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WWII Timeline – Spring 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1934

April 1934

Nazi Storm Trooper or Sturmabteilung (SA) leader Ernst Röhm held a press conference in which he proclaimed,

The SA is the National Socialist Revolution!!

At the time, the Shutzstaffel (SS) was a part of the SA. The SS was formed in 1925 as Adolf Hitler’s personal body guards and were highly disciplined. Heinrich Himmler was the SS Chief and his second-in-command was Reinhard Heydrich. Himmler, Heydrich, and Hermann Göring (see Note) plotted to turn Hitler against Röhm.

May 5, 1934

The Soviet Union and Poland reaffirmed the Soviet-Polish Non-aggression Pact originally signed in 1932 in which both sides agreed to renounce violence in bilateral relations, to resolve their problems through negotiations, and to forgo armed conflict or alliances aimed at each other.

May 17, 1934

The Nazis disallowed Jews from receiving national health insurance.

June 4, 1934

Adolf Hitler met privately with SA leader Ernst Röhm for five hours. As a result, a few days later Röhm announced he was taking time off due to a ‘personal illness’ and that the SA would go on leave for the month of July. Röhm also announced a conference, which Hitler promised to attend, of top SA leaders on June 30 at a resort town near Munich.

June 14 – 15, 1934

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met in Venice in their first face-to-face meeting.

June 17, 1934

Franz von Papen, Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler, made a speech in which he criticized the behavior of the SA and denounced Nazi excesses. Papen also spoke about the possibility of a revolution by Röhm and the SA and pushed Hitler to prevent it. Papen’s speech increased tensions between German Army leaders and SA leaders and jeopardized Hitler’s position. 

June 21, 1934

Adolf Hitler had been summoned to the East Prussia country estate of German President Paul von Hindenburg, who was in failing health and confined to a wheelchair. Hitler met with President Hindenburg and German Defense Defense Minister General Werner von Blomberg. Hitler was told to solve the SA problem or President Hindenburg would declare martial law and let the German Army run the country, which would mean the end of the Nazi regime.

At the time, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich were spreading false rumors that Ernst Röhm and the SA were planning a putsch, a violent attempt to overthrow the government.

June 25, 1934

SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and the regular Army generals worked out a secret agreement of cooperation for a planned action against the SA. Leaves were canceled for the regular German Army troops and they were confined to their barracks where they would remain during the action. They would provide weapons and any requested support while the SS handled things.

June 28, 1934

Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels attended the wedding of Gauleiter (a political official governing a district under Nazi rule) Josef Terboven in Essen, Germany. Hitler received a phone call warning him of the possibility of a violent overthrow by Röhm’s SA and also the possibility of a revolt by non-Nazis who wanted President Hindenburg to declare martial law and remove Hitler and the Nazi government. Hitler sent Göring back to Berlin to make preparations against the SA and conservative government leaders there. The SS was put on full alert.

June 29, 1934

Adolf Hitler inspected a labor service camp and stayed in a hotel near Bonn, Germany for the night. That evening Heinrich Himmler informed Hitler by phone that SA troops in Munich knew of the coming action and had taken to the streets. Hitler decided to fly to Munich to put down the SA rebellion and to confront Röhm and the top SA leaders who had gathered near Munich at the resort town of Bad Wiessee.

June 30, 1934

The Night of Long Knives began as Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler conducted a purge of the SA leadership.

Adolf Hitler arrived in Munich near dawn on Saturday, June 30. First, he ordered the arrest of the SA men who were inside Munich Nazi headquarters. He then proceeded to the Ministry of the Interior building and confronted the top SA man in Munich after his arrest, where he tore off the man’s insignia in a fit of hysteria. Hitler next went after Röhm at the resort hotel in Bad Wiessee, accompanied by Rudolf Hess and others.

The SS likely secured the hotel before Hitler arrived, but legend says that Hitler arrived around 6:30 a.m and rushed inside with a pistol to arrest Röhm and other SA leaders. Hitler sent them to Stadelheim prison near Munich to be shot later by the SS.

In the raid, one SA leader, Edmund Heines, had been found in bed with a young man. Hitler ordered him executed immediately at the hotel. It seems that many of the SA leaders, including Ernst Röhm, were gay. In fact, Ernst Röhm, who today is called the highest-ranking gay Nazi, opposed his party’s stand on Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which made male homosexual acts illegal. Hitler had been ignoring their behavior because of their usefulness to him during his rise to power. But their usefulness and Hitler’s tolerance to them had ended. Their homosexual conduct would become Hitler’s excuse for their murders.

At 10 a.m, Adolf Hitler placed a phone call to Hermann Göring in Berlin. Hitler spoke the prearranged code word ‘Kolibri’ (hummingbird), beginning a wave of murderous violence in Berlin and over twenty other cities. SS execution squads and Göring’s private police force hunted down SA leaders and anyone else on the Reich List of Unwanted Persons.

Included on the Reich List of Unwanted Persons were:

  • Gustav von Kahr, who was hacked to death in a swamp near Dachau. He had opposed Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.
  • Father Bernhard Stempfle, who was shot and killed.  He knew too much about Hitler since he had taken some of the dictation for Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.
  • Kurt von Schleicher, who, along with his wife, was shot and killed. He was a former Chancellor of Germany who had helped put Hitler in power.
  • Gregor Strasser, one of the original members of the Nazi Party.
  • Berlin SA leader Karl Ernst, who helped torch the Reichstag building in February 1933.
  • Vice-Chancellor Papen’s press secretary.
  • Catholic leader Dr. Erich Klausener.

On Saturday evening, Hitler flew back to Berlin. He was met at the airport by Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring. A Gestapo official who was present, Hans Gisevius, later described the scene: 

On his way to the fleet of cars, which stood several hundred yards away, Hitler stopped to converse with Göring and Himmler. Apparently he could not wait a few minutes until he reached the Chancellery…From one of his pockets Himmler took out a long, tattered list. Hitler read it through, while Göring and Himmler whispered incessantly into his ear. We could see Hitler’s finger moving slowly down the sheet of paper. Now and then it paused for a moment at one of the names. At such times the two conspirators whispered even more excitedly. Suddenly Hitler tossed his head. There was so much violent emotion, so much anger in the gesture, that everybody noticed it…Finally they moved on, Hitler in the lead, followed by Göring and Himmler. Hitler was still walking with the same sluggish tread. By contrast, the two blood drenched scoundrels at his side seemed all the more lively…

Reportedly, Hitler ordered a pistol with a single bullet be given to Ernst Röhm to commit suicide, but Röhm refused to do it, saying “If I am to be killed let Adolf do it himself.” Theodore Eicke, Commander of the Totenkopf (Death’s Head) guards at Dachau, and another SS officer waited fifteen minutes, then entered Röhm’s cell and shot him point blank. Reportedly, Röhm’s last words were “Mein Führer, mein Führer!”

The Night of the Long Knives continued until July 2.


Hermann Göring created the Gestapo, the secret state police, in the German state of Prussia. Göring was the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia, Plenipotentiary (a person having full power to take independent action on behalf of his government) for the Implementation of the Four Year (economic) Plan, and designated successor to Hitler.


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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Wikipedia: Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact


World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1934

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

A Black March Combine

I have previously written several articles about the WWII Black March, the march of prisoners of war of Stalag Luft IV across Germany in the winter of 1945. Today, I want to explain a very important aspect of that march, the Combine.

But first, as a refresher to the Black March itself, please refer to this previous post. It is the proclamation entered into the Congressional Record on May 8, 1995 by WWII veteran, Congressman John William Warner.

Congressman Warner was approached by three WWII veterans who were on the march and who brought this piece of WWII history to his attention – Cpl. Bob McVicker of Alexandria, Virginia; S. Sgt. Ralph Pippens of Alexandria, Louisiana; and Sgt. Arthur Duchesneau of Daytona Beach, Florida. Rep. Warner wanted to tell their story and raise awareness of what the Stalag Luft IV prisoners endured on this little-known march in pursuit of freedom.

The proclamation explains that McVicker, Pippens, and Duchesneau each survived, “mostly because of the efforts of the other two – American crewmates compassionately and selflessly helping buddies in need.” This statement is the definition of a Black March “Combine.”

In WWII, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner in the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England. His B-17 went down on September 28, 1944 and after a lengthy hospital stay, he was put in Stalag Luft IV. On February 6, 1945, he was one of the prisoners from Stalag Luft IV who were marched out of the camp in several columns accompanied by German guards armed with rifles, and guard dogs. For Dad, the Black March lasted the full eighty-six days, covering approximately five-hundred miles.

From an old letter, I determined that the two men closest to my dad in the prison camp and on the Black March were the author of the letter, British airman Laurie Newbold, and American airman Cecil McWhorter.

Newbold’s letter adds much to what I know about who shared my father’s WWII experiences, especially these two sentences.

Have you ever come across any more of Room 12. Old Mac Whorter lives down south at East Bernstadt, N London, Kentucky but I forgot that your states are as big as England.

In my research of my father during WWII, it is not enough to know who the members of my father’s air crew were. Although Dad’s WWII experience was shared with the other men of the John Buslee crew, 544th Bomb Squad, and the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, he had a connection that went beyond the usual military camaraderie of an air crew. He had a connection with two men with whom he had not served in the 384th, Laurie Newbold and Cecil McWhorter, on whom his life depended in that eighty-six day span of time he called “The March.”

Joseph O’Donnell, another Stalag Luft IV prisoner on the Black March, wrote a book about the march. In The Shoe Leather Express, O’Donnell explains how the prisoners joined forces in small groups in order to help each other survive. These small groups of two to four Kriegies (short for Kriegesgefangenen, which is the German word for prisoner of war) were created out of necessity, for survival. Joe wrote:

A combine usually consisted of three Kriegies, sometimes two, sometimes four, but the most logical number combination was three. Further explanation will confirm the logic of three men versus two or four men. Of all the reasons for a three man combine, there is no one reason to justify this combination, there are many reasons. As stated before, we each had two blankets, and with a combination of three Kriegies this gave us six blankets. After our arrival at a barn we would stake a claim to an area in the barn according to our arrival. First-in claimed the advantageous areas, usually near an exit.

Since we shared our food, it was imperative that we should stick together; but we usually marched in columns of fours and it always presented a problem at the end of a [day’s] march, when the guards would count off 150 or 200 Kriegies for one barn. This would usually split a combine. One hell of a lot of shuffling went on to get the combine together again. When trading, bartering or stealing detail; the other two would construct our bed of straw for the night. Our bed of straw was covered with the three German blankets, two lengthwise and one across the bottom and tucked in. The three GI blankets would cover us along with our GI overcoats.

The mention of trading, bartering, and stealing references the fact that the men had very little food and clean water on the road. They often attempted to supplement their meager rations by trading items like the watch my father traded for a loaf of bread, or stealing potatoes or chickens from the farmers in whose barns they slept.

The combines walked together, all day, every day, sometimes as far as twenty miles in one day. They shared food and ate together. They slept together and shared body heat in the unheated barns and under the stars in the sub-freezing temperatures of the winter of 1945. When one felt weak, the others helped him put one foot in front of the other, to take one more step, to keep up with the column. Falling behind the group meant the risk of being shot and left for dead beside the road as the group trudged forward. The combine gave the men someone to lean on in more ways than one.

How many men died on the march is not known. It is truly a miracle that any of them survived. They were covered in lice, were afflicted with dysentery and other diseases, and were close to the point of starvation. They have been described as walking skeletons. Thoughts of home and the support of each other must have kept them going.

But when it was all over, when Liberation Day came, the combines were split apart for good. Each man went his separate way, returning to his country and his family, to pick up with life as though his eighty-six day struggle for survival was all a bad dream. Laurie Newbold wrote:

I never saw you again after the day we were liberated. I understand that nearly all your boys stopped the first night at Boizenburg but most of the RAF went straight on to Luneburg & I got there that night. From there I went to Emsdetten near Holland & then flew to England in a Lanc [possible abbreviation for Lancaster bomber].

Well George I expect I could write all night about the past but most of that’s best forgotten, don’t you think.

Is the past and that piece of history best forgotten? When I read pages from Joe O’Donnell’s Shoe Leather Express and read Laurie Newbold’s letter, their words trouble me. They unsettle me. It disturbs me deeply to know these things that my father endured. Things that he himself could not or would not tell me. I understand, at least I think I do, why he wouldn’t divulge these things. I was too young. I was too innocent. He did not want to burden me or anyone else with this horrible knowledge.

My father was right in not telling me. I should not know these things because as I’ve learned, now that I know them, I cannot un-know them. They rattle around in my head and pop to the surface at unexpected moments. These things that were a part of him, they are now a part of me. Not to the extent they were for him, of course, because he actually lived them and I only learned them. I cannot imagine the way the horrific memories crashed upon his shore of existence every single moment of every single day of the remainder of his life.

These are things that no being should ever have to endure. But at that time in history there were people who looked much like the rest of us, who underneath that layer of human-like skin were not human at all, but monsters.

When I was young, monsters lived under my bed and in my closet. I had to take a long-jump into and out of bed so the monster wouldn’t grab my feet and pull me under into a certain horrible death. I had to jump back when I opened the closet door so the monster inside couldn’t grab me and drag me in.

My monsters vanished over time. They probably tired of not being able to catch me and moved on to the bed and closet of another child. But my father’s monsters never left. He died thirty-seven years after his time in the prison camp and Black March were over. Dying was the only way to end the war for him and banish his monsters.


Joe O’Donnell inadvertently used the word “concubine” to define the groups of marching prisoners in the text of The Shoe Leather Express rather than the word “combine.” I have published Joe’s passages substituting the word “combine,” which Joe points out in a correction at the top of the Table of Contents page. He states:  “CORRECTION. The word ‘concubine’ was misused, it should be ‘combine.’

The Preface and first two chapters of Joseph O’Donnell’s The Shoe Leather Express may be read courtesy of Joseph O’Donnell and Gregory Hatton here.

To be continued with more information about Cecil McWhorter and Laurie Newbold and my search for their relatives…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Winter 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1934

January 1, 1934

Nazi officials order 4,000 new aircraft for the Luftwaffe.

January 24, 1934

The Nazis ban Jews from the German Labor Front.

Early 1934 (leading up to the Nazi “Night of the Long Knives” in the Spring and Summer of 1934)

The brown-shirted Nazi Storm Troopers, or Sturmabteilung (the SA), were four million strong. Many SA members were revolutionaries who believed in National Socialism and wanted to replace the regular Germany army.

The SA Army represented a threat to Adolf Hitler and the future of the Nazis, and was a threat to the regular Army and its centuries-old German military traditions and conservative supporters. For years, Adolf Hitler had been promising the regular Army generals that he would break the Treaty of Versailles which limited the Army to 100,000 men. 

Big industry leaders in Germany, who had put Hitler in power, were also threatened by the SA. Hitler had already helped big industry by squashing the trade union movement and Marxists, but now the SA threatened an anti-capitalist, anti-tradition revolution.

The German people feared the SA. The men of the SA were characterized as gangsters who extorted money from shop owners, were arrogant and showed off, and beat up and murdered innocent civilians.

Ernst Röhm headed the SA. He had been with Hitler from the beginning of the Nazi movement and was very instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power. However, a year after Hitler came to power, Hitler needed the regular Army and big industry to accomplish his goals: rebuild Germany after the Great Depression, re-arm the military, and amass more living space for the people of Germany. The revolutionary SA’s usefulness to Hitler had come to an end.

But how would Hitler resolve the situation with 4,000,000 brown-shirted Nazi SA Storm Troopers vs. 100,000 regular German Army members?

End of February 1934

Adolf Hitler held a meeting with SA leaders and regular Army leaders, including the SA’s Ernst Röhm and German Defense Minister General Werner von Blomberg. Hitler informed Röhm that the SA would be limited to certain political functions and would no longer be a military force in Germany. Reluctantly, Röhm signed an agreement with Blomberg in front of Hitler at the meeting. However, Röhm had no intention of keeping this agreement.


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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1933

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

More About Buslee Ball Turret Gunner Erwin Foster

Erwin Vernon Foster

I previously wrote about Buslee crew ball turret gunner Erwin Vernon Foster in this article. However, after visiting the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, I found some additional information about him.

In his personnel file at the NPRC, I found several forms relating to Erwin’s service in the Air Force Reserves after WWII and his active duty in the Korean War. They are also a window into what Erwin did for a living, as he had to fill out employment information on several forms. For instance, Erwin noted he was in auto sales for three months, roofing and siding sales for a home improvement company for seven months, and in office equipment sales for Pitney-Bowes, particularly mailing machines, for one month.

As a reservist, Erwin filled out a form for a voluntary application for recall of USAFR Airmen to Active Duty on July 8, 1950, volunteering for a 12 month tour in the Korean War.  At the time he was living at 15 Park St. in Oswego, NY, was married and had a child.

On this form, he listed his education as:

  • High School:  Elmira Free Academy (graduated 1939)
  • College:  Simmons School of Embalming, 6 month course of Funeral Director, degree of Embalmers, Undertaker (1940)
  • Military:  Scott Field, IL, 4 1/2 months, radio course, no degree
  • Military:  Harlingen Gunnery School, 1 1/2 months, aerial gunner course (3 mos), degree aerial gunner

This form also noted:

  • Unit and Location:  unassigned (enlisted Elmira, NY)
  • Duty Assignment:  none
  • Military Occupational Specialty:
    • Primary:  611, April 1944 – October 1945
    • Additional:  612, July 1944 – May 1945
    • Additional:  847, June 1945 – October 1945
    • Additional:  Embalmer

He noted his WWII service as:

  • 8th AF, 384th BG, 544th BS, 4 July 1944 – 28 Feb 1945, 35 combat missions, aerial gunner, B-17
  • Active service from 4 Dec 1942 to 20 Oct, 1945 (2 Dec 1942 to 23 Oct 1945 on another form)
  • 10 months of overseas service (11 months on another form)

He noted his last 3 civilian occupations as:

  • March 1945 – Jan 1947, salesman, automobile, W.D. Schwenk Inc, Elmira, NY
  • Jan 1947 – June 1949, undertaker, embalmer, J.E. Baird Funeral Service, Wayland, NY
  • June 1949 – Present, undertaker, embalmer, Emens Funeral Home (self), Oswego, NY (uncertain of this name written in Erwin’s handwriting)

Forms that Erwin signed on December 4 and 5 of 1950 in Fort Dix, New Jersey – apparently as he was re-entering active duty – indicated quite a bit of personal information, too.

  • His home address was 452 W. Church St., Elmira, New York (his mother’s home).
  • He was born in Horseheads, New York.
  • He weighed 150 lbs and was 5’6” tall.
  • His wife, Virginia S. Foster, was 26 years old.
  • He had a three-year old daughter.
  • His mother, Mary C. Smith, was 56 years old.
  • Ruth Carpenter was an aunt living at 454 W. Church St., Elmira, New York (right next door).
  • His father was deceased, having died at 30 years old of meningitis.
  • In 1934 at age 14, Erwin had had an appendectomy in Elmira.
  • In 1944, while in England, Erwin had jaundice.

On other forms, Erwin provided this further information about himself:

  • His military address was 306th Bomb Group, 368th Bomb Squadron.
  • At Elmira High School, he played football.
  • He considered his main occupation to be Salesman, retail, selling postal machines (stamping). His employer was Pitney-Bowes, Inc of Stamford, CT. At the time he filled out the form, he had been doing this for 1 month.
  • He considered his second best occupation to be an embalmer for 8 years, working for himself. His last date of employment at this occupation was October 1950. In this job, he made arrangements for and conducted funerals. He attended such details as selection of coffin, site, flowers, adjusting of lights, transportation, etc. He did embalming work. He worked at this occupation from 1939 – 1942 and 1946 – 1950.
  • His listed an additional occupation or hobby as hunting.
  • The dates of his last civilian employment were July 1949 to October 1950 as a self-employed Funeral Director.
  • His original induction date into the military (in WWII) was November 28, 1942.
  • His date and place of entry into active service in the Korean War was December 1, 1950.

During the Korean War, Erwin’s most significant duty assignment was the 305th Air Refueling Squadron, 305th Bomb Wing (M), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He was in Operations. On October 22, 1951, he was granted Top Secret Clearance (only a month before his release).

On November 29, 1951, Erwin Foster received an honorable discharge and was released from assignment with the 305th Air Refueling Squadron, 305th Bomb Wing (M), MacDill AFB, Florida.  At that time, he transferred back to the Air Force Reserves. On July 26, 1953, Erwin was discharged from the Air Force Reserves.

Some of the interesting things I deduce from this information and information from my previous post are:

  • Like Buslee crew top turret gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin must have washed out of radio school before going on to become an aerial gunner.
  • Erwin’s wife and child must have gone to live with his mother in Elmira, New York while he was on active duty in the Korean War.
  • Ruth Carpenter, who showed up living with Erwin and his mother along with her own son, in earlier census records was still living close to Erwin’s mother (right next door).  Ruth’s son, Raymond, was three years older than Erwin.
  • Erwin’s father died at 30 years old of meningitis. In WWI, he served on the USS Guantanamo from October 9, 1918 until the end of WWI on November 11, 1918.  Navy records show that he died on March 10, 1921.  It is unclear if he was still serving with the Navy at the time. Erwin was only one year old when his father died.
  • In 1944, while in England, Erwin had jaundice. This is one of the most interesting pieces of information for me in Erwin’s personnel file. I had been wondering why he missed so many missions with the Buslee crew in September of 1944. I believe this could be the reason. Fortunately for him, he was unable to fly on the September 28, 1944 mission to Magdeburg where the Brodie crew’s B-17 collided with the Buslee crew’s flying fortress. As a result, Erwin was able to finish his thirty-five required missions to complete his tour and return home. Erwin Foster was one of only three of the original Buslee crew members to complete his missions without being killed, seriously wounded, or taken prisoner during WWII.
  • I don’t understand his mention of the 306th Bomb Group, 368th Bomb Squadron as his military address on one form although I supposed it could have been his designation during his Air Force Reserve duty.

Now I have some more Buslee crew NexGens to search for: Erwin Foster’s daughter, who would be in her early 70’s today, and descendants of his cousin Raymond Carpenter.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Fall 1933

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1933 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1933

October 4, 1933

The Nazis enacted a law to prohibit Jews from being journalists and all newspapers were placed under Nazi control.

October 14, 1933

Following Japan’s lead on March 27, Germany withdrew from the League of Nations.

November 16, 1933

In a diplomatic agreement, Moscow agreed to not sponsor Communist propaganda in the United States.

November 24, 1933

The Nazis passed a Law against “Habitual and Dangerous Criminals”, which allowed beggars, the homeless, alcoholics, and the unemployed to be sent to concentration camps.


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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1933

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

Special Orders Number 144

A continuation of my previous post, Special Orders Number 86.

The eleven Ardmore Army Air Field B-17 combat crews sent on their way to Grafton Underwood via Special Orders Number 86 were not all assigned to that air station at one time.

Special Orders Number 202 from HQ AAF Station 112, dated July 20, 1944, assigned seven crews (three of them from Ardmore and four others – see Note below) to the 384th Bomb Group effective July 21.

On Saturday, July 22, 1944, three of the eleven Ardmore crews, including my dad’s (George Edwin Farrar), were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group per Station 106 (Grafton Underwood) Special Orders Number 144. These three crews were headed by pilots:

Special Orders 144

The Proctor and Buslee crews were assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron and the Wood crew was assigned to the 545th.

On Monday, July 24, 1944, two of the eleven crews from Ardmore were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group. These two crews were headed by pilots:

The Bills crew was assigned to the 547th Bombardment Squadron and the Plowman crew was assigned to the 546th.

On Wednesday, July 26, 1944, the remaining six Ardmore crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group. These six crews were headed by pilots:

The Jung crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron. The Brodie and Kinnaird crews were assigned to the 545th. The Cline and Duesler crews were assigned to the 546th. And the Brown, Jr. crew was assigned to the 547th.

Of these eleven crews, only a little over half completed their tour with the 384th Bomb Group. Here’s how the statistics added up for these 110 men:

  • 62 (56%) completed their tour with the 384th
  • 1 (1%) was wounded, non-combat
  • 14 (13%) were killed in action
  • 3 (3%) were killed in a flying accident (non-combat)
  • 11 (10%) became POWs, taken prisoner by the Nazis
  • 3 (3%) were wounded in action
  • 16 (14%) were transferred


In addition to the three Ardmore crews assigned to the 384th Bomb Group on July 22, 1944, four other crews were assigned to the 547th Bombardment Squadron on the same Special Orders Number 144. These four crews were headed by pilots:

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Summer 1933

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1933 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1933

July 1933

The Nazis enacted a law to allow forced sterilization of those found by a Hereditary Health Court to have genetic defects.

July 14, 1933

The Nazi Party was declared Germany’s only political party, which effectively outlawed all other political parties.

The Nazis enacted a law to strip Jewish immigrants from Poland of their German citizenship.

September 22, 1933

The Nazis established the government agency Reich Chamber of Culture as a professional organization of all German creative artists with the purpose to gain control over all cultural life in Germany, creating and promoting Aryan art consistent with Nazi ideals. All artists had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate without which resulted in an occupational ban.

September 28, 1933

The Nazis enacted a law to prohibit all non-Aryans and their spouses from government employment.

 September 29, 1933

The Nazis enacted a law to ban Jews from all cultural and entertainment activities including literature, art, film and theater.

The Nazis prohibited Jews from owning land.


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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline


Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1933

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

Special Orders Number 86

Dad (George Edwin Farrar) spent his last training days in the States in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He did his combat crew training at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School (H) at the Ardmore Army Air Field.

Dad received his Combat Orders on June 8, 1944, followed by Special Orders on June 23, releasing him from assignment and duty at Ardmore and transferring him to AAB, Kearney, Nebraska.

Special Orders #86, Buslee crew (* indicates married)

Special Orders Number 86 sent fifty-five ten-man B-17 crews from Ardmore Army Air Field on the first leg of their journey into combat. These five hundred fifty airmen traveled to Kearney not by air, but by rail, arriving on June 24, 1944.

In Kearney, Nebraska the crews were assigned brand new B-17’s to ferry to England. The crews all likely considered that shiny new B-17 “theirs” as I know my dad did, but that new ship would not follow them to their base. Once it arrived in England, it would be assigned to whichever bomb group needed a replacement aircraft.

Of those fifty-five crews transferred on Special Orders Number 86, eleven, including my dad’s, were eventually headed to Grafton Underwood and the 384th Bomb Group. These eleven crews were headed by pilots:

  • Edgar L. Bills
  • James J. Brodie
  • Bert O. Brown, Jr.
  • John O. Buslee
  • Walter W. Cline
  • Donald B. Duesler
  • Howard A. Jung
  • William R. Kinnaird
  • Noel E. Plowman
  • John R. Proctor
  • Rodney J. Wood

I have written previously about the information I have on Dad’s journey to the ETO from Kearney, Nebraska, which you can read here.

To be continued with more information about the next assignment to Grafton Underwood for these eleven crews…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Spring 1933

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1933 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1933

April 1, 1933

A week after Adolf Hitler became dictator of Germany, he ordered a boycott of Jewish shops, banks, offices and department stores. It was mostly ignored and called off after three days, but it was followed by a series of laws which robbed Jews of many rights.

April 7, 1933

“The Law of the Restoration of the Civil Service” was introduced. ‘Aryanism’ was made a necessary requirement in order to hold a civil service position. All Jews holding such positions were dismissed or forced into retirement.

In Nazi doctrine, Aryan meant a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially of Nordic stock.

April 11, 1933

The Nazis specifically defined non-Aryans with an official decree as “anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One parent or grandparent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan…especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith.”

April 22, 1933

The Nazis enacted a law in which Jews were prohibited from serving as patent lawyers and from serving as doctors in state-run insurance institutions.

April 25, 1933

The Nazis enacted a law against the overcrowding of German schools, which placed severe limits on the number of young Jews allowed to enroll in public schools.

April 26, 1933

Hermann Göring created the Gestapo, the secret state police, in the German state of Prussia. Göring was the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia, Plenipotentiary (a person having full power to take independent action on behalf of his government) for the Implementation of the Four Year (economic) Plan, and designated successor to Hitler.

The Gestapo would later be taken over by Heinrich Himmler and terrorize the continent of Europe.

May 6, 1933

The Civil Service law of April 7 was amended to close loopholes in order to keep out Jewish honorary university professors, lecturers and notaries.

May 10, 1933

German students from universities formerly regarded as among the finest in the world, gathered in Berlin and other German cities to burn books with unGerman ideas. Books by Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells and many others went up in flames as students gave the Nazi salute.

At the Berlin book burning, which was accompanied by the singing of Nazi songs and anthems, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave a speech to the students, stating…

…The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November (Democratic) Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise…

Included in the book burning were works by German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine. One-hundred ten years earlier in 1823 in his work, Almansor: A Tragedy, Heine had predicted,

Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.

June 2, 1933

The law of April 22 was amended to prohibit Jewish dentists and dental technicians from working with state-run insurance institutions.


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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1933

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

Frigham Young

A few weeks ago, in an article about the B-17 Lead Banana, I published a poem about that Flying Fortress by Lawrence Vallo, radio operator of the Paul Norton crew of the 384th Bomb Group. Vallo was a Native American airman and you can read much more about him in that previous post. I immediately recognized the Vallo name when I read the poem and that got me to thinking about some Norton crew photos I had in my collection.

There is a connection between the Paul Norton crew and the John Buslee crew of which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was the waist gunner. The Buslee crew arrived at their air base in Grafton Underwood, England about seven weeks after the Norton crew. They were both part of the 544th Bomb Squadron and therefore lived in the same area of the airbase.

Map of Grafton Underwood airbase

Note the circled 544th SQDN in the bottom right corner of the map of the Grafton Underwood airbase. I speculate that the enlisted men of the Buslee crew may have even shared living quarters with the enlisted men of the Norton crew. Among my dad’s photos from Grafton Underwood are several of the enlisted men of the Norton crew, which I share below with further descriptions. I believe all of these casual photos may have been taken in the same time period as this one of my dad and some of his Buslee enlisted crewmates.

Buslee crewmates left to right: George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner), Lenard Leroy Bryant (top turret gunner), Erwin V. Foster (ball turret gunner), and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso (radio operator). In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

The Buslee crew’s first mission with the 384th Bomb Group was on August 4, 1944. It was a training mission for crew pilot John Buslee. With Buslee in the co-pilot seat and Arthur Shwery showing him the ropes, that didn’t leave a spot in the cockpit for Buslee’s co-pilot David Albrecht. So Albrecht got in some training himself flying as co-pilot with the Paul Norton crew.


L to R: (I believe) David Albrecht and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

I think the photo (above) is of the Buslee crew’s David Albrecht on the left and the Norton crew’s Carl Guinn on the right. Carl was the Norton crew’s engineer/top turret gunner and his position in the aircraft was directly behind the pilot’s compartment. The engineer interacted with and assisted the pilot and co-pilot and was in charge of interpreting the instrument readings during flight. A good engineer knew what the combination of instrument readings meant as far as condition of the engines, etc.

I believe the photo, and most of the others included here, were taken after the completion of the August 4, 1944 mission. The next photo will explain why.

Standing, L to R: John Bregant, Carl Guinn, and Lester Noble
Kneeling with jacket: Clarence Bigley
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

Notice the flight jacket in the above photo. The man holding it was Norton crew waist gunner turned togglier Clarence Bigley. Bigley decorated the back of his jacket with the crew’s nickname Frigham Young and twenty bombs. I don’t believe it was coincidence that the August 4, 1944 mission was Bigley’s twentieth. As for the name Frigham Young, it was a play on words on the name of Mormon leader Brigham Young as the crew’s commander, pilot Paul Norton, was reportedly a Mormon.

Also appearing in the above photo are Norton crew tail gunner John Bregant, engineer/top turret gunner Carl Guinn, and ball turret gunner Lester Noble. In the crew photo of the entire Norton crew, I can identify Bregant as of November 2021. Bregant’s granddaughter, Kathryn Bregant Smith has positively identified him in photos for me.

Paul E. Norton crew
Co-pilot Robert C. Barnes standing on left, Togglier Clarence Bigley kneeling 2nd from left, Engineer Carl Guinn kneeling 3rd from left, Tail gunner John Bregant kneeling 4th from left, Ball turret gunner Lester Noble kneeling 2nd from right, Radio operator Lawrence Vallo kneeling far right
Photo courtesy of Tracie Guinn Coons, Carl Guinn’s daughter

The man standing on the right in the above flight jacket photo has Les painted on the front of his flight jacket. He must be Norton crew ball turret gunner Lester Noble.

It took me years to identify Carl Guinn in the photo, but with the help of his relatives on Facebook, we made a positive ID about a year ago. I could never make out the name on the front of his flight jacket, but Carl’s daughter Tracie was able to clear up that mystery. The name painted on the front of her dad’s flight jacket is Jelly. Carl was a southern boy, born in Mississippi and was living in Louisiana when he enlisted in June of 1942. At the Grafton Underwood enlisted mess breakfasts, the other men would tease Carl about his southern accent when he asked “would y’all pass the jelly.”

All four of these men of the Paul Norton crew were on the August 4, 1944 initiation flight of Buslee co-pilot David Albrecht aboard the B-17 Little Kenny. The poet of the crew, Lawrence Vallo, was aboard, too, and so was Thomas Everitt, the Norton crew’s waist gunner.

Thomas Everitt and Carl Guinn…

L to R: Thomas B. Everitt and Carl Guinn
From a lead crew photo courtesy of Mark Léautaud of The Netherlands

and Native American airman Lawrence Vallo…

Lawrence Jonathan Vallo

who later wrote a book, Tales of a Pueblo Boy, about his life growing up in an Indian Pueblo, which can still be found on used book sites and

Remember the tents in the background of the photo of my dad and three of his crewmates at the beginning of this article? The tents in that photo look to be the same tents that Carl Guinn and John Bregant are standing in front of in this photo.

L to R: Carl Guinn and John Bregant
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

Also, in both photos, Carl Guinn and Lenard Bryant are both wearing the same type of coveralls. Carl was the top turret gunner for the Norton crew, and after the Buslee crew’s top turret gunner, Clarence Seeley, was injured on the August 5, 1944 mission, Lenard, previously trained as a waist gunner, took over that position. I believe it was Carl who gave Lenard some pointers as to what tasks a B-17 engineer/top turret gunner performed.

Lenard attended radio school for a while during his training in the states, and was familiar with reading switches and settings, so probably was a quick study for the requirements of adapting to the position of engineer/top turret gunner for the Buslee crew. From his first mission on August 4 as a waist gunner, Lenard had only five days to figure out his new job as top turret gunner on the August 9 mission, not much time for any kind of formal training.

L to R: Lenard Bryant and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

All members of the Frigham Young crew, including pilot Paul Norton, navigator John Lezenby, and original bombardier Hugh Green completed their tours with the 384th Bomb Group with the exception of one. Co-pilot Robert C. Barnes was killed while flying with a different crew on November 16, 1944.

Paul Norton crew co-pilot Robert C. Barnes

I must conclude, considering that my dad had these photos of the enlisted men of the Norton crew in his collection, that though most men didn’t make a lot of friends outside of their own crew, the enlisted men of the Buslee crew and Norton crew must have been friends and may have even shared living quarters in the 544th Bomb Squadron enlisted housing.

I’d even like to go a bit further in thinking that my dad, from Georgia, and Lenard, from Texas, took a liking to Carl because he was a fellow Southerner. Living so far from their families in America, hearing “y’all” from a fellow airman in England probably helped them feel at home.

Wouldn’t our dads be amazed to know that their children had “met” through a Facebook group because of some long-forgotten photos saved from their time in WWII? Long after my dad, George Edwin Farrar, and Tracie and Debbie’s dad, Carl Guinn, served in that great war, we were able to find each other and make a new connection in the 384th Bomb Group NexGen family.

Update, November 2021:  Another connection this month with family of Norton crew tail gunner John Bregant adds to my 384th Bomb Group NexGen family. Thank you to John’s granddaughter, Kathryn Bregant Smith, for connecting with the group and providing positive IDs of John in wartime photos.

I have made many such connections over the years of researching my dad’s time in the war and I know I will make many more as my journey to learn more about the 384th Bomb Group and Grafton Underwood continues…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018