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