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WWII Timeline – The 1920’s

In researching my dad’s experiences in WWII, I’d like to take a look at the bigger picture – what major WWII events happened when. For my first look, I’m going to cover things leading up to WWII that happened in the 1920’s.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, a waist gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber crew in WWII, was born on September 3, 1921, thirty-six days after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the Nazi party.

When my dad’s parents and the parents of other young men born in the United States in the early 1920’s held their newborn sons for the first time and celebrated their births, none of them would have imagined that their infants were destined to fight and defeat a madman from a faraway land. But that is precisely what their precious sons would have to do twenty years into the future.

A Timeline of WWII, the 1920’s

July 29, 1921

Adolf Hitler becomes leader of National Socialist (Nazi) Party

October 28, 1922

Benito Mussolini becomes head of the Italian government.

 November 8, 1923

Hitler and other Nazis are jailed after a failed attempt at a government takeover, known as Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, in Munich.

More information about Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

July 18, 1925

Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) is published.

More information about Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf”.

September 8, 1926

Germany is admitted to the League of Nations.

October 29, 1929

The Wall Street Stock Market crashes.


This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia:

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum:

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Davis or Fryden?

The John Buslee crew’s original bombardier was Marvin Fryden. Fryden was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 by a burst of flak aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin. James Davis replaced Fryden as the Buslee crew’s bombardier. In the original Buslee crew photo that I have, the man standing on the far right is identified as James Davis. I have always questioned the accuracy of that identification. I have always believed that the bombardier in the photo is Fryden.

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

On my visit to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis last October, I found a picture of James Buford Davis in uniform.

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

I feel more certain now that the photo of the Buslee crew actually includes Marvin Fryden rather than Davis.

James Davis on the left.  Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

James Davis on the left. Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

Agree or disagree? I would love some feedback.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The Heart and Soul of a B-17

When the men of a WWII heavy bomber group boarded a B-17 for a day’s mission, they became one. Nine* souls bonded into one crew and were united with their aircraft. For that day, it was their flying fortress, “their fort.” They were closer than brothers and worked as one unit, the beating heart of the aircraft.

High above the ground, hooked together by electrical and oxygen lines, the men and the B-17 were literally linked together as one entity. The men depended upon the aircraft for their survival and the aircraft depended upon the men for her protection. A loss of the aircraft or one of the men destroyed the whole of this single entity.

A sudden collision on September 28, 1944 between The Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy over Magdeburg, Germany ripped apart the two forts and their beating hearts.

The two flying fortresses, which were formerly deliverers of death and destruction, and the dream of victory and freedom, became nothing more than burned, twisted metal coffins on the soil of rural Germany.

Four men survived, but a piece of each of them perished that day along with the fourteen aboard who were lost, as at the time of the collision, the crews were one. The four who returned from the war did not return whole, as a piece of each of their souls remained with their brothers and their aircraft in an eternal war.

World War II ended quickly for the casualties of September 28, 1944, but it lasted a lifetime for the survivors.

Note * – Early in the war, a B-17 crew was comprised of ten men, but by September of 1944, only nine made up a crew with the number of waist gunners was reduced from two to one.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd Peaslee – Part 2

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Shortly after the 384th Bomb Group officially came into existence on January 1, 1943, ten-man combat crews began arriving from Gowan Field. Gowan Field was near Boise, Idaho, about three hundred miles northwest of Wendover Army Air Base. The crews had already begun transitional training in B-17’s. At Wendover, they would begin combat crew training and the final phases before being shipped overseas to combat. Budd Peaslee was their group commander during this period.

Other troops also began arriving at Wendover from a variety of specialized schools across the country. These men were necessary for a bombardment group to be self-sustaining and included every specialty from housekeeping and cooks to automotive, armament, communications, and more.

Flight operations began with the assignment of training bombers. In his book, “Heritage of Valor,” Peaslee describes the training aircraft as “dogs with an extremely high out-of-commission rate.” Maintenance crews worked around the clock to keep aircraft in the air.

Peaslee reflected that even with the kind of pressure the crews experienced, morale remained good. He credited it with the responsibility the maintenance crews felt to those who would soon face the enemy in combat.

The endless training and maintenance were not the only factors affecting the crews. The winter weather took its toll, too. The winds were bitterly cold and rain and snow squalls were frequent. Winter storms complicated the normal hazards of the training flights.

Training went on day after day with the exception of religious services on Sunday. And once a month, a three day pass to Salt Lake City broke up the routine. This was the norm for the first three months of 1943 except for one ten day period.

The weather officers of the Second Air Force predicted two weeks of foul weather and fog for the Salt Lake Basin and the commanding general did not like the idea of grounding the 384th for such an extended period of time. The 384th had two hours to pack up combat crews and maintenance personnel and take off for a base at Great Falls, Montana for an expected stay of two weeks. All B-17’s in commission were manned by combat crews that were behind in their training and took off for Great Falls, six hundred miles away. Operations at the Great Salt Lake bombing ranges were halted due to fog for the next ten days.

In Great Falls, though it was bitter cold, the weather remained clear and the crews were able to gain valuable experience they would have been without had they stayed at Wendover. They also had ten days of the sights and sounds and girls of the city and managed to balance their work and play without a single incident.

To be continued…


“Heritage of Valor” by Budd J. Peaslee.

384th Bomb Group photo gallery

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Excerpts from Heritage of Valor by Budd J. Peaslee, © Budd J. Peaslee, 1963