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Monthly Archives: July 2016

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Bombardier, the Movie

Bombardier was a movie about the training program for US Air Force bombardiers released in 1943. It was filmed mainly at Kirtland Army Air Field (formerly Albuquerque Army Air Base) in New Mexico, site of the first bombardier training school.

RKO Pictures began the film project in 1940 with full cooperation of the US Army Air Corps. It was in production from October 12 to December 18, 1942, with six weeks of filming at Kirtland. Aviation cadets in training at the base were extras in the film and veteran aircrews assigned to the school as instructors flew the B-17s in formation shots seen at the end of the film.

Anne Shirley plays the character Burton “Burt” Hughes, a secretary who is the daughter of an Air Corps general and the field’s former owner. Bombardier premiered on May 14, 1943, at Kirtland AAB. In 1993, 50 years after its first release, a color version was released.

My dad had his picture taken with Anne Shirley. One picture was published in the Sub-Depot Notes publication. See photo 6 on the third page. The caption is

“Now look here, sergeant” (and who wouldn’t.) “1st Sgt.” Anne assumes a top-kick’s pose before two members of the 383rd School Squadron.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is the one seated on the left side of photo 6 on page 3.

Page 1

Sub-DepotNotes-001

Page 2

Sub-DepotNotes-002

Page 3

Sub-DepotNotes-003

Page 4

Sub-DepotNotes-004

Photos of my dad with Anne Shirley from his collection

George Edwin Farrar on left with movie Star Anne Shirley 383rd School Squadron in Albuquerque, New Mexico

George Edwin Farrar on left with movie Star Anne Shirley
383rd School Squadron in Albuquerque, New Mexico

and

George Edwin Farrar and Movie Star Anne Shirley

George Edwin Farrar and Movie Star Anne Shirley

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

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Gloria Diane

Gloria Diane

Gloria Diane

During WWII, units throughout England adopted children whose fathers were lost in the war. One was named Gloria Diane.

Gloria Diane

Gloria Diane

Gloria Diane was seven years old at the time, and had a Flying Fortress named after her when she visited her foster fathers, the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group, at Grafton Underwood air base in the Midlands of England.

Gloria Diane and 545th Bomb Squadron Commander Raymond Paul Ketelsen

Gloria Diane and 545th Bomb Squadron Commander Raymond Paul Ketelsen

In the photo above, she looks very comfortable on the shoulder of Major Raymond P. Ketelsen of Houston, Texas, commanding officer of the squadron, which contributed 100 pounds ($400) to support her for five years.

Gloria Diane

Gloria Diane

Today, Gloria Diane would be in her seventies. Gloria Diane, if you see this, do you remember the boys of the 384th Bomb Group during WWII?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Accommodations at Grafton Underwood

The 384th Bomber Group had an assortment of different types of accommodations for the base personnel at Grafton Underwood. They were grouped within separate areas for each of the Bomb Squadrons – 544th, 545th, 546th, and 547th.

Grafton Underwood Personnel Accommodations

Grafton Underwood Personnel Accommodations

Wooden Barracks

On the left is probably David Franklin Albrecht and on the right is either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt. Barracks on the left and tent on the right, probably in the 544th Bomb Squad area of Grafton Underwood.

On the left is probably David Franklin Albrecht and on the right is either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt. Barracks on the left and tent on the right, probably in the 544th Bomb Squad area of Grafton Underwood.

 

Left to right: Robert Alderman and Forrest "Skip" Fickling in front of the barracks

Left to right: Robert Alderman and Forrest “Skip” Fickling in front of the barracks

 

Wallace Storey standing in front of his barracks.

Wallace Storey standing in front of his barracks.

Nissen Huts

Nissen huts were buildings made of a sheet of corrugated steel bent into half a cylinder. Outside of England, they are commonly known as Quonset huts.

Fred Preller, webmaster for 384thbombgroup.com reports that  his dad, Lt. Robert Henry (Bob) Preller, was billeted in a Nissen hut at GU from May to September 1944. He said it was always uncomfortably cold, and that was in the Summer.

Radio operator Eugene Spearman was also billeted in a Nissen hut with fifteen other men. His hut had eight double bunk beds in it.

Nissen huts in the foreground and other barracks in the background

Nissen huts in the foreground and other barracks in the background

 

Foreground - Nissen huts. Background - tents.

Foreground – Nissen huts. Background – tents.

 

Harry Liniger on the left, Robert Crumpton third from left. Other members of the Brodie crew. Nissen hut in the background.

Harry Liniger on the left, Robert Crumpton third from left. Other members of the Brodie crew. Nissen hut in the background.

Tents

Tents and Barracks

Tents and Barracks

 

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso. In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso. In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

 

On the left is either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt. On the right may be Richard Rafeld or one of the Norton crew. Tents likely in the 544th Bomb Squad area of Grafton Underwood.

On the left is either Carl Guinn or Thomas Everitt. On the right may be Richard Rafeld or one of the Norton crew. Tents likely in the 544th Bomb Squad area of Grafton Underwood.

 

Enlisted men of the John Hunt crew in front of their tent.

Enlisted men of the John Hunt crew in front of their tent.

 

Cliff Linn and J.P. Vargas of the John Hunt crew in front of their tent.

Cliff Linn and J.P. Vargas of the John Hunt crew in front of their tent.

The Three Biscuit Bunk

In his book, Initial Point, 384th Bomb Group radio operator David C. Lustig, Jr. explains the type of beds the men of the 384th slept on, what he calls the “three biscuit bunk.” Wooden bunk beds with steel springs were topped with British Army style mattresses. The mattresses were made of heavy ticking filled with a “wadding” material and were 26- by 26-inch squares. Three of these cushioned squares were placed end to end in a long muslin sack with a drawstring at one end. The resulting “mattress” was then 26 inches wide by 6 1/2 feet long and barely covered the steel springs of the bunk.

The Army Air Corps didn’t provide sheets to add any comfort to the setup, but instead provided each man with two wool Army blankets.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

The Search for Miss Deal

Earlier this year, I researched and posted information about all of the men of the 384th Bomb Group that are still listed as missing in action. One of the accounts was this:

June 25, 1943

Charles Earl Crawford (ball turret gunner) and John R. Way (pilot). The Way crew was on its very first mission. They were aboard Miss Deal and the target was the industrial area and submarine pens of Hamburg, Germany. Comments on the sortie report states that:

After making two unsuccessful runs on the primary target, the crew headed for Emden as a likely target for their bomb load. The flak guns found them, inflicting serious damage and injuries – then they ran into fighters. A furious running battle ensued, with some crew members bailing out, and finally the aircraft exploded. The main part of the wreckage came down in the dollard (Dutch: dollart), an embayment of the Ems River on the border between Germany and the Netherlands.

Six of the crew became POW. Two bodies were recovered. The bodies of Crawford and Way were never recovered. Crawford and Way are listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands.

Charlie Crawford’s nephew, Tony Crawford, is the author of a book detailing much more about the crash and about the role of the 384th Bomb Group and the 8th Air Force in WWII. Tony’s story is backed by an immense amount of research, sifting through mounds of old documents and letters, and interviews with 384th Bomb Group veterans and family members.

I have a very personal interest in Tony’s book as my dad was also a member of the 384th Bomb Group. I have recently started reading 25 June 1943 MIA The Search for Miss Deal and The Early Raiders on The Reich and find it hard to put down as every page reveals a bit more information about the 384th Bomb Group and what life must have been like in WWII for my dad and the other men of the group. I am finding it a fascinating read.

For those interested in hearing more of the story of Charlie Crawford and the Way crew, 25 June 1943 MIA The Search for Miss Deal and The Early Raiders on The Reich by Tony Crawford is available on Amazon.com here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016