The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #173 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #519.
On 5 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 second combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group. It was the first combat mission for my dad, who did not participate in the crew’s first mission.
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 “B” Combat Wing.
The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,
Fighter Control Center
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission to knock out a control center for enemy fighter aircraft. Intense flak at the primary target did not deter the bombers, and visual bombing conditions enabled accurate bombing.
Forty-one aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 41,
- 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
- 1 aborted because of equipment failure
- 1 was scrubbed
- 1 flying spare, completed the mission
- 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
- 2 ground spare aircraft were unused
- 1 had 5 enlisted crewmembers bail out when they misheard the bailout standby order
One of the aircraft landed away post-mission with battle damage and wounded aboard. None of the aircraft are missing.
In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition), 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold related the story of his first mission and noted that,
Our group didn’t lose any ships, but there were so many so badly shot up that we are “stood down” tomorrow to allow the ground crews time to patch them up.
Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,
GAF [German Air Force/Luftwaffe] Controlling Station at Langenhagen, 6 miles north of Hannover. This airfield is believed to be producing FW 154’s. This is the German version of the Mosquito. It has been bombed as ATO but little damage had been done. Dimensions are 2000 yds E-W by 2750 yds N-S.
Also noted was that,
There were three dummy airfields in the vicinity of the target,
and enemy opposition was expected as,
Both single and twin-engine fighters may be encountered. Moderated opposition is expected.
Like the previous day’s mission, the Buslee crew flew with experienced pilot Arthur Shwery, today in the High Group led by Gerald Sammons.
The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,
- High Group Commander Major Gerald Busby Sammons, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
- 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William Edward Buck, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Deputy Group Commander
- 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 #173 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 – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)
The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-37982, Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the target, the group encountered intense and accurate flak, including major flak damage to the Gremlin. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Arthur Shwery at the completion of the mission described the destruction.
On his post-mission Tactical Interrogation form, F/O (First Officer) A.J. Shwery indicated the location or Place of the flak as the Target, marked it as Intense, and specified it as Accurate.
In the top margin of the form (not shown in the photos), Shwery indicated that the crew landed at Hailsworth with injured, 1 serious, 2 slight.
In the form’s printed fields, Shwery did not enter the Time took off that day, but he did indicate Time Landed with the entry,
1455 at Hailsworth
Returned to GU at 2200 with another A/C
In his narrative further describing the details of the flak, Shwery’s hand-written notes included the following information.
- Flak hit A/C [aircraft] on Bomb Run and
killedBomb. [Bombardier Marvin Fryden], Engineer [Clarence Seeley] in leg, & F/O Shwery (Pilot) were injured.
- Bomb. [Bombardier] received first aid and toggled on lead.
- Co-Pilot took over controls after pilot was hit and piloted A/C over target and back to Hailsworth.
- After landing bombardier received treatment at hospital but had a relapse and died.
- Damage: T Turret [Top Turret] went out after target.
- Command radio antenna shot up.
- 106 [underlined 4 times] flak holes.
- #4 turbo bucket wheel lost 4 buckets.
- #3 engine hit at tgt [target] & feathered.
- #2 engine out just before reaching Eng. [English] coast on return.
- Right rudder shot out at target.
- All trim tabs, oxygen, hydraulic systems also hit.
- Bomb bay mechanism hit.
- Returned in formation after leaving gp [group] at target and then rendezvous again.
Mission data in group reports included,
- No enemy aircraft observed.
- Per Gerald Sammons, “Flak was intense and accurate.”
- Per Lead Bombardier for the Lead Group, Capt. A. Palazzo, “Approximately 1 1/2 minutes before bombs away we were hit severely by flak and I for a moment thought my bomb load might have been hit.”
- “A/C 982 landed at Hailsworth due to major flak damage and three injured.”
- Also per Gerald Sammons, “Bombs were away at 1302 hours from 25,500 feet…with good results.”
- Bombing results believed to be excellent.
With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht again did not fly with the Buslee crew. For the second time, Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102459, Little Kenny.
With George Edwin Farrar manning the waist gun on this mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, the other waist gunner assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out.
Marvin Fryden, the Buslee crew bombardier, died of his injuries on this, his second, combat mission of the war. Engineer/top turret gunner Clarence Seeley was seriously injured and was hospitalized. Seeley resumed flying in October and completed his tour in March 1945.
- Previous post on Mission 173
- Park Ridge (Illinois) Advocate Transcript of Mission 173
- 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