The Arrowhead Club

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #192 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #623.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his eleventh mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 11 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 both the 41st “A” and “B” Combat Wings.

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

Primary Targets Spared By Weather
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the high section of the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing (41A Group) and as the high section of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing (41B Group) on this mission. The primary target for the 41A Group, Lützkendorf oil installations in Germany, were obscured by a solid undercast, as was the secondary and an airfield near Giessen. Finally, a successful visual attack was accomplished on an unidentified factory in the Friedberg, Germany, area. This group saw several Me-163 ‘Komet’ rocket-powered aircraft in the vicinity of Leipzig, and one near the Belgian coast, but they were not attacked. The 41B Group primary target, oil installations in the Merseburg, Germany, area was obscured by weather conditions. The formation then proceeded to the secondary target. Although the rest of the formation broke off the attack, the 384th pressed on and were able to drop their bombs in the vicinity of the target, although results were deemed ‘poor.’ This group was attacked by a single ME163 ‘Komet’ rocket-powered aircraft, which made two passes on his formation (the high and low squadrons), in the vicinity of the primary target.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the 41st A High Group as the synthetic oil plant at Lutzendorf, and the 41st B High Group as the synthetic oil plant at Mersberg.

The 384th was part of the fourth and fifth combat wings alternately over the two oil targets.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Targets: Synthetic oil plants at Merseburg and Lutzendorf, Germany. 41A on Lutzendorf. 41B on Merseburg. These plants are producers of large quantities of oil now so very vital to the Germans war effort. Both have been damaged on previous attacks but are now partially in production with repairs being rushed to get them back into full production. They are being attacked today to ensure maintaining the favourable condition presently existing in regard to German’s fuel supply. Smoke screens at both visual targets.

Secondary Visuals: 41A AC Engine factory in the town of Eisenech. 41B AC Engine factory located 2 mi. NE of town of Eisenach.

Last Resort Visuals: 41A&B Airfield at Erfurt and an airfield at Frieburg. Only Military objects Pass Iden in Germany and go east, repeat east of the Rhine River.

A special warning instructed,

Stay on the alert for enemy aircraft. You are going on two of the Huns most precious targets and he may use his Hoarded Luftwaffe to destroy you.

Twenty-nine aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 29,

  • 21 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare (the Robert C. Owens crew in 42-97142) from the 41B Group filled in the 41A Group and completed the mission
  • 3 aborted due to aircraft equipment failure
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 failed to return

The B-17 42-107058, White Angel, of the James Woodrow Chadwick crew was the only 384th Bomb Group fortress lost on Mission 192.

Flying in the 41B Group, the aircraft,

Received a direct burst of flak in the area of the Primary Target at 1208 hours, 28,400 feet. He was hit in the bomb bay and immediately released his bombs whereupon the ship caught fire. He was last observed diving down to 18,000 feet where he levelled off and was lost sight of. No chutes were observed.

The aircraft crashed near Halle, Germany and all crewmembers were killed except for the navigator and tail gunner who became POW’s. Few details are provided in the Missing Air Crew Report, MACR8903.

On Mission 192, the Buslee crew flew with the 41A Group (High Group) led by Capt. Edward William Lane.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “A” Combat Wing High Section Leader Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • 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 #192, 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 – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Paul Leland Watson replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard 42-102661, Big Dog, on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0744
  • Time landed 1526
  • Target attacked at 1251 from an altitude of 27,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 10 x 500
  • Oxygen: Flow indicator in Ball Turret inoperative.
  • Battle damage: Minor flak damage.

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 41B Group High Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory, led by Assistant Group Operations Officer Major A. E. Bean, Jr.

The Brodie crew reportedly landed back at Grafton Underwood after completion of the mission with the bomb bay doors open.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Multiple reports of flak.
  • Crew suggestion: Code word for chaff should be given over VHF on every (with “every” underlined 4 times) mission.
  • Battle damage: Moderate flak damage.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crews had flown four missions in the past four days and were likely ready for a day off, which they would receive on 12 September, but both crews would participate in the 13 September mission after a needed rest.

Mission data in group reports included…

For the 41A Group,

  • The 41st A Wing attacked a Target of Opportunity – a factory outside Friedberg – with very good results.
  • No attacks were made on the formation.
  • Flak at the target was fairly accurate, CPF and Barrage type fire.
  • Fighter escort good.
  • None of our aircraft are missing.

For the 41B Group,

  • This Group bombed the Motor Assembly Plant at Eisenach-Stock-Hausen. Bombs hit about half mile from the N.P.I.
  • Two jet propelled A/C attacked this formation, but did little damage. Crew members identified the aircraft as the ME 163.
  • Flak was moderate to intense in the target area. CPF and Barrage type fire.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.
  • One of our A.C. is missing. A/C 058 was seen to receive a direct burst of flak directly over the target on the second run. Two chutes were seen to emerge.

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 192
  • 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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