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The Boys

On September 28, 1944, the Lead Banana, manned by the Buslee crew, and the Lazy Daisy, manned by the Brodie crew collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Neither crew of the 384th Bomb Group was the original crew as assigned.

That day, the Buslee crew was made up of five original crew members and four fill-ins. The Brodie crew was made up of seven original members and two fill-ins.

These are the two crews as they were that day:

The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, 544th Bomb Squad

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR William Alvin Henson II, Gerald Sammons crew, KIA 9/28/1944

William Alvin Henson II

BOMBARDIER Robert Sumner Stearns, Larkin Durden crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

BALL TURRET GUNNER George Francis McMann, Jr., Stanley Gilbert crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Gerald Lee Andersen, Joe Ross Carnes crew, KIA 9/28/1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

George Edwin Farrar

 

The Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy, 545th Bomb Squad

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

TOGGLIER Byron Leverne Atkins, James Chadwick crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Donald William Dooley, from Group Headquarters, KIA 9/28/1944

Donald William Dooley

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Fourteen out of the eighteen boys aboard the two B-17’s were lost that day. Not only did they leave behind grieving parents and siblings, but they also left behind at least five wives and three children.

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Sortie reports provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

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George Edwin Farrar, Growing Up in Atlanta, Georgia

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was born September 3, 1921. He was the fifth child and second son of Carroll Johnson and Raleigh May George Farrar. Carroll was born December 17, 1888 in Charlotte Court House, Virginia. Raleigh was a native Atlantan, growing up in the Grant Park area of Atlanta. She was born January 25, 1890. Carroll and Raleigh were married in Atlanta on June 25, 1909. Over the next twenty-eight years, they would have nine children.

According to the 1920 census (the year before my dad was born), the Farrar family rented a home at 125 W. Boulevard Drive in Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia. This area of Atlanta is commonly known as Kirkwood. Carroll Sr. was 31 and was employed as a printer for a printing company. Raleigh was 29. Four of the Farrar children were born by 1920: Geraldine (age 9), Janet (age 7), Carroll, Jr. (age 3), and Dorothy (a month shy of 1). The family had been living in the house at 125 W. Boulevard since 1919 according to city directories.

Backing up briefly into the previous decade, the family lived at a number of different addresses.  In 1913, the family lived at 1 Edwin Place in Atlanta and Carroll Sr. was employed as a printer for the Atlanta Journal newspaper. Carroll and Raleigh must have liked the name “Edwin.” By then they had two daughters (Geraldine and Janet). The first boy came along in 1916, and they named him after his father. They had to wait several more years before having another boy and named him George Edwin, George after his mother’s maiden name, and perhaps Edwin from Edwin Place as his middle name. Although he was known as George in his military service and later in his professional life to his customers, he was always known as Ed to family.

The family continued to move around quite a bit in the 1920’s, always choosing to stay in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood. From 1921 to 1925, the Farrar family lived at 31 Clay St., SE. Annual city directories list the address as 31 Clay K. I don’t know what the “K” stood for, but perhaps it was an apartment number. Carroll Sr.’s occupation was continually listed as “printer,” but from 1924 to 1926, his place of employment was reported as Farrar Printing Co. By 1926, their residence had changed to 107 W. Boulevard Drive.

Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr.’s print shop. I’m not sure, but I think he is the one on the left, standing the furthest back.

In 1927, the Atlanta city directory reported the Farrar family living at 1732 (107) Boulevard Dr., NE. Perhaps because of a move in 1927, both street numbers were included. In any case in the 1927 to 1929 city directories, Carroll, Sr. was reported to be working for Ben Franklin Press in Atlanta. He was listed as a printer for the company in 1927 and 1928, and listed as a superintendent in 1929.

According to the 1930 census, the Farrar family continued to reside in the rented home at 1732 Boulevard Drive, NE in Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia. At the time, Carroll Farrar, Sr. was listed as a printer for a publishing company. Carroll Sr. was 41 years old and Raleigh was 40. By now the family had grown to seven children and all seven lived at home: Geraldine (19), Janet (17), Carroll Jr. (13), Dorothy (11), my dad, Edwin (8), Robert (5), and Martha (2). The only child working was Geraldine, who was a saleswoman for a dry goods store. (Note: part of Boulevard Drive has since been renamed, so this address may now be 1732 Hosea L. Williams Drive).

The Farrar family continued to reside at the 1732 Boulevard Dr., NE home into the first half of the 1930’s. City directories place them there in 1934 and 1935. Carroll, Sr. is listed as a printer in both years, but his place of employment is noted as the Darby Printing Co. in 1935.

I have not found a city directory listing for 1936, but by 1937, Carroll Farrar, Sr. was a compositor for Lyon-Young Printing. The family lived at 79 East Lake Terrace, SE. The new home was one mile from the 1732 Boulevard Dr. home. The youngest child of the Farrar family, Beverly, was the only one born in the East Lake Terrace home.

Beverly remembers that the family rented the home first and then Raleigh decided they should buy it. Carroll, Sr., objected to the purchase, but Raleigh succeeded in talking him into buying the home. I don’t know what year they made the purchase, but they had done so by 1940. They are also listed at the same address in the 1938 city directory and Carroll, Sr. is listed as a printer, with no indication of employer.

According to the 1940 census, the Farrar family owned their home at 79 East Lake Terrace, SE in Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia. Two more children had been born in the 1930’s, Gene and Beverly, and the family now had nine children.

The three oldest girls – Geraldine, Janet, and Dorothy – were no longer living at home, but six of the Farrar children were. Living in the home in 1940 were Carroll Sr. (51), Raleigh (50), Carroll Jr. (24), Edwin (18), Robert (15), Martha (12), Gene (9), and Beverly (3). Carroll Sr. worked as a printer in a printing shop, Carroll Jr. worked as a floor salesman in a department store (Atlanta’s downtown Rich’s store), and Edwin was a soda clerk in a drug store.

Standing, back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt (Janet’s first husband), Janet, Ozzie Couch (family friend), Carroll Jr.
Standing, middle, L to R: Martha, Dorothy (Dot) holding her daughter Phyllis, Raleigh, Carroll Sr.
Kneeling front: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb (Dot’s husband), Denny (Dot’s son)

My dad lived in quite a few different homes growing up in the Kirkwood section of Atlanta and considered himself one of the “Kirkwood Boys.” One of his earliest memories that he shared with me was that when he was five or six years old, the family moved right across the street from the home they had been living in. He remembered sitting on the front steps of the new house, crying that he wanted to go home.

Another of my dad’s favorite memories of growing up in Kirkwood was that when he was a teenager of driving age, he and his fellow friends, the Kirkwood Boys, liked to drive their cars to the top of Stone Mountain. At the time, Stone Mountain was not a park. Picture in the 1930’s a carload of teenage boys, probably some beer, and a giant piece of granite to be conquered.

My dad left high school after the 10th grade. He was a good math student and won many math competitions, but with so many brothers and sisters at home to feed, the family needed an extra paycheck and his education was over. After his stint as a soda jerk, he worked as a vending machine maintenance man and made extra money as a Golden Gloves boxer. He continued to live in Kirkwood with his family at the 79 East Lake Terrace home until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 4, 1942.

Kirkwood area of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1930’s.
Photo credit: The Sarrett family of Kirkwood.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Rest in Peace, Delbert Storm

I am sad to share the news that the 384th Bomb Group ball turret gunner who became a social media sensation a couple of years ago has passed away just a few months after his ninety-fifth birthday. Delbert Storm’s daughter posted a photo of him on Facebook and asked folks to please share his plea to find other survivors of his group. Delbert was able to connect with his group, but I imagine his photo is still circulating on Facebook.

Delbert was born January 15, 1922 in Blackwell, Oklahoma to George Franklin Storm and Mary Amanda (Armstrong) Storm. In WWII, he served as ball turret gunner on a B-17 on the Edward Sienkiewicz crew.

BACK L-R: LT Edwin Frederick, LT Edward Sienkiewicz, LT William Stockman
FRONT L-R: SSGT Gene Foster, TSGT Alvin Orth, TSGT John Ballenger, SSGT Delbert Storm, TSGT Hollis Crowell.

The website of the American Air Museum in Britain includes a quote from Delbert describing his position in the plane. “Ball Turret Gunners did the job that no one else wanted. A special breed. Flew my last mission in the waist and really felt exposed.”

SSGT Delbert Storm, ball turret gunner of the Edward A. Sienkiewicz crew of the 547th Bomb Squad, on completion of his last mission.

Soon after he completed his service in WWII, Delbert married Betty Dean on January 23, 1945. As a civilian, he worked for the National Cooperative Refinery Association, and held offices in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union. Delbert retired after thirty-two years of service with the Association. He was a member of the V.F.W., Moose Lodge and Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

Betty and Delbert Storm

Delbert’s granddaughter, Sara, shared a memory about her grandfather’s love of the time he was a ball turret gunner in WWII with me. “The Army Air Corp was the time in his life he talked about most. There was ALWAYS a story about it. He loved airplanes and loved to show people his pictures from the war. He was also super smart, super talented (he could literally build or fix ANYTHING) and funny.”

Delbert Storm, trying on his Air Force uniform 71 years later.

Delbert Storm died April 2, 2017. Thank you, Delbert, for sharing your stories and pictures from your time in WWII with your grandchildren. You have enriched their lives and have helped, as the 384th motto goes, to “Keep the Show on the Road.”

Delbert Storm

My previous post about Delbert Storm is here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd Peaslee – Part 4

Colonel Budd Peaslee

Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to the entire series).

In late April 1943, Budd Peaslee received orders from the Second Air Force Headquarters detailing the coordinated movements of his 384th Bomb Group to their base in England. Key officers would be dispatched first to Atlantic City, New Jersey. There they would be instructed in the procedures required to move such a large group. They would greet the ground troops who would travel by troop train the following week to a then-undisclosed location on the East Coast. The air personnel would first proceed to a final staging air base at Camp Kearney, Nebraska.

Following the staging, ground troops would arrive at the point of embarkation via ground transportation, followed by a voyage by ship to England. Air personnel would travel to England via air in their new B-17’s.

On May 9, 1943, movement began to the staging point at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. The ground troops were at Camp Kilmer for three weeks, and departed May 26 by train for the Port of New York. In fear of German submarines waiting to send them to watery graves, they boarded the Queen Elizabeth and departed the United States on May 27. An escort of destroyers guided them on their way, but turned back the first night out of New York.

After a three and one-half week journey across the Atlantic, on June 2, 1943, the Queen Elizabeth and her precious cargo arrived at the Firth of Clyde and dropped anchor off Greenock, Scotland. The crew staggered ashore on their sea legs and then set off for their final destination.

At Camp Kearney, Nebraska, the air personnel were fitted with new flying gear, and the B-17’s were serviced, checked, and inspected.

In late May 1943, Major Selden McMillin and a hand-picked crew left for their undisclosed location in England. It was their duty to travel ahead of the group to prepare for the entire group’s arrival at their final destination.

A few days later, the rest of the group took off for Presque Isle, Maine. First to take off was Group Commander Budd Peaslee in a B-17F, serial number 43-0063. The aircraft almost immediately experienced engine problems and the crew had to land after less than five minutes in the air and just prior to the takeoff of the next bomber in line. The remainder of the group departed Camp Kearney with Budd Peaslee and his crew forced to wait for repairs, grounding them until the next day.

Aircraft 43-0063 was still experiencing problems the next day, but nothing more could be found wrong with the plane. Midway between Toledo and Buffalo, manifold pressure dropped unexpectedly and the crew had to land in Rome, New York for repairs. A check of the engines the next morning showed everything to be operating normally, so no repairs were made before the crew departed for Presque Isle, where they successfully arrived without further incident.

The day following the arrival of Budd Peaslee and the crew of 43-0063, the group joined the bomber stream to the next destination of Gander, Newfoundland. The route took them across New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and on a two hundred mile overwater flight across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the southern tip of the island of Newfoundland. Part of the bomber stream was then routed to Goose Bay, Labrador.

Peaslee’s aircraft flew perfectly until time for landfall. Aircraft 43-0063 began to slowly lose power as fog was forming over the base. They were redirected to land at a base in Stephenville on St. George Bay, which was clear of fog.

Shortly after daylight the next day, Peaslee and his crew were again airborne. He caught up with the rest of his unit at Gander, as the weather had grounded everyone for several days.

Once the weather changed over the Atlantic, the air crews of the 384th Bomb Group were set to take off. They had to fly above 12,000 feet to avoid a storm. The flight path would be directly across the North Atlantic. Landfall would be northern Ireland, then across the North Channel to the Irish Sea and Firth of Clyde to Prestwick, Scotland.

At takeoff, the engines of 43-0063 ran smoothly, having been once again pronounced perfect by the aircraft mechanics. But four hundred miles from Gander and twelve hundred miles from Ireland, the Number 4 engine was going bad again, with power continuing to drop, causing the ship to veer off course. They had to drop to an altitude of 8,000 feet and reduce air speed, but decided to continue on their course on three engines.

The bomber stream continued four thousand feet above Peaslee’s aircraft. Shortly after daybreak, 43-0063 began to receive radio signals from a station in Ireland. The radio compass indicated that the station was a considerable distance south of the aircraft heading. The navigator believed the ship to be on course and a check with a radio station at Prestwick, Scotland confirmed his belief, so the heading was not changed. The crew later learned that a false radio station had been set up in enemy-occupied France to lure ocean-crossing aircraft off course. Peaslee’s crew would not have been the first to be lost through this deception had they believed the ruse. Instead, they landed safely in Scotland only three hours behind schedule.

All of Peaslee’s group successfully arrived in Prestwick except for Kelmer Hall’s crew. They experienced engine failure in flight and attempted to return to base, but a second engine failed causing them to ditch in the sea. The aircraft broke up and sank, but the entire crew made it into the rubber rafts, spending a cold night afloat. The next morning, a search ship sighted them and the crew was rescued.

The next morning following their arrival in Scotland, the group was guided to their home base of Grafton Underwood in the Midlands of England by Colonel Chuck Marion of the Eighth Air Force Bomber Command. With so many American bases in the area, new crews often landed at the wrong one, so they would follow Marion in group formations.

Peaslee’s aircraft was checked by the mechanics in Prestwick and pronounced ready for flight. About mid-point in takeoff, the Number 4 engine died, but became airborne on three engines.

From Prestwick in southwest Scotland, the bomber stream flew along the coastline of the Irish Sea south toward London and the English Midlands. Sixty miles north of London, over Grafton Underwood, Budd Peaslee made radio contact with flight control, established the landing pattern, and the aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group landed in their new home. They were greeted by familiar faces, the ground crew that they had not seen since Sioux City, Iowa. It was the first week of June and the 384th Bomb Group had arrived in England and was ready to go to war.

To be continued…

Sources

“Heritage of Valor” by Budd J. Peaslee

www.384thbombgroup.com

384th Bomb Group photo gallery

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

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

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