The Arrowhead Club

WWII Combat Chronology – 4 August 1944

In researching the missions of the 384th Bomb Group, and particularly the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron, I looked for information regarding the actions of the entire 8th Air Force, of which the 384th was a part, for the dates on which the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in combat missions.

There are two (and maybe more I haven’t discovered yet) very good resources online for WWII Combat Chronology. Both are very good historical records of Army Air Force missions for the duration of World War II.

Both of these resources list the various theaters of operation and the various branches of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) that served them, not just the 8th AAF in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Both chronologies are quite complete and present a wealth of information.

One was authored by Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller. Carter and Mueller compiled their U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 for the Center for Air Force History in Washington, DC. I believe the first edition was published in 1973. It and subsequent editions are available in print through various used book sources online. The 1991 edition is available to view online and download in pdf format here.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945, as described in the preface,

is concerned primarily with operations of the US Army Air Forces and its combat units between December 7, 1941 and September 15, 1945. It is designed as a companion reference to the seven-volume history of “The Army Air Forces in World War II,” edited by Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate. The research was a cooperative endeavor carried out in the United States Air Force historical archives by the Research Branch of the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center.

The second chronology I found online was compiled by Jack McKillop of Rutgers University. McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces can be found online in multiple formats starting with an Index here, with links to each month of combat operations. At the bottom of the Index list are two alternate formats, (1) alltxt.zip (the entire text available for download in one zip file), and (2) html (which leads to another list of all months of combat operations in html format for viewing onscreen, and includes two additional links for download of ZIP archives, one in html format and one in simple text format).

Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

I am presenting a series of articles, starting with this one, based on the entries from both 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, but concentrating solely on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces. I will also concentrate on the dates of missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew participated, and the particular mission in which they participated when the 8th AAF flew multiple missions the same day.

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.

I will add a new installment to the series every few weeks. For today’s installment, see below for the 4 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Friday, 4 August 1944

384th BG Mission 171/8th AF Mission 514 to Peenemünde, Germany.

Target: CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and James Joseph Brodie of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. Brodie, in combat training, flew with the Jesse Maxey crew. The remainder of Brodie’s crew did not participate in this mission.

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

In late morning and mid-afternoon raids, over 1,250 HBs attack 4 oil refineries, 4 aircraft factories, 4 A/Fs, Peenemunde experimental establishment, and torpedo plants in Germany, 2 coastal batteries in Pas de Calais area, and 2 V-weapon sites, 2 A/Fs, a M/Y, a railroad crossing, and a bridge in NW France. All of the Eighth’s 15 ftr gps spt the operations, flying 782 sorties. HBs claim 3 airplanes destroyed and ftrs claim 39 destroyed in air and 15 on ground. Strafing claims include numerous items of rolling stock. 14 HBs and 15 ftrs are lost during the day.

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 514 to strategic targets in Germany, in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated
  2. Mission 515, the first APHRODITE mission flown using 4 radio-controlled war-weary B-17’s as flying bombs to V-weapon sites
  3. Mission 516 to V-weapon sites in France

Mission 514: 1,307 bombers and 746 fighters are dispatched to strategic targets in Germany; 15 bombers are lost:

  • Of 358 B-17s, 181 hit Hamburg oil refineries, 50 hit Bremen oil refineries, 23 hit Nordhof Airfield, 22 hit Ostend, Belgium coastal defenses, 14 hit Einswarden and 7 hit targets of opportunity; they claim 0-4-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; 8 B-17s are lost, 8 damaged beyond repair and 196 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 8 WIA and 63 MIA. Escort is provided by 234 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 38-1-5 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 9-0-1 on the ground; 2 P-47s and 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 2 P-47s and 2 P-51s are damaged.

  • Of 425 B-27s, 221 hit Peenemunde, 110 hit Anklam Airfield and 70 hit Anklam aircraft factories; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 94 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 40 MIA. Escort is provided by 223 of 250 P-51s; they claim 4-0-4 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground; 9 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 is damaged beyond repair; 1 pilot is KIA.

  • Of 446 B-24s, 148 hit Rostock aviation factories, 89 hit Kiel, 88 hit Schwerin aviation factories, 71 hit Wismar aviation factories, 12 hit Schlutup, 11 hit Warien and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 4 B-24s are lost and 114 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 40 MIA. Escort is provided by 209 P-38s and P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost and 1 P-38 is damaged; 1 pilot is KIA.

  • Of 78 B-24s, 39 hit Husum Airfield and 29 hit Hemmingstedt/Heide oil refinery 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 USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John Buslee’s Ring

John Oliver (Jay) Buslee died September 28, 1944 when the B-17 he was piloting, the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17G 43‑37822, crashed after a mid-air collision with his own group’s B-17G 42‑31222 Lazy Daisy.  His parents were notified shortly thereafter that he was missing in action, but it would be another four months before they received news that he had died in the collision.

Jay’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee of Park Ridge, IL, a suburb of Chicago, eventually received Jay’s possessions, only to find that the Air Force ring they had given him as a gift was not among the items returned to them.  They assumed he must have been wearing the ring on his last mission, but it was not recovered with his body as far as they knew.

Several years after the war, in 1948, Jay’s ring surfaced.  At the time, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, the waist gunner and sole survivor on Buslee’s aircraft, was working for Jay’s father and living in the Buslee home.  I believe in that situation, he would have been aware of the ring’s discovery, but it’s not anything he ever mentioned to me.  He was a traveling salesman and it was the same year he met and courted my mother, and it probably wasn’t as important of a discovery to him as it was to Mr. and Mrs. Buslee.

The surfacing of the ring was one thing.  Getting the ring back was another.  Distance and politics and the state of the world in the 1940’s made this a very difficult task. This task was orchestrated between the finder of the ring (a Czech man the Nazis forced into slave labor in Germany), the finder’s parents in Czechoslovakia, a Czech immigrant living in Texas, the Adjutant General of the US Department of the Army, the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia, and Jay’s parents in Illinois.

From November 2014 to March 2015, I published the group’s communications through a series of letters they exchanged between January 21 and December 26, 1948, from the time of first contact to the expressions of gratitude between the parties after the return of the ring.

John Dale Kielhofer, Jay Buslee’s nephew, shared the letters with me, and with his permission, I share with you the story of the recovery and return of John Buslee’s ring.

This list of links below includes all of my original posts and all of the letters between the parties.

Note: The original posts indicate the name of Buslee’s aircraft B-17G 43‑37822 was “Lead Banana.” I learned after writing the posts that the name was mistakenly applied in 384th Bomb Group documents and photos to that particular aircraft and wrote an explanatory post regarding the error.

The Ring (Original post of this Introduction to the letters)

The Ring – Letter of January 21, 1948

The Ring – Letter of January 28, 1948

The Ring – Letter of February 20, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Mr B

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Z

The Ring – Letter of March 11, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 16, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 26, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 12, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 17, 1948

The Ring – Letter of August 25, 1948

The Ring – Letter Undated

The Ring – Letter of September 23, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 4, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 26, 1948

This post is also included on this site as a permanent page here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

In continuing my research into the original airmen assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group, and of the airmen who were aboard these two pilots’ respective fortresses in the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, I searched through morning reports, special orders, individual sortie records, and personnel records on the 384th Bomb Group’s website. I was looking for any other information about them outside of their bombing missions.

I discovered several entries in those documents regarding the men who were either original members of the Buslee and Brodie crews or were substitutes on missions when the original members did not participate. Today I present the information for the Brodie crew in timeline format. Last week I presented the timeline for the John Oliver Buslee crew.

Note that this information should not be considered complete due to sometimes illegible, incomplete, and missing records, but what I have found is included here. I have also included the Brodie crew’s bombing missions in the timeline.

Timeline of information from Morning Reports, Special Orders, Individual Sortie Records, and 384th Bomb Group website Personnel Records for James Joseph Brodie original crew members and mission substitutes:

25 JULY 1944

Donald William Dooley was assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group Headquarters Detachment, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #147 dated 25 July 1944 as a radar mechanic/bombardment.

26 JULY 1944

The James Joseph Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944. Crew members were:

  • William D. Barnes, Jr., Bombardier
  • James Joseph Brodie, Pilot
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
  • George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Navigator
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu, Ball Turret Gunner
  • Harry Allen Liniger, Waist Gunner
  • Wilfred Frank Miller, Tail Gunner
  • Leonard Opie, Waist Gunner
  • William Edson Taylor, Radio Operator
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle, Co-pilot

2 AUGUST 1944

The following enlisted men were promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #155:

  • Gordon Hetu
  • Harry Liniger
  • Wilfred Miller
  • Leonard Opie

4 AUGUST 1944

Mission 171 to Peenemünde, Germany. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

5 AUGUST 1944

Mission 173 to Langenhagen, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

Byron Leverne “Bud” Atkins was assigned to the 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #157 dated 5 August 1944 as Waist Gunner of the James Woodrow Chadwick crew.

7 AUGUST 1944

Mission 174 to Dugny (Paris), France. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), an Aircraft Fuel Depot.

8 AUGUST 1944

Mission 175 to Bretteville-sur-Laize, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Enemy Strong Points.

9 AUGUST 1944

Mission 176 to Erding, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Erding Airdrome & Airfield.

11 AUGUST 1944

Mission 177 to Brest, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

14 AUGUST 1944

William Taylor was promoted to Staff Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #163.

16 AUGUST 1944

Mission 181 to Delitzsch, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Delitzsch Air Field and Air Equipment Depot.

17 AUGUST 1944

Byron Atkins was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #165.

24 AUGUST 1944

Mission 183 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, a Synthetic Oil & Chemical Plant.

26 AUGUST 1944

Mission 185 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Buer Synthetic Oil Plant.

30 AUGUST 1944

Mission 186 to Crepieul, France. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site).

5 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 188 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

8 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 189 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

Tech Sergeant Donald Dooley was reclassified from MOS 867 (radar mechanic/bombardment) to MOS 757 (radio operator/gunner) and transferred from Headquarters Detachment 384th BG to 545th BS on SO #179, AAF Station 106, SPO 557, dated 8 September 1944.

Leonard Opie was transferred in grade to the Casual Pool, 8th AFRD, AAF Station 594.

9 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 190 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

James Brodie was appointed 1st LT AUS 9 September 1944.

10 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 191 to Sindelfingen, Germany. Target was Industry, the BMW Motor Component Parts Plant.

11 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 192 to Lützkendorf & Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, an Oil Refinery.

13 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 194 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Leuna Synthetic Oil Refinery.

The 13 SEPTEMBER mission was William Barnes’s last with the Brodie crew. Between 13 September 1944 and 17 October 1944, Barnes retrained as a Navigator. After the 13 SEPTEMBER 1944 mission, the Brodie crew was assigned a Togglier to missions instead of a Bombardier.

19 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 196 to Hamm, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

21 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 197 to Mainz, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

25 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 198 to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

26 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 199 to Osnabrück, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

28 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

The following airmen flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew on the 28 September 1944 mission went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action):

  • Byron L. “Bud” Atkins
  • James Joseph Brodie
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton
  • Donald William Dooley
  • George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu
  • Harry Allen Liniger
  • Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle

Subsequently, all were declared KIA (Killed in Action) except for George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Harry Allen Liniger, and Wilfred Frank Miller who were declared POW (Prisoner of War).

5 OCTOBER 1944

William Taylor went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action) over Cologne, Germany. Subsequently, he was declared POW (Prisoner of War).

7 OCTOBER 1944

William Barnes went from duty to sick quarters (LD).

11 OCTOBER 1944

William Barnes went from sick quarters (LD) to duty.

4 JANUARY 1945

William Barnes was relieved from assignment and transferred to the Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot Station 594 30 DECEMBER 1944 per 5 SO 365 HQ 1st BD departed 0800 hours 4 JANUARY 1945 (Completed tour).

Sources

Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 544th Bomb Squadron

In continuing my research into the original airmen assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group, and of the airmen who were aboard these two pilots’ respective fortresses in the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, I searched through morning reports, special orders, individual sortie records, and personnel records on the 384th Bomb Group’s website. I was looking for any other information about them outside of their bombing missions.

I discovered several entries in those documents regarding the men who were either original members of the Buslee and Brodie crews or were substitutes on missions when the original members did not participate. Today I present the information for the Buslee crew in timeline format. Next week I will present the timeline for the James Joseph Brodie crew.

Note that this information should not be considered complete due to sometimes illegible, incomplete, and missing records, but what I have found is included here. I have also included the Buslee crew’s bombing missions in the timeline.

Timeline of information from Morning Reports, Special Orders, Individual Sortie Records, and 384th Bomb Group website Personnel Records for John Oliver Buslee original crew members and mission substitutes:

6 MAY 1944

William Alvin Henson II was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #85 dated 6 May 1944 as Bombardier of the Gerald Sammons crew.

15 JUNE 1944

Robert Sumner Stearns was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #113 dated 15 June 1944 as Bombardier of the Larkin Durdin crew.

21 JULY 1944

William Henson overslept and received punishment of having to fly one extra sortie (mission) to complete his tour.

22 JULY 1944

The John Oliver Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. Crew members were:

  • David Franklin Albrecht, Co-pilot
  • Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner
  • John Oliver Buslee, Pilot
  • George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner
  • Erwin Vernon Foster, Ball Turret Gunner
  • Marvin Fryden, Bombardier
  • Eugene Daniel Lucynski, Tail Gunner
  • Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator
  • Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, Navigator
  • Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

26 JULY 1944

The following men were assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944:

  • Gerald Lee Andersen, Tail Gunner of the Joe Carnes crew
  • James Buford Davis, Bombardier of the Howard Jung crew

3 AUGUST 1944

James Davis’s crewmates Howard Jung (pilot), Thomas C. Bates (navigator), and Harold T. Perry (engineer/top turret), and non-crewmate William T. Sellars (radio operator) were killed in a flying/training accident. Jung’s co-pilot James Vrana, also on board, was seriously injured and placed on sick leave. Having never flown a mission, on 8 AUGUST 1944, James A. Vrana was released from assignment and transferred to Detachment of Patients, 4204 U.S. Army Hospital Plant.

4 AUGUST 1944

Mission 171 to Peenemünde, Germany. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

5 AUGUST 1944

Mission 173 to Langenhagen, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

Marvin Fryden was (KIA) killed by flak on the 5 AUGUST 1944 mission.

Clarence Seeley was (WIA) wounded in action on the 5 AUGUST 1944 mission.

6 AUGUST 1944

The following enlisted men were promoted to Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #158:

  • Lenard Bryant
  • Erwin Foster

Clarence Seeley was placed on sick leave.

9 AUGUST 1944

Mission 176 to Erding, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Erding Airdrome & Airfield.

James Davis joined the Buslee crew on his first mission as Bombardier, replacing Marvin Fryden.

George Francis McMann, Jr., Ball Turret Gunner of the Stanley Gilbert crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #159.

11 AUGUST 1944

Mission 177 to Brest, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

12 AUGUST 1944

Mission 178 to La Perthe, France. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) “Landing Ground.”

13 AUGUST 1944

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

24 AUGUST 1944

Mission 183 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, a Synthetic Oil & Chemical Plant.

25 AUGUST 1944

George McMann was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #171.

28 AUGUST 1944

William Henson was appointed 1st LT.

1 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #175.

3 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 187 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

5 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 188 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

6 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from sick quarters (LD) to absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston.

8 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 189 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

9 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 190 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

The following enlisted men were promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180:

  • Lenard Bryant
  • George Farrar
  • Erwin Foster
  • Sebastiano Peluso
  • Clarence Seeley

10 SEPTEMBER 1944 

Mission 191 to Sindelfingen, Germany. Target was Industry, the BMW Motor Component Parts Plant.

Erwin Foster went from duty to absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston.

11 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 192 to Lützkendorf & Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, an Oil Refinery.

John Buslee was appointed 1st LT.

Clarence Seeley went from absent sick (LD) 65th General Hospital to duty.

Gerald Andersen went from absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston to duty.

13 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 194 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Leuna Synthetic Oil Refinery.

14 SEPTEMBER 1944

Robert Stearns was appointed 1st LT.

16 SEPTMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from duty to sick quarters (LD).

19 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 196 to Hamm, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

Eugene Lucynski, flying as Tail Gunner with the Joe Carnes crew, went (MIA) Missing in Action when he was forced to bail out over Allied Territory. Seven of the crew returned to duty. The ball turret gunner was injured by flak and transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 4178 U.S. Army Hospital Plant. Lucynski was injured by flak and hospitalized from 19 September 1944 until 10 November 1944. Lucynski had replaced the Carnes crew Tail Gunner Gerald Andersen, who was on sick quarters.

20 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from sick quarters (LD) to duty.

25 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 198 to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

26 SEPTEMBER 1944

Erwin Foster went from absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital, Thrapston, to duty.

William Henson was ordered per Item #9 of Special Orders #190, AAF Station No. 106, APO 557, dated 26 September 1944 from duty to Moulsford Manor, AAF Station 511, to arrive prior to 1800 hours on 28 September 1944, TD to carry out instructions of CG, period not to exceed seven (7) days. Will leave Rest Home on 5 October 1944 to return to proper Station.

27 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 200 to Cologne / Köln, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards (PFF Aiming Points).

28 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

The following airmen flying with the John Oliver Buslee crew on the 28 September 1944 mission went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action).

  • David Franklin Albrecht
  • Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • John Oliver Buslee
  • George Edwin Farrar
  • William Alvin Henson, II
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

Subsequently, all were declared KIA (Killed in Action) except for George Edwin Farrar who was declared POW (Prisoner of War).

22 OCTOBER 1944 

Clarence Seeley was promoted to Tech Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #209.

26 NOVEMBER 1944

The following officers were appointed 1st LT:

  • James Davis
  • Chester Rybarczyk

6 DECEMBER 1944 

James Davis was released from assigned & transferred to Casual Pool 79th Replacement Depot AAF Station 591, departed per 3 SO 341 HQ 1st Bomb Division (Completed Tour).

18 DECEMBER 1944 

Erwin Foster went from duty to TD Ebrington Manor AAF Station 498 (TD 7 days).

20 DECEMBER 1944 

Chester Rybarczyk was released from assigned & transferred to Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot AAF Station 591, departed per 6 SO 355 HQ 1st Bomb Division (Completed tour).

25 DECEMBER 1944

Erwin Foster went from TD Ebrington Manor AAF Station 498 to duty (TD 7 days).

5 JANUARY 1945

Erwin Foster was reduced to Private for misconduct per 1 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106.

Erwin Foster was appointed Sergeant per 2 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106.

16 JANUARY 1945 

Clarence Seeley went from duty to furlough (7 days).

1 FEBRUARY 1945

Erwin Foster was reclassified to the Military Occupation Specialty (612).

5 FEBRUARY 1945

Clarence Seeley went from duty to TD Palace Hotel Southport AAF Station 524 (TD 7 days).

12 FEBRUARY 1945

Clarence Seeley went from TD Palace Hotel Southport AAF Station 524 to duty (TD 7 days).

28 FEBRUARY 1945

Erwin Foster completed his tour of 35 missions.

10 MARCH 1945

Clarence Seeley completed his tour of 34 missions.

4 JUNE 1945

Eugene Lucynski was recommended for the DFC (Distinguished Flying Crosss) for Ex. Achiev.

12 JUNE 1945

Eugene Lucynski was placed on DS for an indefinite period at Y-17, Marseilles/Istres, France, effective o/a (on or about) 13 June 45 and will report to COL SAULT upon arrival at Y-17.

22 JUNE 1945 

Eugene Lucynski went from DS, Y-17 Marseilles/Istres, France to duty, effective 22 June 1945.

Sources

Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.

Brodie crew timeline next week…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

“Minor Accident of War,” the Animated Short Film

I have previously written about 384th Bomb Group navigator Edward Field and ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook, and about the animated short film Edward’s niece, Diane Weis, created from Edward’s poem, “World War II.” The poem chronicles the events of their B-17’s crash into the North Sea on their return to England following the 8th Air Force’s mission to Berlin on February 3, 1945.

Today happens to be the seventy-sixth anniversary of Edward and Jack’s crash into the North Sea and today I’m happy to be able to share the entirety of the film, “Minor Accident of War” with you.

The film did very well on the film festival circuit and is now in consideration for this year’s Oscar race. The 93rd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

If you’d like to watch “Minor Accident of War” in its entirety, which comes in at just under ten minutes, I’ve embedded it below. Be sure to turn up the volume, go to full screen, and just click the Play button.

* * * Minor Accident of War * * *

*  *  *

The talented “Minor Accident of War” team includes,

  • Executive Producer Diane Fredel-Weis
  • Story Edward Field
  • Animator Piotr Kabat
  • Narrator Edward Field
  • Producers Diane Fredel-Weis and David Finch
  • Animation Consultant Alex Kupershmidt
  • Sound Design Michal Fojcik, Soundmind Studios
  • Composer Alex Gimeno
  • Production Supervisor Stephen M. Cyr
  • Narration Recording John Kilgore Studios
  • Technical Support Gabriel Weis
  • Film Photographer Elise Bloom
  • Legal Assistance Alana Crow
  • Research Consultant Cindy Farrar Bryan
  • Business Manager Andrea Ferraco
  • With Special Thanks to 384th Bomb Group website and Craig Murray

I am proud to have played my part in the making of the film as the team’s Research Consultant. And I am especially proud that Diane chose to include a photo of my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a fellow 384th Bomb Group airman of Edward and Jack, although at a different time in the war, in the film. If you were wondering, that’s my dad who shows up at 7:11 in the film.

I’d also like to share a few recent articles about the film.

  • “Diane Weis & Piotr Kabat Discuss Their Powerful Short ‘Minor Accident of War'” by Animation Magazine
  • “Gay WWII Veteran Tells Harrowing Tale of Survival in Animated Short” by The Advocate
  • “Hand-Drawn ‘Minor Accident of War’ Tells Harrowing Personal WWII Story” by Animation World Network
  • “Miami Beach native makes film about gay uncle serving in WWII” in the Miami Herald

For more information, visit…

The “Minor Accident of War” website


You may read more – all previous posts, in fact, if you’re so inclined – about Edward and Jack and their crash into the North Sea on February 3, 1945 by following the links at the end of this article.

And for the curious, a few photos…


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The Bomber Boys’ Bombers

Three hundred forty-five (345) B-17 heavy bombers were assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII during its service at Grafton Underwood between 1943 and 1945. One (1) was a B-17 model E, one hundred fourteen (114) were model F, and two hundred thirty (230) were model G.

The 384th BG Aircraft page of the 384th Bomb Group’s website contains a list of them all. Links on the page will lead to (1) mission information for each aircraft, and (2) any existing photos of each in the 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery.

While traditional lore reflects that each bomber crew had their own plane that they used exclusively on their missions, that was not always the case. Most of the crews flew their missions in whatever aircraft was assigned to them for the day’s mission.

For instance, my father, George Edwin Farrar, flew in thirteen different B-17 heavy bombers in his sixteen combat missions of WWII.

When I look at the significance of the various ships to my father’s military service, I find that two of the thirteen in which he flew missions and two others he didn’t fly aboard were important players during his combat tour. These are the four that I believe were the most significant in his war service, and determined his future.

(1) Dad’s Ship. Although Dad flew aboard thirteen different B-17’s in the war, he only spoke one name, Tremblin’ Gremlin, in the telling of his war stories. Growing up, I thought Tremblin’ Gremlin was “his crew’s” plane and thought it was the ship of the mid-air collision in which he was involved. I did not learn until adulthood that it was not the ship of the mid-air collision.

Tremblin’ Gremlin, B-17 42-37982, was a new replacement aircraft assigned to the 384th Bomb Group on 21 January 1944 and put into service on the 384th’s Mission #55 on 29 January 1944 to Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

It was the ship of my dad’s first mission on 5 August 1944 and on that date it took a pounding from flak which injured several of the crew including my dad, killed the bombardier, and left the ship with 106 flak holes. It made it back to England, but took over a month to repair, and didn’t fly its next mission until 8 September.

On the 19 September 1944 mission to Hamm, Germany, Tremblin’ Gremlin was so badly damaged, the crew had to bail out over Belgium and the Gremlin was left unmanned to crash to earth alone. Thus ended Tremblin’ Gremlin’s eight month career with the 384th.

Tremblin’ Gremlin was assigned to 73 missions and earned combat credit for 61.

Regardless, I still think of Tremblin’ Gremlin as my dad’s ship. The stories and the name learned in childhood are too ingrained to think and feel otherwise.

(2) The One in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. On 28 September 1944 my dad was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822 flown by Lt. John Buslee. Coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany, Lt. James Brodie lost control of his aircraft and it collided with my dad’s.

Brodie’s assigned aircraft had a long history of problems and I suspect one or more of them were responsible for Brodie’s loss of control or at least contributed to the collision, as likely also did flak at the target and the rush to get out of the path of another group coming in to the target area.

Aircraft 43-37822 was a new replacement aircraft assigned to the 384th Bomb Group on 29 June 1944 and put into service on the 384th’s Mission #162 on 20 July 1944. It was the aircraft in which my dad flew the most missions in the same aircraft, for a total of three – on 5 September, 9 September, and the last on 28 September.

At the time of this aircraft’s demise on 28 September 1944, it had been assigned to 34 missions and completed only 28. It met a horrible death, like all of the crew aboard except for my father, by exploding and falling to the ground after the mid-air collision.

If this aircraft had been named, I imagine it would have been the aircraft name my dad would have used in his stories instead of Tremblin’ Gremlin, in which he only flew once.

(3) The Other Ship. On 28 September 1944, Mission #201, B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy, flown by the Lt. James Brodie crew, careened out of formation and collided with the B-17 flown by Lt. John Buslee with my father aboard.

Lazy Daisy was a new replacement aircraft assigned to the 384th Bomb Group on 23 November 1943 and put into service on the 384th’s Mission #40 on 5 December 1943. Daisy experienced mechanical failure after mechanical failure and was out of service for long periods at a time, but was always patched up and sent back into the fray.

In Daisy’s eleven month career with the 384th, the ship was assigned to only 64 missions and completed 49, not many missions for a combat duration of 299 days from the ship’s first mission to its last. I never heard this ship’s name growing up. It was just “the other ship” that had wreaked such havoc, that had caused so much death and destruction by careening off course into my dad’s ship.

(4) The Century Bomber that might have made all the difference. Bombers reaching one hundred (100) completed missions during the war received the status of “Century Bomber.” Only thirteen B-17’s, or 4% of the Group’s three hundred forty-five (345) bombers, reached the status of Century Bomber.

At the low end of the 384th’s Century Bomber list sits The Challenger with 100 missions, lost in the North Sea on 3 February 1945 with the Robert Long crew aboard, including navigator Edward Field. After the war, Field became a poet and years later told the story of the mission in his poem, World War II, which has been made into an animated short film, Minor Accident of War.

Topping the Century Bomber list, with 136 completed missions, sits B-17 42-102518 Damn Yankee, probably the most talked about flying fortress of the Group. A long list of 384th Bomb Group pilots considered Damn Yankee “their ship.” (Note: three different ships of the 384th Bomb Group were named Damn Yankee, and the one that achieved Century Bomber status was 42-102518).

Damn Yankee is also the name of the song Todd Touton, son of 384th pilot William Touton (one of Damn Yankee’s pilots), and Todd’s friend Evan Wallach wrote to honor Todd’s father’s service in WWII. It is the music that accompanies my video, A Tribute to the 384th Bomb Group in WWII.

Between the bottom of the list and the top, sit eleven Century Bombers, of which my dad flew missions in three – Nevada Avenger with 104 completed missions, Hotnuts with 105, and Big Dog with 109.

But another Century Bomber that sits in the middle of the list, B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory, at 106 missions, is the one that could have changed the history of 28 September 1944 and the future of eighteen airmen of the Buslee and Brodie crews. Kathleen was a new replacement aircraft assigned to the 384th Bomb Group on 6 April 1944 and put into service on the 384th’s Mission #88 on 11 April 1944.

Kathleen Lady of Victory was the Brodie crew’s aircraft of choice, “their ship” at the time they served in the war, and the ship they likely would have been assigned on Mission #201. But on the previous day’s Mission #200, Kathleen Lady of Victory was damaged by flak and suffered a slew of mechanical failures, and was apparently not ready for service for the Brodie crew come 28 September.

The Brodie crew had flown Kathleen on Mission #199 (their eighth mission aboard the ship), but they didn’t participate in #200. The Robert Leslie Farra crew flew Kathleen on Mission #200. The Farra crew was flying spare, but joined the formation and completed the mission.

In the Mission #200 post-mission briefing, Farra reported several technical failures including two broken rheostats, a broken gas gauge, an improperly installed pilot’s mike switch, and most notably, the continuous running away of the #2 prop. Farra also reported battle damage received at the target, with the right aileron, horizontal stabilizer, fin, and rudder hit by flak. Repairs to the ship were going to keep the ground crew busy for several days.

Had this Century Bomber been ready to serve the Brodie crew, the mid-air collision may have never happened. I can’t say if or how things may have worked out differently, but it gives me pause to think that Kathleen Lady of Victory might have made all the difference in the lives of eighteen men.

When the Brodie crew, who had been aboard Lazy Daisy instead, didn’t return to base after Mission #201 on 28 September 1944, Kathleen Lady of Victory became Farra’s ship until he completed his tour the next month and then it began a rotation between many crews.

In her 380 day combat career with the 384th, Kathleen was assigned to 129 missions and completed 106 of them.

Kathleen Lady of Victory served the 384th Bomb Group until their very last mission, #316 on 25 April 1945 and was transferred with the Group to Istres, France for mapping duties after the European Air War ended. Dave Osborne’s Fortlog notes her End Date of 31 October 1945, salvaged 9th AF, Germany. A sad end for a beloved Century Bomber.

Resources

384th BG Aircraft page

384th Bomb Group Website Group Statistics Page, Aircraft Section

Dave Osborne’s Fortlog

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

MISSION 201

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #201 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #652.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his sixteenth and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as the “C” Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Two Bomb Runs – Primary Target Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st CBW C Wing on today’s mission. Near the target, another formation of bombers flew below this wing, forcing them to hold their bombs. The wing made a second bomb run and released their bombs on the primary target.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the target as Krupp Steel Works at Magdeburg, Germany, 35,000 workers.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

P.T. [Primary Target]. Is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. Its the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV Tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [perhaps “shells”], it is a One Plus priority, and employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

P.F.F. target is the Mar. [Marshalling] Yards, in the city of Magdeburg, and adjacent to your P.T. [Primary Target].

Last Resorts. A/F [i.e., German Airforce/Luftwaffe targets] at Gardelegen, Quedlinburg, and Giessen. Every effort should be made to attack one of these targets. If not possible, then any Mil. Obj Pos. Iden. [military objective positively identifed] as East of the current strategic bomb line, which can be bombed without disrupting the fighter support.

Stay on the alert for E/A [Enemy Aircraft]. Yesterday E/A jumped the 2nd Div [Division] on 9 Degrees East and shot down 33 A/C [aircraft]. The E/A came in at 6 O’Clock high in waves of 15 – 20 [abreast] breaking away in all directions and then coming up from below while next wave attack at 6 O’Clock high.

Forty aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 40,

  • 31 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare completed the mission
  • 1 aircraft aborted due to personnel illness
  • 2 aircraft were scrubbed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 1 aircraft returned early, the aircraft of Lt. Richard Glen Wismer, due to a mechanical failure
  • 1 aircraft landed in Allied Territory. The Wing Lead, with Commander Horace Everett Frink aboard, landed away in Brussels due to flak damage
  • 2 aircraft failed to return, the aircraft of the Buslee and Brodie crews, with my dad aboard Buslee’s ship

On Mission 201, the Buslee crew was part of the High Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing led by Capt. William T. Johnson.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “C” Group and Senior Air Commander Major Horace Everett “Ev” Frink, serving his second tour with the 384th Bomb Group, previous and soon-to-be again 547th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer
  • Capt. William T. Johnson, 41st “C” Wing High Group Lead
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #201, with several crew substitutions, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew for #201 was essentially the same as the previous day’s Mission #200, with the only difference being the airman in the ball turret.

William Henson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator, Robert Stearns replaced James Davis as bombardier, George McMann replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret and Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822 on this mission. Mission reports show their “Time took off” as 0731.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, navigator George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., replacement togglier Byron Atkins, replacement radio operator Donald Dooley, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the High Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing aboard B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy. Mission reports show their “Time took off” as 0742.

The High Group formation with the Buslee and Brodie crews looked like this,

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

The Brodie crew’s favorite ship, A/C 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory, had not been repaired in time for the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 from the damage and technical failures reported by the Farra crew, which had flown her on the previous day’s Mission #200. Kathleen would not go back into combat service until Mission #202 on 30 September 1944.

Mission data in group reports included,

From the Navigators Narrative for the High Group,

  • High Group takeoff began at 0730 hours.
  • Completed climb to bombing altitude at 1110, altitude 27,500.
  • No enemy fighter attack.
  • Flak accurate and moderate at the target at 1210.
  • Bomb run began at 1154 at altitude of 27,700.
  • Bombs away at 1211 at altitude of 27,700.
  • Number of Runs: 2.

From other reports, including the post-mission “Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, 41st ‘C’ Combat Bombardment Wing on Mission Flown 28 September, 1944,”

  • No fighters encountered.
  • Behind schedule 20 minutes.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being noted.
  • Battle damage was recorded post-mission for twenty-three of the 384th’s B-17’s. Damage varied from “minor damage” to major damage such as “hydraulic system shot out,” “right and left Tokyo tanks hit,” “bombardier’s compartment, pilot’s compartment, exhaust stack on #3 engine, waist, and tail vertical stabilizer hit,” “#1 engine hit, 3-inch flak hole,” and “5 flak holes and 1 engine shot out,” among others. The aircraft of the Wing Lead, with Commander Horace Everett Frink aboard, was so badly damaged by flak that it had to drop out of formation and land away in Brussels.
  • The extent of battle damage can best be visualized using the mission’s formation chart. Aircraft circled in red sustained major flak damage. Aircraft circled in yellow sustained minor flak damage. The two aircraft outlined in blue are the ships of the Buslee and Brodie crews involved in the mid-air collision. Considering their positions, it is likely that one or both of them also sustained flak damage.

Battle Damage noted in 384th Bomb Group Formation Chart for 28 September 1944 Mission 201

  • Fighter escort was excellent on the entire mission and close support was given at all times.
  • In a “Flash Telephone Report on A.A. Gunfire,” flak was reported as, (a) On first run on target, CPF fire [Continuously Pointed Fire] encountered with inacc. Barr [inaccurate Barrage flak]/ over target, and (b) Sec. [Second] run CPF encountered almost exclusively. Also noted was, 2 A/C lost in collision over target.
  • Lead Bombardier, Lt. George K. Smith reported reason for “other than primary attacked” to be, “Another Wing flew under us over release point.” In a narrative, Smith reported more details,

Turned short of the I.P. [Initial Point of the bomb run] because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at the I.P to encounter complete coverage on the bomb run. Ships flew under us so we couldn’t release our bombs. We flew out and made a 180 degrees turn to put us on a heading of 260 degrees heading back over the target. There was a little opening in the clouds over a part in a river, which I believe the Lead Bombardier [Joe Baggs aboard Major Frink’s lead aircraft] killed his course. We dropped the bombs PFF and shortly after the lead aircraft was hit by flak. Then we took over from our deputy lead position to reform the Wing and start home. No flak was encountered on the way home.

28 September 1944 Mission #201 to Magdeburg, Germany, Target Photo

  • Regarding the Wing Leader’s, Major Frink’s, aircraft, which happened to be the 384th Commanding Officer Dale’s Smith’s personal favorite B-17 44-8007 Screaming Eagle,

After we dropped our bombs, and swung off the target, the Wing Leader informed the Deputy to take over as the former had been hit by flak. At this point, the entire Lead Section started to break up. We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing and the Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section.

The High and Low reassembled and flew alone until we finally picked up the Lead Section ten (10) miles ahead of us. I called the Deputy Leader to slow down, which he did, and we assembled back into Combat Wing formation.

  • Regarding Lt. Buslee’s and Lt. Brodie’s aircraft,

Two (2) of our aircraft are known missing.

Two (2) aircraft of the High Section, A/C 337-822 (Lt. Buslee, pilot) and A/C 1222 (Lt. Brodie, pilot) collided over the target and both ships were observed going down on fire and out of control. No chutes were observed.

  • Observer Ronald H. Froebel wrote,

Two ships in the high group, Brodie & Buslee, which were involved in the collision appeared to have been caught in prop wash on a turn to the left.  It appeared that Brodie was thrown down and into Buslee one plane, immediately disintegrated and the [other] broke into at the ball turret and finally caught fire and broke up.  I observed one chute.

  • Co-pilot Wallace Storey flying with the Gross crew in the High Group on Brodie’s left wing provided this firsthand account of the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 to Magdeburg,

MAGDEBURG
September 28, 1944

On this day the 384th Bomb Group was dispatched to bomb the Krupps Steel Manufacturing Plant at Magdeburg, Germany. This was a heavily defended target and a long flight of almost ten hours. On this mission there was a tragic occurrence illustrative of some of the little discussed risks of combat flying that sometimes happened but, fortunately, was never repeated on any of my missions.

After being awakened at 0310 we had breakfast and briefing and were in our planes at 0610 as the “start engine” flares arched from the 384thBG control tower—or “Cherub” as was its call sign. Of course, the radio was not used for aircraft control as the group departed so as to avoid alerting the German defenses any earlier than necessary. Once we were airborne the fact that the 8th was assembling was soon evident to the enemy but any delay increased the chances of deception.

On this mission, I was to follow ship #222, [42-31222]“Lazy Daisy”, flown by Lt. Brodie, on to the taxiway leading to the runway. He was to fly #2 position of the high element of our squadron and I was to fly position #3 (i.e. right and left wing respectively off of the lead plane,#941, [42-97941, “Marion”] of the element). Take off went well as we began our roll at 0720. The Group assembled without incident and we fell into line as briefed for the Wing Order of Battle.

Our 41st Combat Wing was made up that day of the 303rdBG in lead, followed by the 379th, with the 384th last. This order, which varied from mission to mission, was to prove fateful on that day. Just a few weeks earlier the Luftwaffe had begun a new tactic which they called “company front attacks”. They added extra armor and guns to three or four dozen Focke Wolfe FW-190 single engine fighters. They approached the 8th Air Force Groups head on in wedges of eight to sixteen planes so as to saturate the bombers’ defensive fire and sometimes disrupt their formation. Although we did not know it at the time, they had used this tactic against the 446th Group of the Second Division the previous day and inflicted the greatest loss ever suffered by a single group of the 8th Air Force in World War II—-25 B-24’s.

The German fighters used this tactic against the 303rd Group, the lead group in our Combat Wing, on the mission to Magdeburg on the 28th. The 303rd lost eleven B-17’s in this frontal assault. One of the lead pilots of the 303rd is quoted as saying “When we turned on our bomb run we were attacked by about 50 Nazi fighters en masse, coming at us as a solid bunch. Those guys were like mad men–with one idea–to knock us down in a suicidal attack”. There was a total of fifteen B-17’s that were lost that day from our Combat Wing. This amounted to a 13.9% loss of the 108 planes–the highest loss in the Wing of any of my missions.

Being the 3rd Group in the Wing we were fortunate not to be as heavily attacked as the other two Groups, but what happened led to confusion as we bombed the target. Flak was extremely heavy that day and the Wing had been somewhat disrupted by the heavy opposition. We found ourselves on a crossing course with another Group and just after “bombs away” the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn. Our high element, being on the inside of this steep turn, had to move quickly by reducing power while climbing slightly. Glancing to my right, I saw that “Lazy Daisy” was sliding toward me. I pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path while keeping my eye on the #2 ship of the lead element, Lt. Buslee in #337 [43-37822], on whose wing our element was flying. I yelled to Gross to watch for him to come out on the other side and, sure enough, he slid under us and right into Buslee in the lead element.

I watched the two planes as they collided. It cut #337 [43-37822] in half and the wings on #222 [42-31222] folded up and both planes fell in a fireball. They were 18 men lost in those two ships. We didn’t see any chutes as we continued our turn to the right.

Some of the formations were broken up, both because of this and because of the fighter attack, but we did not have any further problem as we headed back home. Even though the 1st Division lost 23 planes, the Germans did not come out unscathed. There were 10 confirmed fighters destroyed, 7 probables, and 5 damaged by the B-17 gunners. Our crew was extremely lucky that day as “Lazy Daisy”, by all normal odds, should have collided with us and must have crossed under with less than five foot clearance as I pulled up. And for Buslee, flying on the last of his 35 missions [correction: Buslee was on his 16th mission], and for Brodie, and their crews it was the unluckiest of all days.

We were all happy to be safely back at Grafton Underwood as we touched down on the soil of England. Upon inspecting our plane we found two sizable Flak holes but, fortunately, they missed our fuel tanks and other vital points. Fighters and Flak were not the only dangers of combat flying. Taking off, assembling, and landing in extremely bad English weather (such as grounded the 8th frequently in 1943 but not later) formation flying in weather where only the adjoining plane could be seen and maneuvering large formations required great competency in the flight crews and, often, great luck as described in this mission.

Copyright (C) 2002—Lt/Col. Wallace A. Storey

Many more details of the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 have previously been published in my posts,

Contrary to the lack of chutes observed coming from the two ships of the Buslee and Brodie crews, there were a handful of survivors. My father, George Edwin Farrar, was the lone survivor of the Buslee crew’s B-17. Three survived on the Brodie crew’s B-17 – Harry Liniger, Wilfred Miller, and George Hawkins. Four men out of eighteen survived. Fourteen did not and perished on September 28, 1944.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 201. Note: at the time of my previous post about Mission 201, the Buslee crew’s aircraft was misidentified in the 384th Bomb Group database and photo gallery. At the time, the photo and name attached to B-17 43-37822 were actually those of B-17 42-37822. A/C 43-37822 was unnamed or the name never recorded or nose art, if it existed, never photographed.
  • Previous posts of details about Mission 201 in “What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg?”, Part 1 and Part 2
  • Previous post Propwash?
  • Previous post, Wallace Storey
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

With the exception of material in this post copyrighted by Wallace A. Storey, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

MISSION 200

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #200 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #650.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 27 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The Group’s 200th Mission Celebration was held the previous weekend on 23 September 1944, with the mission actually flown four days later on the 27th.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew in the “A” Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Marshalling Yards Bombed By PFF
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st CBW A wing for today’s attack on railroad marshalling yards in Cologne, Germany.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the “A” Combat Wing as Cologne (Koln), with three specific Primary Targets based on Group,

  • High Group target was Cologne
  • Lead Group target was Reisholz, near Dusseldorf, Never been bombed
  • Low Group target was Monheim, near Dusseldorf, Oil Refinery

Briefing Notes repeated the three Primary Targets as,

  • LEAD at Reisholz near Dusseldorf
  • LOW at Monheim
  • HI. Niehl, near Cologne

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 flying spare completed the mission
  • 1 aircraft aborted due to engine failure
  • 2 aircraft were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 2 aircraft did not take off due to a ground accident

In his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group, Ken Decker reported that before mission takeoff, Sgt. Lowell Hatfield, the Lloyd Peters crew waist gunner, was run over by a truck while carrying gun barrels out to the plane. Hatfield suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, and other injuries. He did not regain consciousness for three weeks and upon awakening was shipped home to continue his recovery.

Prior to takeoff of Mission #200, two B-17’s were involved in a ground accident. The Bert Oliver Brown crew aboard the unnamed B-17 44-6080 and the Donald George Springsted crew aboard B-17 44-6141 Sneakin Deacon collided in a taxi accident.

Aircraft 6080 was in #3 position for takeoff and Aircraft 6141 was #4. Weather was not a factor as far as visibility went, but the accident did occur in darkness, prior to sun-up. On or about 0528 (5:28 A.M.), Brown taxied 44-6080 out onto the perimeter track, ninety (90) degrees to Take-off Runway 24. Springsted taxied Sneakin Deacon to the aft end of the runway, stopped, and then taxied to the extreme left side of the runway, and proceeded to take-off position. On passing the perimeter track, Sneakin Deacon’s left wing collided with nose section of Aircraft 44-6080.

Sneakin Deacon’s left outer wing panel was repaired and replaced at Grafton Underwood, and the aircraft was back in service the next day. The damage to 44-6080, described as “Complete nose section torn away from bulkhead No. 2 forward and [w]rinkle in fuselage behind No. 3 bulkhead” was too great for repairs and the aircraft had to be salvaged. Fortunately, no crew members from either crew were injured in the accident. Review Accident Report AR44-09-27-510 for more details…

Before the formation even took to the skies, one airman was injured and two aircraft were damaged. But for those that did take off and left Grafton Underwood headed for Germany on Mission #200, all aircraft returned. But they returned from the mission with one airman seriously wounded and one killed, both due to intense and accurate flak at the target.

The B-17 42-97282, named Rebel, of the William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with a wounded man aboard. Rebel received major battle damage from flak at the target. The horizontal & vertical stabilizers were hit, the right wing’s main and Tokyo tanks were hit, and the waist was hit near the bottom of the fuselage. The tail gunner’s structure was weakened by flak and its occupant, tail gunner Sgt. Robert H. Hoyman, was hit in the head near his left eye. Hoyman did return to duty almost two weeks later, but the 9 October 1944 mission was his last of the thirteen he completed.

The B-17 42-98000, named Fightin’ Hebe, of the Raymond John Gabel crew landed with a dead navigator. Fightin’ Hebe received major battle damage from black and white accurate tracking barrage flak at the target. The aircraft was riddled with flak holes in the radio room, tail, fuselage, and left wing. Gabel reported that navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren was hit and killed at the target and Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group author Ken Decker reported that Lovegren was struck in the spine by flak.

On Mission 200, the Buslee crew was part of the High Group of the 41st “A” Combat Wing led by Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “A” Combat Bombardment Wing Lead, Air Commander Col. Dale Orville Smith, 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944, in the 384th’s lead aircraft in the Lead Group. This was the second of my dad’s missions in which the Group Commander participated.
  • Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson, High Section leader for the 41st “A” Combat Wing
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #200, with several crew substitutions, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

William Henson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator, Robert Stearns replaced James Davis as bombardier, Robert Mitchell replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret and Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail for the second time.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-102449 Hale’s Angels on this mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0536
  • Time landed 1158
  • Target (Cologne)  attacked at 0922 from an altitude of 28,600 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500 GP
  • Flak at Target reported as “Inaccurate – Barrage. (7 black & 1 white burst). Main barrage. Low Rockets observed after leaving area. Inaccurate CPF reported over the Rhine.
  • Radio Equipment Failure: Liaison – Frequency Meter dead.
  • Technical Failures Aircraft: Elevation clutch on top turret slipped. Gee box inaccurate.
  • Armament Failures: none
  • Battle damage: none

The James Brodie crew did not participate in Mission 200, but they had flown the day before, 26 September 1944, on Mission 199, in which the Buslee crew did not participate.

The Brodie crew makeup for Mission #199 was James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Richard Potter, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger, all of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

The Brodie crew flew aboard their favorite aircraft, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory on #199. It was their eighth mission aboard Kathleen. Brodie did not report any aircraft failures, but did report battle damage of “minor flak damage in wings.”

With the Brodie crew sitting out Mission #200, their favorite ship, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory, was assigned as a spare to the Robert Leslie Farra crew. The Farra crew and Kathleen were needed and joined the formation in the Lead Group for #200.

Upon return to base after the mission, Farra reported several issues with Kathleen,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Gun sight on chin turret rheostat burned out. Gas gauge inoperative after target. #2 prop runs away continuously. Mike switch on pilot’s control wheel improperly installed. Rheostat in tail inoperative.
  • Battle Damage: Right aileron hit. Horizontal stabilizer, fin and rudder hit. At target.
  • Crew Suggestion: Transportation in morning to carry guns from armament shop to A/C [aircraft]. [Suggestion likely due to Sgt. Hatfield’s morning accident].

Considering the amount of damage received on Mission #200 and defects reported by Farra, and the amount of work needed by the ground crew on Kathleen, would it be ready for the Brodie crew the next day?

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy fighters encountered.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Both CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Black bursts noted.
  • Good fighter escort. As briefed.
  • None of our A.C. is missing.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 200
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

MISSION 198

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #198 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #647.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fourteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 25 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew in both the “B” and “C” Wings.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Primary Target Attacked By PFF
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st CBW B Wing, and as the lead and high groups of the 41st CBW C Wing. In all, 53 aircraft took off between 0700 and 0736. All formations bombed the primary target using PFF aiming, with unobserved results.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for both the “B” and “C” Combat Wings as the Frankfurt Ost Marshalling Yards. The Secondary Target was the Center of the city of Frankfurt and the Target of Last Resort was the Branch Ordnance Depot at Giessen, Germany.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Target: Frankfurt Ost Marshalling Yards: It is located on the eastern end of the city of Frankfurt and north of the Main River. It has a capacity of 2400 wagons per day and is of vital importance in connection with the waterways system of the Rhineland, since it serves the port area to its south which is the third most important inland port in Germany. This is a request target by army headquarters and the traffic in this marshalling yards has been very heavy in the last few days.

Fifty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 53,

  • 48 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare completed the mission
  • 3 aircraft aborted, 1 due to mechanical failure, and 2 due to personnel illness
  • 1 aircraft failed to return

The B-17 42-10757 Spririt of 96 of the Noel Elwin Plowman crew failed to return. They were flying in the Lead Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

In his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group, Ken Decker reported two stories of this mission shared with him by mission participants, the first regarding the loss of the Plowman crew.

Flying with the William Elmer Doran crew in the Low Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing, ball turret gunner Melvin Edward Holtwick had a bird’s eye view of the action from his turret which hung from the belly of his B-17 44-6109 Ole Tulik. It was Holtwick’s very first mission. They were flying off the wing of B-17 42-10757, Spirit of 96. Holtwick recalled,

The plane that was lost was flying off our wing and I saw the plane get hit. This was my first mission and I was as green as grass about what was in store for us. I was watching the squadrons ahead of us going into the flak area and watching the flak burst all around them. Seemed pretty to me. About that time we were going into it also.

I was looking at the plane off our wing when all of a sudden the entire tail assembly flew off. It fluttered off to the left like a leaf in a wind storm. The rest of the plane fell off to the right and went into a tight spin. There were a lot of debris falling and I couldn’t make out any bodies. It had been a hit around the waist door and the right waist window. No doubt blowing the waist gunner to bits. That was when my idea of flak being pretty made a 180 turn, and I saw it for what it really was.

Ole Tulik received battle damage due to flak in the plexiglass nose. The pilot, William Doran, reported his observation of the Spirit of 96 in his post-mission tactical interrogation report,

Direct hit no left window of waist cut it in 1/2. Tail went past us underneath. Rest of fuselage nosed over. No chutes seen.

The observer, Melvin Holtwick, was fortunate to finish his tour of 35 missions on February 9, 1945.

Contrary to the expected outcome, the tail gunner and waist gunner survived the flak hit. Of the crew of Spirit of 96, the Pilot, Co-pilot, Navigator, Bombardier, and Radio Operator were killed. The Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Tail Gunner, and Waist Gunner all became POW’s. All were held in Stalag Luft IV, the same camp as my dad, except for Tail Gunner Kenneth Lentz who was seriously injured and held in Obermassfeld Hospital #1249.

The Missing Air Crew report, MACR9414, for the Plowman crew provides more detail.

The report’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts notes,

  • In formation when hit, and nosed over
  • Flak was meager to moderate and very accurate
  • The tail was blown off in front of the horizontal stabilizer
  • The aircraft nosed over straight down out of control and was lost in the clouds
  • Number of parachutes seen was NONE.

The plane crashed near Wiesbaden, Germany.

In a Casualty Questionnaire filled out after the end of the war and his liberation and return to the states, Kenneth Lentz stated that,

I was unconscious from time plane was hit – until two weeks after.

Lentz also noted that,

My mother received a letter from England stating four parachutes were seen bailing out of the plane.

He also included a personal note saying,

Dear Sir,

Am very sorry that I can [not] give you the necessary information concerning the members of my crew because I was unconscious and do not know how I bailed out.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Lentz

The Ball Turret Gunner, Armando Oliva, reported on his Casualty Questionnaire that they left the formation right over the target and he bailed out. He added,

My waist gunner bailed out immediately after me and my engineer a few seconds before us through the nose hatch. I have no knowledge of my tail gunner.

The Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Robert Allen Cameron, reported, regarding the Radio Operator,

…when I came out of my turret, next to the radio room door, I saw him lying on the floor very still which makes me believe he was unconscious. I tried to pull him toward me and out to the waist but just then the ship went into a spin and I was knocked past the ball turret landing near the waist window & seeing the ground very close I barely had time to jump.

My supposition is that since the waist gunner bailed out directly behind me, and my chute barely opened before I hit the ground, no one else could have had time to jump, especially if he was unconscious when I had seen him.

Also according to Cameron, but reported by one of the other survivors, as Cameron was passing the pilot’s compartment on the way to bail out, he noticed that the pilot and co-pilot had just broken loose their safety belts and were scrambling on the floor. That led them to believe that since the plane was at approximately 4000 feet when Cameron bailed out, and since the plane was in a dive, that the pilot and co-pilot went down with the ship.

They also supposed that due to the wild spinning of the ship that the navigator and bombardier may have been knocked against some object and lost consciousness, also going down with the ship.

Also shared with Decker and reported in his book was a story from this same mission from pilot Raymond Causa, also flying in the Lead Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing, aboard the unnamed B-17 42-107083, which collided with a B-24, but was able to return to base with a damaged left wing. Causa said,

I was flying Lead in the top flight of the 384th Formation. A Captain Smith was flying Lead in the Group. While returning we descended a bit and flew close to the Rhur, right into the bomb line of B-24’s. We missed the first group, re-formed and into the second group. While in a climbing turn to the right to miss the 24’s, my plane was struck by the left wing of a B-24, which took a major portion of my left wing, just behind the centerline. I don’t know what happened to the 24, but we had no trouble getting home. The B-17 was a fine ship. Our crew finished all our missions without any difficulties.

Post-mission, Causa reported minor flak damage and major damage to the left wing due to a collision. On his Tactical Interrogation form, he wrote,

Our Gp. Nav. turned into the B-24 Bomb Line. B-17 & B-24 formation split up and 1 B-24 wing collided into our left wing.

Battle damage: Left wing major damage due to a collision. Horizontal & vertical stabilizer damage. Minor flak holes.

On Mission 198, the Buslee crew was part of the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing led by Captain Roy Alan Vinnedge.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Captain Roy Alan Vinnedge, Low Section leader for the 41st “C” Combat Wing
  • Major Arthur E. Bean, Jr., Air Commander and Lead Section leader for the 41st “C” Combat Wing, Assistant Group Operations Officer (Primary) and Group Training Officer
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.
  • Air Commander Major Horace Everett “Ev” Frink, serving his second tour with the 384th Bomb Group, previous and soon-to-be again 547th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer, led the 41st “B” Combat Wing on this mission

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #198, with the only crew substitutions in the ball turret and tail, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Irving L. Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret for the fifth time. Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail for the first time. Lucynski had been injured in the 19 September 1944 mission aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-39888 Hotnuts on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0733
  • Time landed 1411
  • Target attacked at 1053 from an altitude of 26,700 ft.
  • Bombs on target: All (12 x 500 GP)
  • Flak at Frankfurt was “not accurate on this formation. 4 gun bursts. Rockets in area. Rocket observed – trail of white smoke dissipated at once. No explosion.”
  • Technical Failures: 5 walk-around oxygen bottles not filled.
  • Armament Failures: (1) Bombs would not release in train, and (2) Doors failed to retract electrically
  • Battle damage: none
  • Crew suggestion: Don’t believe escort on time on way in to target.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Jack Irvin Haas, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Low Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory. This mission was the Brodie crew’s seventh aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Inaccurate barrage flak in the target area.
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: none.
  • Battle damage: Upper turret window broken. Over target area.
  • Observed the “direct flak hit, tail blown off” of the A/C in the #3 lead.

Mission data in group reports included,

For the “B” Wing,

  • No enemy fighters observed.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Rockets also observed in the area. Black bursts noted.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.
  • One of our aircraft is missing. A/C 057 [42-10757] was hit by flak in the target area. And tail was seen to fall off. Three chutes observed.

For the “C” Wing,

  • No fighters encountered.
  • Moderate, CPF and Barrage type flak encountered at target. Rockets also seen.
  • Fighter escort as briefed.
  • No A/C are missing in this formation.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 198
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The Fate of Tremblin’ Gremlin and Her Crew on Mission 196

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #196 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #642.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his thirteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 19 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying as the only Buslee crew member on a ship piloted by William Marcus Reed. I wrote about the 384th’s and my dad’s participation on this mission last week.

Today I will concentrate on the two 384th Bomb Group crews that flew in the 303rd Bomb Group formation rather than with their own Group, and the only other Buslee crew member to participate on Mission 196, the crew’s tail gunner Eugene Daniel Lucynski, who was aboard B-17 42-39782, Tremblin’ Gremlin with the Joe Carnes crew on this mission.

My dad flew eleven missions with Eugene Lucynski. Also, the B-17 42-39782 Tremblin’ Gremlin, was the ship of my father’s first combat mission and the only B-17 name he ever mentioned in his WWII stories to me as I was growing up.

The two 384th Bomb Group crews and aircraft were flying spare, but instead of filling in for scrubbed aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group, they joined the formation of the 303rd Bomb Group on the 19 September 1944 mission. They were the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin and the Hassing crew aboard Little American II. Both were assigned to fly in the 303rd’s High Group.

The 303rd Bomb Group, known as “Hell’s Angels,” was based in Molesworth, England, about twelve miles east of the 384th’s Grafton Underwood, England base. For the 303rd Bomb Group, this 8th Air Force Mission #642 was their mission #244. (The 303rd’s Mission #1 occurred on 17 November 1942, with the 384th’s Mission #1 six months later on 22 June 1943. This one was #196 for the 384th Bomb Group.)

According to these excerpts from the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents,

The high Group encountered intense but inaccurate flak at Osnabruck and intense and accurate fire over the Ruhr Valley. Returning aircraft had eight major and fourteen minor instances of battle damage.

A 384BG B-17, flying with the high Group, was lost to flak after bombs away.

The 303rd Mission Documents also included a narrative titled “THE RUHR VALLEY AND BAD WEATHER” written by Herbert Shanker, a 303rd Bomb Group mission participant and Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. This excerpt from Shanker’s narrative tells the story of the Carnes and Hassing crews’ mission experience not covered in 384th Bomb Group mission documents.

The date was September 19, 1944. The 303rd Bomb Group was briefed to fly a bombing mission to Hamm, Germany. This mission would take seven and half hours.

The 359th [the 359th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group] was scheduled to fly with the High squadron of the Group [the same part of the formation in which the two 384th Bomb Group crews were flying], which meant that they would drop their bombs between the Lead squadron and the Low Squadron. At the IP the three squadrons separated and bombed individually, two minutes apart, and then reformed as a cohesive unit as quickly as possible to consolidate the Group’s fire power for defensive purposes.

On this particular mission, the Lead squadron had two Radar equipped aircraft (code name Mickey) and the Low squadron had one Mickey ship. For some inexplicable reason, the High squadron had none. The 303rd BG was scheduled to be the last group to bomb this day which meant that the 359th Squadron would be the next to last squadron in the entire bomb stream to bomb.

As things worked out, the Lead and Low squadrons were able to bomb visually, therefore having no need for the radar aircraft for bombing purposes. The High squadron, on the other hand found the target obscured by clouds and made a 360 degree turn to make another attempt.

The second attempt was less successful than the first and so the High squadron “Lead” decided to find a “target of opportunity” on the way home. As the other two squadrons had completed their part in the mission, they took off for home, which was standard practice, so as to limit exposure to loss. All crews had been constantly briefed not to hang back to protect disabled aircraft as the practice usually resulted in greater loss.

The High squadron was now completely on its own as even our fighter escort had disappeared by this time. The squadron, consisting of 12 or 13 aircraft, eventually bombed the town of Osnabruck. Because of a navigational error after “Bombs Away,” the squadron found itself in the Ruhr Valley, one of the most heavily defended areas in the world. At least one aircraft was shot down and all aircraft were subjected to extremely intense flak.

Read more of the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents in their entirety.

Flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the aircraft of Lt. Eugene Theron Hassing was hit by flak and the crew was forced to land in Allied territory in France. Hassing described in a post-mission report titled “Lt. Hassing’s Story” that they,

Flew with the 303rd High Group, and just before bombs away, got into the overcast and went on to bomb Munster [actually Osnabruck?]. Hit by flak in the Rhur area. (Leader of this group got lost and we went thru the Rhur area). Low and Gas, and left formation to find a landing field just after leaving the Rhur. Landed at Vitry En Artois. Plane was undamaged. Only one hole in gas lines.

Stopped at Dugua. They fed eighteen men for four days.

None of the men of the 384 Bomb Group’s Hassing crew were reported to be injured during the mission.

Also flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the men of the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin were not so lucky. A statement recorded in the post-mission documents of the 384th Bomb Group by the co-pilot of the Carnes crew, William Glenn Wyatt, reads,

Statement by Lt. Wyatt, Co-pilot, Mission to Hamm, Germany, 19 September 1944

We were Flying Spare aircraft in our Wing. When we reached the point of turnback we joined the 303rd Group, flying in No. 5 position, Low Squadron, High Group. Bombing was to be done visually, but clouds covered the target just before we reached it. The High Group, therefore, went into the Ruhr area and bombed a Marshalling Yard near ____________ [left blank by Wyatt, but noted in 303rd Bomb Group mission reports that the Low and Lead groups dropped their bombs on Hamm and the High Group dropped on Osnabruck, Germany].

Here we lost two engines. We feathered No. 1 engine, but No. 4 engine could not be feathered. The prop. shaft broke and No. 4 prop. began windmilling and continued to do so all the way back. At the same time the supercharger on No. 3 engine ran away and became uncontrollable. We necessarily lagged behind the formation, finally losing it. The Navigator [Alfred David Benjamin] and Togglier [Robert William Chanter] were brought out of the nose because of the danger of No. 4 prop. flying off.

The Ball Turret Gunner [James Bernard King, Jr.], Waist Gunner [Raymond Arnold Panici] and Tail Gunner [Eugene Daniel Lucynski] were hit by flak at approximately the same time the engines were knocked out. We encountered intense and accurate flak in and around the target area and crossing the Rhine River. We took evasive action the entire route back at 10,000 feet. The co-pilot [William Glenn Wyatt] went back to the waist to take care of the wounded men.

The No. 2 engine then blew the cylinders out, leaving one engine with runaway supercharger. In the meantime the Ball Turret had been jettisoned. The ground was not visible and we were on instruments. The Pilot [Joe Ross Carnes, Jr.] then gave the order to bail out, when the Navigator [Benjamin] was fairly sure that we were over friendly territory.

The waist escape hatch stuck, but we finally got rid of the escape door by firing a .45 automatic at the hinges. The Togglier [Chanter] left by the tail escape hatch. The Waist Gunner [Panici], Radio Operator [Frank Joseph Schick, Jr.], Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski], as well as the Co-Pilot [Wyatt], left by the waist escape hatch.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King], being seriously injured, was hooked to static line. The Engineer [Top Turret Gunner Charles William Ford, Jr.] and Pilot [Carnes] left by the Navigator’s escape hatch and were the last to bail out. The entire crew landed in Binche, Belgium.

The injured men, including the Navigator and Togglier, who were slightly injured bailing out, were taken immediately to Gilley [Gilly] (St. Joseph’s Hospital), since the nearest Army Hospital was approximately 40 miles away. It was necessary for the Ball Turret Gunner’s [King] left foot to be amputated. The operation was performed by a Belgian doctor, under the supervision of Major Heron from the Surgeon’s office, 1st Army Headquarters.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Co-Pilot [Wyatt] landed approximately 150 yards apart in a field and were immediately surrounded by Belgian civilians. A doctor was secured as soon as possible and the Ball Turret Gunner [King] was taken to a small hospital at Binche, Belgium, where his foot was dressed. From there he was taken by American ambulance of the 30th Photo Reconnaissance Group to the hospital at Gilley [Gilly].

The Co-Pilot [Wyatt] sent messages to the 8th Air Force concerning the status of the entire crew as soon as possible. Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Radio Operator [Schick] and Togglier [Chanter] returned to the U.K. via 9th TAC Headquarters, Paris, and the regular channels for evadees and escapees.

The Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King], Waist Gunner [Panici] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski] are to be evacuated through medical channels. They will be removed to an American hospital as soon as their physical condition permits. The Pilot [Carnes] and Engineer [Ford] were in touch with the M.P. Station at Binche.

SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe from late 1943 until the end of World War II] called this Group to try to get transportation for us back to the Base (Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Togglier [Chanter], and Radio Operator [Schick]). We were unable to contact the Officer of the Day or any officer on duty. These three men had to borrow money to come from London back to the Base. The Group would not send transportation to Kettering for the three men.

These men arrived back at this Station in the P.M. 22 September 1944.

In his book “Memories of the 384th Bombardment Goup (H), Second Edition, Ken Decker added – likely from a story shared with him by one of the crew after the war – that after bailing out of Tremblin’ Gremlin,

The danger wasn’t over yet as the aircraft, as if trying to punish the crew for leaving it in the air, started to circle and they feared it might hit them in their chutes before finally diving into the ground and exploded about 3 – 5 miles from Binche (about 10 miles west of Charleroi, Belgium).

The entire Hassing crew returned to Grafton Underwood from France and on 28 September 1944 participated in their next mission, Mission #201 to Magdeburg, Germany.

The men aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin did not participate in a mission again until October for many of them – 2 OCT for Chanter, 3 OCT for Schick, 5 OCT for Wyatt, 9 OCT for Ford, 14 OCT for Carnes, and 17 OCT for Benjamin – November for Panici on 1 NOV, and King and Lucynski did not ever return to combat.

King was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 4178 U.S. Army Hospital Plant.

Lucynski was hospitalized until 10 November 1944. On the recommendation form for the Purple Heart, Lucynski’s wounds were described as “multiple lacerations of right hand and left wrist.” He received the Purple Heart on 7 December 1944 at Grafton Underwood.

I am not certain how Lucynski continued his service in WWII, but a passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on October 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.

Notes/Resources

  • Previous post on Mission 196
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • 303rd Bomb Group website
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

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