The Arrowhead Club

The Month Leading up to Victory in Europe in WWII

Just a few days ago, May 8, 2021, marked the 76th anniversary of V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, in WWII. In today’s world, we anticipate a liberation and freedom from the Covid-19 pandemic, but seventy-six years ago, Americans, the British, and our other Allies were marking the end of and freedom from Naziism under Adolf Hitler.

In the Spring of 1945, the end of the war in the Pacific was still many months away, but WWII in Europe was winding down. Concentration camps and POW camps in Germany were being liberated and the last of the bombing missions over Germany were being flown.

Here’s a look at what was happening in Europe during the last month leading up to Victory over Europe and VE Day.

On April 6, 1945, “Operation Grapeshot,” the Spring 1945 Allied offensive in Italy, began. It was the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign. This attack into the Lombardy Plain in Northern Italy by the 15th Allied Army Group ended on May 2 with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew Mission #903 and the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #305. The target was the railroad marshalling yards at Leipzig, Germany. Sadly, three 384th Bomb Group crews were lost on this mission. The entire MacKellar crew was killed when they crashed near Broughton after takeoff, and shortly after Bombs Away the B-17’s of the Fred Gray crew and David Hastings crew collided, killing twelve of the sixteen crewmembers aboard the two ships.

On April 7, the 8th AAF flew Mission #931 and the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #306. The targets were oil and munition depots and explosive plants. The 384th’s specific target was the underground oil storage plant at Hitzacker, Germany.

On April 8, the 8th AAF flew two bombing missions. One was Mission #932 with targets of the Derben oil depot, the Schafstadt Airfield, the Stendal marshalling yard workshops, the marshalling yard at Halbertstadt, the marshalling yard at Plauen, Hof, and Eger, an ordnance depot at Grafenwohr, the munitions depot at Bayreuth, the Blumenthal jet aircraft factory at Furth, and the Unterschlauersbach and Roth Airfields. The second was Mission #934 with the target of the Travemunde port area. The 384th Bomb Group did not participate in either of these missions.

On April 9, the 8th AAF flew two bombing missions. One, in which the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #307, was Mission #935. The targets were underground oil storage, an ammunition plant, and ten jet airfields. The 384th’s specific target was the airfield at Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany. The second was Mission #937 with the target of the Stade Airfield.

On April 10, the 8th AAF flew two bombing missions. One, in which the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #308, was Mission #938. The targets were airfields known or suspected to be used by jet aircraft. The 384th’s specific target was the ordnance depot workshop area at Oranienburg, Germany. The second was Mission #940 with the target of the Dessau rail depot.

On April 11, U.S. troops from the 6th Armored Division of the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after the prisoners stormed the watchtowers and seized control of the camp. Also on this date, U.S. forces liberated the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew Mission #941 to a variety of targets in Germany, including airfields, oil depots, munitions plants and depots, and marshalling yards. The 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #309, target the underground oil storage depot at Freiham, Germany.

On April 12, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his Warm Springs, Georgia vacation home. Vice President Harry Truman, who had held the office for eighty-three days and had had little contact with Roosevelt, was summoned to the White House.

Truman was unaware that Roosevelt had died. After being sworn in as President, one of Truman’s first acts was to meet with Roosevelt’s advisers to learn of matters of national security, including the existence of the atomic bomb.

Also on this date, Canadian forces liberated prisoners at the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands.

On April 13, the Soviets captured Vienna, Austria.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew two bombing missions, Mission #945 to the marshalling yard at Neumunster and Mission #946 to the Beizenburg rail junction. The 384th Bomb Group did not participate in either of these missions.

On April 14, the 8th AAF flew bombing Mission #948 to enemy pockets on the French Gironde estuary. The 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #310 with the specific target of the gun battery in Royan (Bordeaux), France. The 8th also flew an experimental and unsuccessful bombing operation with Mission #950 against the Neuruppin Airfield in Germany.

On April 15, British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus at this camp a month earlier.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew bombing Mission #951, in which the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #311, to strongpoints on the French Atlantic coast – German ground installations of pillboxes, gunpits, tank trenches, and heavy gun emplacements. The 384th’s specific target was the flak guns at Pointe de Suzac at Royan, Frnace.

On April 16, the Soviets launched their final offensive and encircled Berlin.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew two bombing missions. The first was Mission #954, in which the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #312, to rail targets in Germany. The 384th’s specific target was the railroad marshalling yards at Regensburg, Germany. The 8th’s second bombing mission of the day was Mission #955 to bomb the tank ditch defense line at Pointe de Grave in France.

On April 17, the 8th AAF flew bombing Mission #957, in which the 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #313, to rail targets in Germany and Czechoslovakia. The 384th’s specific target was the railroad marshalling yards in Dresden, Germany.

On April 18, German forces in the Ruhr surrendered.

On this date, the 8th AAF flew Mission #959 to bomb rail targets in Czechoslovakia and Bavaria. The 384th Bomb Group did not participate in this mission.

On April 19, the 8th AAF flew Mission #961 to attack rail targets in Germany and Czechoslovakia. The 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #314 to the railroad station and marshalling yards at Elsterwerda, Germany.

On April 20, the 8th AAF flew Mission #962 to attack rail targets NNW to SSW of Berlin, Bavaria, and  Czechoslovakia. The 384th Bomb Group participated with their Mission #315 to the railroad marshalling yards in Seddin, Germany.

On April 21, the 8th AAF flew Mission #963 to attack jet fighter airfields and rail targets in southeast Germany. The 384th Bomb Group did not participate in this mission.

On April 23, Soviets troops reached Berlin. Also, the 358th and 359th U.S. Infantry Regiments (90th US Infantry Division) liberated the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

On April 25, the last bombing mission of the Eighth Air Force (8th AAF) in WWII was flown.

In his volume, Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces, Jack McKillop wrote of this mission,

European Theater of Operations (ETO), Strategic Operations (Eighth Air Force), Mission 968:

589 bombers and 486 fighters fly the final heavy bomber mission against an industrial target, airfields and rail targets in SE Germany and Czechoslovakia; they claim 1-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft (including an Ar 234 jet); 6 bombers and 1 fighter are lost:

  1. 307 B-17s are sent to hit the airfield (78) and Skokda armament works at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia; 6 B-17s are lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 180 damaged; 8 airmen are WIA and 42 MIA. Escorting are 188 of 206 P-51s.

  2. 282 B-24s are sent to hit marshalling yards at Salzburg (109), Bad Reichenhall (56) and Hallein (57) and electrical transformers at Traunstein (56); 20 B-24s are damaged; 1 airman is WIA. The escort is 203 of 216 P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft in the air.

  3. 17 of 19 P-51s fly a sweep of the Prague-Linz area claiming 0-1-0 aircraft in the air; 1 P-51 is lost.

  4. 17 of 19 P-51s fly a screening mission.

  5. 4 P-51s escort 2 OA-10s on an air-sea-rescue mission.

  6. 22 P-51s escort 5 F-5s on photo reconnaissance missions over Germany and Czechoslovakia.

  7. 88 of 98 P-51s escort RAF bombers.

For the 384th Bomb Group, this Eighth Air Force Mission #968 was their Mission #316 and their target the Skoda Armament Works at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. The 384th Bomb Group website notes this mission as “THE LAST ONE!”

The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing C Group in Air Task Force 1 on today’s mission, the last strategic bombing mission of the war in Europe. Under strict orders to bomb by visual means only, the Lead and Low Squadrons made two bomb runs, and the High Squadron made three. Results appeared to be good, and the delay resulted in the 384th dropping the final bombs of the war on Axis targets in Europe.

It was not known that this would be the last strategic bombing mission of WWII in the ETO until well after this mission ended.

Only one of the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17’s did not return from this final mission. The Andrew Gordon Lovett crew’s B-17 43-38501, Sweet Chariot, was disabled when three engines were knocked out by flak only ten minutes away from allied territory and crashed near the German-Czech border.

Of the crew of eight (no waist gunners were assigned to the crews by April 1945), three evaded capture (the pilot, co-pilot, and tail gunner), and five were taken prisoner (navigator, togglier, radio operator, top turret gunner/engineer, and ball turret gunner).

On April 28, the Allies took Venice. Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, captured as they attempted to flee to Switzerland, were executed by Italian partisans.

On April 29, the U.S. 7th Army liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp. Also, Adolf Hitler married his longtime mistress, Eva Braun.

On April 30, holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. He and Eva Braun poisoned themselves and their dogs with cyanide capsules and Hitler shot himself in the head with his service pistol.

On May 1, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda, and his wife Magda committed suicide after murdering their six children.

On May 2, German troops in Italy surrendered. Also, the Theresienstadt Ghetto/Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic was taken over by the Red Cross.

The BBC History website reported about this date,

…After one of the most intense battles in human history, the guns at last stopped firing amongst the ruins of Berlin. According to Soviet veterans, the silence that followed the fighting was literally deafening. Less than four years after his attack on the Soviet Union, Hitler’s self-proclaimed thousand-year Reich had ceased to exist.

Also on this date, my father George Edwin Farrar, his Stalag Luft IV roommate Lawrence Newbold, and other POW’s of Stalag Luft IV were liberated on the road near Gudow, Germany by the British Royal Dragoons.

On May 5, the Mauthausen Concentration Camp was liberated. The camp was known for its “Todesstiege” (Stairs of Death) in the rock quarry at Mauthausen. The Nazis forced prisoners to repeatedly carry heavy granite blocks up 186 stairs until they died or were murdered if they failed.

On May 7, Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.

On May 8, 1945, V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.

On May 9, Germany surrendered to Russia at Soviet headquarters in Berlin. The Soviets had insisted that a second ceremonial signing take place in Soviet-occupied Berlin. Also on this date, Hermann Göring was captured by members of the U.S. 7th Army.

Naziism had been defeated and the war in Europe was over.

Sources

8th AF Mission 968/384th Bomb Group Mission 316

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

Missing Air Crew Report MACR 14317

The Battle for Berlin

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 8 August 1944

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

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

Today’s installment is the 8 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Tuesday, 8 August 1944

384th BG Mission 175/8th AF Mission 530 to Bretteville-sur-Laize, France.

Target: Military and Tactical, Enemy Strong Points.

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

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

Shuttle mission continues as B-17’s with P-51 escort, leave bases in USSR. While 36 hit Buzau A/F others hit A/F at Zilistea. No ftrs are encountered during mission. 359 B-24’s from UK bomb 10 Vweapon sites and 4 A/Fs in NE France. 6 P-51 gps provide escort. 2 gps bomb and 3 gps strafe rail facilities and rail and motor transportation with good results. 497 B-17’s bomb troop concentrations and strongpoints and T/Os S of Caen. 2 P-51 gps give spt, 1 later strafing traffic in Rouen area. 10 HBs and 4 P-51’s are lost, mostly to AA fire. 4 gps of FBs (163 planes) strafe and bomb M/Ys, a bridge, and T/Os N and W of Dijon and in Paris-miens-Saint-Quentin area. Eighth AF during the day and RAF during 7/8 Aug drop over 5,200 tons of bombs, mainly in spt of Canadian First Army (accompanied by a Polish armd div) offensive toward Falaise.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): Shuttle missions continue as 78 B-17s with 55 P-51s escort, leave bases in the USSR to hit airfields in Rumania; 38 hit Bizau and 35 hit Zlistea; no Luftwaffe fighters are encountered during the mission and the force flies to Italy.

Three missions are flown:

  1. Mission 530 to airfields and V-weapons sites in France
  2. Mission 531 to bomb enemy troop concentrations and strongpoints south of Caen
  3. Mission 532 to drop leaflets in France during the night

Mission 531: 681 B-17s and 100 P-51s are dispatched to bomb enemy troop concentrations and strongpoints south of Caen.

  • 25 Canadian soldiers are killed and 131 wounded by short bombing
  • 231 B-17s hit Cauvincourt, 99 hit Bretteville-sur-Laise strongpoint, 99 hit St Sylvain strong point, 67 hit targets of opportunity and 1 hits Gouvix strongpoint
  • The B-17s claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft
  • 7 B-17s are lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 294 damaged
  • 8 airmen are KIA, 15 WIA and 35 MIA
  • Escort is provided by 91 of 100 P-51s
  • The P-51s claim 4-1-6 aircraft
  • 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA)
  • 41 of 50 P-51s escort RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters on a convoy strike in Norway
  • 3 P-51s are lost and 3 damaged
  • 1 P-51 pilot is WIA and 3 MIA
  • 175 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s fly a fighter-bomber mission against the railroad N and W of Dijon
  • 2 P-47s and 2 P-51s are lost
  • 1 P-38, 1 P-47 and 1 P-51 are lost
  • 5 (fighter) airmen are MIA

Note

384th Bomb Group records state that their Mission 175 was 8th Air Force Mission 530, however, Jack McKillop’s volume records 8th Air Force Mission 531 as the mission of the day flown by the B-17 heavy bombers, not Mission 530. Therefore, I have included McKillop’s information for Mission 531 here rather than 530.

Links/Sources

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

A Liberation Day Souvenir

I have previously written about my dad’s time as a POW during WWII, both during his confinement in Stalag Luft IV and during his 86-day march across Poland and Germany to his liberation. The 500-plus mile march started on February 6, 1945, and for my dad, George Edwin Farrar, ended on May 2, 1945.

On the morning of May 2, 1945, Day 86 of the march, the prisoners’ morning started as usual, awakening early, with some prisoners searching the farm for food, eggs that could be eaten raw, or potatoes that could be carried to the next stop. On this day, the Germans distributed canned sardines and commanded the prisoners to pack up and walk to the end of the farm lane to the main road where they would be liberated by the British 8th Army, the Royal Dragoons, shortly before noon.

The 76th anniversary of Dad’s liberation day will be this coming Sunday and this year I have a piece of history to hold in my hand as I reflect on this day and what his liberation and freedom meant to my father those many years ago.

WWII German Air Force (Luftwaffe) Officer’s Peak Cap

Dad kept this WWII German Air Force (Luftwaffe) officer’s peak cap as a souvenir of his experience as a POW during the war. I don’t recall him ever showing it to me or telling me about it.

It wasn’t until my sister and I were cleaning out my mother’s attic after her death in 2004 (Dad had died in 1982) that we found it in a footlocker with a few other items from his military service. My sister kept those things when we divided up the family heirlooms and I forgot about them over the years.

My sister recently reminded me she had these things of dad’s from the war and offered them to me to add to my collection of his WWII memorabilia. I am sure I know how my dad came to be in possession of this Nazi military cap. Once the prisoners were liberated and realized they would soon be going home, they all collected some souvenirs to bring home with them.

In the Shoe Leather Express, author and former POW Joseph O’Donnell wrote, that his first souvenirs were a “military map of Germany and a German canteen and kit.” He noted that “other G.I.’s were gathering souvenirs such as swords, bayonets, and guns.”

A Luftwaffe officer’s cap must have seemed a fitting symbol, a victory prize, for an enlisted serviceman of the American Army Air Forces in the Allies’ defeat over Nazi Germany on the day of his liberation. But it was never something he showed off with pride or even shared the existence of when he told his stories of the mid-air collision, of being a POW, or enduring the forced march. Like many of his memories of that tragic time in his life and our country’s history, it remained buried and not spoken of until long after his death.

Notes

Previous Post: Liberation Gudow

All previous posts about Stalag Luft IV

All previous posts about The Black March

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

USAAF – US Army Air Forces of WWII

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to write more about the multiple air force divisions of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during WWII, and I’m doing so today.

A very good source of information is available in PDF format on the internet, a 520-page volume called Air Force Combat Units of World War II, edited by Maurer Maurer and published by the Office of Air Force History in Washington, D.C., in 1983.

This work describes US air force combat units, divided by and described by Groups, Wings, Divisions, Commands, and Air Forces. I have included a link at the bottom of this article in the Sources section to this volume for those interested in learning more, but today I’m noting only information at the highest level, the different air forces themselves.

All descriptive information below is taken directly from and is credited to this volume.

The various numbered air forces which operated during World War II by theater of operation were:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

Eighth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as VIII Bomber Command on 19 Jan 1942. Activated in the US on 1 Feb 1942. An advanced detachment was established in England on 23 Feb and units began arriving from the US during the spring of 1942. The command conducted the heavy bombardment operations of Eighth AF (see US Strategic Air Forces in Europe) from 17 Aug 1942 until early in 1944. Redesignated Eighth AF on 22 Feb 1944. Afterward, engaged primarily in bombardment of strategic targets in Europe. Transferred, without personnel, equipment, and combat elements, to Okinawa on 16 Jul 1945. Although some personnel and combat units were assigned before V-J Day, the Eighth did not participate in combat against Japan. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US on 7 Jun 1946. Remanned and re-equipped as part of Strategic Air Command.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, served in the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.

Ninth Air Force (Tactical Operations)

Constituted as V Air Support Command on 21 Aug 1941. Activated on 1 Sep 1941. Redesignated Ninth AF in Apr 1942. Moved to Egypt and began operations on 12 Nov 1942, participating in the Allied drive across Egypt and Libya, the campaign in Tunisia, and the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Moved to England in Oct 1943 to become the tactical air force for the invasion of the Continent. Helped prepare for the assault on Normandy, supported operations on the beach in Jun 1944, and took part in the drive that carried the Allies across France and culminated in victory over Germany in May 1945. Inactivated in Germany on 2 Dec 1945.

US Strategic Air Forces in Europe (originally Eighth Air Force)

Constituted as Eighth AF on 19 Jan 1942 and activated on 28 Jan. Moved to England, May – Jun 1942, and engaged primarily in bombardment of targets in Europe. Redesignated US Strategic Air Forces in Europe on 22 Feb 1944. Afterward, coordinated AAF activities in the EAME Theater, exercising some operational control over both Eighth AF (originally VIII Bomber Command) and Fifteenth, and some administrative control over Eighth AF and Ninth. Served with the occupation forces in Europe after World War II. Redesignated United States Air Forces in Europe in Aug 1945. Directed USAF operations in the Berlin airlift, Jun 1948 – Sep 1949.

MEDITERRANEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (MTO)

Twelfth Air Force (Tactical Operations)

Constituted as Twelfth AF on 20 Aug 1942 and activated the same day. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and then on to North Africa for the invasion of Algeria and French Morocco in Nov 1942. Operated in the Mediterranean theater until the end of the war, serving with Northwest African Air Forces from Feb to Dec 1943, and afterward with Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. Inactivated in Italy on 31 Aug 1945.

Fifteenth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as Fifteenth AF on 30 Oct 1943. Activated in the Mediterranean theater on 1 Nov 1943. Began operations on 2 Nov and engaged primarily in strategic bombardment of targets in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans until the end of the war. Inactivated in Italy on 15 Sep 1945.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (CBI) THEATER OF OPERATIONS

Tenth Air Force (Burma-India)

Constituted as Tenth AF on 4 Feb 1942 and activated on 12 Feb. Moved to India, Mar-May 1942. Served in India, Burma, and China until Mar 1943 when Fourteenth AF was activated in China. Then the Tenth operated in India and Burma until it moved to China late in Jul 1945. Returned to the US, Dec 1945 – Jan 1946. Inactivated on 6 Jan 1946.

My father’s brother, my uncle Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr., served in the 315th Service Squadron of the 10th Air Force.

Fourteenth Air Force (China)

Constituted as Fourteenth AF on 5 Mar 1943 and activated in China on 10 Mar. Served in combat against the Japanese, operating primarily in China, until the end of the war. Moved to the US, Dec 1945 – Jan 1946. Inactivated on 6 Jan 1946.

Twentieth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as Twentieth AF on 4 Apr 1944 and activated the same day. Some combat elements moved in the summer of 1944 from the US to India where they carried out very heavy bombardment operations against targets in Japan, Formosa, Thailand, and Burma. Other combat elements began moving late in 1944 from the US to the Marianas, being joined there early in 1945 by the elements that had been in India. Headquarters, which had remained in the US, was transferred to Guam in Jul 1945. From the Marianas the Twentieth conducted a strategic air offensive that was climaxed by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan. After the war the Twentieth remained in the theater and eventually became part of Far East Air Forces. Served in combat for a short time at the beginning of the Korean War but later was concerned primarily with logistic support for the operations of other organizations and with air defense for the Ryukyus. Inaczivated on Okinawa on 1 Mar 1955.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA)

Fifth Air Force (Southwest Pacific Area – SWPA, Far East Air Force – FEAF)

Constituted as Philippine Department AF on 16 Aug 1941. Activated in the Philippines on 20 Sep 1941. Redesignated Far East AF in Oct 1941, and Fifth AF in Feb 1942. This air force lost most of its men and equipment in the defense of the Philippines after 7 Dec 1941. Later in Dec 1941 headquarters and some crews and planes moved to Australia, and in Jan 1942 they were sent to Java to help delay Japanese advances in the Netherlands Indies. The Fifth did not function as an air force for some time after Feb 1942 (the AAF organizations in the Southwest Pacific being under the control of American-British-Dutch-Australian Command and later Allied Air Forces). Headquarters was remanned in Sep 1942 and assumed control of AAF organizations in Australia and New Guinea. The Fifth participated in operations that stopped the Japanese drive in Papua, recovered New Guinea, neutralized islands in the Bismarck Archipelago and the Netherlands East Indies, and liberated the Philippines. When the war ended in Aug 1945 elements of the Fifth were moving to the Ryukyus for the invasion of Japan. After the war the Fifth, a component of Far East Air Forces, remained in the theater, and from Jun 1950 to Jul 1953 it was engaged in the Korean War.

Seventh Air Force (AAFPOA)

Constituted as Hawaiian AF on 19 Oct 1940. Activated in Hawaii on 1 Nov 1940. Redesignated Seventh AF in Feb 1942. Provided air defense for the Hawaiian Islands and, after mid-1943, served in combat in the central and western Pacific areas. Transferred back to Hawaii in Jan 1946. Redesignated Pacific Air Command in Dec 1947. Discontinued on 1 Jun 1949.

Thirteenth Air Force (Air Forces Pacific)

Constituted as Thirteenth AF on 14 Dec 1942. Activated in New Caledonia on 13 Jan 1943. Served in the South Pacific and, later, Southwest Pacific, participating in the Allied drive north and west from the Solomons to the Philippines. Remained in the Philippines, as part of Far East Air Forces, after the war. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to Okinawa in Dec 1948 and back to the Philippines in May 1949.

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

First Air Force

Constituted as Northeast Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated First AF early in 1941. Trained new organizations and, later, replacements for combat units. Also provided air defense for the eastern US until 1943. Assigned to Air Defense Command in Mar 1946 and to Continental Air Command in Dec 1948, being concerned primarily with air defense until 1949 and with reserve and national guard activities thereafter.

Second Air Force

Constituted as Northwest Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Second AF early in 1941. Served as both an air defense and a training organization in 1941. Afterward, was engaged chiefly in training units and replacements for heavy and, later, very heavy bombardment operations. Inactivated on 30 Mar 1946.

Third Air Force (Antisubmarine)

Constituted as Southeast Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Third AF early in 1941. Trained units, crews, and individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. Also had some air defense responsibilities during 1940 – 1941 and engaged in antisubmarine activities from Dec 1941 to Oct 1942. Assigned in Mar 1946 to Tactical Air Command to serve as a troop carrier organization. Inactivated on 1 Nov 1946.

Fourth Air Force

Constituted as Southwest Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Fourth AF early in 1941. Provided air defense for the western US until 1943, and at the same time trained new organizations. Later, was engaged primarily in training replacements for combat units. Assigned to Air Defense Command in Mar 1946 and to Continental Air Command in Dec 1948, being concerned chiefly with air defense until 1949 and with reserve and national guard activities thereafter.

Sixth Air Force (Antisubmarine)

Constituted as Panama Canal AF on 19 Oct 1940. Activated in the Canal Zone on 20 Nov 1940. Redesignated Caribbean AF in Aug 1941, and Sixth AF in Feb 1942. Served primarily in defense of the Panama Canal; also engaged in antisubmarine operations. Redesignated Caribbean Air Command on 31 Jul 1946.

Eleventh Air Force (Alaska)

Constituted as Alaskan AF on 28 Dec 1941. Activated in Alaska on 15 Jan 1942. Redesignated Eleventh AF in Feb 1942. Participated in the offensive that drove the Japanese from the Aleutians, attacked the enemy in the Kuril Islands, and, both during and after the war, served as part of the defense force for Alaska. Redesignated Alaskan Air Command in Dec 1945.


Sources

The Office of Air Force History’s Air Force Combat Units of World War II

To review combat missions of the various air forces of the USAAF, please refer to:

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

or

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

Except for entries from Air Force Combat Units of World War II, edited by Maurer Maurer and published by the Office of Air Force History in Washington, D.C., 1983, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 7 August 1944

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

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

Today’s installment is the 7 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Monday, 7 August 1944

384th BG Mission 174/8th AF Mission 527 to Dugny (Paris), France.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe), an Aircraft Fuel Depot.

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

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

Shuttle mission continues from USSR. In accordance with Soviet request, tgt is oil refinery in Poland. 57 B-17’s and 37 P-51’s are dispatched. 55 HBs (2 return to base early) bomb refinery at Trzebinia. P-51’s engage 6 to 8 enemy ftrs over tgt and claim destruction of 3 of them. The airplanes return to FRANTIC bases in USSR. In UK 902 HBs, supported by 10 ftr gps, are dispatched to bomb oil dumps and bridges in France. Cloud conditions cause multiple aborts, but 483 HBs bomb 11 oil dumps, 5 bridges, 3 A/Fs, and an M/Y. 3 HBs are lost. 8 gps of FBs attack M/Ys and rail transportation N and E of Paris.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 4 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 527 to fuel dumps and bridges in France, in which the Brodie crew participated
  2. Mission 528, a Micro H (radar system which combined the Gee-H and H2X radar functionality for use by pathfinders ) test mission
  3. Mission 529 to marshalling yards and railroads north and east of Paris
  4. Unnumbered leaflet mission over France during the night

Also, in the USSR, a shuttle mission is flown in accordance with a Soviet request; 55 B-17s and 29 P-51s attack an oil refinery at Trzebina, Poland without loss; the aircraft return to Operation FRANTIC bases in the USSR.

Mission 527: 905 bombers and 471 fighters are dispatched to hit fuel dumps and bridges in France but heavy cloud cover forces many aircraft to return with bombs and other formations to be recalled; 1 bomber and 5 fighters are lost; targets hit (number in parenthesis indicates bombers bombing) are:

  • Of 112 B-17s, 71 hit Montbartier and 34 hit St Loubes; 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 26 are damaged; 2 airmen are WIA. Escort is provided by 123 of 139 P-51s; they claim 1-0-3 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 0-0-1 on the ground.

  • The primary targets of 224 B-17s are Nanteuil Bridge (36), Sens (26), St Florentin (25), Dueny (24), Bourron Marlotte (23) and Paris-St Quen (12); other targets hit are Chartres Airfield (23), Maintenon Bridge (23), Houden marshalling yard (14), Chateaudun Airfield (11) and Rouglaf (1); 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 80 damaged. Escort is provided by 96 of 97 P-51s.

  • 1 of 182 B-17s hits Montdidier Airfield; 35 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is WIA. Escort is provided by 90 P-38s and P-51s.

  • Of 51 B-24s, 10 hit Andenne Bridge, 8 hit Semuse and 8 hit targets of opportunity; 1 B-24 is lost and 19 damaged; 11 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 34 of 35 P-47s.

  • The primary targets of 333 B-24s are Doullens Bridge (37), Saleux (24), Recques-sur-Course (23), Frevent Bridge (15), Rieme/Ertveld (11) and Langerbrugge (9); 12 also hit a factory near Wendelghem and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair and 45 damaged; 8 airmen are KIA and 1 WIA. Escort is provided by 94 of 100 P-51s.

Links/Sources

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

“Sparks” Artist John Graham Forster

Last week, in a post about 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, I included a drawing of Harry titled “Sparks Liniger” that was drawn by J. G. Forster. I believe Forster was John Graham Forster, a fellow radio student of Harry’s at radio school at Scott Field, Illinois.

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

I believe “Sparks” was derived at radio school as a nickname for Liniger from the obsolete (today) type of radio equipment called a “spark-gap” transmitter which generated radio waves by means of an electric spark.

Liniger’s fellow radio student, John Graham Forster, did not serve in combat in the same bombardment group as Harry. While in training in the states, servicemen (and servicewomen) were transferred to various stations around the country for different phases of their training and most likely lost track of others they trained with over time.

Regardless of whether they stayed in touch or lost track of each other, Liniger thought enough of the drawing to save it and his son still has it almost eighty years after it was drawn.

It is easier to learn more about men who served in combat together if those historical records have been gathered and presented for future generations by a historical association. But finding someone who served with a relative in a training setting can be quite difficult. Generally, those types of records or lists don’t exist.

So since I have been able to identify the artist who drew Liniger as “Sparks,” I’m going to take the opportunity to look into where Forster came from and a little of his WWII history as it serves to illustrate the differences in the backgrounds of those who were brought together to fight a world war and the enormous movement of those personnel as part of the American war machine to various points across the globe.

I usually research and write about those who served in the Eighth Air Force in WWII, and mostly about the specific B-17 heavy bombardment group in which my father served, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). But there were many other divisions of the United States Air Forces serving in different parts of the world during WWII, and this is a good opportunity to introduce the subject, which I will write more about at a later date.

John Forster was a third generation American. He was named after his grandfather, John Graham Forster of St. Louis Parish, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather John immigrated to America at eighteen years old, settled in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and married and raised a family there. Grandson John was born there in 1922.

John Graham Forster, Senior Year photo from Waltham High School Yearbook

In the 1940 Waltham High School Yearbook, John’s Senior year, he noted his first ambition was to,

Go round the world and see our 48 states

He liked nice girls and baseball, planned to enter an art career, and was Art Manager of the Senior Play.

In 1942, John enlisted in the United States Air Corps. After his training, including his and Harry’s time at radio school, John was assigned to the 764th Bomb Squadron of the 461st Bomb Group.

But the 461st was stationed nowhere near Harry’s 8th Air Force base with the 384th in Grafton Underwood, England. In fact, the 461st was not even part of the 8th Air Force, but was instead part of the 49th Bombardment Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force. The 461st flew B-24 Liberators and the group was known as the “Liberaiders.”

The Fifteenth Air Force operated in the WWII Mediterranean Theater of Operations and mainly operated out of bases in southern Italy. The 461st was based at Torretto Field, about 12 km (about 7 1/2 miles) south of the town of Cerignola, Italy.

John Forster was assigned to the Carl J. Schultz crew as radio operator/gunner. The Schultz (#3-1) crew consisted of:

  • Carl J. Schultz, Pilot
  • William R. Baird, Co-Pilot
  • James R. Merkel, Navigator
  • Joshua Loring, Jr., Bombardier
  • John G. Forster, Radio Operator/Gunner
  • John W. Rice, Engineer/Gunner
  • William F. Sanders, Gunner
  • Glenn A. Sligar, Engineer/Gunner
  • Don R. Trail, Gunner
  • William R. Vaitkunas, Gunner

On 23 March 1945, John Forster participated in the 461st’s Mission 200 to bomb a high priority target, the Kagran Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. Thirteen of the 461st’s thirty aircraft were hit by flak over the target and the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

On this mission, William Baird was pilot of the unnamed B-24J 44-41091 with Dwight B. Olson serving as his co-pilot. Other original crew members included John Rice, Glenn Sligar, William Sanders, William Vaitkunas, and of course, John Forster. Substitutes, besides Olson, included Edward T. Wenslik as Bombardier, Richard C. Davis as Navigator, and Marlin R. Smith as Gunner.

At about the time of bombs away, the Number 2 engine of 44-41091 was hit by flak and knocked completely off the ship. They dropped back in the formation with a fire in the wing. Following an unsuccessful attempt to put out the fire, they lost altitude and dropped about 5,000 feet. Five chutes were seen to emerge before the plane went into a dive and exploded.

Davis, the Navigator of the crew, reported that he was reunited in the next few days with all of the crew except for Lt. Baird, the pilot. A German guard reported that Baird was found dead with an unopened chute some distance from the wreckage of the aircraft.

One of the crew wrote in his Individual Casualty Questionaire that,

Lt. Baird … went beyond the “call of duty” that day in fighting the ship to keep it from going into a spin, and then momentarily leveling it out with the trim tabs giving us all, the nine of us, time to jump.

With the exception of Baird, the entire crew was held prisoner of war at Moosburg, Stalag VIIA. All were liberated from Moosburg on 29 April 1945 and were taken to Camp Lucky Strike in La Harve, France to begin their journey back to America.

Forster did become an artist after the war. In the 1952 Waltham Massachusetts City Directory, he listed his occupation as artist. He married a nice girl and had seven children.

John Graham Forster died on 24 June 1982 at the age of 59 in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in Section 23-N, Lot 48-A.

I don’t know if he ever saw all of our “48 states” (or additionally Alaska and Hawaii), but he did see quite a bit of the world, including Italy, France, Austria, and Germany, and saw things he couldn’t imagine during high school from the radio room of a B-24.

Thank you to Chuck Parsonon, Admin of the 461st Bombardment Group’s Facebook group for providing me with information for this post.

Thank you to the folks running the 461st Bombardment Group website for the excellent information on the group and its service members you provide.

Sources

Last week’s post, Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

461st Bombardment Group on Facebook

461st Bombardment Group

15th Air Force

March 1945 Missions

23 March 1945 Mission

Missing Air Crew Report, MACR13190

Wikipedia: Spark-gap Transmitter

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

Harry Allen Liniger

Harry Allen Liniger was a waist gunner with the 384th Bomb Group in WWII and was on the B-17 42-31222 Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944 when it, carrying Harry and the James Brodie crew, suffered a mid-air collision over Magdeburg, Germany with my father’s unnamed B-17 43-37822. Both Harry and my dad, along with two other crew members on the Lazy Daisy, survived. The other fourteen airmen aboard the two fortresses were killed.

Recently, I have been looking into the pre-combat/training phase of the men who transferred into combat at the same time as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. I have traced their path to the European Theatre of Operations (the ETO) through my dad’s letters home and through fellow 384th Bomb Group service member Frank Furiga’s diary. And recently Harry Liniger’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., shared a few letters with me that his father wrote to his future bride during his pre-combat military training in the United States.

The postmarks of some of those letters put Harry Liniger in Ardmore, Oklahoma for combat crew training at the same time as my dad and Frank Furiga were there, and in Kearney, Nebraska picking up a brand new B-17 to ferry across to the ETO, also at the same time as Dad and Frank.

But Harry’s letters start earlier than combat crew training, at the time he was in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, and during Gunnery School in Harlingen, Texas. I’m sharing, with Harry’s son’s permission, excerpts from those letters to illustrate the intensity of military training before the airmen of WWII were ready to go into combat, and to show the emotional toll inflicted from being away from home and family and other loved ones while these young men were preparing for a war from which they were unsure of their return.

Radio School

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

On 29 August 1943, future 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Liniger was a PFC in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois. I know this because a letter he wrote to his future wife, Miss Carrie Belle Carter of Hilton Village, Virginia, was mailed on this day from Belleville, Illinois with his return address of Barracks 797 of the Army Air Forces 30th Technical School Squadron at Scott Field.

Scott Field is now known as Scott Air Force Base and is about seventeen miles east-southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. During WWII, training skilled radio operators and maintainers was the primary wartime mission of Scott Field.

In his letter, Harry described the area around the base as “Nothing but Cocktail Lounges and Bars. Ever other building.” But, he said, “I never frequent those disreputable haunts. I try to be a model soldier which at times seems to be rather foolish, but just the same, I keep my head high and go on.”

Like most of the boys in the service, Harry was homesick for familiar places and faces and said, “I like this place swell. The only thing I dislike about it is it’s so damn far from home and I won’t get a chance to get there.”

Radio school was pretty tough and required a lot of work from serious students and not much time for anything else. Fellow 384th Bomb Group airman Lenard Bryant, a waist gunner (and later top turret gunner) and crewmate of my dad, also had a tough time at radio school and wrote home once that “I don’t think me and radio is getting along too well together.” He later wrote, “I washed out today.  I will go to gunnery school when I ship out of here…”

On 18 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie again from radio school at the same station.

In the letter, Harry related that he had been on a B-24 mission over the Gulf. I assume Harry meant that he was doing some airborne training over the Gulf of Mexico as by late 1943, students of the Radio School at Scott Field were in the air practicing code transmission under actual flight conditions.

On 25 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie, again from Radio School at Scott Field.

In this letter he didn’t talk much about his training. He was more concerned about trying to keep his relationship with Carrie going through the mail as I’m sure was the concern of many servicemen far from home in wartime.

Gunnery School

On 5 February 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie, this time from the Student Reception Pool at H.A.A.F. (Harlingen Army Air Field), Harlingen, Texas. Harry was at Army Gunnery School. I suppose, like Lenard Bryant, Harry and Radio School hadn’t gotten along too well together.

Harry wrote,

Believe me, my life has changed, I am working harder than I ever thought I would. Right now I am taking advanced Gunnery. I will go to P.O.E. from here. I am getting a ten day furlough before I go over. I will be home in about 2 months. I am looking forward to seeing you. There are some things I would like to tell you someday.

Combat Crew Training

On 16 May 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Combat Crew Detachment at Ardmore Army Air Field in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

While I haven’t included many of the more personal aspects of Harry’s letters to Carrie up to this point, it is clear to me that his love for her had been growing over his period of stateside training, while he was preparing to go to war. Although he was able to enjoy a few in-person visits during furloughs, Harry and Carrie were able to continue their relationship mainly through their letters to each other.

In this letter, now that his transfer into combat was fast approaching, Harry shared with Carrie the rigors of the training involved, the reality of entering combat, and thoughts of his own mortality.

Harry wrote,

Your sweet and most welcome letters have been coming daily; or almost daily. I sure do appreciate you writing so often. It seems to give me a “lift.” I try to answer as many of them as I possibly can. I hope you will try to understand when my letters are few and far between. I fly all day and go to school all night and I am so damn tired when I get back to the barracks I can’t seem to do anything but flop on my “sack” (bed).

In regards to my meeting you someplace I don’t think it will be possible for me to get any days off. I can get out almost every night if I pass all my subjects. And I think if seeing you were my reward I could pass anything. If you could only come out here. But that would be asking too much. I love you even though I may never see you again.

I will have to close for now darling. “I love you.”

A week later, on 22 May, 1944, again writing from Ardmore, Harry expressed his deep appreciation for all of the letters Carrie had written him, telling her,

You will never know how important mail is to a guy who is away from home, and being in the army makes him appreciate it even more. But the main thing is when you hear from someone you care for as much as I care for you. I really love you. I love you more than anyone or anything else in the world.

On the way to the ETO

On 28 June 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Kearney Army Air Field in Kearney, Nebraska.

The date of Harry’s letter coincides with a letter written by my dad to his mother, and a diary entry of fellow 384th service member Frank Furiga, putting them all in Kearney at the same time, picking up the B-17’s they would ferry to the European Theater of Operations.

According to Frank Furiga’s diary entries, they left Kearney the next day, on 29 June 1944. (Use the link below in the Sources section to follow the trail to the ETO of Liniger, Farrar, Furiga, and the rest of the servicemen in their crossing group).

On this date, Harry wrote,

My last letter in the States. I don’t know where the next one will be from but I will write to you as soon as I reach my destination. Your letters will be cherished more now than they ever were, and they were always more important than anything else.

I sure would like to open one and find you there. I am afraid my love for you is growing day by day now that I know I am not going to be able to see you.

I don’t have a date for the last of Harry’s letters that his son shared with me, but in it he gave Carrie an A.P.O. address care of the Postmaster in New York City. He may still have been in combat crew training in the States or he may have been overseas at this point.

In addition to Harry professing his deep love for Carrie with,

I love you more and more each day.

and

I don’t think I could possibly love you more than I already do.

Harry wrote about a landing accident, but also spoke as though he had not reached combat duty yet.

Nothing new except we had a plane make a belly landing the other day. No one was hurt. One of the guys had a nervous breakdown after the crash.

You would be surprised at the number of guys in a crew like this who go to pieces before they reach combat.

Combat

Training missions had their risks, but they were nothing like what the airmen would face in combat. Those men who could summon the courage to fly combat missions against their enemies faced brutal cold and lack of oxygen in the high altitude flying of unpressurized bombers, necessitating heated flying suits and an oxygen system to survive. Over enemy territory, they faced German fighters and flak from the ground guns.

Harry endured all of these challenges and horrors, a true assault on the senses, mission after mission, climbing right back in the B-17 day after day sixteen times. He didn’t break down. He didn’t go to pieces.

During the time Harry Liniger served his combat duty in the Army Air Forces, a combat tour with the 8th Air Force consisted of thirty-five missions. He had made it almost halfway through earning his ticket home, until the mid-air collision of 28 September 1944 ended Harry’s duty as an airman in combat.

Prisoner of War

What Harry had seen up to this point serving as a waist gunner on a B-17, with flak bursting around him, attacks from German fighters, watching nearby fortresses exploding and plummeting to the ground, counting parachutes coming out of those planes as they went down, was only the beginning of the horrors of war for Harry.

Nothing could prepare one captured by the Nazis physically or mentally for what came next. Harry needed to survive over four months starving in a prison camp and another eighty-six days with little food and water on a march of over five hundred miles across Germany before he would gain his liberation and freedom.

Home and Marriage

Harry’s son also shared with me a photo of his dad’s Guardian Angel, who apparently did a fine job protecting Harry while he served his country – in his training in the States, in his overseas combat, and during his POW experience. Harry Liniger was one of the lucky ones to return home.

Harry Liniger’s Figurine, “His Guardian Angel”

Harry survived it all and returned home during the summer of 1945 to marry the girl he exchanged letters with, the girl he fell in love with and who fell in love with him during such a dark time in our American history. Harry arrived back in the States on 9 June 1945 and he and Carrie Belle Carter married a little over a month later on 26 July.

Harry Allen and Carrie Belle Carter Liniger on the far right, in Miami Beach just after their marriage

Thank you, Harry Liniger, Jr., for sharing photos, letters, and stories of your dad from WWII.

Sources

Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Wikipedia: Scott Air Force Base

Lenard Bryant in Radio School

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 5 August 1944

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

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

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


WWII Combat Chronology – Saturday, 5 August 1944

384th BG Mission 173/8th AF Mission 519 to Langenhagen, Germany.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

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

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

In the morning 1,062 HBs strike Magdeburg-Brunswick-Hannover region, bombing oil, aircraft, and engine works and A/F. 14 ftr gps provide spt, 657 airplanes completing sorties. The HBs and ftrs encounter about 100 ftrs and claim 30 destroyed. The ftrs of 6 gps fly strafing missions against highway and rail trafflc and several A/Fs. 14 HBs and 6 ftrs are lost. During afternoon 38 B-17’s, escorted by P-51 gp bomb 6 V-weapon sites and an A/F in France. No losses are suffered.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

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

  1. Mission 519 to strategic targets in Germany, in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated
  2. Mission 520 to V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais
  3. Mission 522 to drop leaflets in the Netherlands and France during the night

Also,

  • 19 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night.
  • In England, HQ 492d Bombardment Group (Heavy) moves from North Pickenham to Harrington; and the 406th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), VIII Air Force Composite Command [attached to 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional)], moves from Harrington to Cheddington with B-24s.

Mission 519: In the morning, 1,171 bombers and 646 fighters are dispatched to attack strategic targets in the Magdeburg-Brunswick-Hannover region of Germany including oil refineries and tank and aircraft production; 13 bombers and 4 fighters are lost:

  • Of 215 B-17s, 93 hit Magdeburg/Neustadt, 87 hit Magdeburg/Krupp, 14 hit Helmstedt Airfield and 6 hit targets of opportunity; they claim 3-1-3 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-17s are lost and 189 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 8 WIA and 28 MIA. Escort is provided by 174 P-38s and P-51s; they claim 19-1-7 aircraft in the air and 1-0-2 on the ground; 1 P-38 and 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-38 and 5 P-51s are damaged; 1 pilot is KIA and 1 WIA.

  • 70 of 78 B-24s hit Halberstadt Airfield and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-24 is lost and 7 damaged; 9 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 41 of 47 P-47s; they claim 4-0-1 aircraft.

  • Of 452 B-24s, 98 hit Brunswick Aero-Engineering, 85 hit Fallerslaben, 69 hit Brunswick/Wilhelmitor, 65 hit Brunswick/Me 110 Assembly Plant, 44 hit Brunswick/Bussing, 30 hit Brunswick aircraft components factory, 9 hit Goslar Airfield and 8 hit targets of opportunity; 7 B-24s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 147 damaged; 13 airmen are KIA, 5 WIA and 55 MIA. Escort is provided by 172 of 188 P-51s; they claim 5-0-1 in the air and 3-0-3 on the ground; 1 P-51 is damaged.

  • Of 426 B-17s, 176 hit Nienburg, 143 hit Hannover/Langenhagen Airfield, 72 hit Dollbergen and 3 hit targets of opportunity; 2 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 130 are damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 5 WIA and 15 MIA. Escort is provided by 186 of 197 P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 6 damaged; 2 pilots are MIA.

Links / Sources

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

Marilyn Fryden’s Letter and Photos Sixty Years Later

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s John Oliver Buslee crew on which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner. Marvin was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 after being hit by flak. The young wife he left behind to grieve for him for the rest of her life was named Marilyn.

The photo above of Marvin Fryden is not of very good quality, but it is the first portrait I have seen of him. This new find is thanks to Frank Furiga, original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s Bert Brown crew, and the amazing volume of information he kept from the war, and to Frank’s son, Paul, for sharing it with me.

Before deciding to join a combat crew, Marvin Fryden was a bombardier training instructor in Deming, New Mexico. He and Frank Furiga crossed paths in Deming where Frank did his bombardier training.

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga

I know that’s where the two men met because Furiga noted it on the bottom of a page of the 8th Air Force Magazine that included Marvin’s photo and Marilyn’s letter. Frank wrote,

Met him at Deming for 1st time where I trained.

From that point, or sometime thereafter, Fryden and Furiga would continue on the same path into World War II combat, and both performed their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) at the same time, and were both assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

Frank Furiga remembered Marvin when he saw the photos in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine and read Marilyn’s letter, sixty-one years after their first meeting.


This is the page from the magazine that Frank Furiga kept and his son Paul recently ran across. Below, I have transcribed Marilyn’s letter, and noted a few discrepancies [in numbered brackets] in my transcribed copy.

Courtesy of Paul Furiga, son of 384th BG bombardier Frank Furiga

Marilyn Fryden’s letter as published in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine

1st LT. MARVIN FRYDEN
384th Bomb Group   544th Bomb Squadron   8th Air Force

Marv enlisted on January 13, 1942 from his home in Chicago. He was sent for pilot training but then went on to Bombardier School in Albuquerque where he got his Wings in October 1942.

We married and went to training command at Chandler, Airzona and Deming, New Mexico. In Deming on June 6th – D-Day – his comment was, “I should be there helping them,” after which he was assigned to advanced training in Midland, Texas. There he met bombardiers who had returned from their missions, and he became even more dedicated to serving in a combat zone. He requested combat duty and was sent to Salt Lake City, was assigned to a crew, and went on to Ardmore, Oklahoma for B-17 training.

His pilot, John Buslee, was from Forest, Illinois [1]. The copilot, his wife and infant daughter [2] were from Chico, California. They lived at the same place we did. I think that his name was Dick Albrecht or Albright and that her name was Patty [2], but I can’t recall for certain. The navigator was from Pennsylvania [3] and was the only survivor of that crew. [Frank circled this section and noted: Ray Sherer, Pittsburgh, PA]

They left Ardmore on the 26th of June in 1944 [4], flew to Kearney, Nebraska, picked up the Tremblin Gremlin [5], and flew it to England via Iceland. On August 4th they flew their first mission. Marv wrote me, “Your pappy’s a veteran now…”

On the mission flown the next day, Marv was fatally wounded and died in a hospital of chest wounds. He is buried in Cambridge, England. I have seen several of his student classmates’ names on the Wall of the Missing at the cemetery there. The crew’s plane was blown up on a subsequent mission and all of the crew but the navigator, who was not aboard, perished [6].

I treasure the 8th AF News Magazine. I wear Marv’s wedding ring, proudly. I remember it all and read your magazine eagerly, knowing that so many might share my story.

Sincerely,
Marilyn A. Fryden-Samet
Cary, North Carolina
Memorial Day, 2005

Postscript: I am a member of the 8th AF Historical Society Chapter here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am also a Gold Star wife. Although over sixty years have passed since those terrible war years, I am still deeply affected by the tragedy which shaped my life. Sometimes, I can’t read the articles in the magazine because they touch me so specially. I hope that I will be notified when renewal times comes for my subscription.

Keep up your wonderful work … even as those of us who remember are passing into the other world.

Notes/Discrepancies Explained

[1] Pilot John Buslee was from Park Ridge, Illinois

[2] Co-pilot was David Albrecht. His and his wife Patricia (Patty’s) daughter was not born until December 1944, after he was declared MIA. He did not have an infant daughter before leaving the States.

[3] Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk was from Toledo, Ohio. The navigator on Frank Furiga’s crew was named Raymond Scherer and was from Pittsburgh, PA.

[4] The officers of the Buslee crew may have flown to Kearney on June 26, 1944, but the enlisted men were already in Kearney as of this date, likely having traveled by train. I know this because my father wrote a letter home from Kearney on June 25.

[5] The name of the B-17 that the Buslee crew ferried to the ETO is unknown. The B-17 in which Marvin Fryden received a fatal flak injury on August 5 was named the Tremblin’ Gremlin. Marilyn may have assumed that the B-17 the Buslee crew ferried across the Atlantic was the same B-17 in which her husband was killed, but it was not the same ship.

[6] The Buslee crew’s aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944. Of the nine crew members aboard, only five of them were original Buslee crew members: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner turned engineer/top turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso (radio operator), and George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner, my dad). My dad was the only survivor on the plane. Other original Buslee crew members who survived the war because they were not on Buslee’s plane on September 28, 1944 were Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), James Davis (permanent replacement bombardier), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), and Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner).

There were also a few discrepancies in the included crew photo identifications and I have noted those in the photo caption,

Standing L to R: John Buslee, David Albrecht, Chester Rybarczyk (from Toledo, Ohio), and Marvin Fryden
Kneeling L to R: Sebastiano Peluso, Erwin Foster, Clarence Seeley, and Unidentified (possibly Lenard Bryant)

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is not in the crew photo and neither was Eugene Lucynski, and possibly Lenard Bryant.

Thank you again, Paul Furiga, for sharing these pieces of history with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga, bombardier/navigator, 547th squadron. Photo courtesy of Paul Furiga.

Recently, Paul Furiga, son of 384th Bomb Group Bombardier/Navigator Frank Furiga, shared a page from his father’s World War II diary with me. The particular page described Frank’s journey from the US to the UK when he and his fellow USAAF service members ferried a group of B-17’s from Kearney, Nebraska to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). They were on the final leg of their journey into combat duty with the 8th Army Air Forces.

Frank Furiga left his last training base at Admore, Oklahoma in the same group of servicemen as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. Both Dad and Frank ended up at the same air base in Grafton Underwood, England, flying missions in heavy bombers, B-17’s.

I have written previously about my dad’s journey from Oklahoma to England, but today I am going to combine the information in my dad’s letters home with Frank Furiga’s diary entries to get a better picture of where they stopped along the way and on what dates. So here goes…


Dad illustrated his trip across the Atlantic on a map in a world atlas.

And then he explained where he was and when in several letters to his mother up to the point he left the United States.

June 22, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Dad wrote a letter to his Mother that they would be leaving Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were heading to Kearney, Nebraska to pick up their plane which he thought would take from three to seven days. They likely left Ardmore, probably by troop train, somewhere between June 23 and June 25. Today, driving the 540 miles between Ardmore and Kearney takes eight to nine hours. The letter was postmarked Ardmore on June 23.

June 25, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Dad’s next letter was written from Kearney, Nebraska on June 25 and postmarked Kearney the same day. He wrote, “We will only be here four days.” They had been assigned their plane to ferry overseas.

June 26, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

The next day, still in Kearney, Dad wrote, “One more day in this place and we will be going.”

June 28, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Two days later, they were still in Kearney. Dad wrote, “In just a little while we will be on our way. We will stay once more in the States. This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.” This letter was postmarked Kearney on June 29.

I think Dad liked Kearney so much he had this photo made to send home to his mother. I can’t be certain this is Kearney, but it looks very similar to a photo of Central Avenue in Kearney on page 7 of an article, “Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II” by Todd L. Peterson.

George Edwin Farrar, likely in Kearney, Nebraska, June 1944

Kearney must have been a nice place even during wartime. Today, the “Visit Kearney” website tells me that Kearney is pronounced (car + knee), it is a colorful and exciting city situated in the heart of the Heartland, and it is the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World.


Now I’ll turn the next leg of the journey over to Frank Furiga and his diary entries.

June 29, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left Kearney, Neb. June 29.

Arrived Grenier Field, New Hampshire June 29 in morning.

Grenier Field was located in Manchester, New Hampshire.

June 30, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left June 30th.

Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador June 30th in evening.

July 1, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left there (Goose Bay, Labrador) July 1st evening.

July 2, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland on A.M. of July 2nd.

July 4, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left Meeks July 4th A.M.

Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland on July 4th (or 5th).

Nutts Corner was a Royal Air Force (RAF) Station located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) east of Crumlin, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and 9.2 miles (14.8 km) north west of Belfast. During the Second World War it became an important RAF Coastal Command station and was also used as a transport hub for aircraft arriving from the United States.

Station #2, European Wing, Air Transport Command was activated 24 September 1943 at Nutts Corner using personnel from detachments of the 69th Transport Squadron and 1149th Military Police Company (Aviation) [per General Orders 21, EWATC, 24 September 1943] and operated as a transport hub until it was redesignated 18 July 1944.

July 5, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Went from there (Nutts Corner, Ireland) on 5th by boat to Scotland.

From there in train to Stone in Staffordshire a few miles south of Stoke-on-Trent.

AAF Station 518 (VIII AF Service Command) was in Stone.


From this point, I can only follow their path through the orders sending both men and their crews to Grafton Underwood, just days apart. What they did between July 5 and the third week of July, I can’t say, but it may have involved some additional training time. Or perhaps just sitting around waiting for their assignments.

July 22, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #144]

George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. Orders stated,

The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 2 SO #202, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 20 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 21 July, 1944.

Hq AAF Station 112 was identified in “Army Air Force Stations” as

  • AAF Number: 112
  • Name: Bovingdon
  • Location: Hertfordshire
  • Principal Unit(s) Assigned: 11 Cmbt (Combat) Crew Replacement Ctr (Center)

Army Air Force Stations” is subtitled “A Guide to the Stations Where U .S . Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II” and was written by Captain Barry J. Anderson, USAF of the Research Division of the USAF Historical Research Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and published 31 January 1985.

July 26, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #148]

Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 547th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944. Orders stated,

The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 1 SO #206, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 24 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 25 July, 1944.


From the letters and diary entries, I believe I can trace the path of George Edwin Farrar and Frank Dominic Furiga and the other servicemen they were traveling with as:

June 22, 1944: In Ardmore, Oklahoma.

June 23 – 25, 1944: Left Ardmore, Oklahoma. Arrived Kearney, Nebraska.

June 29, 1944: Left Kearney, Nebraska. Arrived Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire.

June 30, 1944: Left Grenier Field, New Hampshire. Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador.

July 1, 1944: Left Goose Bay, Labrador.

July 2, 1944: Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland.

July 4, 1944: Left Meeks Field, Iceland. Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland.

July 5, 1944: Left Nutts Corner, Ireland. Boarded boat for Scotland. Continued by train to Stone in Staffordshire, England.

Unknown date, July, 1944: Continued to Combat Crew Replacement Center at AAF Station 112 Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.

July 22, 1944: George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.

July 26, 1944: Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.


Thank you Paul Furiga for sharing your dad’s diary entries.

Sources

Previous post:  From the US to the UK and Beyond

RAF Nutts Corner

Army Air Force Elements Stationed in Northern Ireland(1)

Army Air Force Stations

Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II

Visit Kearney

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

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