Het volgende artikel is geheel in het Engels. Binnen
onze website over WW2 zal mijn tak van STIWOT zich vaker in het Engels presenteren
gezien de vele internationale contacten. Gezien de intensiteit van de antwoorden
zal er geen Nederlandse vertaling van op onze website worden gepubliceerd.
Mark Bando, WW2 kenner en verzamelaar, autoriteit op het gebied van US paratrooper
oorlogsvoering gedurende de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Een frequente bezoeker van
de voormalige slagvelden en een man die meer veteranen interviewde en tot
zijn vrienden mag rekenen dan zo'n beetje elke andere historicus.
Tessa de Jong confronteerde hem met onze 15 e-mail vragen. De antwoorden kwamen snel. Duidelijk en met een uitgesproken mening. Een blik in de wereld van een exceptionele schrijver en documentator.
Exclusief voor onze Band of Brothers / WW2 US Paratroopers Website; het Mark Bando E-nterview:
Mark Bando, WW2 buff and collector, authority on
US paratrooper warfare during WW2. A frequent visitor to the European former
battlegrounds and a man who has interviewed and befriended more American
Paratroopers then just about any other historian.
Tessa de Jong confronted him with our 15 e-mail questions... The answers came quickly. Clear and outspoken, an inside view in the world of an exceptional writer and documentator.
Exclusively for our Band of Brothers / WW2 US Paratroopers Website; the Mark Bando E-nterview:
01. When and how did you get interested in World War Two?
I got interested in WW2 around 1953, when as a 4 year old I saw John Wayne war movies and documentaries like Air Power and The Big Picture, on television. American TV in the 50s and 60s was loaded with programs about WW2.
02. Which battle that the 101st fought in is the most interesting to you?
Battles against the 17th SS Pz Gr Division outside Carentan are most interesting. Also the 3 Jan. 45 fight between 2/501 and the 12th SS Pz Div's 26th Pz Gr Rgt. is another of my favorite battles.
03. What is the Magic of the US Paratroopers in WW2?
A lot of WW2 paratrooper units did just as much fighting as the 101st Airborne or in the case of the 509 PIB and 82d Airborne's 504 and 505 regiments, even more. The current craze fails to recognize the achievements of ALL US WW2 para units. The 101st was always a media favorite and is still getting a disproportionate amount of recognition. This has to do with the mystique of the men who wore the great American Eagle as a symbol of fearless aerial attack on their left shoulders. They were a truly great bunch, but many other units deserve equal recognition and aren't getting it. Even within the 101st, the 506th is now getting more recognition than the other regiments of the 101st Airborne, which is unfair and I don't like to see that.
04. Can you tell the craziest story you've ever heard from a WW2 vet?
That's a hard one. One of the screwiest stories I ever heard came from a I/501 survivor of the battle of Wardin. He claims his company commander was NOT KIA in that battle, as has been written. He claims that the captain went "Section 8" and wandered lost in the woods for 2 or 3 days after the battle. The story teller and 2 buddies found the captain raving and berserk while on a patrol. He says the captain started shouting orders to follow him. The man's 2 buddies raised their rifles and shot the captain dead. Then they looked at him like "You'd better put a round in him too, or we might shoot you." He says he fired into the ground next to the captain, in a way which made it look like he had also shot him. I can't prove or disprove this story, but an E/501 vet told me he removed a pair of arctic overshoes from a 501 officer in late December 44, and the officer had a medical tag on his body with the same name as the captain in question. The body was found in the horse stall of a barn near Neffe, Belgium. If this captain was indeed KIA in Wardin on 19 December, his body would have remained well inside German lines until Wardin was liberated at least a week into January of 45. That would have made it impossible for it to be in Neffe in late December. The 501 had only one officer with that last name. Believe what you want- you asked for a crazy story-I didn't say I believe it, but this was told to me by an original member of the Company, who went from Toccoa to Austria with them.
05. Which WW2-location (battle site) has got most of your attention?
Normandy area in general-it not only has the unique Bocage/hedgerow terrain, but also has changed the least of the 101st's battle locations since 1945.
06. Who do you consider an (other) authority on WW2 issues?
Gordon Williamson who writes in Scotland knows more about the German military than any author I know of. Brit authors Max Hastings and John Keegan are careless big name authors, and make a lot of factual errors as a result. American ETO authorities include Jonathan Gawne, a published author, and Bill Warnock, whose published works are limited to magazine articles, but he is working on some books which will be of great value when published. These guys do true, hard research and are real historians in my estimation. As a researcher, I know what 940 101st vets have told me. As a writer, I'm more of a Reporter than a creative journalist.
07. Which WW2 movie is your all time favorite and why?
A Bridge Too Far did the most for the money, as to real life depictions. I liked the 'Devil's Brigade', but it was a bit too Hollywood. 'The Bridge at Remagen' is among my favorites, despite some glaring equipment errors. Bataan is my favorite in the highly-fictionalized genre, because it depicts the human fury of fighting at the lowest level of combat. 'Battleground' was excellent as well.
08. Would you like to produce a WW2 movie yourself?
Nope, although I would have really liked to help make 'Band of Brothers' better than it was, but I wasn't hired. I would like to write and direct a film about the Detroit Police Department. I was a Detroit cop for 25 years and I intend to write several police books, starting around 2006. I hope by then my WW2 books will all be written. I don't think I'll ever have a chance to work on a WW2 project in Hollywood. A producer who makes documentaries for the History Channel is interested in my 3rd book 'Breakout at Normandy'. If that ever gets made into a film documentary, I'd like very much to be an advisor on the production. 'Breakout' would make an excellent Hollywood film as well, but without a single, central character, it would have to be done like 'The Longest Day' or 'A Bridge Too Far', with brief cameo appearances by many different actors. Hollywood doesn't spend millions to make films like that very often.
09. If you would have been drafted during WW2, which outfit would you have picked ?
First of all, I was never in the Military. In WW2, Draftees and Regular Army personnel might have had a choice of MOS, but they certainly could not choose which division they would serve in, unless they were related to a general or a politician. So, in a fantasy world, the 101st Airborne would have been my choice. Not being a good distance runner, I probably would have flunked out of jump school anyhow. Tankers of the 2d Armored Division interest me, but serving inside a tank would make me claustrophobic and the thought of being incinerated in a tin can does not appeal to me. Also, the 41st Armored Infantry guys were in the meat grinder, and took far more casualties even than the tankers in their division. More likely I'd have ended-up as a war artist or historian, which are jobs in which I could have done the most good. But I've learned from my research that probably 70% of men who serve in the Armed Forces never see a single day of combat. In the police department as well, the majority of patrol officers do about 10 years of street duty or less, then wind-up "flying a desk". I was under fire at a couple of barricaded gunman scenes, in which hundreds of shots were fired, so I know my reactions in a combat situation. Also, I remained a full 25 years on uniformed street patrol. I went up against many men armed with guns and I drove in a lot of high speed chases, just like you see on 'Cops'. I was not considered a coward nor a shirker. I had a good arrest record and enjoyed a good reputation with my co workers, a group who didn't give their respect easily. After all, Detroit is 'Action City'. So I don't feel I have to prove my courage to anyone, especially myself. In 1993, I also made a parachute jump from 8,000 feet, just to see what it was like. I know that's no big deal, but anyhow, I tried it. It's really not fair to judge me against the super heroes I write about. As far as I know, actual combat experience is not a prerequisite for being a history writer and it's not a standard which Stephen Ambrose was held up to, so why bother me about it?
10. What kind of WW2 objects have your interest?
I prefer combat-worn items, mostly insignia cut from dead or prisoners on the battlefield. This is mostly cloth insignia, but also includes German medals and badges, which were combat worn. Cloth absorbs wear, dirt, mud, sweat, blood and takes on the surroundings in a way that metal insignia never can. 101st eagle patches and German shoulder boards and collartabs are among my favorites items. I got my first German shoulderboards by trading comic books for them when I was 9 years old. The war hadn't been over long, and many kids in my neighborhood had cigar boxes filled with German souvenirs, which their dads had brought home in 1945.
11. Which object in your collection has the most value to you personal?
It's difficult to give just 1 example. I like battle damaged items such as are shown on the Souvenir pages of my website. I also appreciate documents like German award documents, Soldbuchs from elite units, and my five Normandy-worn painted helmets and 2-1/2 Normandy worn 101st jumpsuits are also favorites. They are pieces of history, and most were received directly from the veterans or their families. I also like my Waffen SS cloth pieces, which were cut from dead on the battlefield.
12. What is the most crazy/insane object in your collection?
I'm not sure I understand the question. I have an M43 jacket with a shrapnel rip through one chest pocket, which is documented to a 501st Lt., who had a near miss at Bastogne. I also have the chest of an M42 jump jacket which was shot in and out by a Mauser bullet on D-Day. The screwiest pieces I own are probably US and German WW2 prophylactics and a US Pro Kit.
13. How would you like the world to know you?
I'm not seeking to be a household name, like Brother Ambrose was, but it would be nice if other historians thought enough of my work to include my books in the Bibliographies of their books. Ambrose never listed any of my books in his works like 'Citizen Soldiers'-a slight which offended me very much. More recently Chris Anderson of WW2 Magazine put out 2 books about the WW2 101st Airborne, and none of my books were mentioned in either of those works' Bibliographies. I just can't understand this, because I know my books have been among the most significant contributions of information on the subject of WW2 101st Airborne to appear in print in the past decade. I resent being ignored, and maybe someday that will change. I'd settle for that amount of recognition for now-just a mention in other authors' Bibliographies, an acknowledgement that my books are worthwhile and that I exist. I'm tired of being the invisible man. The quality of my website speaks for itself, yet the 101st Airborne Assn. won't even mention it in their magazine.
14. When you die what will happen to your collection?
And where do you most likely want it to be after your death?
I'd like my named uniform display of 101st uniforms to be in the Don Pratt Museum at Ft Campbell KY. However it looks increasingly unlikely, as their proposed new museum is going to be cursed with inadequate display space, as is the current one. Failing that, I'd like the 101st uniform collection to be kept together, in somebody's private collection. My 6,000 photos are mostly already earmarked for donation to the Pratt Museum, as are my voluminous printed records on WW2 101st. My 2d Armored photos and documents are earmarked for the US Army War College and archive at Carlisle, PA.
15. What are you other interest besides WW2?
As to my other interests, I'm fond of European-based American Jazz and Big Band music, and used to be a decent jazz drummer. I also like to draw and took Commercial Art at Cass Tech here in Detroit. I still do a pen and ink or acrylic (mostly WW2 subjects) occasionally. I've also been accused of being 'queer for pretty girls', but that is beyond the scope of this interview.
Over and out-MB
E-nterview December 2002