The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #188 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #605.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his seventh mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 5 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 “B” Combat Wing.

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

German Industry Attacked
Thirty-six aircraft of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing B with thirty-five aircraft attacking the primary target. All aircraft attacking were in combat wing formation and released their bombs at 200 foot interval on the Wing Lead PFF aircraft.

Forty-seven aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 47,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted due to personnel failure
  • 4 were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)

Three of the aircraft landed post-mission with wounded aboard and one landed away due to battle damage. None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • Secondary Targets: None
  • Targets of Last Resort: Any military objective in Germany positively identified outside of current bomb line and tactical boundary and not adjacent to a built-up area.
  • Moderate opposition may be expected. Watch out for single and twin engine fighters, also jet jobs. Remember a good formation is the best insurance. The enemy will choose the time and place and altitude for the attack.

Mission documents also outlined instructions in the event of having to bail out for “P/W and Escape”:

  • Name, rank, serial number.
  • If in France, join our forces.
  • If in area still occupied by Nazis lay low and wait for the Allied forces or work your way to the Allied Forces with help if possible.
  • If in Germany, head for the French border and across.

This mission was a return trip to the Ludwigshafen Chemical Plant, the same as previous mission #187 just two days prior.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold again described the day.

I guess we didn’t do very well with our radar drop and since the brass consider this one very important, we are back at it again today. There were only a few tantalizing openings in the clouds and I’m afraid that we didn’t do a heck of a lot better this time. We hit the factory all right, but didn’t do as much damage as we wanted. The Germans didn’t have any trouble locating us this time and plastered us pretty good.

Arnold also expressed his confidence in his aircraft as,

Of course, if more than half of the pieces of a B-17 are still pretty close together, it will still fly!

The Buslee crew was part of the Low Group led by Capt. Edward William Lane.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, Lead Group Commander, 41st “B” Combat Wing and Senior Air Commander, 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 #188, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

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

This would be the second time Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822, the first of a trio of missions they would participate in on this ship, including their final mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0727
  • Time landed 1531
  • Target attacked at 1120 from an altitude of 23,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 x 1000
  • Flak at the target, CPF – accurate – black, white. Red flash inside of some of the black puffs.
  • Battle damage: Flak holes in the wings [possibly, see image]

Buslee post-mission report, Mission 188

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the High Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory with waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, had flown his last mission with the Brodie crew on 24 AUGUST and had been transferred from the crew.

This was the second mission for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory. They would go on to fly eight missions aboard this ship and likely began to consider it “theirs.”

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Flak/Battle Damage: Top turret glass broken (flak). 3 or 4 holes in A/C (stabilizer).
  • #3 generator out. Was out at ground check.
  • Radio mike button sticks. Failed at altitude.
  • No G box in this A/C.
  • Visual observations: At time of 1121 at the target and altitude of 23,650, Brodie observed a “Big explosion. Red flames & black smoke immediately after bombs away (gas or oil?). B-17 in CBW immediately behind this one had #2 engine on fire and was last seen going down into undercast, under control. No chutes seen.”

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was close and very good.
  • No enemy aircraft observed or encountered.
  • Flak encountered at target only, was intense and accurate. Black, white, and red bursts noted. CPF of six to eight bursts encountered on approach to target and barrage directly over target.
  • One to two jet propelled aircraft seen in Ludwigshafen area.

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 188
  • 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.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020


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