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Crewmates, Part 2 of 2

Continued from Crewmates, Part 1 of 2…

Photos of my dad, George Edwin Farrar, and the 32 airmen he flew missions with on B-17’s in WWII

Albrecht, David Franklin

Co-Pilot
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

David Franklin Albrecht

Andersen, Gerald Lee

Tail Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

Bryant, Lenard Leroy

Top Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee, John Oliver

Pilot
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

John Oliver “Jay” Buslee

Davis, James Buford

Bombardier
Completed Tour

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

Fairfield, William Adelbert

Commander
Completed Tour

William A. Fairfield

Farrar, George Edwin (my dad)

Waist Gunner
Prisoner of War – Stalag Luft IV, September 28, 1944

George Edwin Farrar

Foster, Erwin Vernon

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Erwin Vernon Foster

Fryden, Marvin

Bombardier
Killed in Action, August 5, 1944

Possibly Marvin Fryden

Galloway, Leonard (NMI)

Navigator
Completed Tour

Leonard Galloway

Henson, William Alvin

Navigator
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

William Alvin Henson II

Jacobs, Edward Gregory

Navigator
Prisoner of War, November 16, 1944
Edward Gregory Jacobs was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in this photo, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Dale M McKinney Crew. All unidentified except:
Albert Richard Macuch (flexible gunner): second row, second from left.
Donald George Springsted (co-pilot): first row second from left.

Jacobson, George John

Navigator
Completed Tour

George John Jacobson

La Chine, Lloyd Earl

Tail Gunner
Completed Tour

LLoyd E. La Chine

Leschak, Nickolas

Togglier
Completed Tour

Nickolas (or Nicholas) Leschak

Lord, Kenneth Smith

Navigator
Completed Tour

Kenneth S. Lord

Lucynski, Eugene Daniel

Tail Gunner
Wounded in Action, September 19, 1944

Eugene Daniel Lucynski

Macuch, Albert Richard

Tail Gunner
Wounded in Action, November 16, 1944

Albert Richard Macuch

McMann, George Francis

Ball Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944
Photo unavailable.  If you have one to share, please contact me.

Meyer, Melvin J

Radio Operator
Completed Tour
Melvin J Meyer was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in the crew photo above, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Miller, Irving L

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Irving L. Miller

Mitchell, Robert McKinley

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Robert McKinley Mitchell

Murphy, William C

Top Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, November 16, 1944
William C Murphy was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in the crew photo above, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Peluso, Sebastiano Joseph

Radio Operator
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Reed, William M

Pilot
Completed Tour
Photo unavailable.  If you have one to share, please contact me.

Rybarczyk, Chester Anthony

Navigator
Completed Tour

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk

Seeley, Clarence Benjamin

Top Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley

Sherriff, Albert Keith

Radio Operator
Completed Tour

Albert K. Sherriff

Shwery, Arthur J

Pilot/Training Mission
Completed Tour

Arthur Shwery

Springsted, Donald George

Co-Pilot
Completed Tour
Donald George Springsted was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is identified in the crew photo above. Otherwise, individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Donald George Springstead

Stearns, Robert Sumner

Bombardier
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944
Military era photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

(Possibly) Robert Sumner Stearns

Ward, Donald L

Bombardier
Completed Tour

Donald L. Ward

Watson, Paul Leland

Ball Turret Gunner
Prisoner of War – Stalag Luft IV, November 16, 1944
Military era photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Paul Leland Watson Washington Iowa HS 1941 Yearbook Photo (Freshman)

Photos courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s personal collection and that of the 384th Bomb Group photo gallery.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Crewmates, Part 1 of 2

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner on a B-17 crew based in England during WWII. I have written extensively about his bomb group, the 384th of the 8th Army Air Force, his base in Grafton Underwood, and his crew piloted by John Oliver “Jay” Buslee.

While many people are familiar with the makeup of a B-17 crew, many are unaware that by the time that Daddy was flying his missions, a B-17 crew was generally made up of nine airmen instead of ten. The crew positions were:

  1. Pilot
  2. Co-pilot
  3. Navigator
  4. Bombardier
  5. Radio Operator
  6. Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
  7. Ball Turret Gunner
  8. Tail Gunner
  9. Waist Gunner (originally two were assigned to each crew, but during Daddy’s time, the crews flew with only one)

And the crews on each mission were not always made up of the same original crew members that were trained together and assigned to the group together. In fact, on the sixteen missions my father completed before becoming a POW, he served with thirty-two different crewmates.

I have written about them before, so today will be a recap, a list only, of who they were. I’ll follow up next week with Part 2 which will include a photo of each man.

6 Crewmates who served in the cockpit of the B-17:  Commanders, Pilots, and Co-Pilots

  • Buslee, John Oliver, 15 missions
  • Albrecht, David Franklin, 13 missions
  • Fairfield, William Adelbert, 1 mission
  • Reed, William M, 1 mission
  • Shwery, Arthur J, 1 mission
  • Springsted, Donald George, 1 mission

11 Crewmates who served in the nose of the B-17:  Navigators, Bombardiers, and Toggliers

  • Davis, James Buford, 11 missions
  • Rybarczyk, Chester Anthony, 9 missions
  • Henson, William Alvin, 3 missions
  • Stearns, Robert Sumner, 2 missions
  • Fryden, Marvin, 1 mission
  • Galloway, Leonard (NMI), 1 mission
  • Jacobs, Edward Gregory, 1 mission
  • Jacobson, George John, 1 mission
  • Leschak, Nickolas, 1 mission
  • Lord, Kenneth Smith, 1 mission
  • Ward, Donald L, 1 mission

3 Crewmates who served in the radio room of the B-17: Radio Operators

  • Peluso, Sebastiano Joseph, 14 missions
  • Meyer, Melvin J, 1 mission
  • Sherriff, Albert Keith, 1 mission

3 Crewmates who served in the top turret just behind the pilots of the B-17:  Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

  • Bryant, Lenard Leroy, 14 missions
  • Murphy, William C, 1 mission
  • Seeley, Clarence Benjamin, 1 mission

5 Crewmates who served in the ball turret of the B-17: Ball Turret Gunners

  • Foster, Erwin Vernon, 6 missions
  • Miller, Irving L, 5 missions
  • Mitchell, Robert McKinley, 2 missions
  • Watson, Paul Leland, 2 missions
  • McMann, George Francis, 1 mission

4 Crewmates who served in the tail of the B-17: Tail Gunners

  • Lucynski, Eugene Daniel, 11 missions
  • Andersen, Gerald Lee, 3 missions
  • La Chine, Lloyd Earl, 1 mission
  • Macuch, Albert Richard, 1 mission

To be continued next week…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Winter 1943

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1943 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1943

1943

The Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen passed the one million mark in number of Jews murdered. Slave laborers were used to dig up the buried bodies and burn them to remove all traces of the crime.

January 2, 1943

The Allies took Buna in New Guinea in the War in the Pacific. 

January 2/3, 1943

The Germans began to withdraw from the Caucasus (also known as Caucasia), an area located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia.

January 10, 1943

The Soviets began an offensive against the Germans in Stalingrad, Russia.

January 14-24, 1943

Both US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill attended the Casablanca Conference at the Anfa Hotel in Casablanca, Morocco to plan the Allies’ European strategy for the next phase of World War II.

Roosevelt announced the war could only end with  the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy, and Japan, which Churchill endorsed.

Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud also attended, representing the Free French forces, but Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin declined due to the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad.

January 18, 1943

Jews in the Warsaw (Poland) Ghetto began their first resistance in an uprising after realizing that “resettlement” was a German ruse to lead them to their deaths.

January 22, 1943

The Allies defeated the Japanese at Sanananda on New Guinea.

January 23, 1943

General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army took Tripoli in North Africa.

January 27, 1943

The US Eighth Army Air Force conducted its first bombing raid from bases in England against Germany. The target was the port of Wilhelmshaven.

January 29, 1943

The Nazis ordered the arrest of all Gypsies and sent them to extermination camps.

January 30, 1943

Senior Nazi official Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeded Reinhard Heydrich, who had been assassinated in June 1942, as head of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, the Reich Main Security Office).

February 1943

The Romanian government proposed the transfer of 70,000 Jews to Palestine to the Allies, but Britain and the US did not respond.

Greek Jews were ordered into ghettos.

February 1, 1943

Japan began the evacuation of Guadalcanal.

February 2, 1943

After the capture of German commanding officer Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus on January 31, the remainder of his 6th Army surrendered to the Soviets in Stalingrad. It was the first big defeat of Hitler’s armies.

February 8, 1943

In Burma, also known as Myanmar, in Southeast Asia, British-Indian forces began guerrilla operations against the Japanese.

February 9, 1943

The Japanese resistance on Guadalcanal ended.

February 14-25, 1943

The Battle of Kasserine Pass, between US 1st Armored Division and German Panzers, took place in Tunisia, North Africa. Kasserine Pass is a two-mile-wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains.

February 16, 1943

The Soviets recaptured Kharkov.

February 18, 1943

The Nazis arrested the White Rose resistance leaders in Munich. The White Rose group was a non-violent, intellectual group of students who attended the University of Munich.

In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, construction began on a uranium enrichment facility.

A prototype of Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress bomber that took off from Boeing Field in Seattle crashed into the Frye Packing Plant. The crew of eleven and nineteen of the meat-processing factory workers perished. Although the event could not be concealed, the identity of the aircraft (which was the type to later drop the first atomic bombs on Japan, the Enola Gay) remained classified until the end of World War II.

February 22, 1943

White Rose anti-Nazi resistance leaders Christoph Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl were tried and sentenced to death by guillotine. Their sentences were carried out that day at Stadelheim Prison in Munich.

February 251943

Twenty-four hour or “round-the-clock” bombing schedule started with USAAF planes bombing Germany in the daytime while the RAF bombed at night.

February 27, 1943

Jews working in the Berlin armaments industry were sent to Auschwitz.

March 1943

The deportation of Greek Jews to Auschwitz began and lasted until August, totaling 49,900 persons.

March 1, 1943

American Jews held a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City with hopes of pressuring the U.S. government to help the Jews of Europe.

The U.S. began processed food rationing.

March 2, 1943

German forces began their withdrawal from Tunisia, Africa.

March 2-4, 1943

Aircraft of the US Fifth Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force attacked a Japanese convoy moving troops to Lae, New Guinea, defeating the Japanese in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in the southwest Pacific.

March 13, 1943

An attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life failed when a bomb made of plastic explosives failed.

March 14, 1943

Between June 1942 and March 1943, the Jewish Krakow Ghetto was liquidated with inhabitants either killed in the streets, sent to the Płaszów slave-labor camp, Auschwitz concentration camp, or Belzec extermination camp.

March 15, 1943

German forces re-captured Kharkov, the second largest city in the Ukraine (also known as Kharkiv), from the Soviets.

March 16-20, 1943

At the climax of the Battle of the Atlantic, twenty-seven merchant ships were sunk by German U-boats, Unterseeboot (undersea boat/German submarines) in one week.

March 21, 1943

Another attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life, this time by suicide bomber, failed when Hitler left the area before the bomb could be detonated.

March 17, 1943

Bulgaria openly opposed deportation of its Jews.

March 20-28, 1943

General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army broke through the Mareth Line in Tunisia, Africa.

March 22, 1943

Gas chamber and Crematoria IV became operational at Auschwitz.

March 31, 1943

Gas chamber and Crematoria II became operational at Auschwitz.

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:  Krakow Ghetto

Auschwitz Concentration Camp: The Gas Chambers and Crematoria

B-29 Prototype Crash

Plots to Kill Hitler

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1942

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

The Black March Begins

The March of the POWs, of which my father George Edwin Farrar was one, from Stalag Luft IV began 75 years ago on February 6, 1945. It continued for 86 days and covered 500 miles across Pomerania and Germany.

Joseph P. O’Donnell, one of the Stalag Luft IV POW’s and the author of the Shoe Leather Express books wrote in his first volume, The Evacuation of Kriegsgefangenen Lager Stalag Luft IV Deutschland Germany, about the evacuation of the prison camp and the 86-day 500-mile march of which my father, George Edwin Farrar, was a part.

When I was a child, Daddy told me that he had been in a POW camp and had to march across Germany, but the details were too horrific for a father to tell his young daughter. I did not learn the horrors of what he had endured until many years after he died. Those I learned from the books of Joseph O’Donnell, Candy Kyler Brown, Laura Edge, and David Dorfmeier, and from the memories, written and oral, of some of the participants.

Joseph O’Donnell wrote in the opening pages of his first volume that,

By February 3, 1945, the front line was 45 miles south of Luft IV and extended to the Oder River, 40 miles east of Berlin…

With the Russian Red Army moving so close to the POW camp, it was a time of uncertainty for the prisoners. Would they be liberated by the Russians? Would they all be executed before the Red Army’s arrival? Would they evacuate the camp ahead of the Russians? Most expected an evacuation, but it was not a certainty.

O’Donnell continued,

We knew our evacuation was imminent as the Russians were advancing from the east. We could look through the cracks in the shutters over the windows and see the flashes from the artillery; and if the wind was right, we could hear the artillery at the front. My estimation was that we were less than 30 miles from the front lines.

Early on the morning of February 5, 1945, seventy-five years ago today, an announcement was made that the POWs would not evacuate the camp. But at 10 a.m., another announcement was made that they would be moving out the next morning.

The prisoners were told that they would be walking for three days. They were each given 1/3 loaf of bread and were allowed to take as many Red Cross parcels as they wanted. With each parcel weighing eleven pounds, the prisoners were forced to discard what they couldn’t comfortably carry.

Joseph O’Donnell wrote that the first day’s march was uneventful, and that they walked eighteen kilometers, a little over eleven miles.

But for men who were already malnourished, injured, and otherwise in poor physical shape from their confinement, this was no easy task.

Knowing that my father was one of the men packing up and marching out of the camp exactly seventy-five years ago sends a chill down my spine. To this point, he had already survived a mid-air collision (the sole survivor of his crew), an attack by German civilians after he parachuted to the ground, injuries requiring a two-month hospital stay, and months in the prison camp with very little food.

At twenty-three years old, survival was his main goal in life. Marching through the gates of the prison camp must have seemed overwhelming, with a mix of a sense of freedom with the uncertainty of what lay ahead. A yearning to see his family again kept him placing one foot in front of the other for the next eighty-six days.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020