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Monthly Archives: June 2017

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From the US to the UK and Beyond

One of the maps in my dad’s World Atlas showed his route from the US to the UK and then on into Germany. I believe the starting point in the US was Kearney, Nebraska, where he and the Buslee crew picked up their B-17 to ferry across the Atlantic.

On his way out of Ardmore, Oklahoma, he wrote about his expected stay in Nebraska in a letter to his mother dated June 22, 1944.

We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.

Dad must have made a few stops between Kearney and the East Coast of the US. On June 25, he wrote to his mother again.

Just a line to let you know that everything is fine.  There is no use in you writing me here, as we will only be here four days.  We have our own plane, and will fly over.  We should be there next week this time.

In describing their new B-17, he also wrote that

It only has twelve hours on it and guns all over it.  They are giving each of us a cal. – 45 pistol and a large knife.  You would think we were going to look for a fight.

Daddy was ready to head to combat. He wrote

Please don’t worry about me as I know what I am doing, and love it.

Daddy wrote to his mother again the next day, June 26.

One more day in this place, and we will be going.

Two days later on June 28, I’m not sure where he was, but he wrote to his mother,

In just a little while and we will be on our way.  I wish I could tell you where to, but it just isn’t being done this season.  I can tell you we will stay once more in the States, and I will try to drop you a line from there.  I am in the ship now.  We have everything packed, and we are taking time about watching it until take-off time.

This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.

According to his separation documents, my dad departed the US on July 1, 1944 and arrived in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) on July 3.

There were three air bases in the Northeast involved in ferrying aircraft to the ETO – Grenier Army Air Base in New Hampshire, Presque Isle Army Airfield in Maine, and Dow Army Airfield, also in Maine.  From the spot marked on his map, I believe Daddy’s last stop in the US was Grenier Army Air Base in Manchester, New Hampshire.

From there, most ferried aircraft next went to RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland until mid-1942, when a change was made to Goose Bay Labrador. Sure enough, Dad marked the location of Goose Bay on his map.

There were three aircraft ferrying stops in the North Atlantic Route in Greenland, Bluie West 1, Bluie West 8, and Bluie East 2, but Daddy didn’t note a stop in Greenland.

The next stop Dad noted on his map was on the East coast of Iceland. There were three airfields in Iceland used on the North Atlantic Ferrying route: Meeks Field, Patterson Field (originally Svidningar Field), and Reykjavik Airport. Reykjavik Airport and Meeks Field appear on the map on the West coast of Iceland. I can’t locate Patterson Field on the map. He must have stopped in Iceland, but I am not certain of the exact location.

Next stop must have been the RAF Valley in Wales in the UK, judging from the location Dad marked on his map. Sixty to seventy ferried aircraft arrived there each day, then were forwarded to the operational bases in England of the 8th and 9th Air Forces.

From there, Dad marked a route across England to his home base in Grafton Underwood, and then continued the route deep into Germany. I know the location of his final mark. It would be Magdeburg, where high in the skies above Germany, another B-17 of his own Bomb Group would collide with his B-17 on September 28, 1944.

Another map included in the Atlas showed some various routes to the ETO.

Dad marked one spot on his Atlas map of Great Britain and Ireland, his home base in Grafton Underwood. (I added the arrow and red outline). Station 106 at Grafton Underwood was the home of the 384th Bomb Group, from which my dad flew his missions in WWII.

To be continued…

…with Magdeburg and Belgard.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

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Home Bases

While trying to piece together my dad’s timeline during his WWII service, I decided to dig through his box of WWII letters and memorabilia again. I ran across this treasure, “World Atlas of Today – War Edition.” I know I have thumbed through it before, but I did not remember my dad’s annotations I found on its cover and within it.

The inside cover calls it “Hammond’s World Atlas” and it was copyrighted 1943 by C.S. Hammond & Co., New York. It was printed specifically for WWII and includes a description of this volume which starts with…

With the whole of the globe the scene of the greatest upheaval since the birth of man – Maps – clear and accurate maps are absolutely indispensable to enable one to grasp the vast scope of the present world shaking conflict, and to form an appreciation of the tremendous distances involved.

Remember, this was a time before jet airliners and cell phones. Travel to distant places took much longer and news from those faraway places took longer, too. But my dad went to those faraway places and in the pages of this volume of maps, he recorded his travels, and in doing so recorded his history.

Dad wrote his name and station on the cover, George E. Farrar, 328th Hd. Sq., Kingman, Ariz. I know he was stationed with the 328 Hd. Sq in May 1943, so that’s probably about the time he received this atlas.

Inside the atlas on a map of the United States, Dad circled his home bases while he served stateside and drew some lines that I’m working to decipher. The bases he circled were:

  • Kingman, Arizona
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Kearney, Nebraska
  • Grenier Army Air Base, New Hampshire (three miles south of Manchester, New Hampshire)

Other than Kingman, I know Dad was in Albuquerque sometime between October 12 and December 18, 1942 as those were the dates a movie crew was in Albuquerque filming the movie “Bombardier.” Dad was there as part of the 383rd Student Squadron at Kirtland Army Air Base. I know this only from his notes, as his separation documents don’t list Albuquerque as a place he was either a student or instructor.

As for Kearney and Grenier, he and the Buslee crew picked up their B-17 in Kearney and I believe Grenier Army Air Base was their final destination in the states on their way to ferry their B-17 across the Atlantic.

Surprisingly, he did not circle Ardmore, Oklahoma, where for six months he administered phase checks and organized students and instructors, and completed his combat crew training, but he does have it marked on the map. Other points around the country that he connected with red and black lines were:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Sacramento, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Long Beach, California
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Thomasville, Georgia
  • Waycross, Georgia
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Fort Myers, Florida

I don’t know the significance of these cities other than his hometown was Atlanta, Georgia, and he attended AC Instructors School in Fort Myers, Florida for six weeks. I also don’t understand the significance of the red lines vs. the black lines. Perhaps the lines were routes he traveled, possibly red by train and black by plane. The lines emanating from Kingman and Albuquerque could have been training flight paths. As I discover more information, perhaps one day I will better understand Dad’s annotations on his maps.

To be continued…

…with a map showing his route to the ETO in more detail.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Ardmore Army Air Field

My dad’s (George Edwin “Ed” Farrar’s) WWII Separation Qualification record indicates that he was an Army Air Forces (AAF) Gunnery instructor for thirteen months. For seven months he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman, Arizona, conducting and administering training classes and gunnery tests. For six months he administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunnery at Ardmore OTU, Oklahoma.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar pointing to Ardmore, Oklahoma on the map

He spent six weeks at an Aircraft Instructor’s School in Ft. Myers, Florida. The course included instruction and practical training in teaching methods and student psychology as well as fundamentals of advanced aerial gunnery. I’m not sure whether he attended the AC Instructor’s School before he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman or if the Instructor’s School came later, before his stint as an instructor in Ardmore.

Ardmore Army Air Field opened in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1942 as a glider training facility. By July 12, 1943, it became a Martin Marauder B-26 crew training base of the 394th Bombardment Group, but the 394th transferred out five weeks later on August 19, 1943.

On August 20, 1943, Ardmore Army Air Field passed from the Third Air Force to the Second Air Force and on September 16, the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing of the 20th Bomber Command moved to Ardmore. Soon after, the 395th Bombardment Group arrived with their B-17’s.

On November 24, 1943, the 395th Bombardment Group was transformed into the 395th Combat Crew Training School, which provided instructional personnel for the training of new combat crews for the B-17s. Perhaps it was at this time that my dad was assigned to Ardmore as an instructor.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar in Ardmore, Oklahoma

According to their web site, during this time period in WWII, Ardmore Army Air Field was a receiving facility for new pilots, navigators, gunners, bombardiers, radio operators and flight engineers after they had completed their individual specialty training at other bases around the country.

While at Ardmore, the individuals were brought together for their final combat training to become B-17 combat crews ready to ship overseas and into the action. The training program included both classroom and flying instruction. As a combat crew in training, the men would be at the Ardmore base from three to five months before shipping overseas.

On March 25, 1944, the 395th Combat Crew Training School was changed to the 222nd Combat Crew Training School by Second Air Force General Order Number 35.

My dad transitioned from instructor at Ardmore to a gunner on one of the B-17 crews, where he completed his combat crew training as a flexible gunner (waist gunner) on the the John Oliver Buslee crew.

The Buslee Crew.  My dad is on the far right in the front row.

On June 8, 1944, he received his written orders “as a combat crew member requiring regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.” The order was issued by Major Milton S. Angier, Air Corps Commandant of the Combat Crew Detachment, 222nd Combat Crew Training School, AAF, Ardmore, Oklahoma.

My dad wrote his mother on June 22, 1944 on his way out of Ardmore and the beginning of his journey to Grafton Underwood with the Buslee crew. At the time, most of the B-17 crews traveled by train from the Ardmore base to Grand Island, Nebraska, where they were assigned the B-17’s that they flew to England, and I can only assume that Grand Island was his next destination.

He wrote, “We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.” He also said that he wanted his mother to know that “I haven’t waited this long to start asking God to help me.”

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The 8th Air Force and Savannah, Georgia

Marker in front of the old Chatham Armory

At the Old Chatham Armory on Bull Street in Savannah a marker is erected to the 8th Air Force of the Army Air Forces in WWII. It reads:

On 28 January 1942, the Eighth Air Force was activated in the adjacent building, a National Guard Armory at the time.

Having moved to England, the Eighth was ready on 17 August to test the theory that daylight bombing raids could be made with profitable results. Twelve B-17’s participated in this mission, striking the railway marshalling yards at Rouen, France, and returning safely to their home base. This highly successful mission established the pattern for the strategic bombardment of Nazi Germany — the Eighth Air Force by day and the RAF by night.

Under the leaderships of Generals Carl A. Spaatz, Ira C. Eaker and James H. Doolittle, it flew over 600,000 sorties delivering over 700,000 tons of bombs and destroying over 15,000 German aircraft. On one single mission, December 24, 1944, it was able to send 2,000 B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators and nearly 1,000 fighters in the Battle of Germany.

The renowned winged-eight, the emblem of the Eighth Air Force, was designed by former Air Force Major Ed Winter, a native of Savannah.

The building now houses American Legion Post 135 at 1108 Bull Street.

Savannah, Georgia is also home to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. The museum is located at 175 Bourne Avenue, Pooler, Georgia 31322, phone number (912) 748-8888. The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It houses many WWII exhibits and the B-17 City of Savannah, which is undergoing complete restoration. The City of Savannah is currently on display in the museum’s Combat Gallery.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017