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The 75th Anniversary of Dad’s Last Week at Grafton Underwood

George Edwin Farrar

The last seven days my dad, George Edwin Farrar, spent at the 384th Bomb Group’s Grafton Underwood air base were pretty busy, although the previous week, he only flew one mission (number 196), targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm Germany.

He spent the weekend of September 23 and 24, 1944 enjoying the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration.

Saturday, September 23 events included an award banquet in the Officers’ Mess with guest speaker Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, dancing in Hangar #1 for the enlisted men with music by George Elrick & his BBC Orchestra and other entertainers, dancing in the Officers’ Club for the officers with music by the Flying Yanks Orchestra, and dancing in the Zebra Club for Zebra Club members with music by the Stratton-Audley G.I. Band.

Transportation to the party was provided from several locations (Northampon, Kettering, Woodford, Corby, Brigstock, Lilford, Newport Pagnell, Finedon, and Geddington) for civilian guests.

Sunday, September 24 was a day of “novelty events,” including a sack race, a three-legged race, a relay race, a piggy-back race, a wheelbarrow race, and a slow bike race. Also on the schedule were a bicycle derby, a baseball game – Station 106 vs. 8th AF All Stars, Scotch bagpipe band & Highland dancers, and a U-S-O stage show at the Station Theater featuring an all-American cast including MC & comedian Artie Conray, comedy act Drohan & Dupree, and accordionist Ferne Downes.

The 200th Mission Celebration weekend was in advance of the actual 200th mission date, and in fact, occurred between Mission 197 to the railroad marshalling yards in Mainz, Germany on September 21 and Mission 198 to the railroad marshalling yards in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on September 25. Daddy flew Mission 198, but then missed Mission 199 on September 26 to a steelworks factory in Osnabrück, Germany.

Mission 200 finally arrived on September 27, targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Dad flew that one and that was the last mission on which he returned to Grafton Underwood.

The next day, on September 28, 1944, Mission 201, targeting a steelworks factory in Magdeburg, Germany, would be his last, cut short by a mid-air collision between his and another of the groups B-17’s. His next stop, after interrogation and a hospital stay, would be the Stalag Luft IV POW camp in Gross-Tychow (now Tychowo), Poland, and then the long walk home, a five-hundred mile, eighty-six day march across Germany to liberation.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Grafton Underwood Maps and Site Plans Booklet

Note:  This post is a duplicate of a permanent page I added a few weeks ago, but I am repeating it today as a blog post in honor of the 384th Bomb Group Junket XI visit to England, of which I am a part.

We will be visiting Station 106 on Saturday, September 21 and touring the remains of the air base. I know I will be referring to the maps as I see, for the first time, the air base on which my dad served in WWII. I will be walking on the same ground Dad once did, seeing the remains of a piece of his history from seventy-five years ago.

The WWII-era site plan for Grafton Underwood (Station 106) was mapped out in 1944 into fourteen separate sites, with Site No. 1 sub-divided further into seven areas. Our 384th Bomb Group NexGen Archivist, Mark Meehl, extracted individual maps with numbered keys from the site plan and kindly shared them with me. The individual sites are:

  • Site No. 1 – Airfield and Hardstands
  • Site No. 1 – Group Headquarters (HQ Area)
  • Site No. 1 – Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Southeast Area
  • Site No. 1 – 547th BS & Maintenance Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Warkton Common Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 1 – Old Head Wood Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 2 – Communal
  • Site No. 3 – Communal
  • Site No. 4 – Group Staff Quarters
  • Site No. 5 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 6 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 7 – W.A.A.F.
  • Site No. 8 – 544th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 9 – 547th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 10 – 545th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 11 – 546th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 12 – Sick Quarters
  • Site No. 13 – Sewage
  • Site No. 14 – Sewage

On my upcoming visit to Grafton Underwood, I wanted to have a handy map guide to take with me during my tour of the air base, so I have combined Mark’s individual maps into a PDF document that I could print into a small booklet.

Thinking others, especially those visiting Grafton Underwood for the first time, might like their own copy, I am including a download here. To download a copy of the 384th Bombardment Group, Station 106, Grafton Underwood, England, Maps and Site Plans, click this thumbnail of the cover page:

The download is in PDF file format and may be viewed as a digital image on a computer, tablet, or phone with a PDF reader, or may be printed in any format desired, however, the document prints best as a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet.  Note: download before printing to print the booklet format!

In the booklet format, the location keys appear on the page opposite the corresponding map, in most cases.

To print a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet on letter-size paper in Adobe Acrobat Reader, set the following printing preferences:

  • Page Sizing & Handling to Booklet.
  • Booklet subset to Both sides for duplex printers (see note below for non-duplex printers).
  • Sheets from 1 to 13.
  • Binding to Left.
  • Orientation to Portrait.
  • Optionally, check Print in grayscale (black and white)

After printing, fold pages in half (one at a time is easier), maintaining page order.  Staple along the left side about 1/8-inch from the left edge in three places:  one inch from top, in the middle, and one inch from bottom.  Optionally, cover staples with one-inch wide masking or other tape.

Note:  If printer is not a duplex printer capable of automatically printing on both sides of the page, choose Front side only to print the front sides of the pages, then reload those pages (check your printer manual for proper paper orientation for reloading) and choose Back side only to print the back sides of the pages.

Acknowledgements and Final Notes

Cover artwork courtesy of Marc Poole.

Maps and site plans courtesy of Quentin Bland, Ken Decker, Robin Dodson, John Edwards, Kevin Flecknor, Mark Meehl, Fred Preller, Matt Smith, the 384TH Bomb Group Photo Gallery, and the RAF Hendon Archives.  Hardstand identification and key transcription courtesy of Mark Meehl.

All maps are oriented North up.

To see the complete Station 106 site plan in detail, download the high resolution digital map images to a computer or tablet and zoom in as the print size in the map booklet is not conducive to viewing the complete large format site maps and they were not included. Maps and site plans may be found on and downloaded from Photos.384thBombGroup.com in the 384TH During WWII album, Station 106 Maps sub-album.  The Station 106 Airfield Area map and Station 106 Domestic Area map are particularly detailed drawings with keys.

Keep the show on the road…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

544th Bomb Squadron Living Area at Grafton Underwood

The map of the living area of the 384th Bomb Group’s 544th Bomb Squadron shows the air raid shelter, living quarters, latrines and ablutions (showers). I have highlighted the air raid shelters, latrines, and shower buildings (or at least which ones I think they are) to try to identify the locations of the following photos.

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 356-358 Officers’ Quarters
  • 359-360 Officers’ Latrines
  • 361 Picket Post
  • 362 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
  • 363-367 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 368-370 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 371-375 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 376-377 Airmen’s Latrines
  • 378-380 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 381-383 Sergeants’ & Airmen’s Ablutions
  • 384 M & E Plinth

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, saved several photos that I believe must have been taken in this area. A few show an air raid shelter with what looks like barracks to the left a tent to the right.

This photo shows the air raid shelter in the background with a tent to the right. The children in the photo are the local Grafton Underwood children of the Denney family, Bert, Roy, and June.

544th Bomb Squad area with Air Raid Shelter in the background. The children in the picture are the Denney children, left to right: Bert, Roy, and June.

This photo was taken from a different angle and shows barracks to the left and shows a walkway leading to a tent to the right. That’s Bert Denney climbing the air raid shelter in the background.

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

In the next photo, Lenard Bryant and Carl Guinn stand in the same area with Bert and June Denney standing at the top of the air raid shelter in the background.

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

A couple of other photos, which I believe were also taken in the 544th Bomb Squad living area have different backgrounds. In this first one, my dad and three other members of the John Buslee crew look to be standing in front of a latrine or shower (ablutions) building with tents in the left of the background. This also leads me to believe Dad’s enlisted crew was housed in a tent rather than a Nissen hut.

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso. In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

This photo looks to have the same tents in the background.

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

The buildings in the first photos are not Nissen huts, so I could be wrong about where on the base the photos were taken. I’d like to be able to find the location of these photos on the base. I’ll have that opportunity later this month when I visit the UK and hope to have some current day views of these locations to post when I return.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1941

1941

Hans Frank, appointed Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland in October 1939, remarked,

I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.

January 1941

The antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by prominent member of the Nazi party, Julius Streicher, proclaimed,

Now judgment has begun and it will reach its conclusion only when knowledge of the Jews has been erased from the earth.

A pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) in Romania resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Jews.

January 9, 1941

A prototype of the British RAF Avro Lancaster aircraft made its maiden voyage. Dad’s POW roommate in Stalag Luft IV, Lawrence Newbold, was a wireless (radio) operator on a Lancaster crew that flew out of RAF Skellingthope.

January 22, 1941

Tobruk, Libya in North Africa fell to British and Commonwealth (Australian) troops.

January 27, 1941

The American Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan, Joseph Grew, secretly cabled Washington that Japan military forces planned a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of ‘trouble’ with the United States. His later account said,

There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course I informed our Government.

Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, were both provided with the report, but both discounted it.

February 1941

The Nazis sent the Afrika Korps reinforcements to North Africa.

February 7, 1941

British troops seized Beda Fomm, Libya.

February 11, 1941

British forces advanced into Italian-controlled Somaliland in East Africa.

February 12, 1941

Nazi General Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps arrived in Tripoli, North Africa.

February 22, 1941

Four hundred thirty Jewish hostages were deported from Amsterdam after a Dutch Nazi was killed by Jews.

February 26, 1941

American scientists Joseph W. Kennedy, Glenn T. Seaborg, Edward M. McMillan, and Arthur C. Wohl of the University of California, Berkley, discovered plutonium-239, which is a uranium isotope critical in the development of nuclear weapons. [Note: Plutonium (specifically, plutonium-238) was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940.]

March 1941

Adolf Hitler’s Commissar Order to his generals authorized execution of those suspected of being Communist officials in territories about to be seized from Soviet Russia. The order stated,

The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.

March 1, 1941

King Boris III of Bulgaria signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.

During his first visit to Auschwitz, Heinrich Himmler ordered Kommandant Rudolf Höss to begin massive expansion, which included building a new compound nearby at Birkenau that could hold 100,000 prisoners.

March 2, 1941

The Nazis occupied Bulgaria with its Jewish population of 50,000.

March 3 – 20, 1941

German authorities announced, established, and sealed the Krakow Ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews were forced to live within the ghetto boundaries, which were enclosed by barbed-wire fences and a stone wall.

March 7, 1941

British forces arrived in Greece.

German Jews were ordered into forced labor.

March 11, 1941

President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act. It permitted him to

sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense the President deemed vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article.

March 13, 1941

Glasgow, Scotland was hit by its first significant air raid of WWII when more than two hundred Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the area in the Clydebank Blitz overnight in an attempt to destroy naval, shipbuilding and munitions targets. The attack continued a second night on March 14.

March 25, 1941

Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.

March 26, 1941

The German Army High Command gave approval to RSHA (the Reich Main Security Office or Reichssicherheitshauptamt, which was one of Heinrich Himmler’s organizations) and its original chief Reinhard Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen)  in occupied Poland.

March 27, 1941

A coup in Yugoslavia overthrew the pro-Axis government.

March 29, 1941

A ‘Commissariat’ (a military department for the supply of food and equipment) for Jewish Affairs was set up in Vichy, France.

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

Wikipedia, Lend-Lease Act

Wikipedia, Avro Lancaster

Wikipedia, Joseph Grew

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019