Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
Previously, in Phase 0, I chose my topic. Phase 1 is where I will collect background information and develop a list of questions about my topic.
Jacob E's inquiry project and the Linden Centre page on the Flying Tigers have both given me a brief overview of who the Flying Tigers were and what they did, but my knowledge is still very limited. I know that they were an American aviation group, lead by Claire Chennault, who helped the Chinese during World War II. They had a base in Xizhou which was used as a radio room. The Flying Tigers supplied necessities to the Chinese people trying to cross the southern Himalayas, and the locals welcomed the pilots to stay with them in Xizhou. Mr. T mentioned that there was a novel about the Flying Tigers, and after searching it up, I discovered that there are actually a lot of books out there about the Flying Tigers, so I am looking forward to reading one of those books.
Evidently, I do not know much about the Flying Tigers, although I am eager to learn as much as I can during my 28 days in Xizhou. I want to learn about the influence of the Flying Tigers in Xizhou. I know that many locals were very hospitable to the pilots, so I want to know about specific experiences between the locals and the pilots. How did the locals view the pilots? What did they think of each other? I also want to learn more about who the Flying Tigers were. What was the intention of the creating the Flying Tigers? I know they dispatched supplies to the Chinese, but why?
Another aspect of the Flying Tigers I want to learn about is how they changed the village of Xizhou. How did they impact the people of the village? What major or minor influences did they have on Xizhou and/or Southern China?
Click Phase 3 to access where background information and research is stored. This backgorund research will help me to create my big questions below.
I have come up with ten major questions about the Flying Tigers in Xizhou. These will guide me through my research and help build a foundation for my project. The italicised answers are possible answers that I will be further investigating later on in my research; the unitalicised answers are the answers I came up with myself at the end of Phase 3. They are predictions that I have made, but are not necessarily correct. The first six questions are more to do with the relationship between the pilots and Xizhou's people, whereas the last four are more general questions or have to do with the Flying Tigers' 'side of of the story', so to speak.
Relationship between Xizhou and the Flying Tigers
1. How did the Flying Tigers affect Xizhou's people during WWII?
They protected the area including the village. Maybe they also gave the people some sense of safety.
The Flying Tigers became an everyday presence for the villagers, so I assume that the villagers were used to the pilots in their community.
2. Are there any specific memories of experiences with the pilots?
The Flying Tigers page on the Linden Centre website said the villagers rescued a man from the wreckage of a plane crash and nursed him back to life. Jacob E's inquiry project says that a man recalls sharing crackers with some of the American pilots.
The radar men who lived in the Zhao ancestral home would give kids candy and food, and were very friendly in general as well as very well disciplined. The men would not accept gifts or invites to people's homes out of respect and courtesy. The men used to ride around in a Jeep and throw candy to the children.
3. What impact did that make on the person/people?
Not sure. Hopefully a good impact! From the stories mentioned above, Xizhou's people seem to welcome the pilots to their village.
When asked about the impact of the Flying Tigers, Mrs Zhao did not really specify how these experiences impacted or affected her. She did seem quite proud and pleased when telling the stories of her memories of the Flying Tigers, although I am not sure as to whether it is because of the experience or her personality.
4. What kind of relationship did Xizhou's people have with the pilots?
The people of Xizhou seem to have good memories of the Flying Tigers. Were there any villagers that didn't have a good relationship with the pilots?
The radar men were extremely polite and well disciplined, and all the villagers were very fond of them as they were protecting the area.
5. What influenced that relationship? (Language barriers, daily schedules, etc.)
The language barrier between Chinese and English seems like an obvious issue. Were there any pilots who could speak Chinese, or any villagers who could speak English?
The language barrier seems like an obvious issue, but the men had books to help them translate, as well as a translator who was almost always around. The pilots were pretty busy, but were always seen around the area.
6. Was interaction between the villagers and pilots restricted?
Probably not, although communication might have been difficult as mentioned above.
The relationship itself was not restricted, although different schedules and the language barrier were probable issues.
7. Did the townspeople see the Flying Tigers as beneficial? Why or why not?
They probably saw the Flying Tigers as beneficial because they were providing air cover for their village and surrounding areas. Were all of the villagers aware of the aviation group's purpose? All the villagers in Jishanyi (at the time) saw the Flying Tigers as good people. Although they were not pilots, the villagers still thought they were doing good.
8. What was life like during WWII?
Probably not the happiest of times. Each person has their own story. Were they happy? Were the Flying Tigers the most significant part of the war for the villagers? What about the years before and/or after the Flying Tigers were in Yunnan?
The Japanese attacks did not exactly reach this far into Western China, as they were coming from the East, so the villagers had a good life as did the pilots.
9. Did the Flying Tigers have the same impact on Xizhou as they did in surrounding areas (other places in Yunnan or along the Burma Road)? Or were they only around Xizhou?
The first squadron was based in Burma, but as for China, maybe they were centred more around the Xizhou area. Their radio room is in Xizhou, but I am not sure as to whether that was their main base or one of many.
Most Flying Tigers memorial museums are near Kunming, although there were might have been many other bases near this area or Dali. The base in Jishanyi (near Xizhou) was more of a communication station to help with emergencies.
10. How did the Flying Tigers feel about living/fighting in China?
The pilots and the villagers seemed to have a mutual friendship. Not too sure about the broader topic of being in China, but with their wins against the Japanese and minimal losses, it should not have been too bad.
Mrs Zhao says the radar men probably liked living where they were (Zhao ancestral home) because the compound was very nice and comfortable.
See Phase 3 for more details.
Currently, from my background research, I know about the Flying Tigers and their history. For example, where they fought, how they fought, etc. What I do not know is how they impacted Xizhou and what their presence meant for the village. I still need to research more on how they impacted the Chinese people during WWII.
Next is Phase 2 where I will be contacting an expert to further investigate the Flying Tigers.