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Monthly Archives: September 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

 

 

William D. Barnes, Jr.

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. The target of his first mission on August 7, 1944 was a German Luftwaffe fuel depot in Dugny (Paris), France.

He flew a total of fifteen missions as a bombardier, the majority of them with the Brodie crew. His last mission as a bombardier was on September 13, 1944. At that time, Barnes retrained as a navigator.

He was not flying, as he was still in training, on September 28, 1944 when the Brodie crew’s B-17 Lazy Daisy was involved in the mid-air collision with the Buslee crew’s B-17 Lead Banana. His decision to retrain as a navigator may very well have saved his life.

Barnes’s next mission was not until October 17, 1944, when he flew his first mission as a navigator. He flew his last twenty missions as a navigator, completing his thirty-five missions on December 28, 1944, earning him a ticket home. His decision to extend his service by the month he spent in training allowed him to survive WWII, complete his tour, and return home.

I wish I could tell you about his family life growing up and the future he had after the war, but unfortunately there were too many men named William D. Barnes that served in WWII to uncover which one of them served with the 384th Bomb Group by the time of this post. If anyone out there can provide any information on “our” William D. Barnes, Jr., please let me know.  In the meantime, I’ll keep digging…

To view the personnel record of William D. Barnes, Jr. on the 384th Bomb Group’s website, click here.

Note:  Barnes’s replacement, Byron Laverne Atkins, as togglier of the Brodie crew on September 28, 1944, did not survive the mid-air collision.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial

One day a Navy veteran named Michael Newberry, who does volunteer work for the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial in Canton, Texas as the gift shop/museum manager, came across a collection in one of the museum’s display cases that was not particularly visible. It was comprised of some photos, flat boxes, certificates and a folded 48-star American flag.

Upon further examination, Mike found the medals, air crew wings, pictures, high school diploma, and aircraft mechanic certification of Staff Sergeant Robert Doyle Crumpton of the 384th Bomb Group’s Brodie Crew. Robert was the top turret gunner/engineer for the Brodie crew and was aboard Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944 and died in the mid-air collision with Lead Banana. Robert’s half-brother, Claude, had kept the items all of his life and upon his death, Claude’s wife donated them to the museum.

Mike set up a nice exhibit of Robert’s items in the museum. He even intends to replicate a model of the Lazy Daisy, the B-17 on which Robert lost his life, to add to the collection.

Robert Crumpton exhibit at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial in Canton, Texas

Robert Crumpton exhibit at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial in Canton, Texas

I would like to thank Mike Newberry for honoring Robert Doyle Crumpton with this wonderful exhibit. For anyone in the area near Canton, Texas, please stop by the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial museum to see it. In addition to the Robert Doyle Crumpton exhibit, you can tour the memorial plaza with an Air Force F-4 Phantom, a Huey helicopter, a 105mm howitzer and more. And please tell Mike I sent you!

Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial is located at 1200 S Trade Days Blvd, Suite 600, Canton, TX 75103, phone (903) 567-0657, web address: http://vzcm.org/

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

Robert Doyle Crumpton

Robert Doyle Crumpton

Robert Doyle Crumpton

Robert Doyle Crumpton, Jr. was born in 1921 (or possibly as early as 1920) in Ennis, Ellis County, Texas to Robert Doyle Crumpton, Sr. and Stella M. Brown Crumpton.

Robert Doyle Crumpton, Sr. was born April 7, 1892. In 1917, he registered for the WWI draft. He enlisted on May 26, 1918. He was a private in the 26th Company, 7th Bn., 165th Depot Brigade, Btry C, 126 F.A. (SN 1 416 038). He was discharged on January 22, 1919.

In 1920, Robert Sr. (26 years old) and Stella (23 years old) lived with Stella’s parents, William and Minnie Bachoffer Brown in Ennis, Texas. Stella’s father, William, was a conductor. At the time, Robert Sr. worked as a mail carrier.

Robert Sr. died on April 24, 1921 and is buried in Myrtle Cemetery in Ennis. Without an exact birth date for Robert Jr., it is unclear whether he was born before or after his father died. A cause of death for his father is also unknown.

After Robert Sr.’s death, Stella married Claude Parks. Stella and Claude had a son, Claude Edward Parks, born August 6, 1930, Robert Jr.’s half-brother.

The 1930 census shows Robert Jr. listed as Robert Parks. After graduation from Ennis High School, he worked as an automobile serviceman for a time.

The 1940 census shows him listed as Robert Crumpton. He was a farm laborer in 1940, an unpaid family worker. The family lived in Ennis in the 1930’s and 1940’s, where Robert Jr. was born and raised.

On May 2, 1941, Robert Doyle Crumpton, Jr. enlisted in the Army Air Forces in WWII at Fort MacArthur, San Pedro, California. He trained in Oklahoma, Arizona, Nebraska, California, and Illinois.

Robert served in WWII as the top turret gunner/engineer for the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in Grafton Underwood, England.

On his nineteenth mission on September 28, 1944, he was killed when the B-17 he was in collided with another B-17 after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. He probably saw the near miss with the Gross crew right above his head from his viewpoint in the top turret (see Wallace Storey’s account of the near-miss), and probably saw the collision with the Buslee crew’s B-17 coming, but was helpless to do anything about it.

S/Sgt Robert D. Crumpton earned the Purple Heart and Air Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters. He was buried at the Temporary American Military Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands, Block Plot R, Row 9, Grave 210 before being moved to his final resting place in Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22 of the American War Cemetery at Margraten.

Next week: An exhibit featuring the life and military career of Robert Doyle Crumpton at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial in Canton, Texas.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

A Family Reunion

Oh, what a month August was! The first half of the month found me planning a Farrar family reunion. For many of us, the reunion would be a time to remember our childhoods together.  It was also the first time many of us cousins, descendants of the nine children of Raleigh Mae and Carroll Farrar, would meet.

The weekend of August 14 – 16 we gathered at Red Top Mountain State Park on the shores of Lake Allatoona in Cartersville, Georgia. We rented cabins and a picnic pavilion and spent the weekend getting acquainted and reacquainted.

We reminisced about stories of our parents growing up in the Kirkwood section of Atlanta. We guessed which aunt or uncle was the subject of family trivia questions. We ate an abundance of homemade goodies, but filled ourselves up more with family love than food. We hugged and laughed and cried a little at the end when the weekend was over. We also vowed not to wait fifty years for the next reunion.

The reunion was also a time to share family pictures and this one was given to me by my cousin Phyllis, the baby in the photo. It was probably taken in 1941. The only Farrar child not in the picture was the oldest, Gerry.

Standing back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt, Janet, Unknown, Carroll, Jr. Standing middle row, L to R: Martha, Dot holding Phyllis, Raleigh, and Carroll, Sr. Kneeling, L to R: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb, and Denney

Standing back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt (Janet’s husband), Janet, Unknown, Carroll, Jr.
Standing middle row, L to R: Martha, Dot holding baby Phyllis, Raleigh, and Carroll, Sr.
Kneeling, L to R: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb (Dot’s husband), and Denney Cobb.

A later Farrar photo that still doesn’t picture all of the Farrar children together does include Gerry.

Standing L to R: Janet, Gene, Carroll Jr, Raleigh Mae, Beverly, Bob, and Ed Kneeling: Gerry

Standing L to R: Janet, Gene, Carroll Jr, Raleigh Mae, Beverly, Bob, and Ed
Kneeling: Gerry

After leaving Red Top Mountain State Park and my Farrar family, my trip back home to Atlanta continued for another week. Lunches and dinners with old friends and co-workers, Reunion Part 2 with my sister Nancy and cousin Terry in Terry’s cabin on the Tennessee River, and an important meeting rounded out the visit.

The meeting? A piece of my father’s history turned into my reality when I met the widow and daughter of Bill Henson, the navigator who lost his life in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana. My father was the waist gunner on Lead Banana that day and the only one of the crew who survived.

William Alvin Henson II

William Alvin Henson II

I learned from Bill’s daughter that my dad visited with her mother after the war and kept in touch with her for some time. And incredibly, I learned that Henson’s widow’s family, the Whisnant family of Summerville, Georgia, lived next door to my grandfather Carroll’s brother, Baker William Farrar, and his family when she was growing up. Even though Bill Henson’s daughter and I are not related by blood, we are related by our common histories and the brotherhood of the boys of the 384th Bomb Group of WWII.

Oh, what a month!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015