The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #190 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #614.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his ninth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 9 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,

Ludwigshafen – Again!
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the B Wing of the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing for today’s mission. The primary target was a chemicals plant near Ludwigshafen, Germany. A visual attack was planned but a 10/10ths undercast required the Group to bomb using PFF aiming.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as a return trip to Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries, for the fourth time in the last four missions. It would also be the last time the 384th targeted Ludwigshafen.

The day’s Briefing Notes detailed the objectives of the mission with,

Visual: Large Chemical Works at Ludwigshafen, bombed several times by this group recently. Producers of many chemicals and poison gases. The relation of today’s target to the present land operations in Europe makes it of vital importance. Chemicals, Marshalling Yards, and as a supply center and the lines of communications concerned makes Ludwigshafen very important to the Germans at present.

PFF: RR Marshalling Yards in Mannheim, located just across the Rhine River from your primary visual target.

Last Resort: Any military target positively identified as being East, repeat East, of the Rhine River.

The briefing also stressed for the crews to,

Stay on alert for enemy aircraft, especially the new jet propelled jobs.

Empty your pockets before leaving. If forced down travel only at night and try to join allied forces in France. Stay off the railroads and main highways. If captured, give only Name, Rank, Serial Number.

Forty-one aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 41,

  • 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted due to aircraft equipment failures
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 1 missing, crashed in enemy territory

* * * * *

The aircraft that crashed was piloted by Joseph Hartness and carried the majority of the Roy Vinnedge crew, including ball turret gunner Raymond Orlando Wisdahl, the 384th’s combat data specialist Keith Ellefson’s uncle. They left the formation on return to base due to battle damage and crash landed in France near the town of Harville, Muse.

The entire crew evaded and returned to allied lines the next day. Tail gunner Delmar Beesley told the story of evasion to his family through a series of letters he wrote home. The letters were later compiled into one document and the fascinating story published here courtesy of Keith Ellefson on the 384th Bomb Group’s website.

After making their way back to their base at Grafton Underwood, most of the crew would not return to combat until the end of October and eventually completed their tours. However, Delmar James Beesley was sadly killed in action on 23 March 1945 on his thirty-fourth mission, one short of completing his tour.

* * * * *

On Mission 190, the Buslee crew was part of the Lead Group led by Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., Lead Group Commander, 41st “B” 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 #190, with the only crew substitution of navigator, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – George John Jacobson
  • 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)

George Jacobson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822, the second 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 0711
  • Time landed 1418
  • Target attacked at 1102 1/2 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500 GPs
  • A rocket and flak at several locations including the target
  • Battle Damage: Minor damage.
  • At 1113, observed a “B-17 from outfit ahead was seen going down, #4 engine smoking badly, no chutes.”

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Low Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory.

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

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Leave nuts alone on chin turret.
  • Battle Damage: Top turret glass broken.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. CPF and barrage type fire being employed. Black and white bursts observed.
  • Fighter support fair in and about the target 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 190
  • 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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