The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #200 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #650.
My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 27 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.
The Group’s 200th Mission Celebration was held the previous weekend on 23 September 1944, with the mission actually flown four days later on the 27th.
The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew in the “A” Wing.
The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,
Marshalling Yards Bombed By PFF
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st CBW A wing for today’s attack on railroad marshalling yards in Cologne, Germany.
Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the “A” Combat Wing as Cologne (Koln), with three specific Primary Targets based on Group,
- High Group target was Cologne
- Lead Group target was Reisholz, near Dusseldorf, Never been bombed
- Low Group target was Monheim, near Dusseldorf, Oil Refinery
Briefing Notes repeated the three Primary Targets as,
- LEAD at Reisholz near Dusseldorf
- LOW at Monheim
- HI. Niehl, near Cologne
Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,
- 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
- 2 flying spare completed the mission
- 1 aircraft aborted due to engine failure
- 2 aircraft were scrubbed
- 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
- 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
- 2 aircraft did not take off due to a ground accident
In his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group, Ken Decker reported that before mission takeoff, Sgt. Lowell Hatfield, the Lloyd Peters crew waist gunner, was run over by a truck while carrying gun barrels out to the plane. Hatfield suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, and other injuries. He did not regain consciousness for three weeks and upon awakening was shipped home to continue his recovery.
Prior to takeoff of Mission #200, two B-17’s were involved in a ground accident. The Bert Oliver Brown crew aboard the unnamed B-17 44-6080 and the Donald George Springsted crew aboard B-17 44-6141 Sneakin Deacon collided in a taxi accident.
Aircraft 6080 was in #3 position for takeoff and Aircraft 6141 was #4. Weather was not a factor as far as visibility went, but the accident did occur in darkness, prior to sun-up. On or about 0528 (5:28 A.M.), Brown taxied 44-6080 out onto the perimeter track, ninety (90) degrees to Take-off Runway 24. Springsted taxied Sneakin Deacon to the aft end of the runway, stopped, and then taxied to the extreme left side of the runway, and proceeded to take-off position. On passing the perimeter track, Sneakin Deacon’s left wing collided with nose section of Aircraft 44-6080.
Sneakin Deacon’s left outer wing panel was repaired and replaced at Grafton Underwood, and the aircraft was back in service the next day. The damage to 44-6080, described as “Complete nose section torn away from bulkhead No. 2 forward and [w]rinkle in fuselage behind No. 3 bulkhead” was too great for repairs and the aircraft had to be salvaged. Fortunately, no crew members from either crew were injured in the accident. Review Accident Report AR44-09-27-510 for more details…
Before the formation even took to the skies, one airman was injured and two aircraft were damaged. But for those that did take off and left Grafton Underwood headed for Germany on Mission #200, all aircraft returned. But they returned from the mission with one airman seriously wounded and one killed, both due to intense and accurate flak at the target.
The B-17 42-97282, named Rebel, of the William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with a wounded man aboard. Rebel received major battle damage from flak at the target. The horizontal & vertical stabilizers were hit, the right wing’s main and Tokyo tanks were hit, and the waist was hit near the bottom of the fuselage. The tail gunner’s structure was weakened by flak and its occupant, tail gunner Sgt. Robert H. Hoyman, was hit in the head near his left eye. Hoyman did return to duty almost two weeks later, but the 9 October 1944 mission was his last of the thirteen he completed.
The B-17 42-98000, named Fightin’ Hebe, of the Raymond John Gabel crew landed with a dead navigator. Fightin’ Hebe received major battle damage from black and white accurate tracking barrage flak at the target. The aircraft was riddled with flak holes in the radio room, tail, fuselage, and left wing. Gabel reported that navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren was hit and killed at the target and Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group author Ken Decker reported that Lovegren was struck in the spine by flak.
On Mission 200, the Buslee crew was part of the High Group of the 41st “A” Combat Wing led by Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson.
The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,
- 41st “A” Combat Bombardment Wing Lead, Air Commander Col. Dale Orville Smith, 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944, in the 384th’s lead aircraft in the Lead Group. This was the second of my dad’s missions in which the Group Commander participated.
- Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson, High Section leader for the 41st “A” Combat Wing
- Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.
The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #200, with several crew substitutions, was:
- Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
- Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
- Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
- Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
- Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
- Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
- Ball Turret Gunner – Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr.
- Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
- Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)
William Henson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator, Robert Stearns replaced James Davis as bombardier, Robert Mitchell replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret and Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail for the second time.
The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-102449 Hale’s Angels on this mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,
- Time took off 0536
- Time landed 1158
- Target (Cologne) attacked at 0922 from an altitude of 28,600 ft.
- Bombs on target: 12 x 500 GP
- Flak at Target reported as “Inaccurate – Barrage. (7 black & 1 white burst). Main barrage. Low Rockets observed after leaving area. Inaccurate CPF reported over the Rhine.
- Radio Equipment Failure: Liaison – Frequency Meter dead.
- Technical Failures Aircraft: Elevation clutch on top turret slipped. Gee box inaccurate.
- Armament Failures: none
- Battle damage: none
The James Brodie crew did not participate in Mission 200, but they had flown the day before, 26 September 1944, on Mission 199, in which the Buslee crew did not participate.
The Brodie crew makeup for Mission #199 was James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Richard Potter, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger, all of the 545th Bomb Squadron.
The Brodie crew flew aboard their favorite aircraft, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory on #199. It was their eighth mission aboard Kathleen. Brodie did not report any aircraft failures, but did report battle damage of “minor flak damage in wings.”
With the Brodie crew sitting out Mission #200, their favorite ship, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory, was assigned as a spare to the Robert Leslie Farra crew. The Farra crew and Kathleen were needed and joined the formation in the Lead Group for #200.
Upon return to base after the mission, Farra reported several issues with Kathleen,
- Technical Failures, Aircraft: Gun sight on chin turret rheostat burned out. Gas gauge inoperative after target. #2 prop runs away continuously. Mike switch on pilot’s control wheel improperly installed. Rheostat in tail inoperative.
- Battle Damage: Right aileron hit. Horizontal stabilizer, fin and rudder hit. At target.
- Crew Suggestion: Transportation in morning to carry guns from armament shop to A/C [aircraft]. [Suggestion likely due to Sgt. Hatfield’s morning accident].
Considering the amount of damage received on Mission #200 and defects reported by Farra, and the amount of work needed by the ground crew on Kathleen, would it be ready for the Brodie crew the next day?
Mission data in group reports included,
- No enemy fighters encountered.
- Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Both CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Black bursts noted.
- Good fighter escort. As briefed.
- None of our A.C. is missing.
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 200
- 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.
- Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021