The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #183 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #568.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 24 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

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,

Oil Pressure
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The 8th AF continued to decimate the enemy’s fuel supply by attacking this giant chemical complex. The C wing was to follow the A and B wings, but over the North Sea, they caught up and passed both, leading them from the enemy coast, for the rest of the mission. This was apparently due to the wings making different adjustments for cloud layers, and perhaps navigation errors. Although the 384th was prepared for a target obscured by clouds and smoke screen, there was sufficient visibility for visual bombing.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 5 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 returned early due to flak damage

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a hydrogenation or water softener plant with an area of 1250 feet by 125 feet in Merseburg (Leuna). It is a new target, one that has not previously been hit. The whole of this particular target is dependent on water processed at this softener plant. Its destruction would put the target out of production.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was a synthetic oil and thermal power station in Lutzkendorf.
  • Targets of Opportunity and Last Resort are any military objective in Germany positively identified and not disrupting fighter escort.
  • Enemy fighter opposition expected to be strong.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Major Gerald Busby Sammons.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

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

Back in action after a twelve day gap since their last mission, the Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #183 was the same as the previous three missions with the exception of the assigned navigator:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Leonard Galloway
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The navigator flying with the Buslee crew on this mission, Leonard Galloway, completed his last mission and tour with the 384th on this day.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-98000, Fightin’ Hebe. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0707
  • Time landed 1530
  • Target attacked at 1212 from an altitude of 23,800 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 10 x 500
  • Too much smoke for observed results and damage
  • Flak was accurate and intense, including at the target, with black barrage flak, white tracking flak, twin rockets, and red bursts
  • On the way to the target observed 30 ships in a convoy and several large ships anchored, and 13 large ships strung out like forming a convoy
  • German ME-109 and ME-410 attacking the group ahead
  • 2 B-17’s from group in front of this group were seen to crash
  • 5 enemy fighters were seen going down in the target area
  • On return to base, No. 2 engine acting up
  • Battle damage: Hit by flak. No. 2 & 3 engines were hit. Prop Governor hit cable. Through cylinder. Right wing flap hit (at root). Horizontal stabilizer hit. Two holes in top of nose.
  • Technical failures: Oxygen ran low. No safety wire on [Oxygen] regulators on most (transcribed in typed reports as nose) positions. Radio: Mike button shot off on nose gun. Navigator’s finger was hit, [notably, Chester Rybarczyk’s substitute, Leonard Galloway on his last mission]. “Something” on trailing antenna lost.

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-32106, Worry Bird (aka Voan), minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Flak at three points during the mission including at the target.
  • Dogfights seen.
  • Battle damage of Co-pilot’s oxygen hose shot in two, and about 20 flak holes in ship.
  • Technical failures of Flux gate compass out/inoperative, bomb bay doors stay open one to two inches, and therma-couple in tail was inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good and effective. Approximately 30 to 35 miles east of Wesermunde, we observed from 20 to 30 single and twin engine enemy fighters attacking the Wing directly ahead of us. However, no attacks were made on our Wing on the entire mission.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 183
  • 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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