Recently, Paul Furiga, son of 384th Bomb Group Bombardier/Navigator Frank Furiga, shared a page from his father’s World War II diary with me. The particular page described Frank’s journey from the US to the UK when he and his fellow USAAF service members ferried a group of B-17’s from Kearney, Nebraska to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). They were on the final leg of their journey into combat duty with the 8th Army Air Forces.
Frank Furiga left his last training base at Admore, Oklahoma in the same group of servicemen as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. Both Dad and Frank ended up at the same air base in Grafton Underwood, England, flying missions in heavy bombers, B-17’s.
I have written previously about my dad’s journey from Oklahoma to England, but today I am going to combine the information in my dad’s letters home with Frank Furiga’s diary entries to get a better picture of where they stopped along the way and on what dates. So here goes…
Dad illustrated his trip across the Atlantic on a map in a world atlas.
And then he explained where he was and when in several letters to his mother up to the point he left the United States.
June 22, 1944 [Farrar Letter]
Dad wrote a letter to his Mother that they would be leaving Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were heading to Kearney, Nebraska to pick up their plane which he thought would take from three to seven days. They likely left Ardmore, probably by troop train, somewhere between June 23 and June 25. Today, driving the 540 miles between Ardmore and Kearney takes eight to nine hours. The letter was postmarked Ardmore on June 23.
June 25, 1944 [Farrar Letter]
Dad’s next letter was written from Kearney, Nebraska on June 25 and postmarked Kearney the same day. He wrote, “We will only be here four days.” They had been assigned their plane to ferry overseas.
June 26, 1944 [Farrar Letter]
The next day, still in Kearney, Dad wrote, “One more day in this place and we will be going.”
June 28, 1944 [Farrar Letter]
Two days later, they were still in Kearney. Dad wrote, “In just a little while we will be on our way. We will stay once more in the States. This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.” This letter was postmarked Kearney on June 29.
I think Dad liked Kearney so much he had this photo made to send home to his mother. I can’t be certain this is Kearney, but it looks very similar to a photo of Central Avenue in Kearney on page 7 of an article, “Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II” by Todd L. Peterson.
Kearney must have been a nice place even during wartime. Today, the “Visit Kearney” website tells me that Kearney is pronounced (car + knee), it is a colorful and exciting city situated in the heart of the Heartland, and it is the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World.
Now I’ll turn the next leg of the journey over to Frank Furiga and his diary entries.
June 29, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Left Kearney, Neb. June 29.
Arrived Grenier Field, New Hampshire June 29 in morning.
Grenier Field was located in Manchester, New Hampshire.
June 30, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Left June 30th.
Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador June 30th in evening.
July 1, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Left there (Goose Bay, Labrador) July 1st evening.
July 2, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland on A.M. of July 2nd.
July 4, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Left Meeks July 4th A.M.
Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland on July 4th (or 5th).
Nutts Corner was a Royal Air Force (RAF) Station located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) east of Crumlin, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and 9.2 miles (14.8 km) north west of Belfast. During the Second World War it became an important RAF Coastal Command station and was also used as a transport hub for aircraft arriving from the United States.
Station #2, European Wing, Air Transport Command was activated 24 September 1943 at Nutts Corner using personnel from detachments of the 69th Transport Squadron and 1149th Military Police Company (Aviation) [per General Orders 21, EWATC, 24 September 1943] and operated as a transport hub until it was redesignated 18 July 1944.
July 5, 1944 [Furiga Diary]
Went from there (Nutts Corner, Ireland) on 5th by boat to Scotland.
From there in train to Stone in Staffordshire a few miles south of Stoke-on-Trent.
AAF Station 518 (VIII AF Service Command) was in Stone.
From this point, I can only follow their path through the orders sending both men and their crews to Grafton Underwood, just days apart. What they did between July 5 and the third week of July, I can’t say, but it may have involved some additional training time. Or perhaps just sitting around waiting for their assignments.
July 22, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #144]
George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. Orders stated,
The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 2 SO #202, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 20 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 21 July, 1944.
Hq AAF Station 112 was identified in “Army Air Force Stations” as
- AAF Number: 112
- Name: Bovingdon
- Location: Hertfordshire
- Principal Unit(s) Assigned: 11 Cmbt (Combat) Crew Replacement Ctr (Center)
“Army Air Force Stations” is subtitled “A Guide to the Stations Where U .S . Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II” and was written by Captain Barry J. Anderson, USAF of the Research Division of the USAF Historical Research Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and published 31 January 1985.
July 26, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #148]
Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 547th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944. Orders stated,
The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 1 SO #206, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 24 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 25 July, 1944.
From the letters and diary entries, I believe I can trace the path of George Edwin Farrar and Frank Dominic Furiga and the other servicemen they were traveling with as:
June 22, 1944: In Ardmore, Oklahoma.
June 23 – 25, 1944: Left Ardmore, Oklahoma. Arrived Kearney, Nebraska.
June 29, 1944: Left Kearney, Nebraska. Arrived Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire.
June 30, 1944: Left Grenier Field, New Hampshire. Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador.
July 1, 1944: Left Goose Bay, Labrador.
July 2, 1944: Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland.
July 4, 1944: Left Meeks Field, Iceland. Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland.
July 5, 1944: Left Nutts Corner, Ireland. Boarded boat for Scotland. Continued by train to Stone in Staffordshire, England.
Unknown date, July, 1944: Continued to Combat Crew Replacement Center at AAF Station 112 Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.
July 22, 1944: George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.
July 26, 1944: Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.
Thank you Paul Furiga for sharing your dad’s diary entries.
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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021