangerous.  Nancy made casings for bullets.  She wanted to help the War effort.  They felt proud of themselves.  It was a positive experience in their lives as they remembered.  The women changed in to their street clothes at the end of the shift.  They could not wear any metal at all.  Their work was very secret.  Less than 1% of the material from that era survives, so this lack makes these oral histories even more valuable.  29,000 women were employed in War industries during the War.  Some then worked in other factories.  This project has contributed to the understanding of these women’s lives.
Suzanne Mulligan


Reflection on war

77-year-old Werribee author and historian Margaret Campbell softly recites one of her poems included in her recently completed masters thesis, and reflects on how war has always been etched in her consciousness. As a child of the World War II years, Ms Campbell lived through the Korea and Vietnam wars and worked at the Point Cook RAAF base. She has lived in Wyndham since doing her "rookies" in 1954. Titled Searching the Silences of War, her study is part theory and part young adult novel. Finding Sophie, set in Truganina in 1997, is told from the perspective of a teenage girl staying at her grandparents' farm with relatives including a Vietnam veteran and an anti-war protester.  For full story click here.

War veteran Neville Hewitt

This month marks 70 years since an event that resulted in Neville Hewitt being awarded a Military Medal for initiative, courage and fortitude.  The name Neville Hewitt is probably very familiar with many in Central Queensland – after all he was a Country Party Member representing parts of the region from 1956-1980, but well before that, he served in the RAAF during the second world war.  For full story with audio click here.

Retirement Village collects videos

When friends gather over a meal at Carleton-Willard Village, telling “war stories” isn’t just a figure of speech. A look around the table reflects a range of roles during World War II. One repaired battleships. Another flew for the Royal Air Force. Here sits a former Red Cross nurse; there a younger sister who saw her elder brother for the last time as he departed in uniform. The residents of this Bedford continuing care community, now in their 80s and 90s, were young men and women in the days of the war — yet memories of their experiences are as sharp as they were seven decades ago.  For full story, including video links, click here

Czech’s memories of World War II

Czech and Slovak Americans remember food shortages, forced labor and the horrors of concentration camps as part of their homeland experience during World War II.  Oral histories recorded as a project for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will shine a spotlight on that history during a special Veteran’s Day event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11. Since 2009, the museum’s oral history project has captured the stories of Czechs and Slovaks who fled their homeland during the Cold War.  Now, they’re going back further into history and turning their focus to World War II.  For full story click here.

Veterans’ stories (USA)

The oral history collection started in the 1990s when local writer and World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition chairman Wilbur Jones approached the library to suggest preserving oral histories of veterans, Parnell says. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars arranged for interview subjects, while the library arranged for staff and students to record the interviews and provided space, a camera, VHS tapes, transcripts and a website.  I know how important it is to record the history of these men and women before they die, Jones says.  For full story click here