The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #187 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #602.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his sixth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on his twenty-third birthday, 3 SEPTEMBER 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,

Chemical Works Attacked
Thirty-six aircraft of the 384th BG flew as the 41st CBW C Wing and all aircraft attacked the primary target, a chemical works at Ludwigshaven, Germany. All aircraft, in combat wing formation released their bombs at 250-foot intervals on the Wing PFF aircraft.

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

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

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as the Ludwigshafen Chemical and Explosive Works, the largest and most important in Germany. Total target area is 3 mi long and 3/4 wide, stretching along Rhine River from City of Ludwigshafen, which is immediately adjacent and to SW of target to _________ (unknown?).

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • Our MPI is a square building about 125′ x 125′ lying in the lower third of the target area. This part of the target produces chlorine and sulfuric acid, both products being badly needed by Germany.
  • The Secondary Target was PFF with same MPI.
  • The Targets of Last Resort were Any military objective in Germany, positively identified outside current bomb line, and tactical boundary and not adjacent to a built up area. Caution about bombing bridges and marshalling yards.
  • Enemy aircraft may be strong.

Following a nine-day gap between missions, the Buslee crew flew as part of the Low Group led by Captain Maurice Arthur Booska.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Captain Maurice Arthur Booska, Low Group Leader, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 7 November 1944 through the Istres time period
  • Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., Lead Group Commander, 41st “C” Combat Wing and Senior Air Commander
  • 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 Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #187 was primarily the original Buslee crew with two exceptions:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

On this day, William Henson filled in for Chester Rybarczyk. This would be William Henson’s first time flying with the Buslee crew. It is unlikely Henson, in the nose of the aircraft, and Farrar, in the waist, would have talked to each other on this mission, but if they had, they would have learned that they were both from Georgia.

And if they started comparing stories from home, they might have discovered a family connection, that Henson’s wife, the former Harriet Whisnant from Summerville, Georgia, grew up next door to Farrar’s Uncle Baker, his father’s brother.

Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 43-38062, Pleasure Bent. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0721
  • Time landed 1538
  • Target attacked at 1133 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 4 x 1000, 4 M17’s
  • Flak reported at the target
  • No enemy fighter opposition reported
  • No battle damage reported
  • No technical failures reported other than a radio tube was replaced in the interphone system.
  • No armament failures reported

Mission data in group reports included,

Flak at target was mainly barrage, mostly low and to the right of the formation. Many crews said they seemed to be shooting at the chaff. Rockets were seen in the target area, they came up with very little spiral and burst at the top of the arc. All burst far above the formation, with bursts larger than that of flak and of a grey-white color.

Mission participant, Bombardier Lt. Vern Arnold, reported and was recorded by Ken Decker in his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, with the following statements.

The intelligence people had picked up rumors that the Germans were getting so desperate that they might resort to poison gas, hence, our assignment to the tremendous chemical plant at Ludswighafen…

…We used “chaff” (thin strips of tinfoil) for the first time. It must have worked very well as the flak gunners were blasting away at the clouds of tinfoil and not a single burst came within a couple of thousand feet of our formation.

Lt. Edward Peter Dudock may have disagreed with Arnold’s statement about the flak not coming near the formation as he reported three flak holes in the vertical stabilizer of his aircraft, 44-6080.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 187
  • 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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