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A Second Letter from Mr. Buslee

My grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, must have replied to Mr. Buslee’s first letter of November 27, as this second letter from Mr. Buslee indicates.  Since that time, both families apparently received the same letter from the Army Air Forces providing some details of the September 28 incident in which their sons were reported missing.  Mr. Buslee wrote to my grandmother again on December 16, 1944.

Your recent letter was duly received and I have delayed a reply in the hope that each day would bring some word about your son and the rest of the crew.  Thus far the only definite word is a letter from the War Department dated the 10th of December which advises that the plane was shot down by enemy flak over the target at 12:10 P.M. at Magdeburg Germany on Sept 28th.  They state that they have no further word pertaining our son John Oliver and that when they do they will advise us.

From what we have heard from many friends such word is supposed to be very encourageing.  In other words a delay usually means that the men are safe and will be reported in due time; so it seems that we must have faith and be patient.

We too had a letter from the navigator and in it he tells us the same as sent to you.  Well that is perhaps the best he can do with the restrictions placed on him and we are very appreciative of his writing to us.  From what we have heard the missions are indeed strenuous and truly it is a wonder that the boys that made these trips ever feel like writing.  Our son was quite a faithful correspondent so you can realize what the absence of any mail from him means to us and especially his Mother.  Then too the letters that we sent to him are returned as well as boxes all of which are a sad reminder that the boys are really worse off than we at home.  However the youth of this country are showing what a wonderful lot of boys they are and I marvel at the spirit they have under these trying times.  They should be an inspiration to the older folks.

I note that you have a crew picture and thinking that you may not know who they are I am sending a list of names in the event that this will interest you.  To look at that group one can well understand what I mean when I say the youth are wonderful.  To my mind that is as fine an assortment of manhood as one could find anywhere and I count it a privilege that my son is among so fine a crew.  Yes I had the good fortune to meet all of them in Ardmore last June and I trust it will be my pleasure to again meet all of them and more that this may be real soon.  Should you or any of your family get to Chicago I trust that we may have the pleasure of your call as we live in a suburb of Chicago only 17 miles from downtown.

Mrs. Buslee and my daughter join me in sending to your our sincere greetings and that you will soon hear favorably from your fine son with the good word that he is hale and hearty.

The navigator mentioned in Mr. Buslee’s letter was Chester Rybarczyk, the original navigator on the Buslee crew who flew with a different crew on September 28.  He sent a letter to the Farrar family on October 12, 1944.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

First Details from Army Air Forces

George Edwin Farrar and the other boys aboard the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy have now been missing for seventy-two days.  The only official communications the families have received have been a letter from the 384th Bombardment Group Chaplain, Dayle R. Schnelle on October 9, 1944, a telegram from Adjutant General Ulio on October 14, and a letter from Adjutant General Ulio on October 17.  All reported the same information – their sons were reported missing in action on September 28.

Finally, almost two months from the original communication, the families received the following letter providing the first details of September 28.  The details provided at this time were partially inaccurate.  Surprisingly, the letter informs the parents of the target location and time of day of the incident.  The report does not state the fact that their son’s bomber collided with another 384th bomber.  Also, neither of the bombers were reported to have sustained any anti-aircraft fire in any official reports of the mid-air collision.  This letter states otherwise.

December 8, 1944

Headquarters, Army Air Forces

Washington

Attention:  AFPPA-8

AAF 201 – (9753) Farrar, George E., 14119873

To:  Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar,
79 East Lake Terrace Northeast
Atlanta, Georgia.

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

I am writing to you with reference to your son, Staff Sergeant George E. Farrar, who was reported by the Adjutant General as missing in action over Germany since September 28.

Further information has been received indicating that Sergeant Farrar was a crew member of a B-17 (Flying Fortress) bomber which departed from England on a combat mission to Magdeburg, Germany, on September 28th.  The report indicates that during this mission at about 12:10 p.m. in the vicinity of the target, your son’s bomber sustained damage from enemy antiaircraft fire.  Shortly afterwards the disabled craft was observed to fall to the earth, and inasmuch as the crew members of accompanying planes were unable to obtain any further details regarding its loss, the above facts constitute all the information presently available.

Due to necessity for military security, it is regretted that the names of those who were in the plane and the names and addresses of their next of kin may not be furnished at the present time.

Please be assured that a continuing search by land, sea, and air is being made to discover the whereabouts of our missing personnel.  As our armies advance over enemy occupied territory, special troops are assigned to this task, and all agencies of the government in every country are constantly sending in details which aid us in bringing additional information to you.

Very sincerely,

E. A. Bradunas,
Major A. G. D.,
Chief, Notification Branch,
Personnel Affairs Division,
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Personnel.

December 8, 1944 was an important date for another reason back in the states for the wife of one of the Buslee crew members.  The co-pilot’s wife, Patricia, gave birth that day to her and David Franklin Albrecht’s baby.  With her husband now missing in action for seventy-two days, this day must have been bittersweet for Mrs. Albrecht.   As she welcomed her daughter into the world, her thoughts must have been on her husband and that someday he would be home to meet his child.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Hollywood Comes to Albuquerque

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, spent time at the 383rd School Squadron in Albuquerque, New Mexico before heading overseas with the 384th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force.  While in Albuquerque he had his photo made with Hollywood movie star Anne Shirley.

George Edwin Farrar and Movie Star Anne Shirley

George Edwin Farrar and Movie Star Anne Shirley

Another photo of my dad and Anne Shirley.  The man on the right and the man in the background are not identified.

George Edwin Farrar on left with movie Star Anne Shirley 383rd School Squadron in Albuquerque, New Mexico

George Edwin Farrar on left with movie Star Anne Shirley
383rd School Squadron in Albuquerque, New Mexico

He was even able to get her autograph…

Movie Star Anne Shirley's Autograph

Movie Star Anne Shirley’s Autograph

My dad also crossed paths with Margie Stewart, the official poster girl of the United States Army during WWII.

George Edwin Farrar with official United States Army Poster Girl Margie Stewart

George Edwin Farrar with official United States Army Poster Girl Margie Stewart

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

 

First Communication Between Buslee Crew Families

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,

Sincerely yours,

John Buslee

The snapshot Mr. Buslee refers to is this crew photo:

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

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 B. 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