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What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.)

The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy.

Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

Many years later, I met Wallace Storey, a 384th Bomb Group pilot who witnessed the mid-air collision. I was surprised to hear Wallace say that Lazy Daisy could not have been hit by ground fire from flak guns as there wasn’t any flak over the target that day. As a result, I have been searching for the reason why Lazy Daisy veered off course ever since.

Two 384th Bomb Group researchers, Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson, have a special life mission – to obtain as many of the group’s mission documents as possible to share on the group’s website. On one of their trips to the National Archives, they copied the mission documents of Mission 201 and shared them with me. After reviewing the available information, I’m still not positive what caused Lazy Daisy to veer off course, but because of various post-mission statements and one pilot’s post-mission Tactical Interrogation report, I do see the possibility that my dad may have been right about the flak after all.

I’ll get to the pilot Tactical Interrogation reports in Part 2, coming two weeks from now, but first I want to share a few facts about the mission itself and a few things that may have contributed to the mid-air collision.

The mission map shared with the officers in the morning briefing showed the flight plan for the mission in red. The route actually followed was added in blue, post mission.

September 28, 1944 Mission Map, Mission 201
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Briefing Notes prior to the mission describe the primary and secondary targets.

P.T. [Primary Target] is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. It’s the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [shells?], it is a one plus priority. And employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

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

Other Efforts.  You are the last of 12 36 A/C Wing of First Div. The 1st 6 groups of the 1st A.B.C. and 40th A.B.C. attack oil plant 4 miles No. of your target. The 94th A.B.C. bomb A/C fact. [Aircraft Factory] 3 miles No. of your target, 94th C, 41st A.B.C. bomb your target. Should PFF be used all groups will attack your PFF RR M/Y [Railroad Marshalling Yards] at Magdeburg.

The Lead Bombardier’s post-mission narrative explains the first problem with the mission. George K. Smith, 2nd Lt., Air Corps, Deputy Bombardier, Combat Wing 41st C described how the bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point.

Turned short of I.P. because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at 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 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.

The Navigator’s post-mission narrative indicated that the 384th was not on schedule and also noted flak at the target. Lt. Clarendon George Richert wrote,

Route flown as briefed to target. Behind schedule 20 minutes. Two runs on target due to deputy taking over.

Flak concentrations encountered (not scattered bursts).

  • Place: Target
  • Time: 1208 – 1211
  • Accuracy: Accurate
  • Intensity: Moderate

In his Operational Narrative, Major W. E. “Pop” Dolan, Station S-2 Officer, wrote,

Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being notes.

Two of our A/C is missing. These two ships collided at the target to reasons unknown. Both ships were seen to break up and go down in flames. No chutes were observed.

In these selections from his Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, “Pop” Dolan offered more detail.

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.

Assembly of the Group and Wing was accomplished fifteen (15) minutes before departure time from our Base at 0823 hours, 7,000 feet without difficulty. We were ahead of “Cowboy-Baker” but we swung wide on the first Control Point and got in our correct slot in the Division at 0920 hours over Cambridge, 7,000 feet. We left the coast of England on course and on time at 0937 hours, Clacton, 9,000 feet. Speeds were S.O.P.

The route to the Belgian Coast was without incident and we crossed it at 1001 ½ hours, 51°10’N.-02°44’E., 15,000 feet. From this point into the I.P. [Initial Point of the final bomb run to the target] the mission was flown as briefed and without difficulty. No flak was encountered prior to the target and no enemy fighter attacks were made on our Wing for the entire mission.

At the I.P., we were notified by Buckeye-Red that target weather would be approximately 8/10ths which was accurate. We made our run from the I.P. to the target in Wing formation on PFF. When we approached the target, there was another Section making a run 90° to us on the same target. They passed over the target at the same time we did directly underneath us and we were unable to drop because we would have dropped on them. We therefore made a turn and started a second run in Wing formation. Bombs were away on PFF at 1211 hours from 26,000 feet. However, in the opinion of Capt. Booska, Low Section Leader, it is possible that today’s bombing may have been visual as there was a break in the clouds directly over the target one (1) minute before bombs were away. As it is presumed that the Lead Wing Bombardier landed in Belgium, our reports will state that PFF bombing was accomplished. Magnetic heading of bombs away was 265 degrees. Some crews observed the results through breaks in the clouds and they state that the bombs hit in the target area. Flak at the target was moderate and accurate.

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. After this, we had no other difficulties and the rest of the mission was flown as briefed and without incident. We departed the Belgian Coast at 1437 hours, 10,500 feet and recrossed the English Coast at 1508 hours, 1,000 feet.

And finally, the 384th Bomb Group’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts summarized what happened to the two aircraft in the mid-air collision.

Brodie:  Aircraft broke up near tail assembly and went down in flames. Aircraft was burning and slowly spiraling down until it disappeared in the clouds.

Buslee:  Pieces of tail and wings falling off. Plane in flames from engines. Going down in flames spinning into the clouds.

As for the statement, “We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing,” in “Pop” Dolan’s Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, one of the pilots’ Tactical Interrogation reports described the tail symbol of the 351st Bomb Group. The 351st’s Intelligence S-2 Report for what was their group’s Mission 211 noted,

Two Triangle “P” ships were observed to collide just after the target. One chute was seen.

And a 351st combat crew comment from their aircraft 956-L remarked,

Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash.

Summary of information from the September 28, 1944 Mission 201 documents:

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash

To be continued with the mission’s individual pilot Tactical Interrogation Form visual observations and combat crew comments…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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WWII Timeline – Winter 1939

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1939 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1939

By January 1, 1939

In January 1933, around 522,000 Jews lived in Germany. After the Nazis took power and implemented their antisemitic ideology and policies, Jews fled the nation. Almost sixty percent emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship. In 1939, around 234,000 Jews remained in Germany.

January 5, 1939

Hitler pressured Poland to return the port of Gdansk (Danzig in German) to Germany.

January 12, 1939

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his $552 million dollar defense plan in a speech before Congress.

January 24, 1939

Hermann Göring ordered SS leader Reinhard Heydrich to speed up the emigration of Jews and established the National Central Office for Jewish Emigration.

Reinhard Heydrich was second to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS and he was credited as the principle planner of the Final Solution. His Nazi nickname was The Blond Beast and others called him Hangman Heydrich. He was described as a “cold, calculating manipulator,” being without human compassion, and was known for his insatiable greed for power.

But rumors surfaced about possible Jewish ancestry on Heydrich’s father’s side of his family. His grandmother’s second marriage, after the birth of Heydrich’s father, was to a man with a Jewish sounding name. Heydrich’s enemies within the Nazi Party spread the rumor, of which both Hitler and Himmler became aware.

Himmler considered ousting Heydrich from the SS. But Hitler had a long private meeting with Heydrich and afterward described Heydrich as

a highly gifted but also very dangerous man, whose gifts the movement had to retain…extremely useful; for he would eternally be grateful to us that we had kept him and not expelled him and would obey blindly.

January 26, 1939

Nationalist troops seized Barcelona, Spain.

January 30, 1939

Adolf Hitler appeared before the Nazi Reichstag (Parliament) on the sixth anniversary of his coming to power. In a speech commemorating the event, he made a public threat against the Jews.

In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!

February 9, 1939

Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts introduced the Wagner-Rogers bill. It was designed to allow the entry of 20,000 refugee children under the age of fifteen from the Greater German Reich into the United States over a two year period. The bill died in committee in the summer of 1939.

February 21, 1939

In the Decree concerning the Surrender of Precious Metals and Stones in Jewish Ownership, the Nazis forced Jews to hand over all gold and silver items, diamonds, and other valuables to the state without compensation.

February 27, 1939

France and Great Britain recognized the Franco government of Spain.

March 14–15, 1939
The Slovaks declared their independence and formed the Slovak Republic. German troops occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia) in violation of the Munich agreement, forming a Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. At the time the Jewish population of Czechoslovakia was 350,000.

March 17, 1939

President Roosevelt emphasized the importance of amending the U.S. Neutrality Act. He lobbied Congress to have the cash-and-carry provision regarding arms trade renewed. He was denied his request and the provision lapsed.  The mandatory arms embargo outlined in the act remained in place. Roosevelt prevailed later in the year, and on November 4, the Neutrality Act of 1939 was passed, which allowed for arms trade with belligerent nations (Great Britain and France) on a cash-and-carry basis.

March 22, 1939

Germany coerced Lithuania to return the Memel District to Germany.

March 25, 1939

When Poland would not subordinate their country to Germany, Hitler directed his generals to develop plans for war.

March 28, 1939

General Francisco Franco captured Madrid, which gave the Nationalists a victory and ended the Spanish Civil War. Franco later pledged support to Hitler and Mussolini, but refused to enter WWII. He maintained token neutrality throughout the war. Francisco Franco went on to lead Spain until his death in 1975.

March 29, 1939

In response to Hitler’s January 5 pressure on Poland to return the port of Gdansk (Danzig in German) to Germany, Warsaw announced that the Polish army would retaliate against any attempt to take it.

March 31, 1939
France and Great Britain stepped up to help Poland and guaranteed the integrity of the borders of the Polish state.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wikipedia – History of the Jews in Germany

Reinhard Heydrich – The History Place

Hitler’s January 30, 1939 Reichstag Speech – The History Place

Wikipedia – Neutrality Acts of the 1930’s

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Number of Missions to Complete a Tour

When can I go home? The answer to the most important question most WWII airmen wanted to know differed depending on when they began their service.

For the airmen of the 384th Bomb Group, those who began their service “early on,” starting with Mission 1 on June 22, 1943, a tour was twenty-five missions per John Edwards, the 384th Bomb Group’s historian. But that magic number of twenty-five only lasted until the end of March 1944.

The number of missions to mark a completed tour and a ticket stateside was upped to thirty on April 1, 1944, but this number lasted for only a couple of months.

By June 6, 1944, a 384th Bomb Group airman had to survive thirty-five missions to complete his tour.

But the magic number of 25, 30, or 35 wasn’t set in stone. The 384th’s webmaster, Fred Preller, adds,

For those affected by the change during their combat tour, some increase was inevitable. I know of some (my Dad, for instance) who were required to fly some more missions based on how many they had already completed – but not the full increased number.

For Fred’s dad, Robert Preller, a completed tour meant thirty-three missions. Flying his first mission on May 27, 1944, he probably expected to wrap up his tour at Number 30, as that was what was in effect on his first mission. But thirty was changed to thirty-five by his seventh mission, and though he didn’t have to fly the full thirty-five, he did fly three more for his total of thirty-three.

Michael Faley, historian of the 100th Bomb Group (the group famously known as the Bloody Hundredth), notes similar dates for the increase in missions for a completed tour,

From June 1943 to March 19, 1944 the tour of duty was 25 missions. From March 19, 1944 – July 1944 it was 30 missions and from July 1944 to the end of the war it was 35.

By the time my dad, George Edwin Farrar, got to Grafton Underwood, home of the 384th, he knew he would have to fly thirty-five missions before he went home.

When he wrote home on August 14, 1944, Dad had only flown four missions, but he wrote,

I sure hope I can finish up and get home by Christmas, or the first of the year.

It is the only letter I have from his time at Grafton Underwood, but I know every letter must have mentioned his desire to come home, and he must have thought he could complete thirty-one more missions in the next four months.

But, of course, he didn’t come home by the end of the year. He spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and his mother’s birthday as a prisoner of war and didn’t make it home until the middle of 1945.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1938

October 1, 1938

Nazi troops began the occupation of the Sudetenland and the Czech government resigned. The Sudetenland was the portion of Czechoslovakia inhabited by over three million Sudeten Germans, many of which became Nazis and strongly supported Hitler’s acquisition.

October 3, 1938

The Nazi Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property regulated the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jews in Germany.

October 5, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German passports held by Jews. Jews were required to surrender their old passports, which only become valid again after a large red letter “J” had been stamped on them.

October 28, 1938

The Nazis arrested 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expelled them back to Poland, transporting them by rail in boxcars. Poland refused them entry, leaving them in a no-man’s land near the Polish border for several months.

November 4, 1938

Japan declared the Nine Powers Treaty of 1922 (which guaranteed China’s independence) obsolete.

November 7, 1938

Herschel Grynszpan, the seventeen year old son of one of the deported Jews (see October 28, 1938), shot and mortally wounded Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary in the German Embassy in Paris.

November 9/10, 1938

Ernst vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after Herschel Grynszpan shot and wounded him. In retaliation for vom Rath’s death, the Nazis coordinated a massive attack on Jews throughout the German Reich. It began on the night of November 9, 1938 and lasted into the next day. The attack is known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.

The shooting was the perfect excuse for Adolf Hitler and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to incite Germany to “rise in bloody vengeance against the Jews.” Nazi storm troopers, members of the SS, and the Hitler Youth vandalized Jewish homes, beat and murdered Jewish men, and brutalized Jewish women and children. Thousands of (estimated to be 25,000) male Jewish survivors were later sent to concentration camps.

The German police and crowds of spectators did not attempt to stop any of the violence. In Germany, Austria, and other areas controlled by the Nazis, Jewish businesses were destroyed. Synagogues were vandalized and sacred Torah scrolls were desecrated. Hundreds of synagogues were burned without any rescue effort from local fire departments.

November 12, 1938

At a Nazi meeting regarding the economic impact of the damage as a result of Kristallnacht, which included Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 Jewish businesses destroyed, 177 synagogues destroyed out of 267 burned, and 91 Jews killed.

Goebbels proclaimed the burned out synagogues would be turned into parking lots after he forced the Jews to clean up the debris.

Göring declared the Jews would be billed for the damage and that any insurance money they received would be taken by the State. He imposed a fine on the Jews of one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht, damages which the Nazis themselves had caused.

Heydrich requested new decrees barring Jews from any contact with Germans, excluding them from public transportation, schools, and hospitals. His aim was to force them into ghettos or out of the country.

The Nazi “Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life” closed all Jewish-owned businesses. It barred Jews from operating retail stores, sales agencies, from carrying on a trade, and from selling goods or services at an establishment of any kind. All Jewish property and enterprises would be transferred to ‘Aryans.’ Jews would receive minimal compensation in the form of bonds.

Göring threatened “a final reckoning with the Jews” if Germany should become involved in a war, and closed the meeting with, “Incidentally, I would like to say that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”

November 15, 1938

The Reich Ministry of Education expelled all Jewish children from German public schools. The were allowed to only attend special Jewish schools.

November 16, 1938

The United States recalled its ambassador to Germany, Hugh R. Wilson, permanently.

November 28, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior restricted the freedom of the movement of Jews.

November 29, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior forbid Jews to keep carrier pigeons.

December 3, 1938

The Nazis enacted a law for the compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses, a process involving the dismissal of Jewish workers and managers, as well as the transfer of companies and enterprises to non-Jewish Germans, who bought them at prices officially fixed well below market value.

December 14, 1938

Hermann Göring took the helm of resolving the “Jewish Question.”

The Executive Order on the Law on the Organization of National Work canceled all state contracts held with Jewish-owned firms.

December 21, 1938

The Nazi Law on Midwives banned all Jews from the profession.

December 1938 – September 1939

In a rescue effort known as the Children’s Transport, or Kindertransport, during the nine months before the beginning of WWII, the United Kingdom took in nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the free city of Danzig.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Wikipedia:  Hugh R. Wilson

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

384th Bomb Group Airmen Confined to Stalag Luft IV

During WWII, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a prisoner of war held in the Stalag Luft IV prison camp for enlisted airmen. I have seen several lists of WWII airmen who were held as prisoners of war in Stalag Luft IV, but until recently I have never found my father’s name on any of the lists.

The only place I have seen Dad’s name associated with Stalag Luft IV is his record in the digital records of the National Archives.

Recently, Fred Preller, the webmaster of the 384th Bomb Group website, added several new reports to the site, among them a list of 384th Bomb Group airmen who were prisoners of war in all prison camps. In all, 880 airmen of the 384th Bomb Group became POWs during their WWII service, and 156 of those were held in Stalag Luft IV. Finally, I have a list of Stalag Luft IV POWs that includes my father’s name. This one’s for you, Dad.

384th Bomb Group Airmen Held POW in Stalag Luft IV

Adams, Benjamin Harold Marshall, Sylvester Joseph
Amspacher, Ray Richard May, Gayle Gustavus
Anderson, Frank J McAnear, Carlton S
Anderson, Jack R McClure, Charles Roesler
Andrews, Ralph Cash, Jr McCracken, Dwight Howard
Atkinson, Owen Glenn Miles, Harold Ruoff
Baird, Ralph Edwin, Jr Miller, Robert Lee
Barnes, Karl Francis Miller, Wilfred Frank
Bartholomew, Everett Laverne Misiewicz, Joseph R
Bedsted, Lee Roy Moore, John William
Benker, Patrick Denis Mosbey, James Millard
Bianca, Buddy Armand Nickles, Mercer Chartos, Jr
Bingaman, Jack William Norton, Richard Anthony
Boon, Howard Goodall, Jr O’Leary, Edward Joseph
Borgeson, Wesley Clifton Odom, Rufus Thurman, Jr
Brannigan, Allen Francis Oldham, Jesse Zera
Brown, Cecil William Oliva, Armando (NMI)
Brown, Jack M Onstad, William Walter
Brown, James Paul Osepchook, Arthur John
Cameron, Robert Allen Owens, Norris Reece
Castiglione, Vincent Joseph Page, William Marvin
Clary, Leonard Estus Palladino, Joseph Anthony
Clymer, Charles Richard Parsons, Roland Westley
Cook, Herbert Arno Peckerar, Irvin Milton
David, Alfred Alme Perry, Gilbert Franklin
Day, Huley Newton Petrillo, Joseph (NMI)
Ecker, John Eric Pierce, Lee Clifton
Edwards, Thomas Joseph, Jr Pire, Irwin Joseph, Jr
Egger, Richard Henry Plotz, John James
Egger, Robert Ross Rabe, William Arthur, Jr
Fallesen, Wayne Peter Raines, Louis Edward
Farrar, George Edwin Rardon, Edward Perish
Farrow, Thomas Chapell Reed, Clarence Eugene
Faust, Glenn Millard Robinson, Warren Ray
Felicetti, Frank Dominick Romano, Vincent Peter
Fiory, William John Joseph Rood, James Raymond
Flaherty, James DeValera Sack, Ralph William
Fooder, Elmer H Sager, Edwin M
Foretich, Gerald Fabian Santosuosso, John Peter
Franzo, Anthony Joseph Saunders, Paul Ralph
Frederickson, Ralph Louis Schepers, Bob Eugene
Friedman, Jack Kenyon Schick, Frank Joseph, Jr
Fulwider, Albert Clayton, Jr Sexton, William Hiram
Gabriel, Daniel (NMI) Simon, Edward (NMI)
Gerhold, Melvin Henry Smith, Joseph H
Gilroy, Robert Peter Snead, William Austin
Girard, Donald Robert Snyder, Charles Leslie
Golka, Larry John Stanley, James Farrell
Gregorich, Vincent (NMI) Stephenson, Hilton Hubert
Gribbons, Warren David Stevens, Howard Orville
Grimes, Robert Albert Stropek, George Vincent
Hale, Kenneth Oliver Sylvia, Joseph Herbert
Hallam, Harley Ross Taylor, Homer William
Hamilton, Harry Tobais Taylor, William Edson
Harbrecht, Robert Francis Thompson, Raymond Archie
Hardman, John Bethany Thornhill, John G
Harrison, Joseph Horatio Traynor, James Patrick
Haverlah, Alton Bernhard Treat, John Afton
Hickey, James Currie Van Beveren, John Edward
Holler, Edward Ralph Vennel, Alexander Joseph
Hopkins, James Russell Wallo, Andrew (NMI)
House, Horace Doster, Jr Walsh, James Francis
Hunt, Walter Francis Walton, Horace Murphy
Jellings, Charles Albert Wasilewski, Aleck Michael
Jones, Leroy Charles Watson, Paul Leland
Kane, Francis P Way, Arthur Harold
Kenedy, John Joseph Whipple, Charles Thomas
Kidwell, Hugh Thomas Whitney, Stanley Clifford
Klonowski, Francis Dominick Wick, Andrew Oliver
Kohl, John Gustave Wilson, Gerald Eugene
Kushner, Jack (NMI) Wolfe, Clark Benjamin, Jr
Larocca, Frank (NMI) Woodruff, Walker Ace
Liniger, Harry Allen Woods, Harold Leroy
Louden, Jack Elmer Wright, William Clifford
Lunceford, John William Wyatt, Kenneth Ainley
MacGregor, Douglas Roy Younker, John Joseph
Madden, Arthur W Zesch, Charles Emil
Mariani, Waldo Frank Zordel, Wilbur Godfrey

Thanks, Fred, and thank you to all of the 384th Bomb Group volunteers who research and record, compile, and share information with me and all other 384th Bomb Group researchers. Whether we researchers are historians or family members, we all greatly benefit from the hard work of these few:

Fred Preller, 384thBombGroup.com Webmaster, tries to keep all the pieces of the website working together. Fred’s father Robert H. Preller served as a 546th BS copilot from May to September 1944.

Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist. Keith’s Uncle Raymond O. Wisdahl flew 35 missions with the 384th. Keith has taken a serious interest in data validity and completeness He has been especially involved in the Wing Panel Signing Project.

John Edwards, 384th Bomb Group, Inc. Historian and 384th NEXGEN Research Director. John is an aviation researcher who, thru friendships with 384th Veterans, formed a bond with the 384th family.

Mark Meehl, 384th Bomb Group, Inc. Archivist, is a researcher who specializes in ground personnel, and who also maintains the master log of all combat sorties. Mark’s father Paul E. Meehl served as a 384th ground crew chief from early 1943 thru the end of the war.

Phil Hettel, combat data specialist. Phil’s Uncle Joseph J. Rachunas flew 25 combat missions with the 384th, was shot down and became a POW on his last mission.

Marc Poole, 384thBombGroup.com Webmaster Emeritus, founder of the original 384th website. Marc now serves in an advisory capacity, with occasional forays into research. While a student at Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, Marc established the website in 1999. He was motivated by the wartime experiences of his uncle, Johnny Butler, who was a 547th Bomb Squadron pilot during Summer 1943. In 2004, Marc turned over operation of the site to current webmaster Fred Preller.

And, yes, I’m one of the research volunteers, too…

Cindy Farrar Bryan, author of this blog, researcher and website analyst. My father George Edwin Farrar, a gunner on the Buslee Crew, was the sole survivor of that crew when they were involved in a mid-air collision on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg, Germany.

In addition…

All who contribute materials and suggestions – and who report factual errors and website problems. Additional volunteers are always welcome. If you have an interest in helping to preserve the heritage of the 384th, whether you are a computer whiz or not, there are tasks in the (overflowing) Official 384thBombGroup.com Job Jar to suit all capabilities. To inquire about opportunities, e-mail the Webmaster.

The above information was appropriated from Fred Preller’s “About This Site” page on 384thBombgroup.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1938

July 6, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from trading and providing a variety of specified commercial services.

July 6 – 15, 1938

Delegates from thirty-two nations attended the Evian conference to discuss Jewish refugees fleeing persecution by Nazi German. The conference ended with no resolution passed condemning German anti-Semitic policies. Most, including the U.S., refused to relax their immigration restrictions and no country would accept them.

July 11, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior banned Jews from health spas.

July 23, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews over the age of 15 to apply for identity cards from the police, to be shown on demand to any police officer.

July 25, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jewish doctors from practicing medicine.

August 3, 1938

Italy enacted sweeping anti-Semitic laws.

August 11, 1938

The Nazis destroyed the synagogue in Nuremberg.

August 12, 1938

The German military mobilized.

August 17, 1938

The Nazi Executive Order on the Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names required Jews bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin to adopt an additional name. Men would add “Israel” and women would add “Sara” to their names on all legal documents.

August 18, 1938

German General Ludwig Beck resigned as chief of the German General Staff in protest of Hitler’s overtly militaristic policies.

September 27, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from all legal practices.

September 29, 1938
Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France signed the Munich agreement, or “Munich Betrayal.” Adolf Hitler had threatened a European war unless the Sudetenland, a border area of Czechoslovakia containing an ethnic German majority, was surrendered to Germany. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy agreed in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

A B-17 Navigator Oversleeps

In the overnight hours between Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, 1944, the 384 Bomb Group prepared for Mission #163 to the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Airfield at Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

Air personnel were awakened to begin their preparation process – breakfast, briefing, picking up flight gear and equipment, and assembly at their designated aircraft – as usual for each mission.

But one navigator fell back asleep after being awakened. William Alvin Henson II was awakened at 0150 – that’s 1:50 in the morning. After the orderly who awakened him told him that breakfast was at 0230, Bill Henson fell back asleep.

No one missed Henson or reported him missing until the pilot of his aircraft did so at engine time. Pilot, Lt. Alfred H. Cole, who had recently been promoted from co-pilot to pilot of his own crew, called the tower. Cole’s usual navigator, Harry Simons, wasn’t assigned to Cole’s crew that mission and Bill Henson was to replace him.

The tower advised Cole to taxi on time and he did so until he was nearly in takeoff position. Cole called again and was advised to wait in the dispersal area.

Someone found Henson still asleep in bed and awakened him at 0620. Henson must have had to skip breakfast and hustle to operations to get his briefing materials, control points and maps, but didn’t receive a flight plan. He headed to the Tremblin’ Gremlin with the rest of the Cole crew aboard and waiting for him to take off. Henson arrived at 0645 and they took off at 0655.

Henson had to put his navigation skills to work to search for the formation, but without success. The formation crossed the English coast at Felixstowe at 0821, altitude 15,000 feet, without them. By 0835, Cole realized they were not going to locate the formation and decided to turn back. They landed back at Grafton Underwood at 0954.

544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall determined the abortion was justified on the part of the pilot, but stated that the…

Navigator is held responsible and will be required to fly an extra sortie to complete his tour. The Squadron duty operations clerk is also held partly responsible since he did not double check barracks. He will do night duty for one week. It is also felt that the Group Duty Navigator should have discovered that this navigator was not present at briefing. In calling roll at Navigators briefing, he should have discovered that this navigator was absent.

544th BS Operations Officer Major George H. “Snapper” Koehne, Jr. agreed with the abortion justification ruling.

What did the punishment of flying one extra sortie (mission) for the simple act of falling back asleep mean for navigator Bill Henson? Well, if Henson had begun his tour earlier in the war, he would have completed his tour of duty of 25 missions on September 27, 1944 with the 384th’s Mission 200, and been sent home. As it turns out, on his 26th mission, Henson was aboard 43-37822 with my dad’s crew and was killed in the mid-air collision over Magdeburg.

As horrific as the thought of dying because you fell back asleep is, that wasn’t the case for Henson. By the time Bill Henson was assigned to the 384th, the number of missions to complete a tour had been increased to 30, and he still had several more to go before he could return home. He did get awfully close, though.

Navigator William A. Henson’s Statement in Full

I was awakened at 0150. The orderly told me that breakfast was 0230 so I went back to sleep and was awakened a second time at 0620. Came to operations and obtained control points and necessary maps but no flight plan. Went to ship and took-off as explained by pilot. Gave heading of 130° in order to meet formation at Splasher # 7. Couldn’t get Splasher # 7 on radio compass. Circled in what I thought was apparent area of Splasher # 7. Saw balloon barrages at approximately 0800 and realized we were sout[h] of London. Gave heading to Felixstowe and arrived there approximately 0830 and realized formation had left. Plane was equipped with gee box but on my first gee fix plotted west of Northampton, so I thought it was inoperative. Later fixes proved to be correct. Request all responsibility of abortion.

Pilot Alfred H. Cole’s Statement in Full

At engine time the navigator had not yet arrived. I called the tower and was advised to taxi on time – I taxied until nearly in take-off position at which time I called Cherub again and was told to wait in Dispersal #46.

The navigator arrived at 0645 and we took off at 0655. At 0835 we had not yet located the formation and it became apparent that were not going to find it. I decided to turn back.

Other Sources

William A. Henson’s personnel data from the 384th Bomb Group website

384th Bomb Group Website mission data

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1938

April 22, 1938

The Decree against the Camouflage of Jewish Firms forbid changing the names of Jewish-owned businesses, i.e., changing the business name to give the appearance that the business was Aryan-owned and disguise that the business was Jewish-owned.

In Nazism, “Aryan” designated a supposed master race of non-Jewish Caucasians usually having Nordic features.

April 26, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews to register wealth and property. The Order for the Disclosure of Jewish Assets required Jews to report all property in excess of 5,000 Reichsmarks.

June 1938

The Chinese military leader Chiang Kai-shek ordered the dikes along China’s Yellow River destroyed. The result of this attempt to slow down a Japanese invasion was the destruction of more than four thousand cities, towns, and villages, leaving two million Chinese homeless, and a devastating famine ensued.

June 14, 1938

The Nazis ordered businesses owned or run by Jews to be registered and marked as Jewish.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Two-hundreth Mission Celebration, Revisited

I originally published this article on September 24, 2014. Realizing that the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission party would coincide with the date of the last day of the 384th Bomb Group Historical Association’s 2019 reunion and farewell dinner, held in England this year, I decided to review the article and found a few errors. So I’m republishing it today with corrections. (I have corrected the original, too, so if you look back at the 2014 article, you’ll just see this same information).

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group's 200th Mission Celebration

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group Website Photo Gallery

On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission, although that milestone mission would actually be flown four days later.

Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21. The party was on a Saturday – September 23. Mission 198 was flown on the 25th, and 199 on the 26th.

The boys reached mission 200 on Wednesday, September 27. The 384th Bomb Group formed the 41st CBW “A” wing for Mission 200’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.

On Mission 200, there were several mishaps and not everyone made it back to Grafton-Underwood alive.

  • The Donald George Springsted crew and Bert O. Brown, Jr. crew were involved in a taxi accident prior to takeoff. The Brown crew’s aircraft, 44-6080, had to be scrapped. The Springsted’s aircraft, Sneakin’ Deacon, was repaired in time to fly the next day’s mission.
  • The Loren L. Green crew aboard Pro Kid had to abort and turn back due to an internal failure in an engine.
  • The Frank F. Cepits crew aboard The Challenger came back with the #3 engine feathered. (See Note)
  • The James W. Orr crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin II experienced a bomb bay door malfunction over the target. The bomb bay doors could not be opened, either electrically or manually. Gremlin returned to base still loaded with all of her bombs.
  • The John H. Hunt, Jr. crew had a harrowing landing. Boss Lady’s tail wheel would not extend for the landing. Fortunately, no one was injured.
  • The William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with wounded aboard. Rebel came back with an injured tail gunner, Robert H. Hoyman.
  • Navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren of the Raymond J. Gabel crew aboard Fightin’ Hebe was killed by flak. He is buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England: Plot E Row 5 Grave 12. I will have the opportunity to visit Lt. Lovegren’s grave during the 384th’s visit to the American Cemetery at Madingley during the reunion.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed Mission 200 with the John Oliver Buslee crew aboard Hale’s Angels, which was the high group deputy and hot camera ship. They completed the mission without incident.

The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly Mission 200, but both the Buslee and Brodie crews would be part of the bomber stream for Mission 201 on Thursday, September 28, 1944, and it would be their last. The Buslee crew aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg at about ten minutes past noon. Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.

What a difference one mission could make for an airman in WWII. For the Buslee and Brodie crews, Mission 200 was a celebration, Mission 201, a disaster.

Note

The Challenger was lost on February 3, 1945 when the pilot was forced to ditch in the North Sea. Ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook saved the life of navigator Edward Field on this mission and The Challenger sank to the bottom of the North Sea.

Source

384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1938

January 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbid Jews from changing their names.

January 28, 1938

President Roosevelt called for a massive rearmament program for the U.S.

February 1938

Adolf Hitler bullied Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg into giving him control of Austria’s interior ministry.

February 4, 1938

Adolf Hitler became commander-in-chief of the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, and the German war minister.

February 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Profession of Auctioneer excluded Jews from the profession.

March 12, 1938
Germany announced Anschluss, a union with or annexation of Austria, which had a population of 200,000 Jews, most living in Vienna. Nazi troops entered Austria and began arresting and publicly humiliating the Austrian Jews, making them perform tasks such as getting on their hands and knees and scrubbing the pavement.

March 13, 1938

The new Nazi government in Vienna declared Austria a province of the Greater German Reich.

March 18, 1938

The Nazi Gun Law banned Jewish gun merchants.

Late March 1938

The SS was placed in charge of Jewish affairs in Austria and Adolf Eichmann established an Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.

Two weeks after the Anschluss, the National Socialist Gauleiter (regional head) of Upper Austria, August Eigruber, announced the building of a concentration camp at the town of Mauthausen on the Danube. Political opponents and those considered criminal or antisocial would be imprisoned at Mauthausen and forced to work in the granite quarries.

March 24 – April 7, 1938

Japan’s first military defeat in modern history occurred during the Battle of Taierzhuang. The Chinese killed approximately 16,000 Japanese soldiers during the two-week battle.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

The Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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