On January 31, 1945, John Buslee, father of pilot John Oliver (Jay) Buslee, wrote to George Edwin Farrar’s mother, Raleigh Mae Farrar. Farrar was the wasit gunner of Jay Buslee’s bomber crew. Buslee and Farrar and the other boys in the crew had been reported missing in action from Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944. On New Year’s Eve 1944, Farrar had been reported as a prisoner of war. Now four months after the mid-air collision between Lead Banana carrying the Buslee crew, and Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew, Jay Buslee was reported as killed in action on the September 28 mission.
It must have been a very hard letter to write. Instead of writing from home as he had done previously, Buslee wrote this letter from his office. Home was about fifteen miles from his office downtown. On that long drive into work, did John Buslee even notice how cold it was on this winter day in Chicago when all he could think about was the news, and news he couldn’t believe, about his only son?
January 31, 1945
Neumann – Buslee & Wolfe Inc
Merchants – Importers – Manufacturers
224 – 230 W. Huron Street, Chicago (10), Illinois
Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar
79 East Lake Terrace N.E.
Dear Mrs. Farrar:
On January 28 we received a telegram from the Adjutant General at Washington, D.C. advising that our son John O. was killed in action on September 28 while over Germany.
This, you can realize, was shocking news, particularly as we felt the time was in our favor and that the delay in definite word reaching us was due to his being a prisoner of war.
Having promised to keep you advised of any news reaching us prompts writing this letter. Mrs. Buslee, my daughter and self just can’t realize that the word sent to us is correct. We are hopeful that some error has been made due to all of the confusion in war-torn Germany and that we will ultimately get different word from our son.
We trust that you have heard recently from your son, George, and that he is in good health.
John Oliver (Jay) Buslee was identified as killed in action on an October 21, 1944 Telegram Form. This form is part of MACR9753, the Missing Air Crew Report which contained information on both the crews of Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy. In addition to identifying Buslee, the Telegram Form also reported the identifications of David Albrecht (Buslee’s co-pilot), Lenard Bryant (Buslee’s top turret gunner), Lloyd Vevle (Brodie’s co-pilot), and Byron Atkins (Brodie’s bombardier). All but Atkins had previously been recovered dead, but remained unidentified until this point. Atkins had been carried off in the nose of Lazy Daisy, away from the rest of the crew and the crash site, and had just recently been found dead and identified.
I assume the Albrecht, Bryant, Vevle, and Atkins families also received news of their sons’ deaths about the same time as the Buslees.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014