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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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I’m Not All Here

Lenard Leroy Bryant’s wife, Maudene, wrote to Mrs. Farrar a couple weeks later.  It was hard to keep things straight in her mind when her mind was so filled with thoughts of her husband.  Lenard had been the top turret gunner on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  Maudene had received news that Lenard had been killed that day, and if she were to believe the news, had to plan for a life without him.

June 25, 1945
Lubbock, Texas

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

Just a note to let you know I am so glad George has been liberated & will be so glad when he gets home. Sometimes I think I’m not all here. I can’t remember if I answered your last letter or not. Ha.

I don’t know what folks will do here. We haven’t had a rain this year.

Three more months I will be out of school then I will have a good job.

I wish it were possible for George to make a trip out here.

I am sending a picture of Lenard.

Write soon.

As Ever,
Maudene Bryant

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Lenard Leroy Bryant

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

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A Shred of Hope

George Edwin Farrar’s mother must have recently written to the families of all of the boys who were on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  They appreciated her sharing her news of a letter from her son.  He had written that he had been liberated and would be coming home in the near future.  Raleigh Mae Farrar’s backyard now boasted a large vegetable garden and was populated by forty-two chickens.  Her plan was in place to nourish her son back to health when he arrived home from the war.

She had recently received letters from the Buslees, the Albrechts, and the Pelusos.  The next letter to arrive was from the Stearns, parents of Lead Banana bombardier Robert Sumner Stearns.

June 10, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

My dear Mrs. Farrar,

How happy we are over the wonderful news you’ve had from your son, George. I hope he will soon be home with you, safe and sound. What a terrible experience he must have had to be in prison all these months. A cousin of ours was captured in the break-through in January and put to work on a Railroad crew on 2 slices of black bread and 1 qt. of soup a day. He lost 65# in those few months, but is now home and going to be alright. Luckily he was not injured. I surely hope George fared well and was not mistreated.

We’ve appreciated all the good letters you’ve written us so much as realize you’re busy and have been so worried over your boys. I’m so glad the son who was in the So. Pacific is home with you now – you really have been very lucky to have both boys home after all they’ve been through. I hope your son who was in India is well and that you hear from him often.

We have had no word from anyone of the crew’s families except you so I presume they have heard nothing. There are still a few prisoners yet to be liberated from Russian held territory, I read in this week’s paper, so maybe some of us will hear something yet, as long as there is a shred of hope, or chance that they are somewhere alive we will keep looking for news.

Our weather has been very rainy and cold the past month so everything is green and pretty. The gardens are slow, tho – in fact some of ours isn’t planted yet, the ground is so wet. Today was nice and sunny so perhaps we are going to have some warm weather.

How nice to have all those fryers ready for George’s home coming. I can imagine you enjoying cooking them for him almost as much as he will enjoy eating them. Bobby’s favorite meal was beefsteak, mashed potatoes, gravy, hot biscuits and a green vegetable salad, which he could cook very well himself, all except the biscuits. I read where the boys in the prison camps planned what they were going to eat and fishing trips they were going to take when they got home. Took their minds off their surroundings, they said. We are able to get meat whenever we have the points for it here, but we are in cattle country. May make some difference. Can’t have much choice at times, tho, but no one goes without.

We are anxiously waiting to hear from you again as to what really happened the day of the accident, and just where it was. We have heard two different versions, but realize how hard it was for so many accidents to be kept straight. So we will watch the mail and be forever grateful to you for sending all the good letters to us.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Stearns

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

There is Always Tomorrow

The following day another letter arrived at the Farrar home, this one from the parents of Lead Banana radio operator, Sebastiano Joseph Peluso.  Peluso was the only crew member on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 to have not been accounted for.  His parents were desperate for some news of their son.

June 6, 1945

My dear Mrs. Farrar,

Your lovely letter arrived yesterday. I can’t put into words how grateful I am hearing from you. For awhile I was beginning to think my letter never reached you. For such incidents do occur.

It must be quite difficult having to write all the crew members families, the information your dear son George will have for us. But your being a mother of three sons, can easily be understood how much this little information will mean to our families.

I haven’t received any news concerning my dear son Yono. The only thing I have received, was a letter from the war department with a check for $32.00, which was found among Yono’s belongings back in England. I believe that any day, I will be getting all his personal belongings since they send the money that was left behind before going on their mission.

While listening to the news on the radio this morning, I did hear something which gives me higher hopes. The commentator said – 25,000 soldiers who have been listed as “Missing in Action”, are on their way home. Next of kin haven’t been notified as yet. I hope and pray, with heart and soul, that my son is among the bunch. I do have very strong feelings that some news will come before this month ends.

Mrs. Farrar, I’m so happy for you, that your dear son is on his way home. May he be home by the time this letter reaches you. My sister is expecting her son home any day now. He was held prisoner of Germany for 16 months. He has a little boy 2 ½ years old that he has only seen once – when he was 4 months old.

I received a letter from Mr. Buslee this morning. He would like to know if we have heard of anything further. It seems to be quite strange that the War Dep’t never notified him as to how the six crew members were killed. Perhaps nothing ever did happen to them but just that the German Gov’t reported them “Killed in Action.” God! may this be true – and they should come home soon – George is the only one person who can really tell us what did happen.

It’s wonderful to know that you are preparing yourself for his homecoming. Forty-two chickens and good fresh vegetables should be more than tempting. Food here in New York is so hard to get today – especially “Meat.”

I can’t say the weather here has been very promising – we’ve been having some real Oct. weather. The temperature was down to 45 and 50 degrees and a top coat is still necessary.

Sorry to know that Mr. Farrar hasn’t been well. Mr. Peluso hasn’t been taking all this too easy either. I have to keep giving him courage – as for myself – I’ve been keeping my chin up. For I know with all my heart, Yono, is safe, but I do believe he must be wounded.

Mrs. Farrar, you’ve been wonderful, and I can’t tell you how I appreciate your writing me. I’ll be looking forward to your next letter. “Thank God” there is always tomorrow to look forward to. I sincerely hope your dear son is well – “God Bless him and keep him safe.”

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. Antonetta Peluso

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Albrecht Family

The next letter to arrive at the Farrar household was from the father of the Lead Banana’s co-pilot, David Franklin Albrecht.  Louis M. Albrecht was pastor of the Congregational Church in Scribner, Nebraska.

June 5, 1945
Congregational Church
Scribner, Nebr.
Louis M. Albrecht, Pastor

Mrs. R. M. Farrar
Atlanta, Georgia

Our Dear Mrs. Farrar:

We have been wondering whether you have heard anything more about your boy. If you have we want to know. We do hope that he wasn’t killed and that he will come back to you. Our boy David was finally declared killed. We had a memorial service in his memory March 25. Our other son is still in Germany. He was wounded last winter but is back with his company. He was in the last two month’s of fighting. Our daughter-in-law was with us two months this past winter. We surely enjoyed the baby. She is the sweetest little thing we have ever seen.

The people around here are keeping up their spirits very cheerfully. They have all been so kind to us. There are many others who have tragedies to bear.

We like this town and our work. We have two girls. One has just graduated from High School and the other is eleven years old. There are many things to keep us busy.

If you have time will you please let us know what you have heard. Our prayers are with you and for your boy’s safety.

Truly yours,
Louis M. Albrecht

What is war?  Not why is a war waged, but what is war, what does war really mean?  I ask myself this over and over, especially as I read these letters from the families of the boys lost in WWII.  The most overwhelming answer I come back to again and again is that war is the destruction of family.

Take the family of David Franklin Albrecht.  A mother and father lost their son.  Two young girls lost their brother.  A young wife lost her husband.  And an infant daughter lost the father she never had the chance to know.  David Franklin Albrecht died before she was even born.  Back in 1944, he didn’t know if he was going to be a father to a daughter or a son.  That kind of technology didn’t exist.

Is there any tragedy in life worse than the destruction of family?  Two planes collide in the heat of battle over Magdeburg, Germany.  Of the eighteen men on the two planes, only four survive to continue their lives and continue their families.  The families of fourteen men are destroyed at the instant of ten minutes past noon on September 28, 1944.

So now that we know what war is and understand what war does to families, now we can ask “Why is war?”  David Franklin Albrecht’s daughter and I would like to know why the ultimate conflict resolution must be war and family destruction.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Buslees Want to Visit

George Edwin Farrar, sole survivor of the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944, had been liberated and was expected to return home to Atlanta, Georgia in the near future.  He had written a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, parents of the Lead Banana’s pilot, John Oliver, (Jay) Buslee, while recuperating in France after also surviving POW camp and the Black March.  Mr. Buslee wrote to Farrar’s mother in response.

June 4, 1945
411 Wisner Avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois

Mrs. R. M. Farrar
79 East Lake Terrace, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

We have just received a letter from George stating that he is in France, and this I infer means that he will return home. For his sake and yours I hope there is no delay in his getting home.

Naturally he was very brief when writing to us and so we hope that he is in the best of health. Further, we would like very much to have a talk with him when he returns and so would appreciate hearing from him as soon as he gets home so that we can arrange for a trip to Atlanta to have a personal visit with him, which of course would be more satisfactory as it is difficult to cover in mail the subjects that we would like to discuss with him.

I am addressing this letter to you, but it is really a reply to the letter written by George, and I trust that he will so consider it.

Would appreciate receiving your telephone number in the event we should desire to call you on long distance telephone. For your information in the event we would request your telephoning us at our expense, reversing the charges, our telephone number is PARK RIDGE 541-J.

Sincerely hope that you have had equally good news pertaining to your other boys in the service.

Meantime, kindest regards,

Sincerely yours,
John Buslee

According to my dad’s youngest sister, Beverly, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee did indeed visit the Farrar’s in Atlanta after my dad returned home from the war.  Beverly was only eight years old at the time, but she remembers them visiting with my dad and his mother in the living room of their home at 79 East Lake Terrace.  My grandfather was very ill and bedridden and was not at this emotional meeting.

One more memory from my Aunt Beverly – as I have said, she was only eight years old when my almost twenty-four year old dad returned from the war.  He had been a slender man when he entered the war, but after spending seven months as a POW in Stalag Luft IV and on the Black March, he returned home smaller than my eight year old aunt, even after months of recovery and recuperation before coming home.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Return to Military Control

On May 28, 1945, almost four weeks after George Edwin Farrar had been liberated, the Adjutant General sent a telegram to his mother.

1945-05-28-AdjutantGeneral-001

The Secrtary of War desires me to inform you your son S/Sgt. Farrar George E returned to military control 8, May 45.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

A Very Nice Ride

George Edwin Farrar had been liberated on May 2, 1945.  Almost three weeks later he was in France, probably in a hospital receiving medical treatment following his eighty-six day march across Germany, where he and the other prisoners of Stalag Luft IV had come close to starving to death.

May 22, 1945
France

Dearest Mother:

Thought I had better drop you a line, as it is taking a little longer to get away from here than I thought, but it won’t be much longer. I feel fine, and will sure be nice to see every-one again. I guess I can tell you a little about my missions now that the war here is over.

I was knocked down on my 16th mission by another plane that ran into the side of us at 30,000 ft. I fell 25,000 ft. before I came to, and pulled my chute; it was a very nice ride. I didn’t think when Bob and I were kids and I told him he would never be a flyer, that some-day I would save my life with a parachute. I guess it was just meant to be that way. I was the only man to live from my crew and we were flying lead ship of that Gp. [group].

Our bombardier was killed on our first mission when we brought a ship back from Hanover with 106 holes, and only one engine going. We crashed landed on the English coast. We had several other rough mission, but those were the worse.

By the way my last mission was at Magdeburg. When I hit the ground I received a little rough treatment from the Germans, but I expected it. I was in three German Hospitals for about two and a half months, but am in perfect shape now, that is as perfect as I ever was.

We have been on the road marching since Feb. 6 and a lot of nights had to sleep in the open. Well I guess that will be enough of my history until I get home on furlough.

I just hope now that I will find every-one at home feeling fine, as I pray you will be every night. Even on the march, at night when we reached a barn at night I didn’t care how rough it had been that day or how rough it would be without food the next. The main thing that kept me going was the thought that some day I may have the chance to make you just a bit more happy, and that has been my thought ever since the day I was knocked down, and had hours to do nothing but think and look at fence.

I had better cut this as it is getting late and the lights here are very poor. And if I expect to do any more flying I had better take good care of them (my eyes). Tell every-one hello, and I will see you soon. I guess my boy will be on vacation when I get there. We should have a pretty good time in 60 days – and I have $1,000.00 back pay coming.

Love to all,
Ed

(over)

Farrar did not have a chance to mail his letter for a week and wrote a few more words before sending it.

May 29, 1945

I had this letter with me for seven days, and am just getting a chance to mail it. I have been in France for little over a week, and am going to England before I come to the States. I may get a chance to fly home from there. But I do know that I will see you soon, and that is the main thing that counts. Tell Dad to stay in good shape so we can make the rounds, as we did last time. One thing I’m going to stay at home more this time.

Love,
Ed

Notes:

  • Bob was Ed’s younger brother who served in the Navy during WWII.  Ed did not know that Bob had been injured in a kamikaze attack on the Intrepid in November 1944.
  • “My boy” was Ed’s youngest brother, Gene.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Army Effects

On May 18, 1945, the Army Effects Bureau sent a letter to George Edwin Farrar’s mother regarding the disposition of his personal effects.  The tone of the letter implied that it was a second request for information as to how to dispose of Farrar’s personal property that was still in the hands of the military.  I wonder where these items had been stored since Farrar had been reported missing since September 28, 1944.  I don’t have any record of the initial request.

May 18, 1945
Army Service Forces
Kansas City Quartermaster Depot
Army Effects Bureau
601 Hardesty Avenue
Kansas City 1, Missouri

Mrs. Raleigh M. Farrar
79 East Lake Terrace, N. E.
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

Reference is made to letter of the Army Effects Bureau dated April 19, requesting information to enable disposal of property belonging to your son, Staff Sgt. George E. Farrar.

I shall appreciate a reply at your earliest convenience, in order that the property in our custody may be released to the proper person without further delay.

For your use in replying, there is inclosed an addressed envelope which needs no postage.

Yours very truly,
P. L. Koob
2nd Lt. Q.M.C.
Officer-in-Charge
SJ Unit

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Life Was a Bit Hard

Four days after he was liberated, but still in Germany, George Edwin Farrar wrote a longer letter to his mother.

May 6, 1945
Germany
Active Service Army Privilege Envelope

Dearest Mother:

I guess you have heard through the government that I was liberated. I was liberated by the English May 2nd and have been treated very nice since. I should be home soon, and having some of the nice meals you fix. That I have dreamed of for all-most a year. Life was a bit hard here, but it is all over now. I have been on the road marching since Feb. 6th with very little food, but am not in bad condition. I hope that every-one at home are o.k. as I have been thinking of every-one each day. Tell Gene I hope he had a nice birthday, and I was thinking of him on that day.

I’ll sure have a lot of things to tell you when I get home, and I am really going to stay around home. I guess I’ll have to get a new watch when I return as I had to sell mine for bread when I was on the march.

I hope you can read this, as I am writing on an old German gas mask case, and it is a bit rough, so will close until I have a better chance to write.

Love to all,
Ed

Gene was Ed’s youngest brother who had just turned fourteen on March 4.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Liberated

George Edwin Farrar , my dad, was liberated on May 2, 1945. He was sent to Brussels, Belgium and on to a hospital in France where he spent several weeks.

He was allowed to pen a short note home to inform his family he had been freed.

1945-05-02-FarrarEd-001

He wrote:

Dear Mother, was liberated May Second.  Am in good health.  Will be home soon.  Love, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014