The Arrowhead Club

Military Research – Part 2 of 3

Military Research, continued from Part 1

Most of my military research experience is WWII-related, primarily Army Air Forces and secondarily Navy research, and therefore it will be the focus of my suggestions here. If you are researching a different timeframe or branch, hopefully you will be able to apply some of my methods to your own search.

Researching Military History – Where to Start

Who are you researching?

Gather copies of the information you have – documents, letters, and military photos – on the person you want to research. Write down the stories you remember hearing. Every bit of biographical data you can record – full name, parents’ names, birth date, birth place, state of residence when joining the service, military service/serial number (see note below regarding ASN), and branch and location of service, if known – will become helpful in finding out more.

What do you want to learn?

Are you looking for basic information like branch and dates of service, or do you want to dig deeper and learn about training and military occupations, the exact unit and location, battles, awards, and decorations?

What do you want to do with this knowledge?

Just something to think about, but your answer will probably determine just how much research you want to do…

  • It’s personal? Maybe you just wanted to know and that’s enough.
  • Do you want to record your family history for future generations?
  • Do you want to connect with other next generation members (NexGens), share your knowledge, and learn more about your common family history?

Resources – Where to Look

There are several places to start that will likely just scratch the surface of the information you can find. If you already have an interest in genealogical research, once you get going, you may find yourself digging deeper and deeper for more knowledge.

First things first

If you have separation papers, you are way ahead of the game. Known today as the DD 214, the separation document before 1950 was form WD AGO, so if you’re looking for WWII Army or Army Air Forces records, look for an Honorable Discharge certificate and Enlisted Record and Report of Separation WD AGO Form 53-55. Accompanying this form for the Army and Army Air Force branch should be the Army of the United States Separation Qualification Record, indicated as WD AGO Form 100. Here’s the information I found on each form:

Honorable Discharge certificate

  • Name
  • Army Serial Number (ASN)
  • Rank
  • Group
  • Branch of Service
  • Place and Date of discharge

Enlisted Record and Report of Separation includes above and adds

  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • Identifying features
  • Civilian occupation (prior to service)
  • Military history including enlistment date and place
  • Military occupational specialty
  • Battles and campaigns
  • Decorations and citations
  • Wounds received in action (date)
  • Dates of service outside the United States
  • Service schools attended

The Separation Qualification Record offers more detail on

  • Military occupational assignments
  • Military education
  • Civilian education
  • Civilian occupation

I have never found these documents available online. If you don’t have this document for the relative you’re researching, it may be obtained two ways. Separation documents can be ordered through the National Archives or possibly through the county courthouse records of the home county of the veteran.

WWII Navy separation records were a bit different. A handwritten record may be found in the seaman’s Naval Reserve Service Record booklet. The Navy Notice of Separation from the U.S. Naval Service form is NAVPERS-553. WWII Navy separation papers listed rate and class, Navy service number, place and date of separation from active service, and length of foreign or sea service in WWII.

Keep in mind, though, if you are researching a relative killed in WWII, there won’t be a separation document, and all of its detailed information in one place, for that serviceman/woman.

What kind of information is available through the National Archives?

For an overview and answers to general questions regarding Research Using Military Records, visit https://www.archives.gov/veterans, or specifically,

Obtaining Military Service Records from the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)

You can search for military personnel records stored at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri by mail or in person. I have done both.

Alternately, you could hire an independent researcher at the NPRC. A list of researchers is available on the website.

You may or may not find the records you seek at the St. Louis NPRC. A fire in 1973 destroyed the majority of Army and Air Force personnel records, so no or very few documents could still be available for your search. Navy records were not affected by the fire.

If you opt to visit the NPRC in St. Louis, you can make your own copies by photographing available records for free. You must schedule an appointment and request records well in advance, though, so records can be made ready for your visit.

Camera stands are available for your use and the research staff at the center is very helpful. The quality of photographic images can be much better than copy machine copies if you have a good camera to use for the task. Even cell phone cameras can record high quality images, but I found the cell phone stands the NPRC had available at the time not to work very well. I would take a cell phone camera tripod mount attachment if I were to return to gather more records, although it may not be allowed in the records room.

Other than a personal visit to the NPRC in St. Louis, records may be requested online, by mail, or by fax. Available records are separation documents, personnel records, replacement medals, and medical/health records.

The online process of requesting records is accomplished using the eVetRecs process and is not completely digital. Once you request records through eVetRecs, you must either mail or fax your written signature. From

https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records

begin by clicking “Start Form Online (then Print and Mail).” If you prefer to completely fill out a paper form by hand to mail or fax, click “Mail or Fax Form.” The link will direct you to a page to print out the SF-180 Form. Or you can order the form through the mail by sending a request to National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138.

Generally, archival records of military personnel are open to the public 62 years after the serviceperson has left the military, which includes most WWII veterans unless they pursued military careers after the war. But if the person you’re researching did have a long military career and/or separated from the military less than 62 years ago, their non-archival records are only open to the veteran and the veteran’s next-of-kin. See this further explanation from the NPRC.

While most requests from the NPRC are for only a copy of the separation documents, about ten percent request a copy of the entire file, as I did. Since the 1970’s the center’s standard procedure for requests for entire files has been to provide only copies of key documents and vital information. However, for files more than sixty-two years old – as are the archival files of WWII veterans – all documents are provided if requested.

Some of the information contained in a personnel file could include separation documents, military service dates, character of service, promotions and reductions, duty stations and assignments, foreign or sea service, military schooling and training, awards and letters of commendation, disciplinary actions, lost time, enlistment contract, entry and separation physical exams, immunizations, dental examinations, and clinical summaries.

I already had a copy of my dad’s separation documents. My interest in obtaining his entire file was mainly to see medical records and his physical condition after his liberation as a prisoner of war. I had read that the prisoners that were liberated on the Black March were not weighed or their deteriorated conditions recorded in their medical records. I had some unanswered questions and hoped to find some of those answers in his service record.

I started, like many others, with an online request through eVetRecs for my dad’s entire service file.

My Personal Experience Obtaining Military Records

I requested my dad’s records online through eVetRecs and mailed the signature verification on September 10, 2014. Maximum wait time was supposed to be ninety days, by December 9, 2014.

I received a letter on January 21, 2015 from an NPRC archives technician. Unfortunately,

The complete Official Military Personnel File for the veteran named above is not in our files. If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed.

However, the letter stated that the NPRC had reconstructed some of my dad’s service record which I could obtain for $70. I only had thirty days to decide and opted to order the reconstructed records.

To read more detail about my personal experience obtaining military records, read this previous post.

Military Records Received

I received fifteen pages of copies from the NPRC shortly after they mailed them on February 18, 2015, in addition to a letter noting that “the copy quality is the best that can be obtained.”

The documents included copies of:

  • Informal Information Reply (a reply for information requested by my mother, dated October 31, 1994)
  • A copy of the envelope in which my mother mailed a request for records on September 28, 1994 (exactly 50 years after my dad’s mid-air collision).
  • Request Pertaining to Military Records (filled out by my mother, her request for my father’s “Military history, where trained and where sent overseas, also record of being a Prisoner of War in Germany, dates and camps, and what battles.” She noted her purpose for the request was “Since he is deceased, we would like to have the Military history to include in our Family history and for the benefit of me and our children. Also what medals issued.”)
  • Instructions
  • Two National Archives and Records Administration MPR Finding Aid Reports (one noted NOT Found and the other noted some unexplained codes regarding an SGO Hospital List)
  • Army of the United States Honorable Discharge certificate and Enlisted Record and Report of Separation, Honorable Discharge form (copies of Dad’s original separation documents provided by my mother)
  • Army of the United States Separation Qualification Record (copies of Dad’s original separation documents provided by my mother)
  • 2 Transmittal of and/or Entitlement to Awards forms (one noting approval of the Prisoner of War medal, the other unreadable)
  • Veteran Identification Screen printout
  • National Archives and Records Administration – National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records), dated 8/23/88 (the same information as on the National Archives and Records Administration MPR Finding Aid Report)
  • Prisoner of War (POW) Medal Application/Information form (my mother’s 1988 application for a posthumous POW medal for my dad)

To read more detail about the military records I received from the NPRC, read this previous post.

A Visit to the NPRC

In 2016, my husband and I attended the 8th Air Force Historical Society’s reunion in St. Louis. We arrived a couple of days early and I spent two days in the NPRC’s records room copying the service files of thirty-four WWII servicemen. In my dad’s file, I found a few documents that weren’t included in the records I received from my previous request by mail.

  • Final Payment Worksheet (when my dad received his final pay at discharge)
  • US Army SGO Hospitalization File Listing 1945
  • Information from Hospitalization Admission Cards Created 8/30/2016 … Information for the Year 1945.

The last form (according to the document’s date, apparently created after I had requested records by mail) was a good find and told me that after Dad’s liberation (which was May 2, 1945), he was treated in a field hospital, and then was admitted on May 14, 1945 to an unidentified hospital for ten days. His type of case was classified as “Disease” and his initial diagnosis was “Acute Tonsillitis.” I consider this an incredible diagnosis for a man who had been forced to march over 500 miles in 86 days with very little food. And no, there was no mention of his weight or further description of his condition.

I would have liked to have found much, much more information on my dad’s years of service in the Army Air Forces, but this is all that is left of his official military personnel record.

Finding Separation Documents at the County Courthouse

If you do not have your relative’s separation documents and it is unavailable through the NPRC because of the 1973 fire, the only alternate method of obtaining it that I know of is to check with the county courthouse of the county in which he/she returned from WWII.

My dad followed orders and had his separation documents recorded at the courthouse of his county upon his return home. This stamp appears at the bottom of his Honorable Discharge certificate.

Note

A note about the Army Serial Number (ASN). At the time of enlistment, an 8-digit ASN was assigned. However, if your relative became an officer, he/she would have been reassigned a new ASN beginning with O- and followed by 6 digits.

To be continued with Military Research Part 3…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Military Research – Part 1 of 3

How did I get interested in military research?

When I was a child, my dad often told me a story at bedtime that I doubt many other kids growing up in America ever heard. Dad’s story was about a time when he was in the service in WWII that his plane was “knocked down.” He was a waist gunner aboard one of the Mighty Eighth Air Force’s B-17’s and on September 28, 1944, another B-17 in the formation collided with his over Germany.

My dad’s B-17 split in half. He was knocked unconscious and was thrown from the ship in the impact. There isn’t a lot of room on a B-17 and most of the airmen didn’t wear their chutes. They mostly used chest chutes rather than parachutes worn on the back and would generally wear only the harness, keeping the chute nearby so they could grab it quickly if they needed it. My dad was wearing his that day, but not completely hooked up to the harness.

Free-falling toward earth, he woke up when he heard his mother call his name, something he always included in his story, but never mentioned in official reports. He hooked up and opened his chute, and then passed out again. When he woke up again, he was on the ground and an old woman was beating him with a stick.

As I got older, the telling of the story stopped, but I would never forget it and the images it had burned into my mind.

In 2011, a cousin who had also heard the story growing up was living in the Netherlands and she and her husband were touring the American military cemeteries of Europe. She thought of my dad and his story and asked for the name of his unit and the date and location of his last mission.

I had a box of dad’s military documents and letters, and gave her the info. He was in the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England and his last mission was to Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944.

My cousin, Terry, performed an internet search and found dad’s record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website. I hadn’t thought about my dad’s WWII service in years – he had died in 1982 at the age of 61 – and I wasn’t even aware of the website. Not only did I find a list of all of his missions, I found the Missing Air Crew Report for the mid-air collision. Scrolling through the pages, I found Dad’s official statement in his own handwriting.

Dad’s story. It was so familiar. He continued with a question, a request, that led me into my research of Dad and his crew mates and the airmen on the B-17 that collided with his. What happened to the boys, and something he didn’t ask, why.

While this was a great find and gave me much more detail of the information I had on my dad’s military career, it was not the find that almost knocked me out of my chair.

Terry found a narrative of Dad’s story on the internet, too. Only it wasn’t told by my dad. It was told by a man named Wallace Storey, a WWII pilot who witnessed it happen right in front of him. I read and re-read Wallace Storey’s account, not believing it possible to hear Dad’s story twenty-nine years after he died.

Wallace Storey was flying co-pilot in the right-hand cockpit seat in his crew’s B-17 that day and had the controls at the time of the collision. In an excerpt from his book, A Pair of Silver Wings and the Eighth Air Force, which I read online, he wrote:

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 [the pilot of the plane my dad was on] … on whose wing our element was flying.

I yelled to Gross [the pilot of Storey’s plane in the cockpit’s left seat] 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 [Buslee’s plane] in half and the wings on [“Lazy Daisy”] 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.

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

After reading his account, I found Wallace Storey and spoke to him on the phone. Then I visited him at his home and sat next to him as he told me the story.

Cindy Farrar Bryan and Wallace A. Storey, June 2011

He gave me contact information for a few relatives of the two crews, and I have since discovered more through Facebook. I started the blog to share transcripts of the letters I had from the families of the boys missing in action on my father’s plane. Relatives found the letters online and contacted me.

My interest in military research has grown, but mainly centers around the two crews involved in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision, my dad’s bomb group, and other bomb groups of the Mighty Eighth Air Force based in England in WWII. I have been attending reunions in the US since 2014 and in September this year traveled to England to tour my dad’s base at Grafton Underwood.

I help other NexGens (next generation members) start their own research and have even had a hand in connecting British children and grandchildren to their American families. It seems some of the American airmen who served in England left more than their footprints behind.

For more information on Wallace Storey, see this December 11, 2013 post, this December 13, 2013 post and this December 16, 2013 post. Wallace Storey’s A Pair of Silver Wings and the Eighth Air Force may be downloaded from the 384th Bomb Group’s Stories page.

The excerpt from his book, A Pair of Silver Wings and the Eighth Air Force by Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) and Mrs. Martha L. Storey, is provided for use on The Arrowhead Club website by the kind permission of the authors, who assert full ownership of copyright for the material. Use of this material is limited to the following provisions.  This excerpt is intended for unrestricted private use. Please copy and use as needed to support your WWII research. If you wish to incorporate this information in a commercial product of any kind, request authorization from Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) in advance.

To be continued with Military Research parts 2 and 3…

With the exception of material in this post copyrighted by Wallace A. Storey, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

384th Bomb Group Junket XI Cambridge England (2019)

The 384th Bomb Group’s Junket XI to England came to a close just over a month ago. I posted a little information and a few photos in a teaser post in early October. Today I’m adding a few more pictures, links to more photos in the 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery, and more details about the itinerary.

The tour was planned by Frank and Carol Alfter (Frank’s dad was a waist and tail gunner with the 384th) and Arena Travel of England.

Most of the group arrived prior to the start of the junket, some touring London for a few days, and some coming much earlier and doing some extensive touring of Ireland and Scotland. My husband, Bill, and I arrived just the day before and toured Scotland on our own after the end of the junket.

Many of us gathered at the Doubletree by Hilton London Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, September 18. Bill and I needed the time to recover from the jet lag, catch up with old friends, meet our tour manager, Rick Hobson, and others attending the junket, and get acclimated to the UK.

Day 1 – Arrival in Cambridge

On Thursday, September 19, we boarded a coach to Cambridge, where we were based at the Doubletree by Hilton Cambridge Belfry for the duration of the junket. Some of the junkateers arrived in Cambridge on their own, and we all gathered that evening for a welcome dinner.

As we were getting to know one another, we took advantage of the first of many photo opportunities, snapping one of the daughters of the 384th and one of the sons (and other relatives – the group included sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren of the men who served in the 384th Bomb Group).

Arrival Day – Daughters of the 384th Bomb Group

Surprisingly, the group included more female relatives than male. When I first started attending the 384th Bomb Group reunions in 2014, I felt far outnumbered by male relatives of the 384th. I am happy to see that somewhere through the years, the women have gained more interest in their fathers’, grandfathers’, and uncles’ WWII service.

Arrival Day – Sons of the 384th Bomb Group

I was delighted to reconnect with 384th British friends I had met in the States at prior year reunions and to meet several in person that I had only corresponded with through Facebook and e-mail.

I met Neill and Bridget Howarth at last year’s 384th Bomb Group reunion in Dayton, Ohio. Neill, along with Matt Smith, was instrumental in coordinating the group’s upcoming visit to Grafton Underwood and they both joined the group for most of our visit. Neill is also the driving force behind the difficult work, i.e., physical labor, of uncovering the remains of the 384th’s airbase at Grafton Underwood, and is leading the effort to create a museum and visitor center at the site.

L to R: Kevin Flecknor, Jason Mann, Matt Smith, Neill Howarth, and Bridget Howarth. (Photo courtesy of Fred Preller)

I also caught up with the 384th’s British friend Rob Long, who I met at the 2017 8th Air Force Historical Society reunion in New Orleans. Rob and his son Daniel joined the group for the majority of the group’s visit to England.

Rob Long and son Daniel (Photo courtesy of Rob Long)

And I finally had the chance to meet 384th British friends Matt Smith and Jason Mann in person for the first time and reconnect with Kevin Flecknor, who I had also previously met at the New Orleans reunion.

The visit to Grafton Underwood also led to first-time face-to-face meetings of other 384th friends – Richard Denney, John “Snowy” Ellson, Tony Plowright, Graham Butlin, and Alan Dickens (who discovered we’re also related by marriage).

More Arrival Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Day 2 – Thorpe Abbotts Airfield and Lavenham

On Friday, September 20, we departed the hotel at 0900 by motor coach. The junkateers first traveled to the Thorpe Abbotts Airfield where the 100th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force was based during WWII. The group was well known as the Bloody Hundredth and was the main subject of Donald Miller’s book, Masters of the Air. The control tower and a few other buildings house an informative museum on the site.

Greeted by Glenn Miller and Neill Howarth atop Thorpe Abbott’s airfield museum control tower upon arriving at the home of the 100th Bomb Group (aka the Bloody Hundredth)

Home of the 100th Bomb Group (aka the Bloody Hundredth), Thorpe Abbott’s airfield museum seen from the top of the control tower

Neill Howarth, my favorite commanding officer, leader of the cleanup process and creation of a museum at the 384th Bomb Group’s Station 106 airbase in Grafton Underwood

The next stop was the charming market town of Lavenham, best known for its half-timbered medieval cottages and houses. The group enjoyed a traditional English afternoon tea at the Swan Hotel located in one of the town’s 15th century buildings.

The charming market town of Lavenham

The historic Swan at Lavenham

Dinner was served at the hotel restaurant.

More Day 2 Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Day 3 – Grafton Underwood and the Geddington Star

On Saturday, September 21, we departed the hotel at 0845 by motor coach. We traveled to the village of Grafton Underwood in Northamptonshire, home of the 384th Bomb Group’s airbase, Station 106. We were welcomed by area residents who treated us to a delightful homemade lunch in the village hall after a moving memorial service at the 384th Bomb Group Memorial Monument. We also had time to visit the parish church of St. James the Apostle and view the memorial stained glass window depicting one of the group’s B-17’s.

384th veterans, L to R, Henry Kolinek, Henry Sienkiewicz, and Len Estrin at the Grafton Underwood memorial

After lunch, everyone in the group was assigned to a WWII vehicle for a tour of the base. Bill and I rode in the back of a WWII Willys jeep for a trip back in time to see the remains of where my father served in WWII, his housing area of the 544th Bomb Squadron, common areas, and the airfield hardstands and runways.

Military vehicles being loaded with junkateers for the airbase tour

Today was the day I was able to meet in person the son and grandson of my father’s POW roommate, and the little girl, now in her 80’s, who was one of three children in a mystery photo in my dad’s WWII memorabilia. There will be more to come about these meetings, the highlight of my day at Grafton Underwood, soon.

Until I write more, you can see previously posted photos here.

Some of the junkateers took an optional tour of Boughton House, which is one of Britain’s grandest and best-preserved stately homes, and described in our Arena Travel itinerary as “renowned for its outstanding collection of fine arts, furniture, tapestries, porcelain and carpets. It is beautifully set in a country park with wide sculpted lawns, serene lakes, waterways, woods and avenues of trees.”

With the choice of touring Boughton House or spending more time touring the air base, I knew I had to see as much of the base as possible on our short visit.

Steps leading up to the base of Nissen hut (living quarters) at Grafton Underwood

Dinner for the evening was served at the Star Inn, a traditional English pub in the nearby village of Geddington, close enough to the air base at Grafton Underwood that we all imagined our fathers must have visited at least once.

The Star Inn pub in Geddington – Bill Bryan and Rick Hobson in the foreground with their attention on the Eleanor Cross

And I had another reason, a very personal one, to be excited about this stop before returning to the hotel for the night. Outside the Star Pub in Geddington stands one of the crosses that King Edward I had erected for his Queen Eleanor of Castile after her death.

The Geddington cross is the best-preserved of the original dozen crosses erected between 1291 and about 1295 in memory of Eleanor, who died in November 1290. The crosses marked the nightly resting places along the route followed when her body was transported to London for burial. The funeral bier was thought to stop in Geddington on December 6 or 7, 1290. Only three of the crosses remain today.

The Eleanor Cross in Geddington at dusk

Earlier this year, I discovered that Edward I and Eleanor were my 23rd-great-grandparents. That would have made them my father’s 22nd-great-grandparents. If my father did visit the Geddington Star pub while he served in the 384th, he couldn’t have helped but notice the Eleanor Cross standing outside. Did he realize that he was looking at a memorial for one of his English ancestors? My father’s parents named him Edwin, perhaps a version of a name carried forward through the generations.

Cindy Farrar Bryan practices her royal wave at the base of the Eleanor Cross in Geddington, erected to honor her 23rd great grandmother Queen Eleanor of Castile by her 23rd ggf King Edward I of England

More Day 3 Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Current Photos from Jason Mann of Station 106

Day 4 – Imperial War Museum and Battle of Britain Air Show

On Sunday, September 22, we departed the hotel at 0800 by motor coach. We traveled to the Imperial War Museum at the historic Duxford RAF airfield to see the largest aviation museum in Britain and attend the Battle of Britain Air Show. We enjoyed a full day at the show with Gold Experience tickets including seating in a covered enclosed area, an air show program, lunch, and access to the flight line.

Imperial War Museum at Duxford

Our group also enjoyed seeing Britain’s B-17 Sally B with a quick tour inside and excellent viewing to see her fly in the air show.

The UK’s B-17 Sally B

Battle of Britain air show at Duxford

After a long day, we retreated to the group hotel for dinner.

More Day 4 Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Day 5 – American Cemetery at Madingley and Cambridge

On Monday, September 23, we departed the hotel at 0915 by motor coach. We traveled a short distance to the American Cemetery at Madingley, the only American WWII burial site in England, where we attended a private Service of Remembrance to honor and pay our respects to the fallen US service men and women who died in the war and are buried there or inscribed on the Wall of the Missing. The cemetery contains 3,800 white crosses and the stone wall is inscribed with 5,000 names.

A view down the reflecting pool toward the chapel at American Cemetery at Madingley, Wall of the Missing on the right and graveyard on the left

American Cemetery at Madingley

The group laid a wreath at the Wall of the Missing and laid flowers at the graves of all of the men of the 384th Bomb Group buried there. I decorated the grave of Marvin Fryden, the original bombardier of my dad’s crew who was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944, and read him messages I found that his wife, Marilyn, wrote before her death.

Cindy Farrar Bryan decorated the grave of Buslee crew bombardier Marvin Fryden at the American Cemetery at Madingley

Marvin Fryden and Marilyn Ash were married on October 8, 1942 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At the time, he was a bombardier instructor at the Albuquerque Air Base.

On November 18, 2007, almost sixty-three years after Marvin died, Marilyn Ash Fryden, now Marilyn Samet, posted a request on the 384th Bomb Group’s web site Log Book.  It is still there today in the Log Book archives.  It reads, in part:

My husband, 1st Lt. Marvin Fryden was on his second mission as bombardier aboard the Tremblin Gremlin when he was fatally wounded, remaining conscious only to drop his bombs over Langenhagen..(544th) He had been commissioned and assigned as an instructor in the states. We had almost 2 years together as he constantly said he was not doing his part, He finally requested combat duty and was assigned to the Gremlin with John Buslee, Dick Albrecht and other crew members. He was gone from me less than six weeks when he was killed.

Another six years went by and on October 17, 2013, Marilyn again posted to the 384th’s Log Book.  Marilyn must have had some difficulty typing her message, and I have edited it only to be easier to read.  This original message, too, is still in the 384th’s Log Book archives .

My husband, 1st Lt Marvin Fryden, left his Bombardier Training in Deming, NM because he felt needed in combat.  Left me to fly the Tremblin’ Gremlin over the pond at the end of July 1944.  Fatally wounded on second mission. Buried in Maddingly in Cambridge.  I am 88, still loving my first love. Ready to leave this world and reunite with my love in England.

Three days later, on October 20, 2013, Marilyn posted her final message to the 384th Log Book (again, I have edited). It reads, in part:

I am inspired by so many still remembering.  My husband Lt Marvin Fryden was a Bombardier Trainer in Deming NM, but on D-Day he woke up and said, “I should be over there.” He requested combat duty, trained with crew on a B-17, and left me on June 23rd.  I went home.  He flew his first mission on 8/4/44.  Next day he was fatally wounded and is buried at Maddingly.

Two and a half weeks later, on November 7, 2013 Marilyn Ash Fryden Samet passed away after a long illness. She was 88 years old.  Marilyn willed her remains to the Duke Medical School and asked that no service be held, feeling that “good memories make enough of a memorial.”

I did not discover Marilyn’s posts until November 17, 2013.  Not knowing that she had died ten days previously, I e-mailed her, but of course, I was too late.  I was not to discover until early in 2014 that Marilyn had left this world.

On this day on the 384th’s visit to the American Cemetery at Maddingley, I was able to stand at Marvin Fryden’s grave and read the messages to him that Marilyn left in the 384th logbook. I could feel her enduring love for Marvin through her words, and felt that the most love and respect I could show for the two of them would be to read her words at Marvin’s final resting place.

After leaving the cemetery, we traveled by coach into Cambridge for lunch, shopping, and sightseeing. The highlight of the Cambridge visit was the Eagle Pub which is inscribed with the names of WWII servicemen on the ceiling. Our three 384th veterans added their names to the walls of the pub.

Some of the 384th Junkateers at the Eagle Pub in Cambridge

Corpus Christi College Cambridge

The group returned to the hotel for a Farewell dinner and goodbyes before heading back to London and flights back home, or to further travels.

More Day 5 Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Farewell Photos in the 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

Post-Junket

My husband, Bill, and I traveled by taxi to the Cambridge train station the next morning and armed with BritRail passes, took the cross country train to Edinburgh, Scotland. We spent several days seeing Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling Castle, amazed at the ancient architecture all around us, and marveled at the beauty of the cathedrals, castles, and palaces, and, of course, enjoyed the food and drink of the local pubs.

View of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle from The Tower, the rooftop restaurant of the National Museum of Scotland

(Click on the above photo to enlarge and view Edinburgh Castle in the background looming over the city).

After another cross country train back to London, we flew back home with memories to last a lifetime, and thoughts of plans for a return.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1941

October 1941

Thirty-five thousand Jews from Odessa, Ukraine were shot and killed.

October 2, 1941

The main German drive on Moscow, called Operation Typhoon, began.

October 16, 1941

German forces took Odessa, Ukraine.

October 23, 1941

The Nazis forbid further emigration of Jews from the Reich.

October 24, 1941

German forces took Kharkov, Ukraine.

October 30, 1941

German forces reached Sevastopol, Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula.

November 1941

SS Einsatzgruppe (Action Group) B reported a tally of 45,476 Jews killed.

November 11, 1941

German forces capture Yalta, Ukraine on the south coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

November 13, 1941

The British aircraft carrier Ark Royal was sunk off Gibraltar by a German U-boat.

November 17, 1941

Japan demanded that the U.S. lift its trade embargo.

November 20, 1941

German forces took Soviet Rostov.

November 24, 1941

German authorities established the camp-ghetto Theresienstadt in the garrison town of Terezin in the German-controlled Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Theresienstadt existed for three and a half years, until May 9, 1945. Neither exactly a ghetto nor strictly a concentration camp, Theresienstadt was an assembly camp and a concentration camp, and had recognizable features of both ghettos and concentration camps. It was a unique facility that served as a tool of deception for propaganda purposes for the Germans.

November 25, 1941

Adolf Hitler met Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in Berlin. They agreed on the need for the destruction of the Jews.

November 27, 1941

Soviet troops took Rostov back.

November 30, 1941

A mass shooting of Latvian and German Jews occurred near Riga, Latvia.

December 4, 1941

The temperature fell to -30°F (-34°C) on the Russian Front.

December 5, 1941

The German attack on Moscow was abandoned.

December 6, 1941

The Soviet Army launched a major counter-offensive around Moscow and drove the German forces from the Moscow suburbs.

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt made a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There was no reply.

Later in the day, the U.S. code-breaking service in Washington, D.C. intercepted a fourteen-part Japanese message and deciphered the first thirteen parts. The deciphered messages were passed on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believed a Japanese attack was imminent, but believed it most likely to occur somewhere in Southeast Asia.

December 7, 1941

The attack on Pearl Harbor, the date which will live in infamy…

Japanese naval and air forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The Japanese also attacked the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.

The last part of the fourteen-part Japanese message reached Washington in the morning and was decoded by 9 a.m. Washington time. It stated that diplomatic relations with the U.S. were to be broken off. About an hour later, another Japanese message was intercepted. It instructed the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m.

The Americans realized the stated time corresponded with early morning in Pearl Harbor, several hours behind Washington. The U.S. War Department issued an alert, but used commercial telegraph as radio contact with Hawaii was down. Delays prevented the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noon Hawaii time, four hours after the attack had already begun.

The Japanese attack force, under the command of Japanese Admiral Nagumo, consisted of six aircraft carriers with four hundred twenty three planes.

At 6 a.m., one hundred eighty-three planes took off from the Japanese carriers located two hundred thirty miles north of Oahu for their target, the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, in the first wave of the attack.

At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu’s northern shore radar station detected the Japanese planes approaching. They contacted a junior officer who disregarded their reports, believing they were American B-17 planes which were expected in from the U.S. west coast.

A future airman of the 384th Bomb Group, Robert Thacker, was piloting one of those American B-17’s flying into Hickam Field that morning. His account may be viewed in this video.

At 7:15 a.m., a second Japanese attack wave of one hundred sixty-seven planes took off from the Japanese carriers and headed for Pearl Harbor.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave arrived at Pearl Harbor.

The first attack wave targeted airfields and battleships. The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasted almost two hours, until 9:45 a.m.

American losses included:

  • Two thousand three hundred thirty-five servicemen killed, including eleven hundred four men aboard the battleship USS Arizona.
  • Sixty-eight civilians killed.
  • Eleven hundred seventy-eight wounded.
  • Eight battleships damaged, with five sunk.
  • Three light cruisers lost.
  • Three destroyers lost.
  • Three smaller vessels lost.
  • One hundred eighty-eight aircraft lost.

Japanese losses included:

  • Twenty-seven planes.
  • Five midget submarines.

The prime target of the Japanese, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers Lexington, Enterprise, and Saratoga, escaped damage because they were not in port at the time of the attack. Base fuel tanks also escaped damage.

At 2:30 p.m. (Washington time), Japanese diplomats presented their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, at the same time Hull was reading the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor.

Public radio bulletins interrupted Sunday afternoon radio programs to inform the American people of the attack.

Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, senior commanders at Pearl Harbor, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations faulted both for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.

Note: The U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 and it became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Hawaii did not become a U.S. state until 1959.

Adolf Hitler’s Night and Fog decree

In Germany, on December 7, 1941, Adolf Hitler issued “Nacht und Nebel” – the Night and Fog Decree.

The previous Nazi policy meant to undermine Underground activities was to take hostages, but the method was unsuccessful. Now those suspected of underground activities would simply vanish without a trace, into the night and fog.

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler issued the following instructions to the Gestapo,

After lengthy consideration, it is the will of the Führer that the measures taken against those who are guilty of offenses against the Reich or against the occupation forces in occupied areas should be altered. The Führer is of the opinion that in such cases penal servitude or even a hard labor sentence for life will be regarded as a sign of weakness. An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender. Deportation to Germany serves this purpose.

German Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel also issued a letter stating,

Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved either by capital punishment or by measures by which the relatives of the criminals do not know the fate of the criminal…The prisoners are, in future, to be transported to Germany secretly, and further treatment of the offenders will take place here; these measures will have a deterrent effect because: A. The prisoners will vanish without a trace. B. No information may be given as to their whereabouts or their fate.

Victims were primarily from France, Belgium and Holland. Arrested in the middle of the night, they would be secreted away to far away prisons where they would be questioned and tortured. If they survived, they would be placed in the concentration camps of Natzweiler or Gross-Rosen.

December 8, 1941

The United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan.

The United States entered World War II and President Roosevelt delivered a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in which he described the previous day as “a date which will live in infamy…”

Japanese troops landed in the Philippines, French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), and British Singapore.

The Chelmno extermination camp became operational in occupied Poland near Lodz. Jews taken to Chelmno were placed in mobile gas vans and driven to a burial place. Carbon monoxide fed from the engine exhaust into the sealed rear compartment killed them. The first victims included 5,000 Roma (Gypsies) who had been deported from the Reich.

December 9, 1941

China declared war on Japan.

December 10, 1941

Japanese forces invaded the Philippines and seized Guam.

December 11, 1941

Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Hours later, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany saying,

Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization.

The U.S. entered the war in Europe.

Japanese forces invaded Burma.

December 12, 1941

The ship Struma, carrying 769 Jews, left Romania for Palestine. British authorities later denied permission for the passengers to disembark. (In February 1942, it sailed back into the Black Sea where it was intercepted by a Russian submarine and sunk as an “enemy target.”)

December 15, 1941

The first Japanese merchant ship was sunk by a U.S. submarine.

December 16, 1941

Japanese forces invaded British Borneo.

German General Erwin Rommel began a retreat to El Agheila in North Africa.

During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland, stated,

Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible in order to maintain there the structure of the Reich as a whole…

December 17, 1941

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz became Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

December 18, 1941

Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong.

December 19, 1941

Adolf Hitler took complete control of the German Army.

December 22, 1941

Japanese forces invaded Luzon in the Philippines.

December 23, 1941

In the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur began a withdrawal from Manila to Bataan.

Japanese forces took Wake Island.

December 25, 1941

The British surrendered at Hong Kong.

December 26, 1941

Manila was declared an open city.

December 27, 1941

The Japanese bombed Manila.

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Potato Pete

As the Monty Python catchphrase goes, and now for something completely different! I ran across Potato Pete during some of my research and thought he deserved a moment in the spotlight.

I found in the excellent book, World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd., that in September 1941, the British Food Ministry created the character Potato Pete and launched the Dig for Victory campaign to promote the idea for British citizens, in a time of war and food rationing, to plant and eat plenty of un-rationed potatoes.

KIng’s College in London’s Internet Archives Exhibition features the Potato Pete Recipe book, which notes…

Doctors advise each of us to eat at least 12 ozs. and if possible 1lb. of potatoes each day.

…and reminds us to save the cooking water as a base for soup, in addition to instructions on the various ways to cook potatoes and a multitude of recipes. The book provides recipes for soups and salads, breakfast and dinner, and even tea – who knew one could make scones with potatoes?

I intend to try out a few of the recipes as soon as I purchase a new set of measuring spoons – ones that measure a saltspoonful and a dessertspoonful – and as soon as I discover the conversion factor for a “gill” of milk.

In 2017, Country Life Magazine featured an article about Potato Pete along with a couple of recipes and the news that a book called Victory in the Kitchen – Wartime Recipes, a collection of recipes from the Second World War, has been published and is available from the shop at the Imperial War Museum.

Now I just need to get out of my desk chair and into the kitchen…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1941

Summer 1941

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS (Schutzstaffel), was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and was a main architect of the Holocaust. In the Summer of 1941, he summoned Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss to Berlin to inform him,

The Führer has ordered the Final Solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, have to carry out this order…I have therefore chosen Auschwitz for this purpose.

July 1941

As the German Army advanced, SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) followed behind and carried out mass murder of Jews in seized lands.

Jewish Ghettos were established at Kovno, Minsk, Vitebsk and Zhitomer.

The government of Vichy France seized Jewish owned property.

July 3, 1941

German Army Group Centre (a strategic German Army Group that was created on June 22, 1941 as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union) eradicated the Bialystok pocket capturing 290,000 Soviet prisoners, 2,500 tanks, and 1,500 guns.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin called for the “scorched earth” policy (a military strategy of burning or destroying crops or other resources that might be of use to an invading enemy force) to slow down the German armies.

July 10, 1941

The Germans crossed the River Dnieper in the Ukraine.

July 12, 1941

A mutual assistance agreement was reached between the British and the Soviets.

July 14, 1941

The British occupied Syria.

July 17, 1941

Alfred Rosenberg, a Baltic German who has been described as a Nazi racial ‘philosopher’, theorist, and influential ideologue of the Nazi Party, was appointed Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories to administer territories seized from the Soviet Union.

July 21, 1941

Majdanek concentration camp in occupied Poland near Lublin became operational.

July 25 – 26, 1941

Thirty-eight hundred Jews were killed during a pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) by Lithuanians in Kovno.

July 26, 1941

The United States froze Japanese assets in America and suspended diplomatic relations.

July 31, 1941

Nazi Party leader Hermann Göring ordered SS leader Reinhard Heydrich to begin preparations for the Final Solution, a “general solution of the Jewish question” in conquered territories.

The Final Solution Order from Hermann Göring to Reinhard Heydrich

Berlin, July 31, 1941

To Gruppenführer Heydrich:

Supplementing the task assigned to you by the decree of January 24, 1939, to solve the Jewish problem by means of emigration and evacuation in the best possible way according to present conditions, I hereby charge you to carry out preparations as regards organizational, financial, and material matters for a total solution (Gesamtlösung) of the Jewish question in all the territories of Europe under German occupation.

Where the competency of other central organizations touches on this matter, these organizations are to collaborate.

I charge you further to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution (Endlösung) of the Jewish question.

Göring

August 1941

Jews in Romania were forced into Transnistria, a thin strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. By December, 70,000 perished.

Jewish ghettos were established at Bialystok and Lvov.

August 1, 1941

The U.S. announced an oil embargo against “aggressor states.”

August 3, 1941

Catholic Bishop Clemens von Galen, in a sermon delivered in Münster Cathedral, called the Nazi euthanasia program “plain murder.” In publicly condemning the program, von Galen urged German Catholics to

withdraw ourselves and our faithful from their [Nazi] influence so that we may not be contaminated by their thinking and their ungodly behavior.

The sermon so affected Nazi leadership that as a result, on August 23, Adolf Hitler suspended Aktion T4, which had already accounted for nearly a hundred thousand deaths.

Regardless, the Nazi euthanasia program continued, but without widespread gassings. Instead, drugs and starvation were used, and doctors were encouraged to decide in favor of death whenever euthanasia was being considered.

Nazi retaliation against the Bishop was carried out by beheading three parish priests who had distributed his sermon. The Bishop was left unharmed to avoid making him into a martyr.

August 9 – 12, 1941

The Atlantic Conference took place aboard a warship off the coast of Newfoundland. The conference resulted in the Atlantic Charter, a joint proclamation by American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in which they declared they were together fighting the Axis powers to

ensure life, liberty, independence and religious freedom and to preserve the rights of man and justice.

The charter served as the foundation for the later establishment of the United Nations, and set forth several principles for the nations of the world, including the renunciation of all aggression, right to self-govern, access to raw materials, freedom from want and fear, freedom of the seas, and disarmament of aggressor nations.

August 15, 1941

German authorities sealed off the Kovno Ghetto, with approximately 30,000 Jewish inhabitants inside. It was in an area of small primitive houses and no running water and was overcrowded, enclosed by barbed wire, and closely guarded.

August 20, 1941

German authorities opened a Jewish internment and transit camp for foreign Jews in France in Drancy, France, a northeastern suburb of Paris. The SS eventually deports Jews captured in France from Drancy to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Sobibor killing center.

August 26, 1941

The Hungarian Army rounded up 18,000 Jews at Kamenets-Podolsk.

September 1, 1941

The Nazis ordered German Jews to wear yellow stars, the “Jewish badge.” Reinhard Heydrich decreed that all Jews over six years of age in the Reich, Alsace, Bohemia-Moravia and the German–annexed territory of western Poland (called the Warthegau), were to wear the yellow Star of David on their outer clothing in public at all times.  The word “Jew” was to be inscribed inside the star in German or the local language. The badge was used not only to stigmatize and humiliate Jews, but also to segregate them, to watch and control their movements, and to prepare them for deportation.

September 3, 1941

The first experimental use of the gas chambers at Auschwitz occurred with the first test of Zyklon-B gas on the concentration camp’s prisoners, Jews and Russian POWs.

September 6, 1941

The Vilna Ghetto was established with 40,000 Jews.

September 8, 1941

The Nazi siege of Leningrad began. It would last nearly 900 days and claim the lives of 800,000 civilians.

September 11, 1941

Aviator Charles Lindbergh, a member of the America First Committee, delivered a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, in which he blamed the deepening US involvement in WWII on Britain, the Roosevelt administration, and Jews.

September 12, 1941

Days after the start of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, the first snow of the season was reported on the Russian Front.

September 17, 1941

The general deportation of German Jews began.

In the German Bavarian city of Wuerzburg (or Würzburg), Jews were taken by police officials into the Platzscher Garten hotel. In one room, luggage was inspected by Gestapo officials and all valuables were confiscated before it was taken to a collecting area, where it was to then be taken to the deportation train. However, the deportees never saw their luggage again.

In another room, deportees surrendered all personal papers showing ownership of securities and property, and were left only with identification cards, watches, and wedding rings.

In the last room, deportees underwent body searches for concealed valuables and gold fillings were removed from their teeth. Their identification cards were stamped “evakuiert” [deported].

An SS detachment took control of the deportees until they left for the railway station. Jewish ordners (simply defined as one who keeps order or a security person) organized the deportees into groups to march through the city and board the trains. The group first traveled to Nuremberg, where it joined a larger Judentransport departing for ghettos and concentration camps in the East.

September 19, 1941

Almost three months after the initial German attack on Kiev, the capital of Soviet Ukraine, Germans forces took Kiev and 600,000 Soviet prisoners.

Jews comprised about twenty percent of Kiev’s population before the war with about 160,000 Jews residing in the city. One hundred thousand fled ahead of the German occupation.

Soviet military engineers set off two major explosions at the beginning of the occupation which destroyed part of Kiev’s city center and the German headquarters. The Nazis used this event as an excuse to murder the remaining Jews in Kiev ten days later.

September 27 – 28, 1941

Twenty-three thousand Jews were killed at Kamenets-Podolsk in the Ukraine.

September 29 – 30, 1941

Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) and German police and auxiliary units murdered 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine northwest of Kiev over two days.

In the following months, the Nazis killed thousands more Jews at Babi Yar, as well as non-Jews including Roma (Gypsies), Communists, and Soviet prisoners of war.

The location is known as one of the largest individual mass murder locations during World War II, with the total people murdered at Babi Yar estimated to be 100,000.

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

The History Place, Excerpt of the sermon by Catholic Cardinal Clemens von Galen

The History Place, Atlantic Charter

Charles Lindbergh Speech in Des Moines, Iowa

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

2019 384th Bomb Group Junket to England – A Teaser

A group of thirty-nine folks recently traveled to England for the 384th Bomb Group’s Junket XI. Three of the group’s veterans – navigator Henry Sienkiewicz, ball turret gunner Len Estrin, and tail gunner Henry Kolinek – attended along with wives, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends of the group.

The group was accompanied by Arena Travel tour manager Rick Hobson and toured the Thorpe Abbotts airfield, home of the Bloody Hundredth; the market town of Lavenham; the village and air base of Grafton Underwood, where the 384th was based during WWII; the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show and Imperial War Museum; the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley; and the town of Cambridge.

I will share more photos and stories of the trip very soon, but for now, as I’m pouring through the 1,000+ photos that I took during the junket and during a subsequent trip to Scotland, I’ll just share these few.

The entire group gathered on the steps at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley, including our three attending veterans on the front row, left to right, Len Estrin (with Len’s wife Helen), Henry Sienkiewicz, and Henry Kolinek. Our group of thirty-nine from the States was joined by many of our 384th friends in Britain and Arena Travel tour director Rick Hobson.

384th Junkateers at Madingley American Cemetery in Cambridge, England

I previously met a few folks from the UK, like Neill and Bridget Howarth, Kevin Flecknor, and Rob Long, during their travels to the States for 384th Bomb Group and 8th Air Force reunions, but prior to our junket have only known many of the UK folks through the 384th’s Facebook Group. What a treat to finally meet so many of them in person!

I caught up with old friends Neill and Bridget Howarth and met Facebook friend Jason Mann, all of whom orchestrated much of our visit to England, especially our visit to and tour of Grafton Underwood.

Neill Howarth, Cindy Bryan, Bridget Howarth, and Jason Mann

I also met in person for the first time British Facebook friends and friends of the 384th Graham Butlin, Snowy Ellson, Alan Dickens, and Tony Plowright, and the one thing I did learn was that my visit to the UK was far too short.

I met my dad’s Stalag Luft IV POW roomate Lawrence Newbold’s son Steve and grandson Paul.

Paul Newbold, Cindy Bryan, and Steve Newbold

I met Richard Denney and his aunt June.

Richard Denney, Cindy Bryan, and June Denney

The stories of my connections to the Newbold’s and Denney’s will be coming soon. These were the most anticipated and emotional of meetings for me.

Of course, the highlight of the trip to England was our day at Grafton Underwood, meeting the Newbold’s and the Denney’s, and our tour of the airbase from the back of a WWII Willys jeep.

Cindy and Bill Bryan in a WWII Willys Jeep in Grafton Underwood, England

At the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show, we climbed inside the UK’s B-17 Sally B and took a photo of some of our group in front of her.

384th Junketeers at the 2019 Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show

We walked down the road in Grafton Underwood from the Village Hall to see the stained glass window in St. James the Apostle Church.

Bill and Cindy Bryan in front of the 384th Memorial Window at St. James the Apostle Church in Grafton Underwood, England

That’s all I have for now, but I’ll be writing more and posting more photos in the next “post-mission briefing”…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1941

April 3, 1941

A pro-Axis regime was set up in Iraq.

April 6, 1941 – June 1941

Germany and Bulgaria invaded Greece (Greece’s Jewish population was 77,000) in support of the Italians. Resistance in Greece ceased in early June 1941.

The Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria invaded Yugoslavia (Yogoslavia’s Jewish population was 75,000).

April 9, 1941

The Danish ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an executive agreement with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, which allowed the presence of American troops in Greenland and made it a de facto United States protectorate.

April 10, 1941

The leaders of the terrorist Ustasa, or Ustashe, movement proclaimed the so-called Independent State of Croatia. Germany and Italy immediately recognized the new state which included the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ustasa was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultra-nationalist and terrorist organization whose members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.

April 14, 1941

German General Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, attacked the port of Tobruk in Libya.

April 16, 1941

The first American “Lend-Lease” food aid shipments arrived in Britain.

April 17, 1941

Yugoslavia surrendered to the Nazis following the April 6 invasion. 

April 27, 1941

German troops occupied Athens as Greece surrendered to the Nazis.

May 1, 1941

The German attack on Tobruk was repulsed.

May 10, 1941

Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess flew from Augsburg, Germany to Scotland in an unauthorized solo attempt to persuade Britain to stop the war with Germany. He was confined until the end of the war, when he was brought to trial as a war criminal at Nuremberg.

May 10/11, 1941

The Germans heavily bombed London and the British bombed Hamburg.

May 14, 1941

Thirty-six hundred Jews were arrested in Paris by the occupying Nazi Gestapo.

May 15, 1941

The British counter-attack in Egypt known as Operation Brevity began.

May 16, 1941

French Marshal Philippe Petain approved collaboration with Adolf Hitler during a radio broadcast.

May 20, 1941

German paratroopers invaded Crete, Greece’s largest island.

May 24, 1941

The German battleship Bismarck sank the British battleship HMS Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew.

May 27, 1941

British Navy warships sank the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. The German death toll was more than 2,000.

June 1, 1941

British forces evacuated Crete. Final figures for the British were 16,500 killed, wounded or captured, while the Germans lost about 6,200.

Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) began a campaign of mass murder of Jews throughout eastern Poland.

June 4, 1941

A pro-Allied government was installed in Iraq after Britain again assumed control at the end of May.

June 8, 1941

The Allies invaded Syria and Lebanon.

June 14, 1941

The United States froze German and Italian assets in America.

June 15, 1941

Croatia formally joined the Axis powers.

June 22, 1941 – November 1941

The Nazis invaded Soviet Russia (the Russian Jewish population was 3 million). This massive invasion was called Operation Barbarossa, and with the German and other Axis forces except Bulgaria, comprised 183 divisions (3,500,000 men), 3,350 tanks, and 1,945 aircraft. It was the biggest military operation in history on an 1,800-mile front. Finland aided the Axis in the invasion (they were seeking redress for their territorial losses in the armistice concluding the Winter War), however, Finland was never truly a member of the Axis powers as it never signed the Tripartite Pact.

The Germans quickly overran the Baltic States and, joined by the Finns, lay siege to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by September. In the center, the Germans captured Smolensk in early August and drove on Moscow by October. In the south, German and Romanian troops captured Kiev (Kyiv) in September and captured Rostov on the Don River in November.

SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups), tasked with identifying, concentrating, and killing Jews by RSHA Chief Reinhard Heydrich, followed the frontline troops of the German armies into the Soviet Union, killing Soviet Jews in mass shootings.

June 25, 1941

In the US, under pressure from civil rights activists, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which banned discrimination in hiring in defense factories and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Hiring and workplace discrimination against African Americans continued despite the order.

June 28, 1941

The Germans captured Minsk.

June 29/30, 1941

Romanian troops conducted a pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

Wikipedia Ustashe

Wikipedia Greenland in WWII

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The 75th Anniversary of Dad’s Last Week at Grafton Underwood

George Edwin Farrar

The last seven days my dad, George Edwin Farrar, spent at the 384th Bomb Group’s Grafton Underwood air base were pretty busy, although the previous week, he only flew one mission (number 196), targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm Germany.

He spent the weekend of September 23 and 24, 1944 enjoying the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration.

Saturday, September 23 events included an award banquet in the Officers’ Mess with guest speaker Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, dancing in Hangar #1 for the enlisted men with music by George Elrick & his BBC Orchestra and other entertainers, dancing in the Officers’ Club for the officers with music by the Flying Yanks Orchestra, and dancing in the Zebra Club for Zebra Club members with music by the Stratton-Audley G.I. Band.

Transportation to the party was provided from several locations (Northampon, Kettering, Woodford, Corby, Brigstock, Lilford, Newport Pagnell, Finedon, and Geddington) for civilian guests.

Sunday, September 24 was a day of “novelty events,” including a sack race, a three-legged race, a relay race, a piggy-back race, a wheelbarrow race, and a slow bike race. Also on the schedule were a bicycle derby, a baseball game – Station 106 vs. 8th AF All Stars, Scotch bagpipe band & Highland dancers, and a U-S-O stage show at the Station Theater featuring an all-American cast including MC & comedian Artie Conray, comedy act Drohan & Dupree, and accordionist Ferne Downes.

The 200th Mission Celebration weekend was in advance of the actual 200th mission date, and in fact, occurred between Mission 197 to the railroad marshalling yards in Mainz, Germany on September 21 and Mission 198 to the railroad marshalling yards in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on September 25. Daddy flew Mission 198, but then missed Mission 199 on September 26 to a steelworks factory in Osnabrück, Germany.

Mission 200 finally arrived on September 27, targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Dad flew that one and that was the last mission on which he returned to Grafton Underwood.

The next day, on September 28, 1944, Mission 201, targeting a steelworks factory in Magdeburg, Germany, would be his last, cut short by a mid-air collision between his and another of the groups B-17’s. His next stop, after interrogation and a hospital stay, would be the Stalag Luft IV POW camp in Gross-Tychow (now Tychowo), Poland, and then the long walk home, a five-hundred mile, eighty-six day march across Germany to liberation.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Grafton Underwood Maps and Site Plans Booklet

Note:  This post is a duplicate of a permanent page I added a few weeks ago, but I am repeating it today as a blog post in honor of the 384th Bomb Group Junket XI visit to England, of which I am a part.

We will be visiting Station 106 on Saturday, September 21 and touring the remains of the air base. I know I will be referring to the maps as I see, for the first time, the air base on which my dad served in WWII. I will be walking on the same ground Dad once did, seeing the remains of a piece of his history from seventy-five years ago.

The WWII-era site plan for Grafton Underwood (Station 106) was mapped out in 1944 into fourteen separate sites, with Site No. 1 sub-divided further into seven areas. Our 384th Bomb Group NexGen Archivist, Mark Meehl, extracted individual maps with numbered keys from the site plan and kindly shared them with me. The individual sites are:

  • Site No. 1 – Airfield and Hardstands
  • Site No. 1 – Group Headquarters (HQ Area)
  • Site No. 1 – Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Southeast Area
  • Site No. 1 – 547th BS & Maintenance Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Warkton Common Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 1 – Old Head Wood Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 2 – Communal
  • Site No. 3 – Communal
  • Site No. 4 – Group Staff Quarters
  • Site No. 5 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 6 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 7 – W.A.A.F.
  • Site No. 8 – 544th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 9 – 547th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 10 – 545th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 11 – 546th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 12 – Sick Quarters
  • Site No. 13 – Sewage
  • Site No. 14 – Sewage

On my upcoming visit to Grafton Underwood, I wanted to have a handy map guide to take with me during my tour of the air base, so I have combined Mark’s individual maps into a PDF document that I could print into a small booklet.

Thinking others, especially those visiting Grafton Underwood for the first time, might like their own copy, I am including a download here. To download a copy of the 384th Bombardment Group, Station 106, Grafton Underwood, England, Maps and Site Plans, click this thumbnail of the cover page:

The download is in PDF file format and may be viewed as a digital image on a computer, tablet, or phone with a PDF reader, or may be printed in any format desired, however, the document prints best as a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet.  Note: download before printing to print the booklet format!

In the booklet format, the location keys appear on the page opposite the corresponding map, in most cases.

To print a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet on letter-size paper in Adobe Acrobat Reader, set the following printing preferences:

  • Page Sizing & Handling to Booklet.
  • Booklet subset to Both sides for duplex printers (see note below for non-duplex printers).
  • Sheets from 1 to 13.
  • Binding to Left.
  • Orientation to Portrait.
  • Optionally, check Print in grayscale (black and white)

After printing, fold pages in half (one at a time is easier), maintaining page order.  Staple along the left side about 1/8-inch from the left edge in three places:  one inch from top, in the middle, and one inch from bottom.  Optionally, cover staples with one-inch wide masking or other tape.

Note:  If printer is not a duplex printer capable of automatically printing on both sides of the page, choose Front side only to print the front sides of the pages, then reload those pages (check your printer manual for proper paper orientation for reloading) and choose Back side only to print the back sides of the pages.

Acknowledgements and Final Notes

Cover artwork courtesy of Marc Poole.

Maps and site plans courtesy of Quentin Bland, Ken Decker, Robin Dodson, John Edwards, Kevin Flecknor, Mark Meehl, Fred Preller, Matt Smith, the 384TH Bomb Group Photo Gallery, and the RAF Hendon Archives.  Hardstand identification and key transcription courtesy of Mark Meehl.

All maps are oriented North up.

To see the complete Station 106 site plan in detail, download the high resolution digital map images to a computer or tablet and zoom in as the print size in the map booklet is not conducive to viewing the complete large format site maps and they were not included. Maps and site plans may be found on and downloaded from Photos.384thBombGroup.com in the 384TH During WWII album, Station 106 Maps sub-album.  The Station 106 Airfield Area map and Station 106 Domestic Area map are particularly detailed drawings with keys.

Keep the show on the road…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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