398th Veterans' WWII Personal Histories


Over the years, many 398th Veterans have written their personal histories of their WWII days in training in the States and their lives and missions in Nuthampstead. Some of these are published in the 398th Flak News, others have been submitted to the 398th Group Historian, others are at home in personal files and others are still to be written.

It is our hope that these stories can be collected, turned into electronic text and published on our 398th Web Page for the preservation of 398th and personal history. Such stories will not only preserve personal memories but also contribute to an understanding of what happened during the period from 1944-1945.

To help you submit your stories, the following FAQs has been prepared. You may wish to print this page for reference.

  1. How do I get started? While not strictly necessary, it is suggested that you contact our Personal History Coordinator to inform of your intent to submit a personal history.
  2. Is there any particular style my story should be in? No your story may be in any style you wish. It could be a couple of paragraphs, a couple of pages, or tens of pages. Your story should have a title, the name of the veteran, author, date original story was written, date story was transcribed and by whom if transcribed. It's best to take a look at a few others to see how they provided this information.
  3. Do Stories need to be written by the Veteran? No the story about the Veteran can be written by a child, grandchild, or friend. In many cases the veteran may already have passed on and a family member will wish to preserve their memory through a story they've written about them. Or a family member may wish to transcribe a story the veteran wrote years ago.
  4. What about diaries? Yes, diaries are a form of personal history. If you have a diary, please contact Wally Blackwell to review how best to proceed.
  5. Do you require my story to be in electronic text? Yes, electronic text is required in order to put your story on the 398th web page. If your story is on paper, then it cannot be put on the web page. Unfortunaely, it will need to be retyped by you, a family member or friend to put in on the 398th web pages.
  6. What about a scan of my story which is on paper? While scans may appear readable and would save a lot of time, it turns out that, in general, they are very difficult to read on web pages and because of memory problems, they are slow to load and if they are made to load fast then they do not print well. For these reasons, it is best if the stories are retyped into electronic text in a word processing document. I know it is a lot of work, but once done it will be there for you and your family and friends to read and view for years to come.
  7. What format should my story be in? For web pages, the format needs to be fairly simple. When the webmaster receives the electronic file of your story from our Personal History Coordinator, he will copy the text and paste it into a new webpage created for your story. Unfortunately, when the file is pasted, it does not recognize: tabs, bold, color, italics, different font sizes, or special styles. Thus try to: use quote marks (" ") instead of italics; use block paragraph style instead of indents; and avoid use of tabbing over or even spacing over to indent. You occasionally may wish to start a new section with a title in bold and the webmaster will manually put these in bold for you. All text should be left justified, including titles. I apologize for these restrictions but part of the problem is my ability to find and fix "all" the things that didn't "take" and do it correctly. So best to just avoid these problems in the first place.
  8. How about carriage returns? I know many of the vets learned to type on manual typewritters where at the end of the line you hit the carriage return. Well for electronic text, it is important to just let the text wrap automatically at the end of the line. Otherwise on the web page you'll wind up with all those short lines on every other line. You only need to hit the return key (and you need to hit it twice) when you want a new paragraph.
  9. What font type and size should I use? Interestingly, it doesn't matter. It turns out that the 398th Web Pages are set up as user specified fonts. Within your web browser, the viewer sets the font and the size. Thus one viewer may view it with Helvetica and another with Times Roman. It should be recognized that these fonts are "variable width" which means that if you create a table using a fixed space font such as Courier that the viewer will not see everything aligned. Hmmm! What to do? If you really must have a table in your personal history, put in the table and then notify the webmaster. These are really a lot of work, so it's best if they can be avoided.
  10. What Word Processor should I use to write my story? Most will probably work. The most common is Microsoft Word, but Word Perfect, Apple Pages and others my work just fine. If for some reason, the webmaster cannot interpret your file, then it can always copied and pasted into an e-mail.
  11. What if I want to add to my story or I find I need to correct something? It's genearlly pretty easy to make an update. However, you should not send individual changes even if there is only one. Instead send an entire new file and the old one will be replaced. While this isn't too hard for me to do, it is best if you very carefully proofread your story and correct all spellings and grammar before submittal. My personal experience is that after I write something, I usually let it sit for a couple of days before sending it in. Through some mysterious process we usually find ourselves coming out of a deep sleep and saying to ourselves, gosh I forgot to write about ...... I better add that right away.
  12. After I've carefully reviewed my story, how do I submit it? After you've written and rewritten your story and proofread it for the umpteenth time, send your story as an e-mail attachment to our Personal History Coordinator for addition to the growing collection of 398th Histories. It would also be appreciated if you would run your virus checker before submitting your story.
  13. After I submit, how I will I know when its on the 398th Web Page? The webmaster will usually have it up in a few days and your Personal History Coordinator will notify you that it is complete. Of course, your webmaster occasionally goes on vacation, does chores, plays golf, and other things so here and there it may take a little longer.