The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #189 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #611.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his eighth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 8 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,

Target Visible at Last Minute
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing C Wing. There were broken clouds near the target area but, at the last minute, sufficient clear areas opened allowing the Norden bombsight to be used. The primary target was bombed using visual sighting, with good results.

Forty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 45,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 4 aborted due to aircraft equipment failures
  • 2 flying spare, completed mission
  • 6 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 3 returned early

One of the aircraft landed post-mission with wounded aboard (the seriously wounded tailgunner aboard Vern Arnold’s ship – more on that below). None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a return trip to Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries, for the third time in the last three missions.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold described the injury to the Edgar Bills’ crew tailgunner Keith Mauck, who he described as “one of the youngest on the crew and a very likable young squirt”. Arnold offers a glimpse of the hazards of WWII bombing missions.

I guess our luck was due to run out eventually and it finally happened on this one. Keith Mauck, our tail gunner caught a nasty chunk of flak through his ankle. I suppose we should be grateful that we got him back to the base alive. We debated about landing in France and trying to get him quickly to a hospital but decided that his chances were better if we took him back to the base where we knew he would receive immediate, excellent attention. He was given morphine for the pain and the waist gunners kept a tourniquet on him to slow the loss of blood. The burst that got him was one of those nearly direct hits that exploded just under the skin of the ship near the tail. It was so close that it spilled us up on our nose momentarily.

After a harrowing return trip to base – subsequent bursts took out one engine and the oxygen system, requiring them to drop out of formation and dive down to an altitude where they could breathe, and without the protection of the bomber stream and fighter escort – Mauck required several pints of whole blood and surgery and in the end lost his foot, finishing his tour of duty.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Leader, Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr., 544th Bomb Squadron
  • 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
  • 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 #189, 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 third time Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-97320, Hot Rock. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0749
  • Time landed 1542
  • Target attacked at 1157 from an altitude of 29,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 x 1000
  • Flak at the target, below and at 9 o’clock black, white, barrage, accurate
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failure, Aircraft: VHF reception on “A” channel weak
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tube needed in A/C

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory with waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other original waist gunner had previously been transferred. Liniger would fly the remainder of the Brodie crew missions in the waist position.

This was the second of eight missions for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory. 

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Oxygen connection on right side of radio room is broken. Plugs for throat mike are both missing in waist position. Ball turret and waist guns froze at 28,000 feet. Ball turret guns have no heated covers. Tail gunner’s heated trousers inoperative. Radio operator’s jacket began smoking and continued to smoke until taken off.
  • No battle damage reported.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed and no attacks made on our formation
  • Flak was moderate to intense and accurate at target. CPF & barrage type of fire being employed
  • Fighter escort reported excellent

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 189
  • 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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