The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #171 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #514.

On 4 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their first combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

V-Weapon Laboratory Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The long haul to Peenemünde on the Baltic – over 10 hours total flying time – was rewarded with visual bombing conditions at the primary target. Crews felt that the target area was well hit.

For the 384th, it was “a double mission day,” as late WWII historian Ken Decker called the date in his Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition). On this day, forty-two aircraft were assigned to #171, the target a Crossbow V-Weapons rocket research and development complex in Peenemünde, Germany. Of the 42,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents specify that the primary target was the Hydrogen Peroxide Plant at Peenemünde, a building 170 yards wide and 300 yards long. The document also noted, “This is the work that is connected to buzz bombs.”

On the second mission of that double mission day, in the afternoon, nine aircraft were assigned to #172, the target a Crossbow (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site) in Crepieul, France, but a thunderstorm at the target area resulted in no target attacked.

Assigned to the first mission of the day, #171, the Buslee crew flew in the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing, with 2nd Lt. Arthur Shwery in the cockpit providing Buslee with his first real-time combat training. According to historical mission documents, the crew took off at 0939 (9:39 A.M British time), and landed at 1823 (6:23 P.M. British time), almost a nine-hour mission.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander James Wesley Hines, 545th Bomb Squadron Operations Officer
  • 41st “C” Combat Wing Air Commander Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #171 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-102620, De Rumble Izer, and Shwery reported on the post-mission Tactical Interrogation Form that everything went as briefed. They attacked the target at 1449 (2:49 P.M. British time) from 21,000 feet, with good results of all bombs on target. Shwery reported three incidents of flak, including flak at the target.

In other post-mission documents, Shwery reported,

  • No battle damage to his aircraft, 42-102620, De Rumble Izer.
  • One technical failure, a radio issue. The tail gunner’s interphone was inoperative.
  • No enemy aircraft.
  • No armament failures.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good except for about a half hour after leaving the target.
  • Flash Telephone Report on A.A. (Anti-Aircraft) Gunfire: Eight or more rockets were observed in the target area. They had white trails and white bursts. Three aircraft reported a huge rocket which burst behind the formation just after bombs away. It burst into a ball of fire, which broke up into 4-5 smaller balls with fiery streamers emanating from them.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, the crew’s original co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on the unnamed B-17 42-102959.

The tenth member of the crew, my father George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  At this time in the war, the 384th assigned only one waist gunner per aircraft on missions. Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 171
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020


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