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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Life Goes On

Lenard Leroy Bryant’s wife, Ruby Maudene, may not have completely given up hope of her husband returning from war, but she decided that it was time to move forward in life again.  She explained her plans in a letter to my grandmother very near the end of the war in Europe.

April 29, 1945
Lubbock, Texas

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

May I once again write you a few lines, I didn’t intend to let so much time past but it has.

I do so hope you are still hearing from George and maybe he has been freed by now. The news sounds good now doesn’t it?

I am now going to a cosmetology school so have been busy – at least it has kept my mind busy & that’s what I need. I still can’t believe all the boys are gone. I’ll be so glad when it’s over so all the boys can come home & we all know the truth.

Mrs. Farrar, let me hear from you often & please don’t wait on me – I so slow at writing.

As Ever,
Maudene Bryant

P.S. I am going to school in Lubbock.

Ruby Maudene Bryant wrote the letter on a Sunday – April 29, 1945.  She probably mailed it on Monday, April 30.  Two days later – Wednesday, May 2, 1945 – George Edwin Farrar and the other P.O.W.s he was marching with were liberated.  Since being forced to march out of Stalag Luft IV on February 6, they had been marching for eighty-six days.  I don’t know what day my grandmother received Mrs. Bryant’s letter, but by the time she received it Maudene’s wish for him to be freed had come true.

Lenard Leroy Bryant was the top turret gunner for the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 when Lazy Daisy collided with it coming off the target at Magdeburg.  Bryant had been reported killed in action in the collision.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Seven Months

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, known as Yano to family, was the only Buslee crew member who was still unaccounted for.  George Edwin Farrar’s family knew he was a POW and all of the other families had heard that their sons had been killed on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision between Lead Banana, carrying the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew, and Lazy Daisy, carrying the James Joseph Brodie crew.

On the Brodie crew, all of the families had been notified except for Brodie’s family.  Three of the Brodie crew were POWs – Harry Allen Liniger, Wilfred Frank Miller, and George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.  The rest of the crew had been reported killed in the collision.

Seven months of not knowing the fate of their son gave the Pelusos hope that he was still alive.

April 20, 1945

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I should have thought of writing you sooner. Kindly forgive me for putting this letter off so long. I am hoping that your letter in return will have some good news about your dear son. Since many German Prison Camps have been liberated by our armies. I do pray, and have prayed, that George was fortunate enough to be one of the many boys to be released.

As you know, the 28th of this month will make 7 months since the time our boys went down in Magdeburg – and since then, not much has happened. As yet, we have not received any news concerning our dear son, Yono. My husband and I strongly believe that our son is hiding somewhere. Lately we have all been impatient for some kind of news since Magdeburg is just about being captured by the 9th Army. I pray and hope that by the time this letter reaches you I will get the news I have been waiting for for 7 months.

Have you heard from any of the other parents and wife’s of the crew members? If so I will deeply appreciate you letting me know. May I hear from you soon – God Bless You – and may your son be with you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. & Mr. Peluso

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Erwin Foster

Erwin Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, John Oliver Buslee Crew, 544th Bomb Squad, 384th Bomb Group

Erwin Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, John Oliver Buslee Crew, 544th Bomb Squad, 384th Bomb Group

Erwin V. Foster was the original ball turret gunner, also known as the belly gunner, of the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  His first combat mission was mission 171 on August 4, 1944 to a Crossbow (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex in Peenemunde, Germany.  Foster flew eight missions with the Buslee crew and was not on the Lead Banana with his fellow Buslee crewmates when Lazy Daisy collided with it on September 28, 1944.  Foster survived thirty-five missions with the 384th, with his last mission on February 28, 1945, mission 277 to the railroad marshalling yards in Hagen, Germany.

Erwin Vernon Foster was born on February 12, 1920 to Erwin and Mary Foster.  The 1920 Federal census shows Erwin Sr. and Mary Foster living at 421 East Third Street in Corning Ward 1 (Steuben County), New York.

Foster, Sr., entered the Navy on July 24, 1918 just a month before his twenty-seventh birthday.  He served on the USS Guantanamo from October 9, 1918 until the end of WWI on November 11, 1918.  Navy records show that he died on March 10, 1921.  It is unclear if he was still serving with the Navy at the time.  Erwin Sr.’s parents were Hiram C. Foster (1868 – 1945) and Addie Mae Moore Foster (1869 – 1896).  He had a brother named Earl, who was two years older.

Erwin Sr.’s death left Erwin Jr.’s mother, Mary C. Foster a young widow with a son who had just turned one year old barely a month before.  It must have been a tough time for Mary trying to raise a child alone  in the early 1920’s.  The 1925 New York state census shows Erwin Jr. living at 169 Horseheads Boulevard in Horseheads (Chemung County), New York with the Horton family.  The head of household at the Horton home was Lizzie L. Horton (age 52).  Lizzie was living with her son, Charles Horton (age 20) and daughter, Gladys M. Horton (age 16).  Also living with them were Erwin V. Foster (age 5) identified as a boarder and Raymond Carpenter (age 8), also identified as a boarder.  Mary Foster was not listed as living in the home.

In 1930, the Federal census shows Mary Foster (roomer) and Ruth Carpenter (head of household), both widows, living at 401 Elm Street in Elmira (Chemung County), New York.  Neither of their sons, Erwin Foster, Jr. or Raymond Carpenter, were listed on the record as living with them.  Mary’s occupation was listed as stenographer and Ruth’s was beautician.

By the 1940 Federal census, Mary Foster and Ruth Carpenter were still living together, now at 76 York Avenue in Elmira.  Ruth’s occupation was still beautician, but Mary was now listed as a clerk for the railroad.  Both of their sons were now listed as living with them.  Erwin was now 20 years old and a student in his second year of college and Raymond was 23 and a gas station attendant.

In 1942, public records listed Erwin Jr. as living at 705 Winsor Avenue in Elmira.  On November 27 he enlisted in the service in Binghamton, New York.  His enlistment record indicates he was 5’5′ and 143 pounds.  His civilian occupation was listed as “embalmers and undertakers.”  He was single with no dependents.

Erwin V. Foster was one of the lucky ones to survive WWII.  On April 22, 1945 he completed his tour with the 544th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force and returned to the states.

After WWII he married Virginia S. (maiden name unknown).  Public records show them as married and living together between 1952 and 1958, although I cannot find record of their exact marriage dates.  On July 1, 1961, Erwin married Bessie Irene Allen in Elmira.  Bessie died on October 12, 1994.

Erwin’s mother, Mary, outlived her son and died July 16, 1989, at the age of 91 in Syracuse, New York.

Erwin died at the age of 61 on June 30, 1981 in Horseheads (Chemung County), New York and is buried in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Horseheads.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014