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Earlier this year (2015), I entered a Florida Writers Association contest. The top sixty entries would be published in the association’s annual collection of short stories. All of the stories would be based on the theme of revisions or starting over.
This is the story I wrote about my dad and how he restarted his life after WWII. My story, The Replacements, was selected as one of the top sixty and was published in the book, Florida Writers Association Collection 7: Revisions – Stories of Starting Over.
by Cindy Farrar Bryan
In WWII, the Army Air Forces’ recruitment posters, pamphlets, and movie trailers seduced “average American boys from average American families” to join the service. Two of those average American boys shared a desire to perform their patriotic duty from the air.
George Edwin (Ed) Farrar was the middle child of Carroll and Raleigh May Farrar’s brood of nine from Atlanta, Georgia. Carroll Farrar owned a print shop until his health failed. Very ill, he could no longer support his family. Ed quit school after the tenth grade to replace report cards with paychecks. Aside from his job servicing vending machines, Ed brought home a steady stream of winnings from Golden Gloves boxing matches.
John Oliver (Jay) Buslee was the second child and only son of John and Olga Buslee of Park Ridge, Illinois. John Buslee was a partner in the Chicago firm Neumann, Buslee & Wolfe, Inc., self-described as “merchants, importers, and manufacturers of essential oils.” On the road to a bright future, Jay studied for two years at the University of Wisconsin.
Though Ed’s and Jay’s lives had different starts and different expected futures, WWII brought them together. They both enlisted in the Army Air Forces. Ed began his military duty as an enlisted man and gunnery instructor. Jay followed the path of an aviation cadet and future officer and embarked upon pilot training.
The Eighth Air Force waged a fierce air battle over Europe fighting the Nazis, with numerous losses of aircraft and bomber crew after bomber crew. The American war machine constantly required new bombers and replacement crews to man the controls and guns of those bombers.
Ed’s and Jay’s paths crossed in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where they were selected to serve on a replacement crew and completed their final combat training. They would man a B-17 heavy bomber with Jay as the pilot and Ed as a waist gunner. In July 1944, Ed, Jay, and the rest of the “Buslee crew” were assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force to fly bombing missions over Germany out of Grafton Underwood, England.
For the Buslee crew, the reality that their combat training had become actual combat came quickly. On their second mission on August 5th, their flying fortress, Tremblin’ Gremlin, was pounded by heavy flak. They limped back to England with 106 holes in the fuselage; damage to the radio, brakes, and oxygen system; loss of two of the four engines; half the crew wounded; and a dying bombardier.
Their following missions throughout August and September were not as rough, but that changed on their sixteenth mission to Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944. The Buslee crew manned the B-17 Lead Banana. After dropping their bombs and coming off the target, their group was startled to find themselves on a crossing course with another group coming in. Wallace Storey was piloting a B-17 behind and to the right of Lead Banana when “the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn” to avoid the oncoming group.
Storey saw the B-17 to his right, Lazy Daisy, slide toward him. He responded quickly and “pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path.” Moments after the near miss, he saw Lazy Daisy continue her slide and collide with Lead Banana. Lead Banana cracked in two, just past the ball turret. Lazy Daisy’s wings “folded up and both planes fell in a fireball,” spinning into the clouds.
The boys’ families held out hope, and waited for news of their sons. Three of the nine men aboard Lazy Daisy survived, but Ed Farrar was the only survivor of the Buslee crew’s nine aboard Lead Banana. The Farrar family learned Ed was a prisoner of war on New Year’s Eve. Near the end of January 1945, the Buslee family learned Jay died in the collision.
Ed sustained serious injuries in the collision. He was unable to walk when confined in the Stalag Luft IV prison camp. Only able to shuffle his feet at first, Ed eventually regained his mobility.
On February 6, 1945, the prisoners were marched westward out of the camp. Known as the “Black March,” it began during one of Germany’s coldest winters on record, with blizzard conditions. With very little food, the prisoners marched by day and slept in barns or out in the open at night, never knowing their intended fate.
On May 2, 1945, after eighty-six days and five hundred miles, the British liberated the column of men in which Ed Farrar marched. The prisoners, described as walking skeletons, were returned to health before they were returned home.
Months later, Ed finally made it home. By then, Ed’s own father was bedridden, but Jay’s father was eager to visit Ed to learn everything he could about the mid-air collision that killed his son. John and Olga Buslee traveled to Atlanta to hear the news in person. Before they returned to Park Ridge, John offered Ed a job as a salesman for his business. Ed did not want to leave home so soon, but he accepted the offer and the opportunity to restart his life.
Ed moved into the Buslee home as Jay’s parents would not hear of him living anywhere else. Ed helped fill the void left by their lost son, easing a small portion of the pain in their hearts. John Buslee taught Ed sales skills and life skills and helped him return to the normalcy of civilian life. Ed lived as the Buslee’s son and thrived under John Buslee’s tutelage. He walked a new path toward the man he would become, and toward a success in life he would not have attained without John’s help.
Ed had two brothers who also fought in WWII, and he had not seen them since his return home from war. He learned they would both be home for Christmas, and they arranged a reunion in Atlanta. Ed was the last to arrive home, on December 16, and found that his father’s condition had worsened. Carroll Farrar had delayed the business of dying until he could see his three boys together, home from war. A few days after Ed’s arrival, his father was admitted to the hospital. Carroll Farrar died on December 20, just five days before Christmas.
In January 1946, once again reluctant to leave his family, Ed returned north to the Buslee home. As a man who had just lost his father, Ed was welcomed back by the man who a year earlier had lost his son. A beloved father and a precious son could not be replaced, but Ed Farrar and John Buslee stepped into those roles for each other to help ease their shared sorrow.
Ed and John needed each other in a way neither would have expected before WWII. They both traveled a new, unexpected path that would not have existed without the tragedy of war. The war had ceased to wage over Europe, but the aftermath of war continued to wage deep within both men. For Ed Farrar and John Buslee, WWII meant not only victory, but also loss, healing, learning to live with an altered version of the future, and starting over.
Note: With many projects I must tackle before the end of the year, I am not able to devote the time to a weekly blog publication and the research that goes behind each post, so I will leave you with this as my last post of the year. Blog posts will resume in January. So for now, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
Thanksgiving for the 384th
Rabbi Marc Gellman writes a weekly newspaper column entitled “The God Squad.” It appears in my local newspaper every Saturday. I had finished writing this post, but after reading Rabbi Gellman’s latest column, I decided to include some of his thoughts. He wrote:
One of my annual traditions over the years here at God Squad Central is to offer up for inclusion with your turkey, stuffing and pie, a list of overlooked blessings. The point of this annual list is that none of us really needs prodding to give thanks for family and food, for friends and food, or for liberty and … food. I encourage you, dear readers, to add to my list your own list of things and people we too often take for granted. I hope you can squeeze into your Thanksgiving prayer people and things that will not be on any big and obvious list but ought to be in our hearts every day.
This is, of course, a hard Thanksgiving for my list of overlooked blessings. This year I am feeling more anger and sorrow than thanks in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. I even thought of ditching the column and just writing about Paris, but the more I thought and prayed about this horror the more I realized that it was the little things that give me hope in the face of the big things that give me such despair. So here it goes:
I am thankful this Thanksgiving Day for the people who run toward the sounds of gunshots and not away from them. These police and soldiers and EMTs are the first barrier to terror and the first responders to brutality. The fact that this is their job does not lessen my awe at their deep instinctive courage. They keep the dike of civilization from bursting by sticking their lives into the breaches of our broken world.
Tomorrow all over America, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Most of us will sit down to share a Thanksgiving meal with family or friends. Before that first bite, we will bow our heads and give thanks for many things, and at the top of my list of things I am thankful for are the men of the 384th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force in WWII for the sacrifices they made to secure our freedom.
Seventy-plus years ago, this is what Thanksgiving Day looked like at the Grafton Underwood Air Base for the enlisted men of the 384th Bomb Group.
…to the feast itself…
…and then, of course, there’s always the cleanup…
These photos are part of the Robert Bletscher Acquisitions collection on the 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery. Thank you to Rob Bletscher for sharing his grandfather’s (William Marvin Page) photos with the group.
William Marvin Page was assigned as a flexible gunner to the 384th Bomb Group, 546th Bomb Squad, Austin Dean Rinne crew on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #146 dated November 17, 1943.
These photos are most likely from Thanksgiving 1943 or 1944, although they were marked Thanksgiving 1945. Thanksgiving was observed on November 25 in 1943 and November 23 in 1944. It was November of 1943 that William Marvin Page was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group. By Thanksgiving 1944, Page was a guest of the Germans in Stalag Luft IV (more on that later). I asked my fellow 384th volunteers for help determining what year the photos were from and received some good information, but am still uncertain which year these may have been taken.
- I don’t believe it could be Thanksgiving 1945 as the last 384th mission out of Grafton Underwood was April 25, 1945. Shortly thereafter, 384th operations moved to Istres, France. Anthony Plowright reminded us that the base then transferred back to the RAF.
- Fred Preller believes it must be 1943 or 1944 judging from the presumed blackout curtains behind the seated diners.
- John Edwards leans to 1944 as there was a world wide effort to have a Thanksgiving dinner for each service member. The dinner was supposed to be the traditional American meal featuring real whole turkeys.
- Phil Hettel believes that from the date Mr. Page was assigned to the 384th (11/17/43) and the date of his last mission (2/28/44) and his internment as a POW, he would say that the picture is Thanksgiving 1943.
- The 384th Bomb Group did not fly a mission on Thanksgiving 1943 (11/25/43), but they did fly a mission to a synthetic oil plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on Thanksgiving 1944 (11/23/44).
- Considering all this, I think the pictures were more likely taken Thanksgiving of 1943, but they could have been taken Thanksgiving of 1944. I do not believe they could have been taken Thanksgiving of 1945.
On William Marvin Page’s tenth mission to a NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site) for CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) in Preuseville, France on February 28, 1944, his plane went down presumably due to a technical or mechanical failure. All ten men aboard bailed out. The tail gunner, Charles Thomas Regan, was killed due to a malfunctioning parachute, which didn’t open. One flexible gunner, Robert Henry Cooper, was able to successfully evade capture.
The other flexible gunner, William Marvin Page, was able to evade capture for a time. Page was in the French Underground for 17 days before he was picked up by the German Gestapo. He was held in jail for almost two months before being placed in a prison camp. He was placed permanently in Stalag Luft IV and endured the eighty-six day Black March, where he was taken ill with pneumonia. After being nursed back to health, he was returned to the states. The remaining crew were also taken POW. The officers were held in Stalag Luft I while the enlisted men were all held with Page in Stalag Luft IV.
On May 1, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the prisoners of Stalag Luft I. As for the men of Stalag Luft IV on the Black March, some were liberated in late April, but all were liberated by May 2 by the British. Americans were sent to Camp Lucky Strike in France as the first stop on their return to the United States.
Families at Thanksgiving dinner tables seventy-plus years ago undoubtedly asked God to bless their sons and husbands who were so far from home fighting a war on foreign soil. They prayed for their safe return. Some of those prayers were answered and some were not. Tomorrow, on this Thanksgiving Day as you give thanks, include the men of the 384th – those who are still with us and those who are gone. They are the men who risked their lives to mend our broken world seventy years ago. And also give thanks for those who fight to mend our broken world today.
Photos courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
The Family of Marvin Fryden
Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force. On August 5, 1944, on his second mission as bombardier with the Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, Marvin was mortally wounded. To read more about that mission, click here.
A little research into Ancestry.com turned up some information on his family, but not anything new about Marvin himself.
Marvin’s parents were Harry and Sylvia Kaplan Frydyn. The Frydyn’s were Jewish. They were originally from Radom which was considered part of Poland or Russia, depending on the year. Radom is located about sixty miles south of Warsaw. Both Harry and Sylvia’s parents were also from the same area. (See note below).
Harry Frydyn was born on February 15, 1889 in Radom. According to US Naturalization Records, he immigrated to the United States from Russia on November 13, 1907 around the age of 18.
The 1910 census recorded Harry as “Harry Freiden,” from Russia Pol, with both parents from Russia Pol. It confirms that Harry immigrated in 1907. His native tongue was Polish. He was a presser in a tailor shop. At the time, he would have been twenty-one years old and was a boarder living with Jake and Eva Dekalsky. His age and residential status as a border leads me to believe that he immigrated to America without his parents, but I find no documentation to support the theory. [The 1910 census instructed: if foreign born, give country.]
On March 5, 1914, according to Harry’s immigration and naturalization record, he became a naturalized citizen.
Sylvia Kaplan Frydyn was born in 1898 in Bialastok, Poland. She immigrated to the United States in either 1910 (according to the 1920 census) or 1914 (according to the 1930 census).
On June 5, 1917, Harry registered for the WWI draft. He would have been twenty-eight years old. His draft registration card shows he lived at 2343 W. Iowa St., Chicago. He was a naturalized citizen from Radom, Russia. He was a presser for S. Shapiro at 1315 Milwaukee Avenue. He was Jewish and single. He noted that he had no previous military service. He claimed an exemption from the draft due to defective eyes. He described himself as 5’8″, of slender build, brown eyes, brown hair, and slightly bald. I see no record of Harry having served in WWI.
Harry and Sylvia were married on December 8, 1919 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
The 1920 census recorded Harry and Sylvia “Frydyn” living at 3238 Augusta Street, Chicago, Ward 15 as borders of David and Rose Rosenberg and their son Jerome. Although the record states that the Rosenbergs immigrated in 1907, it states that Harry and Sylvia both immigrated in 1910, Harry was naturalized in 1916, and Sylvia in 1919. It shows both Harry and Sylvia’s birthplace as Russia and native tongue as Yiddish, and the same for both sets of their parents. Harry was a tailor in a tailor shop. David Rosenberg was also a tailor. [The 1920 census instructed: if foreign born, give the place of birth and, in addition, the mother tongue.]
Harry and Sylvia had three children in the 1920’s. Their first child, Marvin, was born on January 8, 1921 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. On May 20 or 21, 1925, they were blessed with a second son, Marshall. But sadly Marshall only lived to the age of five and a half months, dying on November 4, 1925. The next year, the Frydyn’s third child came along. Florence was born on October 16, 1926.
The 1930 census recorded Harry (39), Sylvia (31), Marvin (9) and Florence (3) renting a home at 2652 W. Potomac Avenue, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Living with them was Sylvia’s sister Lilly (25). The census noted that both Harry and Sylvia were from Poland and both sets of their parents were from Poland. Their native language was Jewish. It states Harry immigrated in 1910 and Sylvia immigrated in 1914. Harry was a tailor in a clothing factory. Lilly was an operator in a clothing factory. Lilly had immigrated to the U.S. in 1927. Sylvia did not work outside the home. [The 1930 census instructed: if foreign born, give country in which birthplace is now situated.]
The 1940 census recorded the Frydyn family still residing at 2652 W. Potomac Avenue in Chicago. Harry (50) worked as a dress presser for a dress company. Sylvia (42) did not work outside the home. Marvin (19) worked as a salesman at Hyraces Silk Manufacturers and had had one year of college. Florence (13) was a student. The 1940 census record also states that Harry and Sylvia were both born in Poland. [The 1940 census instructed: if foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937.]
On January 13, 1942, Marvin enlisted in the Army Air Corps. An aviation cadet, his enlistment record shows that he had completed two years of college, was 5’9″ tall, weighed 126 pounds, worked as a laboratory technician or assistant, and was single with no dependents. His enlistment record spells his name “Fryden,” although only two years earlier, he was listed on the 1940 census as “Frydyn.”
In 1942, Harry also had to register for the WWII draft. His registration card shows he was born in Radom, Poland and lived at 6719 Lakewood, Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. He worked for Johara, Inc. at 325 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
Sometime in 1942, Marvin married Marilyn Ash. Marilyn was born on October 26, 1925. Their marriage license states that Marilyn was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and that she and Marvin married in Bernalillo, New Mexico. Marvin would have been twenty-one years old, but Marilyn would have only been about sixteen or seventeen when they married. Although she stated that she was born in Albuquerque, records on Ancestry.com lead me to believe that it’s possible that Marilyn was born and raised in the Chicago area, which would indicate that Marvin and Marilyn knew each other before he entered the service. Marvin and Marilyn had had only two years of married life together when Marvin died on August 5, 1944. At the time of Marvin’s death, Marilyn was only eighteen years old. You can read more about Marilyn and her love for Marvin here.
Marvin Fryden is buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in Cambridge, England, Plot E, Row 2, Grave 4. He earned a purple heart, American Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.
Marvin’s mother, Sylvia, died on July 8, 1952, and his father, Harry, died in January 1967. Marvin’s wife, Marilyn – who had remarried and whose last name had become Samet – died on November 7, 2013 in Cary, North Carolina.
Correction: Marvin Fryden did not have a middle name/initial. I originally thought he had a middle initial of “B” and have recorded his name improperly in the past. I am correcting the error here, but may not be able to make the change in all places, for example in his Category Name.
Note: I hope to delve a little deeper into the history of Radom with some more research and make it the subject of next week’s post. Update: I will cover Radom the week after Thanksgiving. Update 2: Researching the history of Radom is more complicated than I anticipated. I’ll have to put off that post until I have more time to cover the subject properly.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
Veterans Day and Remembrance Day
Today is Veterans Day. Here in the United States, we observe it annually on November 11, honoring those who have served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Originally known as Armistice Day, it marked the anniversary of the end of World War I, which formally ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 when the armistice with Germany went into effect. Armistice Day was eventually expanded to include all veterans, not just those of WWI, and later evolved into the current Veterans Day in 1954.
Other parts of the world observe Remembrance Day. In the United Kingdom, the main observance is on the Sunday closest to November 11 with ceremonies at local war memorials. Every year, such a ceremony is held at the Grafton Underwood memorial. Remembrance Sunday was observed there this past Sunday, November 8.
A local videographer, Graham Butlin, recorded the Grafton Underwood Remembrance Day ceremony and shared it on YouTube. For those of us who have never been to Grafton Underwood and witnessed one of the ceremonies, I thank Graham for sharing the opportunity to witness it with us through his video.
Graham hosts a YouTube channel that includes videos of English air fields, air shows, etc., and has some wonderful aerial videography using a drone.
To view the 2015 Remembrance Day ceremony at Grafton Underwood, click here.
To view other videos on Graham Butlin’s YouTube channel, click here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
A Tribute to the 384th Bomb Group in WWII
For quite some time I have played around with the idea of creating a tribute video to the 384th Bomb Group in WWII. The 384th’s photo gallery is overflowing with photos of the men who served with the group at Grafton Underwood from 1943 to 1945. All I needed was the right music to bring the photos to life. What with the complex copyright laws in the music field, I was perplexed as how to proceed, and put the project on hold.
A few months ago, a music CD arrived in my mail from fellow 384th Bomb Group Nex-Gen Todd Touton. Todd is the son of 384th pilot William Touton. The CD contained a dozen songs that Todd and his friend Evan Wallach, a bronze star Vietnam veteran, created. Evan wrote the lyrics and Todd put them to music and performed the songs.
One song in particular caught my attention – the one Todd dedicated to his father. “Damn Yankee” does not describe any particular mission. Todd and Evan chose the title “Damn Yankee” as it was the plane William Touton flew on his first mission as pilot of his own crew. Bill Touton began his 384th tour as co-pilot of the John Hunt crew, but November 29, 1944 found him in the pilot seat on a mission to Misburg, Germany to destroy an oil target.
For those not familiar with 384th Bomb Group aircraft history, there were several aircraft named Damn Yankee assigned to the group at different times.
The first was a B-17F with tail number 41-24557. 41-24557 had a relatively short life in the 384th – only thirteen missions before being shot down on December 1, 1943. Five of the crew were killed, four were taken POW, and the pilot, Bruce Sundlun (who would become Rhode Island’s 71st governor in 1991), was able to evade capture. For more information on Bruce Sundlun, click here.
Then there was B-17F tail number 42-29809, aka Queen Jeanie or Damn Yankee II. 42-29809 completed twenty-one missions with the 384th from September 26, 1943 to March 27, 1944. She was returned to the states in June of ’44.
And then finally, there was tail number 42-102518, the Damn Yankee that Bill Touton flew on his first mission as pilot. 42-102518 completed 135 combat missions with the 384th. She was a B-17G and her first mission was on April 20, 1944. She suffered damage on October 23 when she crashed after her landing gear collapsed upon returning from a training mission. There were no crew injuries. She was out for about three and a half weeks for repairs and then back on duty for almost two weeks before Bill Touton took the helm for his first flight in the pilot seat.
She continued to perform admirably through the end of the war and was then moved to Istres, France with the group to serve her last purpose, mapping duties. Sadly, after the war the last Damn Yankee was, like other B-17’s, destined for the scrap yard. Her last duty date was December 10, 1945. Like the song says, she was not much more than a metal tube, but she came alive with some oil and gas and lube. But that metal tube had one of the most important jobs of the war – to transport the young men of the 384th and their bombs through hostile skies into enemy territory and to bring them safely home, again and again. One hundred and thirty-five times.
As for the tribute video, it’s finished now and available on YouTube for viewing here.
I would like to thank the 384th Bomb Group site for permission to use photos from the photo gallery.
And I would especially like to thank Todd Touton and Evan Wallach for permission to use their song. “Damn Yankee” is a hauntingly beautiful song that evokes the emotions of a war where so many sons and husbands and fathers lost their lives in their fight for freedom.
Many were lost, but many survived to return home and get married and raise children. Bill Touton was one of the fortunate ones who completed his thirty-five missions and made it back. And like Bill’s son, Todd, those of us of the next generation that know of the sacrifice of the young men of WWII’s 384th Bomb Group firsthand want to share their stories with others. We do our best to honor them and it is our responsibility to remind future generations what their lives, and deaths, mean for all of us.
Some of the men of the 384th had only twenty years on this earth, others ninety, but they all leave their legacy – the ones that returned and the ones that didn’t. They embraced a responsibility to defend our country. They fought for our freedom and they won it. We will be forever grateful.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
Filling in the Blanks
I have a number of photos that I found with my dad’s WWII letters that have no identifications. I have come up with a theory and have made some guesses about who appears in the photos. I would love to get some feedback and opinions as to whether I am on the right track or not. Here goes…
The information I’m basing my theory on is this: August 4, 1944 was the Buslee crew’s first mission. Arthur Shwery was training John Buslee that day, which put Arthur Shwery as the pilot with the crew and John Oliver Buslee as the co-pilot. As a result, David Franklin Albrecht, the Buslee crew’s assigned co-pilot, flew with the Paul Norton crew that day. This setup was repeated the next day, August 5. As a result, David Albrecht got to know some of the men of the Norton crew.
I believe Number 6 in this photo is David Albrecht. I believe Number 2 in this photo is either Carl Bennett Guinn, the engineer/top turret gunner or Thomas Bruce Everitt, the flexible/waist gunner, on the Norton crew.
I see a resemblance to Number 6 in the above photo to David Franklin Albrecht in the Buslee crew photo:
Opinions? Do you see any resemblance?
I also think Number 2 in the above photo is either Carl Bennett Guinn or Thomas Everitt.
Guinn and Everitt both flew with the Norton crew and David Albrecht on August 4 and 5, 1944. The sortie report shows the entire crew:
And in this photo from the 384th Bomb Group’s September 30, 1944 mission, the only two men not identified are Carl Guinn and Thomas Everitt. I have numbered them 2 and 3 in the photo. Comparing the men in the photo to the sortie report, the unidentified men must be Guinn and Everitt.
Back L-R: Bruno Melchionni (N), Nicholas Leschek (FG), Albert Sherriff (RO), unidentified 2, unidentified 3
Middle: George Jacobson (N)
Front L-R: Joe Sarto (VN), Maj. George Koehne (CA/CP), Ralph Wiley (B), Capt. William Johnson (P), Richard Rafeld (OBS/TG)
To Be Identified: Carl Guinn (TT) and Thomas Everitt (FG)
I believe Number 2 in the September 30 photo is the same man standing next to Number 6 (possibly David Albrecht) in the first photo. Opinions?
Ok, next photo in question:
Number 2 looks like the same man in the previous photos – either Guinn or Everitt. Note: he is continuously designated as Number 2 in each photo.
Number 1 looks somewhat like Richard Rafeld to me (see Number 1 on the September 30 photo above), but note that Rafeld did not fly with the Norton crew on August 4 and 5, so I may have this identification incorrect. Number 1 may be another of the Norton crew, but I cannot find any more photos for comparison.
Number 3 is probably Lester J. Noble, the Norton crew’s ball turret gunner. Note the name printed on the front of his jacket, “Les,” apparently short for “Lester.”
Number 4 is probably Clarence C. Bigley, the Norton crew’s togglier. Note the number of bombs painted on the back of the jacket he is holding. There are twenty. August 4, 1944 was Clarence Bigley’s twentieth mission. I can also compare this photo to his senior class high school photo in the Phillipsburg, New Jersery 1938 yearbook. His nickname was “Hutch” and his yearbook quote was “A big man with a big name.”
Again, Number 2 is the same Number 2 in the other photos – either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt.
I am almost certain Number 5 is Lenard Leroy Bryant of the Buslee crew. Lenard started out on the August 4 mission as the flexible gunner/waist gunner on the Buslee crew, but by the August 9 mission had become the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner.
And the final photo:
Number 1 may be Richard Rafeld or one of the Norton crew.
Number 2 must be either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt.
I have sent messages to relatives of both Guinn and Everitt on Ancestry.com. I hope the relatives can provide photos and perhaps clear up the identifications of both of these men. If anyone else can provide any information, please contact me.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
Florida Writers Association Collection Volume 7
This past weekend, I attended my very first writers conference. The Florida Writers Association 2015 Conference was held in Orlando, Florida at the Altamonte Springs Hilton. It was a wonderful experience meeting other writers and attending workshops and panels.
One of the highlights for me was the book signing, where all the writers – including me – of the sixty short stories included in Volume Seven of the Florida Writers Association Collection book, Revisions: Stories of Starting Over, had a chance to autograph copies of the book.
I got to sit at a table alongside some writing veterans and sign my name – over and over – and loved every minute of it! And just a few feet away, New York Times best selling author, Marie Bostwick, signed her name to the same book!
My non-fiction story, The Replacements, is the story of my dad starting his life over again after WWII. It starts on page 57. The book can be found on Amazon.com here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
More Information About James B. Davis
I previously wrote about James B. Davis, the second bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bomb Group stationed at Grafton Underwood Airfield in England. Click here for the previous article.
I have found some more information about him before and after his WWII years that I’d like to share.
James Buford Davis was born on October 5, 1921 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana to Charles Raymond (1891 – 1986) and Bessie “Bess” Millican (1893 – 1981) Davis. Charles Raymond, who went by the name “Ray,” named his son after his own father. He and Bess lived in Crofton, Christian County, Kentucky in 1920 and he was a farmer. But by the time son James was born, the family had moved to Indiana.
In 1930, the Davis family lived at 356 South 14th Street in the Fifth Ward of New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. Ray was thirty-nine years old and Bess was thirty-six. Ray had been born in Kentucky and both of his parents were from Kentucky. Bess was born in Indiana. Her father was from Indiana and her mother was from Kentucky. James was eight years old at the time of the 1930 census. He had a younger brother Charles R., age five, and a younger sister Evelyn Joy, age four. Ray was employed as a commercial paint salesman.
In 1940, the family had moved to 1216 Woodlawn Drive, but still lived in New Castle. Ray was still working as a salesman for a paint company. James was now eighteen years old, and had another brother Neel D. Davis, who was nine.
James graduated from New Castle Chrysler High School with the Class of 1940. The school’s Rosennial Yearbook of 1940 pictured James with the caption “Hi-Y Student Manager.”
The code of the sixty Hi-Y boys of New Castle High School was “clean speech, clean living, and clean scholarship.” All boys of good character who desired membership were eligible to join.
After high school, James attended college for two years before enlisting in the Air Corps on July 21, 1942 at Bowman Field, Louisville, Kentucky. As I’ve covered James’s WWII career here, I won’t cover it again. While serving with the 384th Bomb Group, James received 3 bronze stars, an Air medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, and a presidential citation.
After the war, James graduated from Purdue University. He married Joan McShirley on August 21, 1948. They had one son, Sean (1951 – 1967). At one time James owned Express Auto Supply in Hobart, Indiana and later co-owned a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in New Castle, Indiana.
James B. Davis, 88 of Indianapolis died December 20, 2009.
Note: Now that I have found a photo of James B. Davis, I am trying to determine if the bombardier in the Buslee crew photo is the original bombardier Marvin Fryden or replacement bombardier James B. Davis. What do you think? Is the man standing on the far right Fryden (who I don’t have a picture of) or Davis?
Update, February 2023: Since my original post, I have determined that this Buslee crew photo does indeed include James Buford Davis rather than Marvin Fryden standing on the far right of the back row.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
More Information About William D. Barnes, Jr.
Thank you to Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist and volunteer for http://www.384thbombgroup.com, and Bobby Silliman, of the Carlsbad Army Airfield’s Facebook community, for finding “our” William D. Barnes, Jr. Bobby Silliman has a master list of all 47,466 bombardier graduates who earned their wings in America during WWII and the only William D. Barnes Jr. was from Hastings, Michigan. There were no other bombardiers with this name, so this has got to be our guy.
Now that we found the right Barnes, I can tell you more about him.
William Douglas Barnes, Jr. was born on May 20, 1919 in Charleston Township, Pennsylvania to Williams D. Sr. (b. August 4, 1884 – d. September 27, 1965), and Carrie M. Vandegrift Barnes (b. November 8, 1887 to d. July 6, 1970).
In 1920, the Barnes family lived on a farm on Elk Run Road in Charleston Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. William Sr. was a farmer. William Sr. was 35, Carrie was 33, and William Jr. was only 7 months old at the time of the census on January 2 or 3, 1920.
In 1930, the family had moved to Eastmanville Street in Polkton Township, Ottawa County, Michigan. The Barnes’s second son, Charles F., had been born in 1920 and was now nine years old. William Sr. was a machinist in a condensery and Carrie was a clerk in a dry goods store in 1930. William Jr. may have been called by his middle name “Douglas” as he is listed on the census as “W. Douglas.”
In 1940, the family lived in Hastings, Barry County, Michigan at 135 S. Jeff Street. They moved to Hastings some time after 1935. William Sr. was a pattern storage foreman for a press and tool manufacturer. Carrie was no longer working outside the home. William Jr., at 20, was a commercial teller for a city bank. Charles was a clock repairman and salesman for a jewelry store.
Younger brother Charles was the first of the Barnes boys to enlist in the Army Air Corps on January 10, 1942. William Jr. enlisted in the Air Corps a few months later, on May 21, 1942. Born only about a year apart, the brothers must have been very close.
William D. Barnes, Jr. was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 545th Bomb Squad on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated July 26,1944 as bombardier of the James Joseph Brodie crew. For more information about his military career with the 384th, see my previous post.
Charles married Dorothea E. Kolch on October 22, 1950 in Marshall, Calhoun County, Michigan, but I can find no record of a marriage for William Douglas, Jr.
William Douglas Barnes, Jr. died on December 6, 1990. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Hastings, Michigan. His parents are also buried in the same cemetery.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015
George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. was born on November 26, 1918 in New York to George Marshall, Sr. and Mildred Sonnenthal Hawkins. George Jr. was their only child. George, Sr. was born on June 16, 1893 in La Plata, Maryland. His parents were also Maryland natives. Mildred was born on December 16, 1898 in Queens, New York. Her parents, William and Clara Sonnenthal, were of Hungarian or German descent and immigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s. Aside from Mildred, they had four other children – Adolph, Elsa (or Elsie), Leah, and Elwood. The 1900 census reported that Mildred’s parents resided in Queens, New York.
George Sr. and Mildred lived on Laurel Street in Ridgefield Park, Bergen County, New Jersey in 1920. George Sr. (who may have gone by his middle name “Marshall” as recorded by the census) was twenty-five and Mildred was twenty-one. Mildred’s parents were reported to have been born in Vienna (her father) and Hamburg (her mother). George Jr. (who it seems also went by his middle name “Marshall”) was one and a half years old. George Sr.’s occupation was listed as a chemist in the field of medicine.
By 1930, the Hawkins family had moved to Woodbridge in Middlesex County, New Jersey, where they lived at 35 William St. George Jr. was now eleven years old.
By 1940, the family had moved to 52 Burchard Street in Raritan Township (since renamed to Edison), Middlesex County, New Jersey. George Jr. was now twenty-one and in college. George Sr. was working as a foreman of a chemical factory. (According to George Sr’s WWII draft registration card, he worked at Heyden Chemical Corporation in Fords, New Jersey).
On July 17, 1941, George Jr. enlisted in the service in Trenton, New Jersey. According to his enlistment record, he was single, had three years of college, and his civilian occupation was as an actor. After training in the states, he was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 545th Bomb Squad on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated July 26, 1944, as navigator of the James Joseph Brodie crew. He served as navigator on nineteen missions, sixteen of them with the Brodie crew. It is unknown why he flew those three missions on different crews as the Brodie crew did fly those missions, but with a replacement for Hawkins.
George Jr. was aboard Lazy Daisy with the Brodie crew on September 28, 1944, when their B-17 collided over Magdeburg, Germany with the Buslee crew’s Lead Banana. George Jr. was one of only three men aboard Lazy Daisy to survive and became a prisoner of war. As an officer, he was not held in Stalag Luft IV with the other two survivors, enlisted men Wilfred Frank Miller (tail gunner), and Harry Liniger (waist gunner). George Jr. was held as a prisoner at Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (Serves Stalag 9-C), Obermassfeld Thuringia, Germany 50-10.
Hawkins wrote what he knew of the accident after he returned home from the war in 1945. His account, as follows, is included in MACR9366:
Following “Bombs away” at our target over Magdeburg, Germany, our B17-G and another ship in our formation collided. At the time of the accident our plane was in good condition with nothing more than light flak damage. As far as I know, all men on board were uninjured.
At the time of the collision, the front section of our nose was carried away, and with it, the nose gunner, S/Sgt Byron L. Atkins. The plane seemed to be flying straight and level for a very few seconds and then fell off into a spin. I managed to break out of the right side of the nose just behind the right nose gun.
Floating downward I saw an opened but empty chute. Leading me to believe that Atkins’ chute was pulled open at the time of the accident or by him later. However, because of the position of the chute I think the chute must have been opened following a free fall of a few thousand feet and then, because of damage or faulty hook-up, failed to save its occupant.
Following my own free fall, our ship was circling above me. It was then in a flat spin, burning. It passed me and disappeared into the clouds below. When I next saw the ship it was on the ground. While floating downward, I saw one other chute below me.
I landed a mile or so from the town of Erxleben, Germany…west of Magdeburg. The plane landed within two or three miles of me. Many civilians and the military there saw the incident.
The following evening I met two members of the crew…the waist gunner, Sgt. Liniger, and the tail gunner, Sgt. Miller. Sgt. Liniger said he was attempting to escape through the waist door when an explosion threw him from the ship. At that time Sgt. Miller said the tail assembly left the ship and he later chuted from the tail section.
To the best of my knowledge, All other five members of the crew were at their positions on the plane and failed to leave the ship. All were uninjured up till the time of the collision.
In the Casualty Questionnaire section of MACR9366, Hawkins adds that Miller, the tail gunner, rode the tail down some distance following an explosion which severed the tail from the ship. Miller later bailed out of the tail section. Also, in the Casualty Questionnaire section, Wilfred Miller adds that he heard through Hawkins that the wing of the other plane knocked Atkins out the nose without his chute.
George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. survived WWII. The fact that he was held at a hospital indicates that he was very seriously wounded, although the extent of his injuries is not known. After the end of the war, he returned to the states. In 1959, George moved to Central Florida and became a publications manager for NASA at Kennedy Space Center. He was a member of the Cape Canaveral Chapter of The Retired Officers Association. He was also a licensed amateur radio operator and a member of the Indian River Amateur Radio Club. He died on January 4, 1998 at the age of seventy-nine. He was living in Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida at the time. His wife, Helen (born March 1, 1916), died on May 9, 2008. (Information from his obituary in the Orlando Sentinel and Ancestry.com.)
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015