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October 12, 1944 Letter from Chester Rybarczyk

Two weeks after the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, the original navigator on the Buslee crew, Chester Rybarczyk, wrote to the Farrar family.  Rybarczyk flew the September 28 mission with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew, and watched the mid-air collision involving his Buslee crewmates aboard Lead Banana.

October 12, 1944

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

First of all, I’ll introduce myself.  I’m Lt. Rybarczyk, navigator on the crew that George trained with at Ardmore and we flew our first missions together.  You probably have the news of him being missing.  Well I can’t tell you very much about what happened.  I’m not allowed to give such information.  I was flying in another ship that day.  I saw what did happen.  The ship he was in was not on fire and he had plenty of altitude.   The crew had a good chance of bailing out and I think they did.  You may not hear anything else about him for a little while.  He will probably be a prisoner of war and he will be back with you as soon as the war with Germany is over.  So don’t take this too bad.  I think he is safe and well.

He sure was a good boy.  One of the best men on the crew.  I had lots of confidence in him.  He got along swell with the rest of the boys.  We never had any trouble with him.  He was excellent in his work and gave it everything he had.  You should be proud of a boy like that.  I know I was glad to have him on the crew.

If you should hear anything about him, please let me know.  May God Help those boys.

Sincerely yours,

Chester Rybarczyk

The ship Rybarczyk was flying in that day, Aircraft 42-39888, also known as Hot Nuts, “left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base” according to the Sortie Report, apparently in a effort to determine the fate of the crew of Lead Banana.  It is unclear why Rybarczyk would state that “the ship he [George Edwin Farrar] was in was not on fire” as all other eye witness reports state otherwise.  Perhaps it was simply an act of kindness to give Farrar’s family more hope for his survival.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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A Letter from the 384th BG Chaplain

On October 9, 1944, eleven days after the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, Chaplain Dayle R. Schnelle of the 384th Bombardment Group Headquarters wrote to the family of George Edwin Farrar to notify them that their son was missing in action.

October 9, 1944

Headquarters

384th Bombardment Group

APO 557  c/o P.M., N.Y.

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar

79 East Lake Terrace, N.E.,

Atlanta Georgia

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

May I, as Chaplain of the 384th Bombardment Group, personally, and pursuant to the request of the Commanding General, Eighth Air Force, and in behalf of the Group Commander, express to you our deepest and heartfelt concern regarding your son, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar, 14119873, who is reported as missing in action.

I am well aware of the worry and anxiety which is yours.  May I assure you that you will be notified immediately should any further word concerning your son be received.  May I urge you to remember that you should in no wise consider your son as dead.  It is highly possible that he may yet escape or is being held a prisoner of war.  In either case it will be some time before any word will be received concerning him.  May I add that your concern is our concern, not only of this group, but also of the entire Air Force as well.

There is no other information that I can give other than you have already received from the War Department, except, that all mail and packages will be returned to the sender.  May I assure you that I believe that our God still answers prayers.  I promise that I shall remember him continuely before God as I know that you are also doing.  I firmly believe that the hand of God still guides the destiny of His children.  May your faith in the ultimate triumph of God’s will give you courage, strength, and grace to meet the burden of this hour of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Dayle R. Schnelle,

Chaplain

Questions:

  • Was this the first word the family had received that their son was missing?  A telegram from the War Department was sent later, on October 14, but may have been received prior to this letter (not knowing how quickly mail was delivered in 1944).  Would someone from the War Department have delivered the news earlier in person?
  • Was the US Army Air Forces already aware that Farrar was reported as a prisoner of war on the Telegram Form dated October 1, 1944?
  • Did seventeen other families, the families of the other boys on both crews, receive this same letter this day?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Chester Rybarczyk, Original Navigator on the Buslee Crew

Chester Rybarczyk on a Mission over France

Chester Rybarczyk on a Mission over France

On October 7, 1944 Chester Rybarczyk was on his fifteenth mission, 384th Bomber Group Mission Number 207 to a synthetic oil plant at Leipzig, Germany.  At 1100 hours in the vicinity of Bad Iburg, Germany, Chester Rybarczyk’s aircraft was hit by flak and peeled off from formation with the #2 wing tank smoking and leaking.  Rybarczyk was flying as Navigator with the James W. Orr crew on aircraft 43-38615, name unknown.  They were last seen over Osnabruck with wheels down and under control.  No chutes were seen to emerge.  The aircraft landed in allied territory with all crew safe.  A crash landing didn’t stop this crew for long.  A week later Rybarczyk and the Orr crew were back in the air again on Mission 210 to the Marshalling Yards at Saarbrucken, Germany.

Rybarczyk’s flight jacket shows a picture of a bomb for each of his missions except for his 15th mission.  That mission is depicted as a boot, signifying a mission from which the boys had to walk back after a crash landing.  He also had the back of his jacket inscribed “Korky,” his nickname for his sweetheart back home, Bernadette Korlewski.  His last duty was in December 1944, and Chester and Bernadette married on May 21, 1945.

Chester Rybarczky in his Flight Jacket

Chester Rybarczyk in his Flight Jacket

Chester Rybarczyk's Flight Jacket Today

Chester Rybarczyk’s Flight Jacket Today

Information and photos provided by Tony Rybarczyk, Chester Rybarczyk’s son.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 6, 1944 Report on Captured Aircraft

Eight days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Report on Captured Aircraft dated October 6, 1944 reported the fate of one more of the crew from the two planes.  It reported an additional prisoner of war.  The prisoner was identified as George Hawkins.  Hawkins was from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report updates the count to thirteen (13) recovered dead, with only seven (7) identified, and four (4) P.O.W.s.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.    Reported P.O.W. on October 6, 1944 Report on Captured Aircraft
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

This information can be found on page 14 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 5, 1944 File Notice

One week after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a File Notice dated October 5, 1944 reported the death of four men.  One of them, Robert D. Crumpton, had previously been reported dead on the September 30, 1944 Telegram Form.  Another, Gerald Andersen, had previously been reported dead on the October 1, 1944 Telegram Form.  The other two were identified by Identification and Ration cards from September 23, 1944, 545 Sqd., 384 Group:

  • Sgt. Robert W. Wagner, 32381177
  • T/Sgt. James E. Flynn, 16126771

The only problem with this identification, though, was that neither Wagner nor Flynn were aboard the Lazy Daisy or Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  Neither one flew that day at all.  Wagner was an Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the 545th at the time, but missed that day’s mission.  Flynn was a Radio Operator/Gunner with the 545th, but had completed his tour in May 1944 and returned home.

For a time, it seems that this mis-identification probably added to the confusion of determining the fate of the men on board.

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report does not change any information previously reported except to add the names of two men who were not involved in the mid-air collision.  The actual count remains at thirteen (13) recovered dead, with only seven (7) identified, and three (3) P.O.W.s.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

This information can be found on pages 17 and 19 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Kriegsgefangenenpost

On his eighth day of captivity, October 5, 1944, George Edwin Farrar filled out a postcard to be sent to his family advising them that he was a prisoner of war and in good health.  Either he was instructed to lie about his physical condition or he did not want his family to know he was injured.  His family did not receive this card until after the end of the year, sometime in 1945.

1944-10-05-FarrarEd-001

1944-10-05-FarrarEd-002

Dulug Luft was the interrogation center.  Kriegsgefangenenpost means prisoner of war postGebührenfrei means without charge.

At this point, the Farrar family had not been notified that there son was missing.

I do not have any information on what the families of any of the other survivors, or the families of those that did not survive, received other than that information that was conveyed in letters to my grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar.  From this point, I can only share information from my dad’s and his family’s perspective, but I assume the families of all 18 boys in both planes received similar information as the Farrar family other than information specific to their son’s fate.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

Six days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated October 4, 1944 reported the fate of two more of the crew from the two planes.  It reported two additional prisoners of war.  The two were identified as:

  • Wilfred F. Miller (incorrectly identified on the report as Wilfred Z. Miller)
  • Harry A. Liniger (incorrectly identified on the report as Harry A. Lininger)

Miller and Liniger were both from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report updates the count to thirteen (13) recovered dead, with only seven (7) identified, and three (3) P.O.W.s.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

An October 6, 1944 Captured Aircraft Report conveys the same information.

The October 4 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  1140
  • From:  L S E B
  • Through:  Frank
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 18     3 Oct.44   -1815-

This information can be found on pages 14 and 15 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Three days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated October 1, 1944 reported the fate of six more of the crew from the two planes.  It reported five men dead.  Only three of the five men were identified:

  • Donald Dooley (incorrectly identified on the report as Donald Dodlei)
  • Gerald Andersen (incorrectly identified on the report as Gerald Ladersen)
  • George McMann (incorrectly identified on the report as George Macman)

Dooley was from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.  Andersen and McMann were from the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana.  The other two dead were unidentified because, as the report states, they were “completely burnt.”

George Farrar was listed on the report as a P.O.W.  There is an indication on the report that there were other P.O.W.s from the two planes, but no number is indicated and “The names of the other P.O.W. are still unknown.”

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report updates the count to thirteen (13) recovered dead, with only seven (7) identified, and one (1) P.O.W.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger

An October 6, 1944 Captured Aircraft Report conveys the same information.

The October 1 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  1350
  • From:  L S E B
  • Through:  Paul?
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 321     29 Sept.44   -2130-
  • The aircraft was identified as P 231222 D, the Lazy Daisy

This information can be found on pages 14 and 16 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

September 30, 1944 Telegram Form

Two days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated September 30, 1944 reported the fate of eight of the crew from the two planes.  It reported eight men dead, all buried on September 30, 1944 at the Ostingersleben Cemetery (the report identified it as the Osteringersleben Cemetery).  Only four of the eight men were identified:

  • William A. Henson II (listed incorrectly on the report as William A. Hedson II)
  • Robert S. Stearns
  • Gordon Hetu (listed incorrectly on the report as Gorden Heu)
  • Robert D. Crumpton

Henson and Stearns were from the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana.  Hetu and Crumpton were from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.  The other four were unidentified because, as the report states, they were “completely burned” and the “crews were mixed together.”

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report starts the count at eight (8) recovered dead, with only four (4) identified.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger

An October 7, 1944 Captured Aircraft Report conveys the same information.

The September 30 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  1215
  • From:  L S E B
  • Through:  F R P
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 322     29 Sept.44   -2130-
  • The aircraft could not be identified as the fire destroyed all markings, but it must have been Lead Banana as Lazy Daisy was identified through the tail number on the October 1, 1944 Telegram Form.

Questions:

  • What does the date of September 30, 1944 signify?
  • Was this information received by the US Army Air Forces on this date?  From who?
  • What do the abbreviations in the “From,” “Through,” and “Remarks” sections stand for?

This information can be found on pages 12 and 13 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

September 28, 1944 – Survivors

In the mid-air collision on September 28, 1944 between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, four of the eighteen men aboard the two forts survived.  From the Lead Banana, the waist/flexible gunner, George Edwin Farrar, was the sole survivor.  From the Lazy Daisy, the three survivors were the navigator, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., the tail gunner, Wilfred Frank Miller, and the waist/flexible gunner, Harry Allen Liniger.  All four were saved because they were either thrown from the aircraft or were able to exit on their own and then parachute safely to the ground.  What would happen to them next, in the hands of the Germans?

George Edwin Farrar was seriously injured.  In a letter to the VA dated October 20, 1982 he wrote:

I was unable to walk and carried to a house, where I spent several days before being transferred to Frankfort, Germany for interrogation and medical treatment.  I was later transferred by train and was allowed to sleep in the bottom bunk of the guard’s quarters on the Prisoner of War train.  After reaching Stalag Luft IV, I was placed in the hospital there where I could not walk for a total of two months or the latter part of November 1944.  At that time, I was transferred to a regular barracks in the prison camp and I could only walk by shuffling my feet as I could not lift either leg to walk.

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. wrote in a questionnaire that is attached to MACR9366:

The following evening I met two members of the crew…the waist gunner, Sgt. Liniger, and the tail gunner, Sgt. Miller.

The following evening would have been the evening of September 29, 1944, the day after the mid-air collision.  I am assuming that Hawkins, Liniger, and Miller had all been captured by this time.  This meeting between Hawkins and his surviving crewmates must have been before transfer to the interrogation center.  They would not have been able to talk to each other at the interrogation center where they would have been placed in solitary confinement.  Hawkins did not comment on the physical condition of himself, Liniger, or Miller.

The interrogation facility near Frankfort was known by the POWs as Dulag Luft.  It was located in Oberursel about eight miles from Frankfurt-am-Main.  Most captured allied airmen were first sent there to be interrogated before being assigned to a permanent prison camp.

After leaving the Dulug Luft interrogation center, the enlisted men, Farrar, Liniger, and Miller were moved to Stalag Luft IV.  Their Prisoner of War records all show Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow (formerly Heydekrug) Pomerania, Prussia (moved to Wobbelin Bei Ludwigslust) (To Usedom Bei Savenmunde) 54-16.

Hawkins, an officer, was sent to Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (Serves Stalag 9-C) Obermassfeld Thuringia, Germany 50-10, according to National Archives Prisoner of War records.

Questions…

  • Were either Liniger or Miller injured in the collision?
  • Were Liniger and Miller placed in the same barracks in Stalag Luft IV?  Did they ever see each other again?
  • Farrar spent time in the hospital area of the prison camp, but after being moved to a regular barracks, did he ever meet Liniger or Miller?
  • Was Hawkins seriously injured in the collision?  His records show he was sent to a hospital at Stalag 9C.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014