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WWII Timeline – Spring 1939

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1939 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1939

April 1, 1939

General Francisco Franco declared the Spanish Civil War officially over.

April 3, 1939

The Nazis complete their war plan for the invasion of Poland. It is scheduled to be implemented on September 1.

April 7–15, 1939

Fascist Italy invaded and annexed Albania.

April 11, 1939

Hungary withdrew from the League of Nations.

April 13, 1939

France and Britain pledged to support Greece and Romania in the event of an attack.

April 19, 1939

After Slovakia proclaimed its independence in March 1939 under the protection of Nazi Germany, it passed its own version of the Nuremberg Laws, with first restrictions excluding Jews from the military and government positions.

April 28, 1939

Poland negotiated an alliance with Britain when Hitler announced he would no longer honor the nonaggression pact of 1934 between Germany and Poland.

April 30, 1939

Jews lost their rights as tenants and were relocated into communal Jewish houses.

May 1939

A German ship named the St. Louis, with 930 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany aboard, set sail from Hamburg on May 13 heading to Havana, Cuba. Instead of regular visas, the Cuban director general had granted all passengers landing certificates. During the voyage, the pro-fascist government of Cuba invalidated the landing certificates and when the St. Louis arrived in Havana on May 27, only twenty-two (22) of the 930 passengers were allowed to enter Cuba.

Then-Cuban President Federico Laredo Bru forced the ship to leave Havana with more than 900 Jews remaining on board. The United States also refused entry to the Jews aboard the St. Louis and on June 6, the ship returned to Europe.

On the St. Louis’s return to Europe, Great Britain took in 287 of the refugees, Belgium took in 214, France took in 224, and the Netherlands took in 181. As the Nazis invaded Western Europe, the refugees to Belgium, France, and the Netherlands became victims of the Nazi’s Final Solution.

May 3, 1939

Persecution of Hungarian Jews began with a series of laws restricting their civil liberties.

May 17, 1939

Germany offered a nonaggression pact to Norway, Sweden, and Finland, but it was rejected.

May 22, 1939

Representatives of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler signed the ‘Pact of Steel’ treaty with Mussolini’s foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano of Italy.

May 27, 1939

In a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cordell Hull, US Secretary of State, advised them to end the arms embargo provision of the US Neutrality Act.

May 31, 1939

Germany signed a nonaggression pact with Denmark.

Sources:

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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1939

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.)

The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy.

Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

Many years later, I met Wallace Storey, a 384th Bomb Group pilot who witnessed the mid-air collision. I was surprised to hear Wallace say that Lazy Daisy could not have been hit by ground fire from flak guns as there wasn’t any flak over the target that day. As a result, I have been searching for the reason why Lazy Daisy veered off course ever since.

Two 384th Bomb Group researchers, Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson, have a special life mission – to obtain as many of the group’s mission documents as possible to share on the group’s website. On one of their trips to the National Archives, they copied the mission documents of Mission 201 and shared them with me. After reviewing the available information, I’m still not positive what caused Lazy Daisy to veer off course, but because of various post-mission statements and one pilot’s post-mission Tactical Interrogation report, I do see the possibility that my dad may have been right about the flak after all.

I’ll get to the pilot Tactical Interrogation reports in Part 2, coming two weeks from now, but first I want to share a few facts about the mission itself and a few things that may have contributed to the mid-air collision.

The mission map shared with the officers in the morning briefing showed the flight plan for the mission in red. The route actually followed was added in blue, post mission.

September 28, 1944 Mission Map, Mission 201
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Briefing Notes prior to the mission describe the primary and secondary targets.

P.T. [Primary Target] is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. It’s the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [shells?], it is a one plus priority. And employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

P.F.F. [Pathfinder Force] target is the Mar. [Marshalling] Yards, in the city of Magdeburg, and adjacent to your P.T.

Other Efforts.  You are the last of 12 36 A/C Wing of First Div. The 1st 6 groups of the 1st A.B.C. and 40th A.B.C. attack oil plant 4 miles No. of your target. The 94th A.B.C. bomb A/C fact. [Aircraft Factory] 3 miles No. of your target, 94th C, 41st A.B.C. bomb your target. Should PFF be used all groups will attack your PFF RR M/Y [Railroad Marshalling Yards] at Magdeburg.

The Lead Bombardier’s post-mission narrative explains the first problem with the mission. George K. Smith, 2nd Lt., Air Corps, Deputy Bombardier, Combat Wing 41st C described how the bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point.

Turned short of I.P. because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at I.P. to encounter complete coverage on the bomb run. Ships flew under us so we couldn’t release our bombs. We flew out and made a 180 degrees turn to put us on a heading of 260 degrees heading back over the target. There was a little opening in the clouds over a part in a river, which I believe the Lead Bombardier killed his course. We dropped the bombs PFF and shortly after the Lead aircraft was hit by flak. Then we took over from our deputy Lead position to reform the Wing and start home. No flak was encountered on the way home.

The Navigator’s post-mission narrative indicated that the 384th was not on schedule and also noted flak at the target. Lt. Clarendon George Richert wrote,

Route flown as briefed to target. Behind schedule 20 minutes. Two runs on target due to deputy taking over.

Flak concentrations encountered (not scattered bursts).

  • Place: Target
  • Time: 1208 – 1211
  • Accuracy: Accurate
  • Intensity: Moderate

In his Operational Narrative, Major W. E. “Pop” Dolan, Station S-2 Officer, wrote,

Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being notes.

Two of our A/C is missing. These two ships collided at the target to reasons unknown. Both ships were seen to break up and go down in flames. No chutes were observed.

In these selections from his Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, “Pop” Dolan offered more detail.

Two (2) of our aircraft are known missing.

Two (2) aircraft of the High Section, A/C 337-822 (Lt. Buslee, pilot) and A/C 1222 (Lt. Brodie, pilot) collided over the target and both ships were observed going down on fire and out of control. No chutes were observed.

Assembly of the Group and Wing was accomplished fifteen (15) minutes before departure time from our Base at 0823 hours, 7,000 feet without difficulty. We were ahead of “Cowboy-Baker” but we swung wide on the first Control Point and got in our correct slot in the Division at 0920 hours over Cambridge, 7,000 feet. We left the coast of England on course and on time at 0937 hours, Clacton, 9,000 feet. Speeds were S.O.P.

The route to the Belgian Coast was without incident and we crossed it at 1001 ½ hours, 51°10’N.-02°44’E., 15,000 feet. From this point into the I.P. [Initial Point of the final bomb run to the target] the mission was flown as briefed and without difficulty. No flak was encountered prior to the target and no enemy fighter attacks were made on our Wing for the entire mission.

At the I.P., we were notified by Buckeye-Red that target weather would be approximately 8/10ths which was accurate. We made our run from the I.P. to the target in Wing formation on PFF. When we approached the target, there was another Section making a run 90° to us on the same target. They passed over the target at the same time we did directly underneath us and we were unable to drop because we would have dropped on them. We therefore made a turn and started a second run in Wing formation. Bombs were away on PFF at 1211 hours from 26,000 feet. However, in the opinion of Capt. Booska, Low Section Leader, it is possible that today’s bombing may have been visual as there was a break in the clouds directly over the target one (1) minute before bombs were away. As it is presumed that the Lead Wing Bombardier landed in Belgium, our reports will state that PFF bombing was accomplished. Magnetic heading of bombs away was 265 degrees. Some crews observed the results through breaks in the clouds and they state that the bombs hit in the target area. Flak at the target was moderate and accurate.

After we dropped our bombs, and swung off the target, the Wing Leader informed the Deputy to take over as the former had been hit by flak. At this point, the entire Lead Section started to break up. We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing and the Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section. The High and Low reassembled and flew alone until we finally picked up the Lead Section ten (10) miles ahead of us. I called the Deputy Leader to slow down, which he did, and we assembled back into Combat Wing formation. After this, we had no other difficulties and the rest of the mission was flown as briefed and without incident. We departed the Belgian Coast at 1437 hours, 10,500 feet and recrossed the English Coast at 1508 hours, 1,000 feet.

And finally, the 384th Bomb Group’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts summarized what happened to the two aircraft in the mid-air collision.

Brodie:  Aircraft broke up near tail assembly and went down in flames. Aircraft was burning and slowly spiraling down until it disappeared in the clouds.

Buslee:  Pieces of tail and wings falling off. Plane in flames from engines. Going down in flames spinning into the clouds.

As for the statement, “We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing,” in “Pop” Dolan’s Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, one of the pilots’ Tactical Interrogation reports described the tail symbol of the 351st Bomb Group. The 351st’s Intelligence S-2 Report for what was their group’s Mission 211 noted,

Two Triangle “P” ships were observed to collide just after the target. One chute was seen.

And a 351st combat crew comment from their aircraft 956-L remarked,

Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash.

Summary of information from the September 28, 1944 Mission 201 documents:

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash

To be continued with the mission’s individual pilot Tactical Interrogation Form visual observations and combat crew comments…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1939

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1939 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1939

By January 1, 1939

In January 1933, around 522,000 Jews lived in Germany. After the Nazis took power and implemented their antisemitic ideology and policies, Jews fled the nation. Almost sixty percent emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship. In 1939, around 234,000 Jews remained in Germany.

January 5, 1939

Hitler pressured Poland to return the port of Gdansk (Danzig in German) to Germany.

January 12, 1939

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his $552 million dollar defense plan in a speech before Congress.

January 24, 1939

Hermann Göring ordered SS leader Reinhard Heydrich to speed up the emigration of Jews and established the National Central Office for Jewish Emigration.

Reinhard Heydrich was second to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS and he was credited as the principle planner of the Final Solution. His Nazi nickname was The Blond Beast and others called him Hangman Heydrich. He was described as a “cold, calculating manipulator,” being without human compassion, and was known for his insatiable greed for power.

But rumors surfaced about possible Jewish ancestry on Heydrich’s father’s side of his family. His grandmother’s second marriage, after the birth of Heydrich’s father, was to a man with a Jewish sounding name. Heydrich’s enemies within the Nazi Party spread the rumor, of which both Hitler and Himmler became aware.

Himmler considered ousting Heydrich from the SS. But Hitler had a long private meeting with Heydrich and afterward described Heydrich as

a highly gifted but also very dangerous man, whose gifts the movement had to retain…extremely useful; for he would eternally be grateful to us that we had kept him and not expelled him and would obey blindly.

January 26, 1939

Nationalist troops seized Barcelona, Spain.

January 30, 1939

Adolf Hitler appeared before the Nazi Reichstag (Parliament) on the sixth anniversary of his coming to power. In a speech commemorating the event, he made a public threat against the Jews.

In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!

February 9, 1939

Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts introduced the Wagner-Rogers bill. It was designed to allow the entry of 20,000 refugee children under the age of fifteen from the Greater German Reich into the United States over a two year period. The bill died in committee in the summer of 1939.

February 21, 1939

In the Decree concerning the Surrender of Precious Metals and Stones in Jewish Ownership, the Nazis forced Jews to hand over all gold and silver items, diamonds, and other valuables to the state without compensation.

February 27, 1939

France and Great Britain recognized the Franco government of Spain.

March 14–15, 1939
The Slovaks declared their independence and formed the Slovak Republic. German troops occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia) in violation of the Munich agreement, forming a Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. At the time the Jewish population of Czechoslovakia was 350,000.

March 17, 1939

President Roosevelt emphasized the importance of amending the U.S. Neutrality Act. He lobbied Congress to have the cash-and-carry provision regarding arms trade renewed. He was denied his request and the provision lapsed.  The mandatory arms embargo outlined in the act remained in place. Roosevelt prevailed later in the year, and on November 4, the Neutrality Act of 1939 was passed, which allowed for arms trade with belligerent nations (Great Britain and France) on a cash-and-carry basis.

March 22, 1939

Germany coerced Lithuania to return the Memel District to Germany.

March 25, 1939

When Poland would not subordinate their country to Germany, Hitler directed his generals to develop plans for war.

March 28, 1939

General Francisco Franco captured Madrid, which gave the Nationalists a victory and ended the Spanish Civil War. Franco later pledged support to Hitler and Mussolini, but refused to enter WWII. He maintained token neutrality throughout the war. Francisco Franco went on to lead Spain until his death in 1975.

March 29, 1939

In response to Hitler’s January 5 pressure on Poland to return the port of Gdansk (Danzig in German) to Germany, Warsaw announced that the Polish army would retaliate against any attempt to take it.

March 31, 1939
France and Great Britain stepped up to help Poland and guaranteed the integrity of the borders of the Polish state.

Sources:

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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wikipedia – History of the Jews in Germany

Reinhard Heydrich – The History Place

Hitler’s January 30, 1939 Reichstag Speech – The History Place

Wikipedia – Neutrality Acts of the 1930’s

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Number of Missions to Complete a Tour

When can I go home? The answer to the most important question most WWII airmen wanted to know differed depending on when they began their service.

For the airmen of the 384th Bomb Group, those who began their service “early on,” starting with Mission 1 on June 22, 1943, a tour was twenty-five missions per John Edwards, the 384th Bomb Group’s historian. But that magic number of twenty-five only lasted until the end of March 1944.

The number of missions to mark a completed tour and a ticket stateside was upped to thirty on April 1, 1944, but this number lasted for only a couple of months.

By June 6, 1944, a 384th Bomb Group airman had to survive thirty-five missions to complete his tour.

But the magic number of 25, 30, or 35 wasn’t set in stone. The 384th’s webmaster, Fred Preller, adds,

For those affected by the change during their combat tour, some increase was inevitable. I know of some (my Dad, for instance) who were required to fly some more missions based on how many they had already completed – but not the full increased number.

For Fred’s dad, Robert Preller, a completed tour meant thirty-three missions. Flying his first mission on May 27, 1944, he probably expected to wrap up his tour at Number 30, as that was what was in effect on his first mission. But thirty was changed to thirty-five by his seventh mission, and though he didn’t have to fly the full thirty-five, he did fly three more for his total of thirty-three.

Michael Faley, historian of the 100th Bomb Group (the group famously known as the Bloody Hundredth), notes similar dates for the increase in missions for a completed tour,

From June 1943 to March 19, 1944 the tour of duty was 25 missions. From March 19, 1944 – July 1944 it was 30 missions and from July 1944 to the end of the war it was 35.

By the time my dad, George Edwin Farrar, got to Grafton Underwood, home of the 384th, he knew he would have to fly thirty-five missions before he went home.

When he wrote home on August 14, 1944, Dad had only flown four missions, but he wrote,

I sure hope I can finish up and get home by Christmas, or the first of the year.

It is the only letter I have from his time at Grafton Underwood, but I know every letter must have mentioned his desire to come home, and he must have thought he could complete thirty-one more missions in the next four months.

But, of course, he didn’t come home by the end of the year. He spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and his mother’s birthday as a prisoner of war and didn’t make it home until the middle of 1945.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1938

October 1, 1938

Nazi troops began the occupation of the Sudetenland and the Czech government resigned. The Sudetenland was the portion of Czechoslovakia inhabited by over three million Sudeten Germans, many of which became Nazis and strongly supported Hitler’s acquisition.

October 3, 1938

The Nazi Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property regulated the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jews in Germany.

October 5, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German passports held by Jews. Jews were required to surrender their old passports, which only become valid again after a large red letter “J” had been stamped on them.

October 28, 1938

The Nazis arrested 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expelled them back to Poland, transporting them by rail in boxcars. Poland refused them entry, leaving them in a no-man’s land near the Polish border for several months.

November 4, 1938

Japan declared the Nine Powers Treaty of 1922 (which guaranteed China’s independence) obsolete.

November 7, 1938

Herschel Grynszpan, the seventeen year old son of one of the deported Jews (see October 28, 1938), shot and mortally wounded Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary in the German Embassy in Paris.

November 9/10, 1938

Ernst vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after Herschel Grynszpan shot and wounded him. In retaliation for vom Rath’s death, the Nazis coordinated a massive attack on Jews throughout the German Reich. It began on the night of November 9, 1938 and lasted into the next day. The attack is known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.

The shooting was the perfect excuse for Adolf Hitler and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to incite Germany to “rise in bloody vengeance against the Jews.” Nazi storm troopers, members of the SS, and the Hitler Youth vandalized Jewish homes, beat and murdered Jewish men, and brutalized Jewish women and children. Thousands of (estimated to be 25,000) male Jewish survivors were later sent to concentration camps.

The German police and crowds of spectators did not attempt to stop any of the violence. In Germany, Austria, and other areas controlled by the Nazis, Jewish businesses were destroyed. Synagogues were vandalized and sacred Torah scrolls were desecrated. Hundreds of synagogues were burned without any rescue effort from local fire departments.

November 12, 1938

At a Nazi meeting regarding the economic impact of the damage as a result of Kristallnacht, which included Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 Jewish businesses destroyed, 177 synagogues destroyed out of 267 burned, and 91 Jews killed.

Goebbels proclaimed the burned out synagogues would be turned into parking lots after he forced the Jews to clean up the debris.

Göring declared the Jews would be billed for the damage and that any insurance money they received would be taken by the State. He imposed a fine on the Jews of one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht, damages which the Nazis themselves had caused.

Heydrich requested new decrees barring Jews from any contact with Germans, excluding them from public transportation, schools, and hospitals. His aim was to force them into ghettos or out of the country.

The Nazi “Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life” closed all Jewish-owned businesses. It barred Jews from operating retail stores, sales agencies, from carrying on a trade, and from selling goods or services at an establishment of any kind. All Jewish property and enterprises would be transferred to ‘Aryans.’ Jews would receive minimal compensation in the form of bonds.

Göring threatened “a final reckoning with the Jews” if Germany should become involved in a war, and closed the meeting with, “Incidentally, I would like to say that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”

November 15, 1938

The Reich Ministry of Education expelled all Jewish children from German public schools. The were allowed to only attend special Jewish schools.

November 16, 1938

The United States recalled its ambassador to Germany, Hugh R. Wilson, permanently.

November 28, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior restricted the freedom of the movement of Jews.

November 29, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior forbid Jews to keep carrier pigeons.

December 3, 1938

The Nazis enacted a law for the compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses, a process involving the dismissal of Jewish workers and managers, as well as the transfer of companies and enterprises to non-Jewish Germans, who bought them at prices officially fixed well below market value.

December 14, 1938

Hermann Göring took the helm of resolving the “Jewish Question.”

The Executive Order on the Law on the Organization of National Work canceled all state contracts held with Jewish-owned firms.

December 21, 1938

The Nazi Law on Midwives banned all Jews from the profession.

December 1938 – September 1939

In a rescue effort known as the Children’s Transport, or Kindertransport, during the nine months before the beginning of WWII, the United Kingdom took in nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the free city of Danzig.

Sources:

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

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany

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

Wikipedia:  Hugh R. Wilson

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019