The Arrowhead Club

WWII Combat Chronology – 8 September 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 8 September 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Friday, 8 September 1944

384th BG Mission 189/8th AF Mission 611 to Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Target: Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

About 950 HBs escorted by 7 P-51 gps attack an oil refinery, M/Y, tank and armored vehicle factory, and ordnance plant in the Rhineland, plus 11 T/Os. 22 HBs are lost. 2 P-51 gps strafe tgts in Heidelberg-Darmstadt-Wurzburg and Frankfurt/Main-Koblenz areas, while 5 FB gps strafe and bomb rail transportation E of the Rhine. Over 100 B-24’s fly ‘trucking mission,’ carrying supplies to battle area.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

ETO: The first V-2 fired in combat explodes in a Paris suburb; the second strikes a London suburb a few hours later.

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 611 to industrial targets in the Mainz and Ludwigshafen, Germany area (B-17’s); to the Karlsruhe marshalling yard (B-24’s); and an armored vehicle factory at Gustavsburg (B-17’s). The Buslee and Brodie crews participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 615, a leaflet drop to the Low Countries, France, and Germany during the night.

Also, VIII Fighter Command fighter missions:

  1. P-38’s strafe and bomb rail transportation E of the Rhine River.
  2. P-47’s and P-51’s strafe targets in the Heidelberg-Darmstadt-Wurzburg and Frankfurt/Main-Koblenz areas.

And a C-47 flies a CARPETBAGGER mission in France and B-24s fly TRUCKIN’ mission to Orleans/Bricy Airfield, France.

Mission 611: 1,070 bombers and 349 fighters are dispatched to hit industrial targets in the Mainz and Ludwigshafen, Germany area; attacks were visual at the primary targets; 10 bombers are lost:

  1. 348 of 384 B-17s attack the Ludwigshafen/Opau oil refinery; 5 B-17s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 185 damaged; 11 airmen are KIA, 15 WIA and 45 MIA. Escort is provided by 88 of 95 P-51s without loss.

  2. 247 of 300 B-24s hit Karlsruhe marshalling yard; 1 hits a secondary target at Ludwigshafen; 4 B-24s are lost and 92 damaged; 7 airmen are KIA, 9 WIA and 29 MIA. Escort is provided by 82 of 93 P-51s; 1 P-51 is damaged beyond repair.

  3. 386 B-17s are dispatched to hit an armored vehicle factory at Gustavsburg (167) and oil depot at Kassel (166); 23 others hit targets of opportunity; 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 132 damaged; 3 airmen are WIA and 9 MIA. Escort is provided by 144 of 161 P-51s without loss.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Gordon Eugene Hetu, Update

Gordon Eugene Hetu
Photo courtesy of Anne Fisher via Ancestry.com

A new search has provided me with a photo of and some new information regarding Gordon Eugene Hetu, ball turret gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Gordon Eugene Hetu, please see the links at the end of this post.

During my search for new information on Gordon Hetu, I ran across a Hetu family tree on Ancestry.com. I messaged the owner of the tree, Anne Fisher, and learned that she was not a relative, but many years ago, Gordon Hetu was her father’s best friend. Anne provided me with this new photo of Gordon, which allows me to positively identify him in the Brodie enlisted crew photos (see the new descriptions below).

Anne also told me that as Gordon was an only child, his parents took his loss in the war very hard. He was killed in the mid-air collision between the Buslee and Brodie crews’ B-17’s over Magdeburg, Germany on 28 September 1944.

Anne’s father, Howard William Fisher, was not only Gordon Eugene Hetu’s best friend, he was a close neighbor according to the 1940 census. At the time, the Fisher and Hetu families both lived on Webb Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, the Fisher’s at house number 3839 and the Hetu’s at number 3821.

Howard Fisher was a veteran of WWII, serving in New Guinea and the Philippines. He and his brother, Harry Anson Fisher, were only eighteen months apart in age, both drafted just a month after their high school graduations, and both survived the war.

With the pain of Gordon’s death too deep, Gordon’s parents, Raymond and Esther Hetu, could not bring themselves to see their son’s best friend for several years after the war, but Anne’s father persisted and Gordon’s parents were eventually able to visit with Howard and his family.

After the war, Howard Fisher married Marjorie Joyce Mathews and they had three children – Anne, Peggy, and John. Marjorie’s family lived in Hessel, Michigan. On visits to Marjorie’s family, the Fishers would stop in St. Ignace, where Raymond and Esther Hetu owned and operated a motel.

Anne built the Hetu family tree on Ancestry.com to try to find out if Gordon Eugene Hetu has any living relatives. If you are related to the Raymond and Esther (Johnson) Hetu family of Detroit, Michigan, please contact me and I will forward your information to Anne Fisher.

I do not have any additional biographical information for Gordon Hetu except that I can add the year of his mother’s, Esther Johnson Hetu’s, death of 1989.

On July 26, 1944, Cpl. Gordon Eugene Hetu was assigned as ball turret gunner to the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bombardment Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces, per AAF Station 106 (Grafton Underwood, England) Special Orders #148. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bombardment group. According to his Sortie record, his combat pay was $140.40 per month. His home address is listed as Mrs. Esther Hetu (his mother), 3821 Webb St., Detroit, Michigan.

Gordon Eugene Hetu was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #155 dated 2 August 1944.

On his nineteenth mission on September 28, 1944, two days after his nineteenth birthday, Gordon Eugene Hetu was killed when his crew’s B-17 collided with the Buslee crew’s B-17 after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart (posthumously). He is buried at Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens in Oakland County, Michigan.

The wartime photos below include the enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew. These photos were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., son of 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, of the Brodie crew. Identifications were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., Patrick Miller, son of 384th Tail Gunner Wilfred Miller, and Anne Fisher, family friend of Gordon Eugene Hetu’s family.

Gordon Eugene Hetu is the man kneeling on the far right:

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator), Gordon Eugene Hetu (Ball Turret Gunner).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

Gordon Hetu is the man standing second from right:

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), Gordon Eugene Hetu (Ball Turret Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

Gordon Hetu is the man standing second from left:

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Gordon Eugene Hetu (Ball Turret Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

Thank you to Anne Fisher for providing me with the photo of and information about Gordon Eugene Hetu.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The B-17 Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist/flexible gunner with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in World War II. On 28 September 1944, the Buslee crew and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the same group became forever connected when the B-17’s they were aboard on a combat mission over Germany suffered a mid-air collision.

I am currently updating the biographical information of the men of these two crews, and I thought it would be a good time to explain the duties involved in each position of the airmen aboard the aircraft, the B-17. I have recently updated the information of the two 384th Bomb Group Engineers/Top Turret Gunners who flew with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

Although Lenard Leroy Bryant served as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the Buslee crew after Clarence Seeley was seriously wounded, he was originally assigned as one of the Buslee crew’s Flexible/Waist Gunners and I will include him in my future post regarding that position in the B-17.

For a list of all of the airmen of the Buslee and Brodie crews, see permanent page The Buslee and Brodie Crews, which is maintained with new information/posts.

Duties and Responsibilities of the B-17 Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

Training in the various phases of the heavy bomber program is designed to fit each member of the crew for the handling of his jobs. The engineer/top turret gunner:

  • Has been trained in the Air Forces’ highly specialized technical schools.
  • Works closely with the pilot and co-pilot, checking engine operation, fuel consumption, and the operation of all equipment.
  • Must be able to work with the bombardier, and know how to cock, lock, and load the bomb racks.
  • Must be thoroughly familiar with the armament equipment, especially the Browning aircraft machine gun. He should know how to strip, clean, and re-assemble the guns, how to maintain the guns, how to clear jams and stoppages, and how to harmonize the sights with the guns.
  • Should have a general knowledge of radio equipment, and be able to assist in tuning transmitters and receivers.
  • Should be an expert in aircraft identification.
  • Should know more about the airplane than any other member of the crew, including the pilot and co-pilot. He must know his engines and his armament equipment thoroughly. This is a big responsibility: the lives of the entire crew, the safety of the equipment, the success of the mission depend upon it.

Location of the Top Turret in a B-17

The top turret of a B-17 sits behind the pilot and co-pilot, who are seated in the cockpit. Should the top turret gunner have to bail out of the aircraft, he would likely bail out through the bomb bay doors.

In the following diagram, Lenard Bryant is noted in the top turret of the aircraft along with the other Buslee crew members in their positions on September 28, 1944.

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944
Diagram courtesy of 91st Bomb Group and modified by Cindy Farrar Bryan in 2014

B-17 Top Turret Photo

I took the following photo of the Collings Foundation’s B-17 Nine-O-Nine a few years before its tragic crash.

Top turret view of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

I thought it might also be interesting to read stories, diaries, and journals written by or view video interviews of some of the 384th’s own engineers/top turret gunners. You’ll find a chart of several engineers/top turret gunners of the 384th Bomb Group below with links to their personnel records and their written and oral histories as are provided on the Stories page of 384thBombGroup.com.

Airman Personnel Record Stories, Diaries, Journals, and Interviews
Bardue, Theodore Roosevelt⇗ A Rough Mission to Munich⇓ (0.120 MB)
Clemis, Joseph Bernard⇗ Joseph Clemis Mission Diary⇓ (2.525 MB)
Stahlhut, Robert Fred⇗ The Way I Remember It⇓ (1.945 MB)
Turlington, Howard Joe⇗ My Experience⇓ (0.312 MB)
Wick, Harvey Arthur⇗ A Tribute to Harvey Arthur Wick⇓ (9.481 MB)
Wilkens, William John, “Bill”⇗ Bill Wilkens’ Combat Diary⇓ (3.842 MB)
Barber, Raymond Clifford⇗ 2004 Veteran’s History Project Oral History Interview⇗
Furrey, Thomas Edwin, Jr⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Oglesby, Howard Jasper⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Wilkens, William John, “Bill”⇗ 2020 Video Interview of Bill Wilkens⇗

Sources and Further Reading

303rd Bomb Group:  Duties and Responsibilities of the Engineer and the Gunners

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

The Army Air Forces in World War II: VI, Men and Planes, Edited by W.F. Craven and J.L. Cate, Chapter 19: Training of Ground Technicians and Service Personnel

Training to Fly:  Military Flight Training 1907 – 1945 by Rebecca Hancock Cameron

Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group for granting me permission in 2014 to use and modify their B-17 diagram for use on The Arrowhead Club.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 5 September 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 5 September 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Tuesday, 5 September1944

384th BG Mission 188/8th AF Mission 605 to Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Target: Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

Over 650 HBs attack Stuttgart aero engine plant, Ludwigshafen synthetic oil plant, Karlsruhe M/Y, and various T/Os. 9 ftr gps fly spt and several gps strafe A/Fs. Ftrs claim 19 aerial combat victories. Nearly 150 B-17’s supported by a P-51 gp bomb 5 gun emplacements in Brest area. 5 ftr gps in sweeps over Frankfurt/Main, Stuttgart and Rotterdam areas strafe A/Fs and rail, road, and river traffic and claim 9 air victories and 62 aircraft destroyed on ground. In Germany 2 FB gps bomb 3 A/Fs and strafe 2, claiming destruction of 66 parked aircraft. Nearly 90 B-24’s fly supplies to France.

Note: I do not find an entry in Carter and Mueller’s Combat Chronology for 9/5/44, but do find two entries for 9/4/44. I believe this entry is for 9/5/44 and mislabeled.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 3 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 605 to southeast Germany, a Ludwigshafen synthetic oil plant, and the Karlsruhe marshalling yard. The Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 606, a visual attack on enemy positions in the Brest, France area.
  3. Mission 608, a leaflet drop in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany during the night.

Also, B-24’s and C-47’s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night.

And VIII Fighter Command fighter-bomber missions included:

  1. P-38’s and P-47’s attack transportation targets in west Germany.
  2. P-38’s and P-47’s attack 3 airfields in the Hanau/Giessen, Germany area.

Mission 605: 739 bombers and 315 fighters are dispatched to SE Germany; 6 bombers are lost; during the missions, a P-51 shoots down a Swiss Bf 109 near Dubendorf.

  1. 203 of 218 B-17s attack a Stuttgart aero engine plant and targets of opportunity (4); 2 B-17s are lost and 109 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 5 WIA and 18 MIA. Escort is provided by 147 of 160 P-51s; they claim 19-0-0 aircraft in the air and 14-0-27 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 4 damaged; 2 pilots are MIA.
  2. 277 of 303 B-17s hit a Ludwigshafen synthetic oil plant and target of opportunity (1); 2 B-17s are lost and 163 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 11 WIA and 18 MIA. Escort is provided by 155 P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA) and 2 damaged.
  3. 183 of 218 B-24s hit Karlsruhe marshalling yard and targets of opportunity (2); 2 B-24s are lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 78 damaged; 22 airmen are MIA.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Update

A new search has provided me with some new and updated information regarding my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) WWII crewmate Clarence Burdell Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the  original John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. 

To view my original post and other information about Clarence Burdell Seeley, please see the links at the end of this post.

Clarence Burdell Seeley
Photo courtesy of Jess Seeley via Ancestry.com

Clarence Burdell Seeley was the original engineer/top turret gunner on the John Oliver “Jay” Buslee crew. He was known as Burdell to family.

On 22 JULY 1944, Seeley was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group based in Grafton Underwood, England, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144.

Clarence Burdell Seeley’s 384th Bomb Group Sortie Record indicates he was assigned with the rank of Sgt. (Sergeant), his duty was Engineer, and his pay was $140.40 per month. He listed his Home Address as Mrs. Esther Seeley, Gen. Del. (General Delivery), Halsey, Nebraska.

On 5 AUGUST 1944, on his second combat mission to Langenhagen, Germany, Seeley was seriously wounded during a flak attack on the Buslee crew’s B-17. A newspaper report notes that,

The engineer and top turret gunner, Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, 22, of Halsey, Neb., was … hit.  A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. …

Only the bombardier and top turret gunner were in need of immediate first aid treatment during the return trip  ….  Sgt. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

Seeley was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

Following his flak injury, Seeley did not fly another mission for almost two months.

On a report dated 6 AUGUST 1944, Clarence Burdell Seeley was placed on sick leave and assigned to be hospitalized at the 65th General Hospital.

On 13 AUGUST 1944, Seeley was moved from absent sick (LD) 65th Gen Hosp to absent sick (LD) 4209 U.S. Army Hospital Plant, APO 587.

On 9 SEPTEMBER 1944, Seeley was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180.

On 11 SEPTEMBER 1944, Seeley went from absent sick (LD) 65th General Hospital to duty.

On 2 OCTOBER 1944, Clarence Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203, just four days after his original crew went MIA on the 28 SEPTEMBER 1944 mission to Magdeburg, Germany.

On 22 OCTOBER 1944, Seeley was promoted to Technical Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #209.

On 1 JANUARY 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley was involved in an aircraft accident. Flying with the Robert Jeremy Fisher crew, shortly after takeoff,

Aircraft brushed tree tops when pilot maneuvered to prevent collision with what he believed was another aircraft….

As his (the pilot’s) aircraft was making this maneuver, his left wing and nose collided with a small group of trees, tearing the wing tip loose and smashing the left wing and plexiglass nose.

As the flight’s engineer, Clarence Burdell Seeley made the following statement,

At take-off for an operational mission I was watching the instruments and calling off air speeds. When I called off 130 the pilot made a normal take-off. On the climb I was watching the altimeter and after it reached a reading of fifty (50) feet it started to drop and I immediately looked out the window and saw what I thought to be the ground. I immediately yelled to the pilot to pull up, after which the plane came in contact with some object which later proved to be trees. The pilot made a very good recovery and after gaining altitude we contacted Flying Control on the R/T and notified them of the incident after which they instructed us to jettison our bombs in the channel and return to base. Upon returning to base a normal landing was made.

Excerpt from Accident Report AR45-01-01-524:

Accident report statement made by Clarence Burdell Seeley regarding 1 January 1945 aircraft accident

I see no indication that any of the crew members aboard the aircraft were injured in the accident.

On 16 JANUARY 1945, Seeley went from duty to furlough for seven days. It was reported on the 17 January 1945 morning report for the 544th Bomb Squadron.

On the 23 JANUARY 1945 morning report, Seeley went from furlough to duty. HOWEVER, he is listed on the Sortie Report of the Earle Allen Van Popering crew as having completed the mission of 20 JANUARY 1945. I cannot explain how he could have completed a mission while on furlough.

On 5 FEBRUARY 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley went from duty to TD Palace Hotel, Southport, AAF Station 524 (a flak house) for seven days temporary duty to carry out instructions of the Commanding General per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #26.

On 12 FEBRUARY 1945, Seeley went from TD Palace Hotel, Southport, AAF Station 524 to duty.

On 10 MARCH 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his tour of 34 missions.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Robert Doyle Crumpton, Update

A new search has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding Robert Doyle Crumpton, top turret gunner/engineer of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. Corrected information is bolded.

To view my original post and other information about Robert Doyle Crumpton, please see the links at the end of this post.

Robert Doyle Crumpton, Jr. was born July 27, 1920 (according to his birth certificate, one day after other records note it as July 26, 1920) in Ennis, Ellis County, Texas to Robert Doyle Crumpton, Sr. (born April 7, 1892) and Stella M. Brown Crumpton (born November 16, 1896).

Robert Doyle Crumpton’s great-grandfather Edmond “Ed” Allen Crumpton, a farmer living in Shelby County Alabama in the 1860’s, fought in the American Civil War (Apr 12, 1861 – Apr 9, 1865). He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862. He is listed on the Muster Roll of Captain James Cobb’s Company G of the 31st Regiment, Alabama Volunteers, in the service of the Confederate States.

Robert Doyle Crumpton’s father Robert Crumpton Sr. was a veteran of WWI. On April 24, 1921, Robert Sr. died at the age of twenty-nine when Robert Jr. was only nine months old.

Five years after Robert Sr.’s death, Stella married Claude Parks on April 5, 1926. Stella and Claude had a son, Claude Edward Parks, born August 6, 1930, Robert Jr.’s half-brother.

Robert served in WWII as the top turret gunner/engineer for the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in Grafton Underwood, England.

On July 26, 1944, Sgt. Robert Doyle Crumpton was assigned as top turret gunner/engineer to the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bombardment Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces, per AAF Station 106 (Grafton Underwood, England) Special Orders #148. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bombardment group. According to his Sortie record, his combat pay was $140.40 per month.

These wartime photos include Robert Doyle Crumpton and other enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew. These photos were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., son of 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, of the Brodie crew. Identifications were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., and Patrick Miller, son of 384th Tail Gunner Wilfred Miller.

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator), Unidentified.
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

 

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), Unidentified, William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

 

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Unidentified, Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

On his nineteenth mission on September 28, 1944, Robert Crumpton was killed when his crew’s B-17 collided with the Buslee crew’s B-17 after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. He probably saw the near miss with the Gross crew right above his head from his viewpoint in the top turret (see Wallace Storey’s account of the near-miss), and probably saw the collision with the Buslee crew’s B-17 coming, but was helpless to do anything about it.

Robert Crumpton was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group as a Staff Sergeant according to Special Orders.

S/Sgt Robert D. Crumpton earned the Purple Heart and Air Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters. He was buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 3 September 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 3 September 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Sunday, 3 September 1944

384th BG Mission 187/8th AF Mission 602 to Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Target: Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

Today was George Edwin Farrar’s (my dad and waist gunner on the Buslee crew) twenty-third birthday.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron did not participate.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

Over 300 B-17’s bomb Ludwigshafen/Opau synthetic oil plant. 5 escorting P-51 gps claim 7 combat victories. Nearly 400 B-17’s bomb 16 gun batteries and def installations in Brest area, escorted by P-51 gp, which claims 7 aircraft destroyed. 3 P-47 gps strafe transportation tgts in Tilburg, Namur and Cologne areas. Bad weather cancels FB mission against strongpoints in Brest area. Over 50 B-24’s fly supplies to Orleans/Bricy A/F.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 601 to gun batteries and defensive installations in the Brest, France area.
  2. Mission 602 (not identified by number in this volume) to the Ludwigshafen/Opau synthetic oil plant in Germany.

Also P-47’s strafe transportation targets in the Tilburg, the Netherlands, Namur, Belgium, and Cologne, Germany areas; B-24’s and C-47’s fly Carpetbagger missions during the night.

Mission 602: 345 B-17s are dispatched to bomb the Ludwigshafen/Opau synthetic oil plant in Germany (325); 1 hits a target of opportunity and 5 drop leaflets; 1 B-17 is lost and 103 damaged; 9 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 233 of 254 P-51s; they claim 7-0-1 aircraft; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA) and 2 damaged.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

London Leave

Postcard of sights of London
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

I can’t say why, but every time I think of the possibility that my dad, George Edwin Farrar, visited London while he was serving with the 8th AAF during WWII in England, I think of this poem, first published in London during 1805 in the book “Songs for the Nursery.”

Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?
I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.
Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

According to my mother, I had memorized a great deal of nursery rhymes by the age of two, so maybe this was one of them. Still to this day, I associate this rhyme when I think of London.

Anyway, pussycats aside, the question in my mind really is, did Dad see London? I don’t recall him ever telling me he did, but another one of Frank Furiga’s (fellow 384th Bomb Group NexGen member Paul Furiga’s dad’s) stories has me believing he did.

Postcard of West Towers, Westminster Abbey, London
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

Frank Furiga recorded the story twice. One version was a short summary, but the second had much more detail. His summary version was,

On August 13th, our whole crew departed for a hotel in London with the good graces of our 384th entertainment fathers. Upon arriving we ran into the John Buslee & David Albrecht crew from the 544th Squadron. We stayed at a nice hotel for the weekend. We had a most memorable dinner at a place called the Hungaria Club in Piccadilly.

There was a great Hungarian gypsy orchestra that serenaded us with a few songs. Then there was an opera star seated at a table dining and she was persuaded to sing some operatic numbers. It was a most enjoyable evening and we rode the train back to Kettering refreshed and looking ahead to more combat.

Postcard of London, Piccadilly Circus
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

The version with a lot of interesting detail went like this,

One sunny afternoon I entered the officers’ quarters to see our pilot, Lieutenant Bert Brown and the copilot Lieutenant William Bayne, dancing around the coal stove and shouting excitedly. When I inquired as to what had brought this about, they showed me the leave passes for a three day leave. And better than that, the whole crew would be taking a nice trip to the big city, London, England.

The very next morning, our entire crew, officers and enlisted men, departed from Kettering by train for the great trip. When we arrived in London, we were very fortunate to have found lodgings at the Regent Palace, traveling in somewhat of a grand style.

Having properly registered and having stowed our luggage, we then started to look about for a nice pub where we could quaff some good British beer. At the very first one we went into, we encountered Lieutenant John Buslee and Lieutenant David Albrecht of the 546 [correction, Buslee crew was in the 544th] Squadron and their crew.

So as we sat and drank, we talked about getting involved in some group activity that evening, and a decision was finally made to perhaps attend some good play, and then have a fine dinner somewhere. And Lieutenants Buslee and Albrecht handled the details.

So that afternoon, we attended a matinee performance of the famous Noel Coward production “Blithe Spirits” at the Haymarket Theatre. The actors did a very superb job, and we certainly enjoyed it immensely. After this activity, we traveled to a very fine nightclub restaurant, the Hungaria Club.

When we arrived here, we were greeted by the host, who told us that our table was not yet ready and we could partake of cocktails while we waited. We were then led to a rather intimate room downstairs where Gypsy or Castro was playing. As we enjoyed our drinks, the enticement of a few pound notes brought the orchestra ever closer, and they outdid themselves in entertaining us.

Sometime later, we were taken to our table upstairs. Another type orchestra was playing there for entertainment of the guests and one of the patrons of the restaurant happened to be an operatic singer and she was persuaded to sing several arias. And one of the selections was from Puccini’s “La Bohème.” “Musetta’s Waltz”, I believe. While she sang, the entire room of diners was held spellbound, and many of the people stopped eating.

And as she finished her selections, the audience applauded very warmly and long. This was something that we had not expected to see and left us with a very nice and warm feeling. It was something that we would always remember the wonderful evening we spent at the Hungaria Club. And so the evening ended there.

And the very next day, we went on a tour of London, visiting all of the standard tourist attractions such as the Tower Bridge, the Westminster Cathedral and other points of interest, which we found to be very enjoyable. That being over, we headed back for Grafton Underwood and war.

Our very last thing was to stop at the Hollywood Lounge in Kettering for some brew and a hearty dish of fish and chips as we got off the train in Kettering.

Instead of ending the story here, master storyteller Frank Furiga included a little foreshadowing by saying,

But this story does not end here, however.

Frank went on to describe an awful thing he saw happen to his friends on the Buslee crew when he was a tail observer on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. You can read his story here.

So, there are a few things about Frank’s story of the three-day pass to London that makes me believe my dad was in London with the Buslee crew for those three days in August 1944, the thirteenth to the fifteenth. One, Frank specifically mentions Buslee and Albrecht by name. Two, Frank says that his entire crew was there, officers and enlisted men, and says Buslee’s crew was there, too. Three, the entire Buslee crew “were all off ops” as 384th Bomb Group Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson puts it, i.e., they were not part of operations (did not fly any missions) between August 12 and August 24, with a few exceptions.

If any of them had been left behind at Grafton Underwood and not included in the London visit, they likely would have been assigned to fly as substitutes with other crews during that time.

When I checked the dates that the men of the Buslee crew were off ops during this time, I see that John Oliver Buslee (Pilot), Chester Rybarczyk (Navigator), James Davis (Replacement Bombardier), Sebastiano Peluso (Radio Operator), Erwin Foster (Ball Turret Gunner), Eugene Lucynski (Tail Gunner), Lenard Bryant (Waist/Top Turret Gunner), and George Edwin Farrar did not fly any missions between August 12 and August 24.

I also believe most of the Buslee crew (the ones who didn’t fly another mission until August 24) may have also been sent to a flak house, probably Southport, after they returned from London. With eleven days without flying a mission, that would give them a whole week to rest up at the flak house on top of three days in London.

David Albrecht (Co-pilot) did not fly any missions between August 12 and August 18. Perhaps most of the Buslee crew were sent to a flak house because of their experience on the 5 August 1944 mission on which original bombardier Marvin Fryden was killed and Clarence Seeley was seriously injured. Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew that day and perhaps was not included in the trip to the flak house. Seeley did not fly another mission until 5 September 1944 and was hospitalized during most of this time, so likely did not go on the trip to London or possible trip to the flak house.

Of course, my theory that most of the Buslee crew visited a flak house after visiting London is purely speculation on my part. I can find no documentation to support my theory. Unfortunately, images of the squadron’s morning reports during the August 12 to 24 time period are unreadable and cannot be used to confirm either the London leave or flak house visit. However, I cannot imagine what else would have kept the Buslee crew from participating in combat missions for that lengthy of a period of time.

One thing does perplex me, however, and it may indicate the possibility that my dad did not go to London with the Buslee crew. He wrote a letter home to his mother dated 14 August 1944, which would have been right in the middle of the August 13 to 15 London visit. In the letter, he does not mention London at all. The stationery he used was plain and had no markings, no hotel name or anything else. The envelope was postmarked 546 17 AUG 1944 (two days after the end of the London visit), U.S. ARMY POSTAL SERVICE and also stamped with U.S. POSTAGE VIA AIR MAIL in the amount of 6¢.

Even more interesting, it was the only letter he kept that he mailed home during his entire stay at Grafton Underwood. I’m sure Dad and his mother corresponded quite frequently while he was at Grafton Underwood, but no other letters from either one of them during this time exist in his memorabilia from the war.

I also want to note a terminology discrepancy that Keith Ellefson pointed out to me. Keith has poured through mountains of wartime records and reports in his research and does not recall ever seeing any documentation in the unit morning reports placing anyone on “Pass.”  The usual terminology in the morning reports is “Leave” for Officers and “Furlough” for Enlisted men, but no “Passes.” I assume that the airmen just used the terminology of “Pass” loosely to mean the paperwork for being granted a leave or a furlough.

Frank Furiga made a very thorough list of all the sights he saw in London in 1944 while he was in the service with the 384th Bomb Group. It’s possible that Frank visited London more than once as he was in England two months longer than the men of the Buslee crew, so his list may not have all been accomplished in this one visit from 13 to 15 August 1944. If my dad did visit London at the same time as Frank Furiga, John Buslee, and David Albrecht, I imagine he saw at least some of these sights.

Places Frank Furiga visited in England in 1944
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

A transcription of Frank Furiga’s “Places I Visited in England (1944)”,

  1. London Times Building
  2. London Bridge
  3. Tower of London
  4. London Mint
  5. St. James Palace
  6. St. James Park
  7. Buckingham Palace
  8. Guards Barracks
  9. Westminster Abbey
  10. House of Commons
  11. House of Lords
  12. Big Ben
  13. Scotland Yard
  14. The Cenotaph [the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial]
  15. Lord Nelson’s Statue – Trafalgar Square
  16. British Admiralty House
  17. Thames River
  18. Cleopatra’s Needle – Imported from Egypt
  19. Old Hallows Church – A.D. 675
  20. Roman Wall Ruins
  21. Bank of England
  22. Mansion House – Residence of Lord Mayor
  23. St. Paul’s Cathedral
  24. Sir Christopher Wren’s Tomb
    1. Whispering Galley
    2. Duke of Wellington’s Tomb
    3. Duke of Wellington’s Funeral Cart
    4. Florence Nightingale’s Monument
    5. Lord Nelson’s Tomb
    6. Sir George William’s Tomb (Y.M.C.A.)
    7. Lord Kitchener Monument and Chapel
  25. Fleet Street
  26. Courts of Justice
  27. Charles Dickens’ Curiosity Shop
  28. Victoria Theater
  29. Drury Lane [The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, commonly known as Drury Lane, is a West End theatre and Grade I listed building in Covent Garden, London, England.]
  30. Leicester Square
  31. London Subway
  32. St. Pancras Station [Railway Station]

Thank you to Paul Furiga for sharing new detail through his dad’s stories and to Frank Furiga for recording them.

Further reading

The Cenotaph

St. Pancras Station

Drury Lane

Hungaria Restaurant – described as,

A Hungarian restaurant on Lower Regent Street. It was called the Hungaria and had the attraction in wartime London of a very deep basement fitted with gas and waterproof doors.

The waiters, some of whom slept on the premises, were trained as air raid precaution (ARP) wardens and first-aid workers … Their advertising during the war read “Bomb-Proof and Boredom Proof – we care for your safety as well as your Pleasure.”

Except for the stories of Frank Furiga, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 30 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 30 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Wednesday, 30 August 1944

384th BG Mission 186/8th AF Mission 590 to Crepieul, France.

Target: CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site).

The James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron did not participate.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

About 200 HBs supported by 16 P-51’s bomb 8 V-weapon sites in Pas de Calais area. Later in the day over 600 B-17’s supported by 7 P-51 gps bomb U-boat base and shipyards at Kiel, and aircraft plant and other industry in the Bremen area.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 3 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 590 to V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area of France. The Brodie crew participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 591 to the U-boat base and shipyards at Kiel and aircraft plant and other industry in the Bremen area.
  3. Mission 592, a leaflet drop in France and Belgium during the night.

Mission 590: 107 of 159 B-17s and 108 of 145 B-24s dispatched hit 8 V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area of France; one wing uses GH and H2X methods; 22 bombers are damaged. Escort is provided by 16 of 16 P-51s without loss.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Frank Furiga, Mid-Air Collision Witness

On September 28, 1944, on the 384th Bomb Group’s mission to Magdeburg, Germany, the B-17’s of the Buslee and Brodie crews collided coming off the target. I have written extensively about that day – my father, George Edwin Farrar, was the sole survivor of the Buslee crew.

I have reported eye witness accounts of the collision as told by 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey and ball turret gunner Robert Mitchell. Today, just a day past the seventy-seventh anniversary of the collision, I have a new eye witness account to report, this one from fellow 384th NexGen member Paul Furiga, as recorded by his father, 384th bombardier Frank Furiga.

First, let me explain how Frank Furiga had such a bird’s eye view of the collision. Frank was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group at the same time as my father. Frank was a bombardier on the Bert Brown crew and my dad was a waist gunner on the John Buslee crew.

At the time they entered combat duty, only the bombardiers aboard the lead aircraft in the formation actually determined the point at which the group would drop their bombs on the target. The remainder of the bombardiers didn’t do much else besides toggle or flip a switch to send their bombs away as soon as they saw the bombardier in the lead aircraft release his.

Considering the duration and intensity of their stateside training prior to entering combat and their status as officers, this practice was not very fulfilling for the group’s trained bombardiers. In fact, many bombardiers were replaced with an enlisted man, a gunner, who was called a togglier. Many of the trained bombardiers were reassigned from their original crews upon entering combat and many of these trained bombardiers retrained to become navigators.

Frank Furiga was one of these men. He flew his first ten missions as bombardier, first with the pilot of his original crew, Bert Brown, until Brown was wounded on September 5, 1944, then a couple of missions with pilot Russell Cornair.

Following those missions, Frank Furiga and the entire Brown crew had a break from combat with a week’s flak leave to the city of Southport on the west coast of England sometime between September 10 to 21, 1944. Frank reported in his diaries and stories that they were lodged in a lovely large hotel run by the Red Cross for about seven days.

A page from Frank Furiga’s scrapbook, the Bert Brown crew at Southport, photos taken during flak leave.
Photo courtesy of Paul Furiga.

After returning to duty from flak leave, Frank Furiga wrote,

When we got back to the 547th Squadron, I was contacted by Captain [Maurice Arthur] Booska, one of the staff officers. He told me that there was a need for a Flight Control Officer [FCO]. This position necessitated the crew member to ride in the Tail Gun position of the Lead Plane. A clip board was supplied with all of the planes diagramed on sheets. The job was to act as a “seeing eye dog” for the Lead Pilot and report anything important and unusual happening with the planes flying behind.

In view of the fact that I was just tripping switches on my missions now, I accepted. My very first mission as FCO was to Mainz (Sept 21), followed by Frankurt (Sept 25), and then Osnabruck (Sept 26). This [Sept 26] was my thirteenth mission. Yes, there was flak about and enemy planes especially the German jet fighters.

On the mission on which the Buslee crew’s and Brodie crew’s B-17’s collided, Frank wrote,

On September 28th, we went to Magdeburg, Germany, an industrial city. Coming off the target after bomb drop, I was horrified to see the plane of our very good friends, John Buslee and David Albrecht collide with the Brodie-Vevle plane and they immediately went into death spirals and I could see no parachutes.

It was a bad evening for the Bert Brown crew. I still lived in the same barracks even though I was no longer on the Brown crew.

Frank also recounted the incident in an audio recording which his son Paul transcribed. It began,

On the 28th of September, we were bombing an antiaircraft factory at Magdeburg, Germany. I had been released from my original crew now and was flying as a mission tail observer, with the lead plane of the 547th Squadron. The 546th Squadron was flying higher and behind us and to the right. [Correction: the High Group consisted of crews of the 544th Squadron, like the Buslee crew, and 545th Squadron, like the Brodie crew, rather than crews of the 546th Squadron].

As diagramed In the formation chart, Frank Furiga was an observer in the tail of Capt. Booska’s B-17 43-38542 leading the Low Group.

September 28, 1944 Low Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Buslee (B-17 43‑37822) and Brodie (B-17 42‑31222) crews were positioned in the High Group and as reported by Frank Furiga, “flying higher and behind us and to the right.”

September 28, 1944 High Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Frank Furiga continued,

The flak was accurate and heavy. I narrowly missed getting hit myself when a flak burst disintegrated the entire windscreen in my tail position, and a floor around me was littered with fragments.

As we dropped our bombs and made a tight right turn off the target, I saw a Fortress suddenly slacking its speed and then drop like a rock and smash into the plane of Lieutenant Buslee. The entwined fortresses went into a dance of death.

And as they plummeted downward, separated turrets, engines and shared wings were tossed aside. There are no signs of opening parachutes. Our hearts were saddened when we landed at Grafton Underwood.

The group debriefing showed that no one had observed chutes opening. This hurt for a long, long time. And the barracks were really quiet that night.

Frank Furiga flew nine missions as a tail observer and then retrained as a navigator. He served the remainder of his missions as a navigator and I’ll be telling you more about his service and interactions with both Buslee and Brodie crew members in future posts.

Seventy-seven years after the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, over fifty years since I listened to my dad first tell the story, and ten years after I started researching the accident, I am still finding new information about that day. On this day, I thank Paul Furiga for sharing new detail through his dad’s stories and Frank Furiga for recording them.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

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