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Home » My Dad - Ed Farrar » WWII » Eighth Air Force » 384th Bomb Group » 384th BG Missions » #196, 9/19/1944 » The Fate of Tremblin’ Gremlin and Her Crew on Mission 196

The Fate of Tremblin’ Gremlin and Her Crew on Mission 196

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #196 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #642.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his thirteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 19 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying as the only Buslee crew member on a ship piloted by William Marcus Reed. I wrote about the 384th’s and my dad’s participation on this mission last week.

Today I will concentrate on the two 384th Bomb Group crews that flew in the 303rd Bomb Group formation rather than with their own Group, and the only other Buslee crew member to participate on Mission 196, the crew’s tail gunner Eugene Daniel Lucynski, who was aboard B-17 42-39782, Tremblin’ Gremlin with the Joe Carnes crew on this mission.

My dad flew eleven missions with Eugene Lucynski. Also, the B-17 42-39782 Tremblin’ Gremlin, was the ship of my father’s first combat mission and the only B-17 name he ever mentioned in his WWII stories to me as I was growing up.

The two 384th Bomb Group crews and aircraft were flying spare, but instead of filling in for scrubbed aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group, they joined the formation of the 303rd Bomb Group on the 19 September 1944 mission. They were the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin and the Hassing crew aboard Little American II. Both were assigned to fly in the 303rd’s High Group.

The 303rd Bomb Group, known as “Hell’s Angels,” was based in Molesworth, England, about twelve miles east of the 384th’s Grafton Underwood, England base. For the 303rd Bomb Group, this 8th Air Force Mission #642 was their mission #244. (The 303rd’s Mission #1 occurred on 17 November 1942, with the 384th’s Mission #1 six months later on 22 June 1943. This one was #196 for the 384th Bomb Group.)

According to these excerpts from the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents,

The high Group encountered intense but inaccurate flak at Osnabruck and intense and accurate fire over the Ruhr Valley. Returning aircraft had eight major and fourteen minor instances of battle damage.

A 384BG B-17, flying with the high Group, was lost to flak after bombs away.

The 303rd Mission Documents also included a narrative titled “THE RUHR VALLEY AND BAD WEATHER” written by Herbert Shanker, a 303rd Bomb Group mission participant and Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. This excerpt from Shanker’s narrative tells the story of the Carnes and Hassing crews’ mission experience not covered in 384th Bomb Group mission documents.

The date was September 19, 1944. The 303rd Bomb Group was briefed to fly a bombing mission to Hamm, Germany. This mission would take seven and half hours.

The 359th [the 359th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group] was scheduled to fly with the High squadron of the Group [the same part of the formation in which the two 384th Bomb Group crews were flying], which meant that they would drop their bombs between the Lead squadron and the Low Squadron. At the IP the three squadrons separated and bombed individually, two minutes apart, and then reformed as a cohesive unit as quickly as possible to consolidate the Group’s fire power for defensive purposes.

On this particular mission, the Lead squadron had two Radar equipped aircraft (code name Mickey) and the Low squadron had one Mickey ship. For some inexplicable reason, the High squadron had none. The 303rd BG was scheduled to be the last group to bomb this day which meant that the 359th Squadron would be the next to last squadron in the entire bomb stream to bomb.

As things worked out, the Lead and Low squadrons were able to bomb visually, therefore having no need for the radar aircraft for bombing purposes. The High squadron, on the other hand found the target obscured by clouds and made a 360 degree turn to make another attempt.

The second attempt was less successful than the first and so the High squadron “Lead” decided to find a “target of opportunity” on the way home. As the other two squadrons had completed their part in the mission, they took off for home, which was standard practice, so as to limit exposure to loss. All crews had been constantly briefed not to hang back to protect disabled aircraft as the practice usually resulted in greater loss.

The High squadron was now completely on its own as even our fighter escort had disappeared by this time. The squadron, consisting of 12 or 13 aircraft, eventually bombed the town of Osnabruck. Because of a navigational error after “Bombs Away,” the squadron found itself in the Ruhr Valley, one of the most heavily defended areas in the world. At least one aircraft was shot down and all aircraft were subjected to extremely intense flak.

Read more of the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents in their entirety.

Flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the aircraft of Lt. Eugene Theron Hassing was hit by flak and the crew was forced to land in Allied territory in France. Hassing described in a post-mission report titled “Lt. Hassing’s Story” that they,

Flew with the 303rd High Group, and just before bombs away, got into the overcast and went on to bomb Munster [actually Osnabruck?]. Hit by flak in the Rhur area. (Leader of this group got lost and we went thru the Rhur area). Low and Gas, and left formation to find a landing field just after leaving the Rhur. Landed at Vitry En Artois. Plane was undamaged. Only one hole in gas lines.

Stopped at Dugua. They fed eighteen men for four days.

None of the men of the 384 Bomb Group’s Hassing crew were reported to be injured during the mission.

Also flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the men of the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin were not so lucky. A statement recorded in the post-mission documents of the 384th Bomb Group by the co-pilot of the Carnes crew, William Glenn Wyatt, reads,

Statement by Lt. Wyatt, Co-pilot, Mission to Hamm, Germany, 19 September 1944

We were Flying Spare aircraft in our Wing. When we reached the point of turnback we joined the 303rd Group, flying in No. 5 position, Low Squadron, High Group. Bombing was to be done visually, but clouds covered the target just before we reached it. The High Group, therefore, went into the Ruhr area and bombed a Marshalling Yard near ____________ [left blank by Wyatt, but noted in 303rd Bomb Group mission reports that the Low and Lead groups dropped their bombs on Hamm and the High Group dropped on Osnabruck, Germany].

Here we lost two engines. We feathered No. 1 engine, but No. 4 engine could not be feathered. The prop. shaft broke and No. 4 prop. began windmilling and continued to do so all the way back. At the same time the supercharger on No. 3 engine ran away and became uncontrollable. We necessarily lagged behind the formation, finally losing it. The Navigator [Alfred David Benjamin] and Togglier [Robert William Chanter] were brought out of the nose because of the danger of No. 4 prop. flying off.

The Ball Turret Gunner [James Bernard King, Jr.], Waist Gunner [Raymond Arnold Panici] and Tail Gunner [Eugene Daniel Lucynski] were hit by flak at approximately the same time the engines were knocked out. We encountered intense and accurate flak in and around the target area and crossing the Rhine River. We took evasive action the entire route back at 10,000 feet. The co-pilot [William Glenn Wyatt] went back to the waist to take care of the wounded men.

The No. 2 engine then blew the cylinders out, leaving one engine with runaway supercharger. In the meantime the Ball Turret had been jettisoned. The ground was not visible and we were on instruments. The Pilot [Joe Ross Carnes, Jr.] then gave the order to bail out, when the Navigator [Benjamin] was fairly sure that we were over friendly territory.

The waist escape hatch stuck, but we finally got rid of the escape door by firing a .45 automatic at the hinges. The Togglier [Chanter] left by the tail escape hatch. The Waist Gunner [Panici], Radio Operator [Frank Joseph Schick, Jr.], Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski], as well as the Co-Pilot [Wyatt], left by the waist escape hatch.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King], being seriously injured, was hooked to static line. The Engineer [Top Turret Gunner Charles William Ford, Jr.] and Pilot [Carnes] left by the Navigator’s escape hatch and were the last to bail out. The entire crew landed in Binche, Belgium.

The injured men, including the Navigator and Togglier, who were slightly injured bailing out, were taken immediately to Gilley [Gilly] (St. Joseph’s Hospital), since the nearest Army Hospital was approximately 40 miles away. It was necessary for the Ball Turret Gunner’s [King] left foot to be amputated. The operation was performed by a Belgian doctor, under the supervision of Major Heron from the Surgeon’s office, 1st Army Headquarters.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Co-Pilot [Wyatt] landed approximately 150 yards apart in a field and were immediately surrounded by Belgian civilians. A doctor was secured as soon as possible and the Ball Turret Gunner [King] was taken to a small hospital at Binche, Belgium, where his foot was dressed. From there he was taken by American ambulance of the 30th Photo Reconnaissance Group to the hospital at Gilley [Gilly].

The Co-Pilot [Wyatt] sent messages to the 8th Air Force concerning the status of the entire crew as soon as possible. Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Radio Operator [Schick] and Togglier [Chanter] returned to the U.K. via 9th TAC Headquarters, Paris, and the regular channels for evadees and escapees.

The Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King], Waist Gunner [Panici] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski] are to be evacuated through medical channels. They will be removed to an American hospital as soon as their physical condition permits. The Pilot [Carnes] and Engineer [Ford] were in touch with the M.P. Station at Binche.

SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe from late 1943 until the end of World War II] called this Group to try to get transportation for us back to the Base (Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Togglier [Chanter], and Radio Operator [Schick]). We were unable to contact the Officer of the Day or any officer on duty. These three men had to borrow money to come from London back to the Base. The Group would not send transportation to Kettering for the three men.

These men arrived back at this Station in the P.M. 22 September 1944.

In his book “Memories of the 384th Bombardment Goup (H), Second Edition, Ken Decker added – likely from a story shared with him by one of the crew after the war – that after bailing out of Tremblin’ Gremlin,

The danger wasn’t over yet as the aircraft, as if trying to punish the crew for leaving it in the air, started to circle and they feared it might hit them in their chutes before finally diving into the ground and exploded about 3 – 5 miles from Binche (about 10 miles west of Charleroi, Belgium).

The entire Hassing crew returned to Grafton Underwood from France and on 28 September 1944 participated in their next mission, Mission #201 to Magdeburg, Germany.

The men aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin did not participate in a mission again until October for many of them – 2 OCT for Chanter, 3 OCT for Schick, 5 OCT for Wyatt, 9 OCT for Ford, 14 OCT for Carnes, and 17 OCT for Benjamin – November for Panici on 1 NOV, and King and Lucynski did not ever return to combat.

King was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 4178 U.S. Army Hospital Plant.

Lucynski was hospitalized until 10 November 1944. On the recommendation form for the Purple Heart, Lucynski’s wounds were described as “multiple lacerations of right hand and left wrist.” He received the Purple Heart on 7 December 1944 at Grafton Underwood.

I am not certain how Lucynski continued his service in WWII, but a passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on October 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.

Notes/Resources

  • Previous post on Mission 196
  • 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.
  • 303rd Bomb Group website
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020


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