In 1944, Thanksgiving came and went without any of the Buslee crew families hearing any additional news about their sons. The following Tuesday would mark two months since the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana on September 28. The day before that sad anniversary, John Buslee, the Lead Banana pilot’s father, wrote a letter to the parents of my dad, George Edwin Farrar. Mr. Buslee had visited the boys in Ardmore, Oklahoma before they left the states for England and must have asked for home addresses at that time. The War Department had not released Next of Kin information to the families at this point.
In his letter dated Monday, November 27, 1944 from Park Ridge, Illinois, Mr. Buslee wrote:
Dear Parents of George A. Farrar,
It was my pleasure to meet your son, George, in Ardmore, Oklahoma last June just before the boys flew to England.
My son, John O., was the pilot of the plane and as we were notified on October 13 that our son was missing in action over Germany on September 28, we presume that your son, George, was also on the plane.
We have been under a lot of suspense since that time and imagine that you have also wondered what has happened to the boys. In an effort to learn something about them, we have made some inquiry and the best hope we get is that no word from them could mean that they are prisoners of war and thus it would take several months before word would reach us from Washington about them.
Naturally, we are very anxious to learn something as to their whereabouts, and I am writing to you in the hope that you have been fortunate enough to have heard something from your son. It seems that there are instances when names of missing are mentioned over the short wave radio and the next of kin have thus been advised through this medium long before any official word comes from Washington.
Early in September we received a snapshot showing the crew members and the plane. The boys all looked fine and seemed to be in the same high spirit that they enjoyed when we met them in Ardmore. I presume you also have one of these pictures. If not, I have an extra one and could send it to you.
I sincerely trust that George will return safely and soon. Meantime, it seems we at home will have to have the faith that our prayers are answered and that the boys are in no danger.
Would like very much to hear from you with any word that you might receive. Meantime,
The snapshot Mr. Buslee refers to is this crew photo:
Only five of the original ten members of the crew shown in the photo were on the Lead Banana on September 28. The five were:
- Lt. John Oliver Buslee, Pilot, from Park Ridge, Illinois, back row, far left
- Lt. David Franklin Albrecht, Co-Pilot, from Chico, California, back row, second from left
- Sgt. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner, from Brooklyn, New York, front row, second from left
- Sgt. Lenard Leroy Bryant, Engineer/ Top Turret Gunner, from Littlefield, Texas, front row, third from left
- Sgt. George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner, from Atlanta, Georgia, (my dad), front row, far right
Only nine men made up the Lead Banana crew on September 28. The other four, filling in from other crews, were:
- Lt. William Alvin Henson, II, Navigator
- Lt. Robert Sumner Stearns, Bombardier
- Sgt. Gerald Lee Andersen, Tail Gunner
- Sgt. George Francis McMann, Jr., Ball Turret Gunner
Buslee crewmembers who were not on Lead Banana on September 28 were:
- Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, Navigator, from Toledo, Ohio, back row, second from right
- Lt. James B. Davis, Bombadier, from New Castle, Indiana, back row, far right [Note: John Oliver Buslee’s father provided the identifications for this photo, and identified the bombardier as Davis; however, this may be original Buslee crew bombardier Marvin Fryden who was killed on the August 5, 1944 mission]
- Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, from Elmira, New York, front row, far left
- Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, from Nebraska, front row, third from right
- Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, Tail Gunner, from Detroit, Michigan, front row, second from right
As an interesting side note, the only men who signed my dad’s copy of the photograph were the enlisted men that were original Buslee crewmembers who were on the Lead Banana on September 28 – Sebastiano Peluso, Lenard Bryant, and George Farrar.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014