Veterans are great, but authors (somtimes) aren't

Discussion in 'General' started by Phaethon, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Phaethon asked in post #1...
    I was wondering if anyone else had any experience with skewed sources...

    Owen, my apologies.................. I was being a tad tongue in cheek but neglected to add the appropriate icon :)

    But, having made my apologies, I have to admit that all postings from all vets, including yours truly, will inevitably be of the skewed variety.
    As an example, consider the salutary tale of my weekly meetings with my ex-army mate Lew (Larry) Fox.

    For quite a few years now we meet up once a week and I try to teach him computing.

    More often than not when we have our coffee break the talk gets round to "do you remember when...." and in turn, we re-fight the war in Italy.

    When I tell a tale, Lew's eyebrows raise in obvious disbelief, when Lew spins a yarn I have to resist the urge to say "what a load of cobblers !" and yet neither of us is telling porkies........... this was exactly how we remembered those amazing things that happened to us over sixty odd years ago.

    Speaking strictly for myself and working on the theory that to be a good liar you need to have a good memory I have always tried to write nothing that I would not be prepared to repeat in a court of law after having made the customary "I swear to tell the truth" oath.

    Skewed ?....if you like, but the truth as we remember it.

  2. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    The truth as I remember it.....Thats all we should be bothered with. If there are then historical value added lessons in Geography, units involved, strategy, what might or might not have been, thats for historians with hindsight to cater to.

    If I ever come across somehting not quite right in a vetrans tales, I will always have the good grace and courtesy to let it pass, I dont need to say but what about the West Kents on your right. I'll keep that to myself its just something the vet wasnt aware of or needed to be.

    Some may be glaringly factually inacurate in the light of records accessed today. But even then I'll have good grace to not correct a vets memories. I'll just acknowledge privately he or she missed that bit. Why shouldnt they, they like me are not historians.
  3. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    What matters is what the vet saw. Its for history to correct, its easily done, but I wont hold that against any vetran that mixes a few things up....Maybe they were a bit busier than us and future historians.

    Again, I'm not holding anything against the vets either! I'm really not having a go at veterans or their memories. But every time an author uses a source they're putting their reputation onto it. Seeing as this is getting a bit silly now and we've moved away from the issue just a tad, and are now on the flavour of german cigars, here's three completely stupid examples:

    You have two accounts one from a guy you've spoken to, and one you've found on the net. Half way through quoting the second source, which has a bit you really *really* want to use as its the only account of the action available, you find out:

    a) The author isn't really who you thought, lets say its their grandson. I didn't mean any harm, but they're the stories grandad told me etc, etc.
    b) The guy is a random cook off the net who made it up so he can wear twenty eight medals on parade on veterans day.
    c) The story suddenly changes and takes a weird turn "after taking the entire german panzer army on myself.. I got into my jetpowered rocket pants and defeated the space lizards on point 21."

    bear in mind that if you use the good bits from the second source and ignore the rest you risk a git like me coming on the net in five years and asking questions about the space lizards.
  4. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Skewed ?....if you like, but the truth as we remember it.


    Ron, full respect as ever, but that is my point, and what I said in my earlier post. Historical perspectives are history, that's all we can ever ask of a veteran.
  5. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Again, I'm not holding anything against the vets either! I'm really not having a go at veterans or their memories.

    Never said you were old chap. Didnt even cross my mind.
    As to authors, we all have that experience..If I'm allowed to name names my bone of contention is with much written or edited by Norman Davies for example.
  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    One thing is certain ... A hundred yards away, there is a different war. So when folk talk about their experiences. You can have two genuinely different descriptions
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As I pointed out earlier - my issues with one author was his fictionilising of a situation of which I had first hand experience in the deaths of my Troop leader - troop sergeant Tank Commander and my did Gerry with the same author's description of an event in which Gerry was involved in the Liri Valley battles - just very bad ethics and even worse research - which is unforgiveable....

  8. b17sam

    b17sam WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I believe everybody is entitled to their own personal opinion, but not their own personal facts. Or to put it in another way, "are you going to trust me or your own eyes?" I am at present involved in a controversy much like this thread. For more details, click PBS | Ombudsman | An Enduring Battle about an Old War

    More to come on this situation. Comments? Like forget about it. Get a life.

    Sam Halpert
    click on B-17 B-24 Pictures Information 8th Air Force Flying Fortress Liberator Ploesti Schweinfurt Merseberg Berlin missions
  9. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It may be of interest, that the Foray deep behind enemy lines with a flaming gramophone, was so far out, that I would not mention it..Then about ten years ago I read an article, that described how there were several of these bloody gramophones doing the same thing in Holland. Even with a picture of the army issue gramophone.

Share This Page