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Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 3

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…

This part will cover Harry Allen Liniger’s MIA (Missing in Action) and POW (Prisoner of War) experience.

The Mid-air Collision

On 28 September 1944, the B-17’s of the John Buslee crew and the James Brodie crew collided over Magdeburg, Germany. Rather than repeat the story of the collision, I will direct those who would like to read it to 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey’s account here.

Missing in Action

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group note the following for Harry Allen Liniger: On 28 September 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Harry Allen Liniger, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action).

Harry and the other airmen involved in the collision would remain missing until some word was heard, typically relayed from the Red Cross to the military, and from the military to the families, or next of kin, of the missing. Word did not travel quickly outside of wartime Germany to families waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones.

The Gates County Index newspaper published two articles in the month of October with the only information available at the time.

On 18 October 1944: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger of Gatesville have been advised by the War Department that their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, turret gunner on a Liberator bomber [correction: waist gunner on a Flying Fortress/B-17 bomber] is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”

On 25 October 1944: “Sgt. Harry A. Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville, waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and recently awarded the Air Medal, is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”

A follow-up article in the same issue noted: “Award of the Air Medal for ‘exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in sustained bomber combat operations over enemy occupied Continental Europe’ to Sgt. Liniger was announced by an Eighth Air Force bomber station in England soon after news that he was missing reached Gatesville.

Waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, Sgt. Liniger was taking part in attacks being carried out against targets in Germany and the occupied areas by the American Air Forces. He was serving with a Fortress group that is a veteran unit on the European aerial front. Sgt. Liniger is 20 and was a student at Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg prior to entering the service.”

Prisoner of War

By December 1944, the Liniger family had received word that Harry was alive and a prisoner of war. The Germans allowed the POWs to write a limited number of postcards and letters home, but the mail could take several months to arrive.

For example, I have a letter my father wrote as a POW he dated 9 November 1944. Someone, probably my grandmother, noted on the letter that she received it over four months later on 23 March 1945.

Initial postcards the POWs sent home within a short time after capture looked like this postcard of my father’s.

Harry Liniger wrote his card just two days before my dad, who was hospitalized following capture, on 3 October. (I don’t believe POW’s were allowed to tell their families they were not in good health, hence unable to note he was seriously wounded and could not walk).

The Gates County Index newspaper published an article on 20 December 1944, so these first post cards likely took two months to reach the families.

On 20 December 1944: “Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville recently received another card from her son, S/Sgt. Harry Liniger, prisoner of war of the German government. The sergeant said that he was in good health and was being moved to another prison camp. The card was dated October 3, five days after the Flying Fortress of which he was a crew member, was forced down into Nazi occupied Europe.”

Prison Camp

In Nazi Germany, Allied prisoners of war were confined to separate prison camps based on at least two criteria. Those held captive from various nationality air forces, airmen were kept in “Luft” stalags. Officers and enlisted men were also separated into different camps. Of the four survivors of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee and Brodie B-17’s, one was an officer and three were enlisted.

The officer, George Marshall Hawkins, Brodie crew navigator, was seriously injured and served his entire POW internment in a POW hospital. If he had not been injured, he would have been assigned to an officer’s POW camp. The three enlisted men, George Farrar of the Buslee crew, and Wilfred Miller and Harry Liniger of the Brodie crew, were all assigned to Stalag Luft IV. Farrar spent the first two months of captivity in a hospital, but was then placed in the camp in late November 1944.

I discovered George Farrar and Wilfred Miller on the same camp roster, a Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, placing both of them in the same Lager of the camp. I have been unable to find Harry Liniger’s name on any of the available rosters, though. It is possible that he was held in Lager A, B, or C, but looking through the Lager D roster more closely, I believe a page could be missing between scanned pages 37 (which ends with Lewis) and 38 (which begins with Lissendrello) where Harry Liniger possibly could be included alphabetically in this list.

Harry Allen Liniger’s POW number was #3818. His son, Harry, Jr., found the number in his grandmother’s war time diary along with her son’s POW address. Harry, Jr. says Estella Liniger’s diary was pretty simple, but held a lot of valuable information. “It had the addresses from all my dad’s duty stations, the address for the Red Cross in Switzerland and a few others. One entry said she received my dad’s Air Medal in the mail. It mentioned receiving a couple of letters from dad saying he was ok. She also wrote out her prayerful thoughts on some days.”

The March

Harry Allen Liniger was one of the Stalag Luft IV POW’s marched out of the prison camp on February 6, 1945 to begin the 500-day 86-mile march of prisoners across Germany. One day, Harry Liniger, Jr., opened his father’s New Testament and found a note his dad had written on cigarette paper.

Harry had recorded a horrific train ride to which the prisoners were subjected on their journey. This note confirms an event in the historical record of the march, the memory of which likely haunted the men on the train for the rest of their lives.

On another day, Harry Jr. showed the note to his daughter and she decided to look through the book. She found a list on the inside cover that looked like Harry was adding up his back pay while in captivity. There was also a man’s name, Charles Gleason, ASN 32718483, and a New York address of 200 E. 81st St., printed in the back.

Charles Gleason’s POW record in the online National Archives notes that he was held in Stalag Luft IV. Charles was a left waist gunner with the 97th Bomb Group, 340th Bomb Squadron, of the 15th AF based in Amendola, Italy in the Province of Foggia. [Note: Between 17 August 1942 and 21 October 1942, the 97th Bomb Group flew from Polebrook and Grafton Underwood with the 8th Air Force].

Charles Albert Gleason was 5’8″ tall, weighed 145 pounds, had gray eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion. He registered for the draft on 15 February 1942. His place of residence was 200 E. 81 St., New York, NY and he was born on 29 June 1921 in New York, NY.

Federal Census records from 1930 and 1940 note that Charles’ father was Charles A. Gleason, Sr., his mother was Katherine (or Catherine, possibly with the maiden name of Kelly). He had two older sisters, Dorothy and Rita. His father died in 1936, leaving Charles’ mother a widow.

Charles Gleason went MIA on the 97th Bomb Group’s 23 October 1944 mission to the Pilsen, Czechoslovakia Skoda Works in B-17 42-31709. The missing air crew report, MACR9513, notes the cause as flak.

Ten men of the Josie Francis Flotz (Durham, NC) crew – Paul Eugene Rominger (Ohio), Leon Joseph Cooning, Jr., Wallace John Lameweaver, Robert T. Oakes, Dalton John Cormier, Charles Albert Gleason, Clifton Edward Huffman (or Hoffman of Palestine, WV), John David Lawson (Osborne, KS), and Richard Arthur Leonard (Dayton, OH) – all were captured and became prisoners of war.

MACR9513 notes that at a location of 4915N/1257E, the Flotz crew’s B-17 was observed “Straggling after target run. Result of enemy aircraft and damaged by flak or defect in oxygen.”

An airman who was an eyewitness, Sgt. Glenn W. Troutman, reported, “After completing the target run, I saw aircraft #709 straggling, because of a hit by flak or some other damage to aircraft.” Crew member Clifton E. Huffman reported: “All ten [crew] members bailed out shortly after losing three engines over target. Saw all crew members at Frankfort interrogation center.” The pilot, Josie F. Foltz, Jr., reported that they were over the target (just after Rally) when they left the formation. He added “All crew members bailed out approx. the same time & about 50 to 100 mi. SE of target near Eger, Germany.”

Charles Gleason was able to evade for a day, but was captured on 24 October 1944 at 17:30 (5:30 in the evening) near Maerzdorf dist. in Kaaden (Kadaň), a town in the Chomutov District in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czechoslovakia.

I expected to find Harry Liniger and Charles Gleason on the same POW roster from Stalag Luft IV. Coming from bomb groups that were not based even in the same country, Liniger in England and Gleason in Italy, I can’t imagine where they would have met if not in the prison camp or on the march.

However, I do not find their names in any list together. I do find Charles Gleason listed in the roster on page 74 of the POW book “Barbed Boredom – A Souvenir Book of Stalag Luft IV” by Charles G. Janis. He is listed as “Gleason C 200 E 81st St New York N.Y.” Harry is not found in this list. The author of “Barbed Boredom,” Charles Janis, was held POW in Lager D, the lager where I know George Farrar and Wilfred Miller were both held. However, neither of their names appear on Janis’ list either. And in the roster where I do find Farrar’s and Miller’s names on, the Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, I do not find Charles Gleason, Harry Liniger, or Charles Janis.

Charles Gleason’s POW record indicates his last report date was 9 July 1945. Harry Liniger’s last report date was 31 May 1945. George Farrar’s last report date was closer to Gleason’s. Farrar’s was 13 July 1945. Farrar had an extended hospital stay following his liberation and perhaps Gleason did as well as both returned home much later than Harry Liniger.

Charles Albert Gleason died April 20, 2001 at the age of 79.

I have shared this information about Charles Albert Gleason because he must have been important to Harry Liniger during their confinement as POW’s during World War II. If any family members of Charles Gleason have any information about this time in his life, please contact me.

Liberation

The Gates County Index newspaper published several articles upon the news of Harry Liniger’s liberation.

On 30 May 1945: “Sgt. Harry Liniger, waist gunner on a Flying Fortress shot down over enemy occupied Europe many months ago, has been liberated from a German prison camp, according to information reaching his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger, through the Red Cross.”

On 6 June 1945, Gatesville: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger have received an Army Signal Corps message from their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, liberated prisoner in Europe, telling them, ‘At the rate I am moving, I will be home in a few months.’ They also received a telegram from the War Department saying that Sgt. Liniger was returned to military control on May 2.”

On 28 May 1945, upon the receipt of the telegram of her son’s liberation and return to military control, Estella Liniger recorded her last prayerful thoughts in her diary, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.

Notes

Thank you to Keith Ellefson for obtaining Charles Gleason’s missing air crew report for me.

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

Dave Osborne’s Fortlog

Charles Gleason’s POW record in the National Archives

Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers

97th Bomb Group courtesy of the American Air Museum in Britain

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…

This part will cover Harry Allen Liniger’s entry into military service, stateside training, and overseas combat duty.

Harry Allen Liniger’s Entry into Military Service

Military School

Although I was unable to find a 1940 census record for the Liniger family, I believe in 1940, 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger was likely living in Salemburg, Sampson County, North Carolina. He attended Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg.

Harry graduated from Edwards on 22 May 1942 and turned eighteen that summer. His diploma notes he “completed the course of study prescribed for graduation from the High School Department.” If he attended the school for four years, he would have been there since the Fall of 1938.

Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger and Dink Bishop
Edwards Military Institute Graduation
Photo courtesy of Harry Liniger, Jr.

This postcard picture of the Edwards Military Institute at Salemburg, Sampson County, NC is from “North Carolina Postcards” of the North Carolina Collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Edwards Military Institute, Salemburg, NC
Photo courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The school, more recently known as Southwood College, was founded in 1874. From 1935 to 1965, two institutions, Edwards Military Institute and Pineland College, both operated on the same site. In 1965, the institutions became Southwood College, which closed in 1973.

Draft Registration

On 11 December 1942, Harry Liniger registered for the WWII draft at the Local Board No. 1 at the National Guard Armory in Edenton, North Carolina. He listed his place of residence as Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina. Harry’s place of employment was Marine Air Base in Edenton. He was 18 years old and born on 9 August 1924 in Steubenville, Ohio.

P.W. Liniger (Harry’s father Paul) of Gatesville, North Carolina was the person who would always know his address.

Harry described himself as 5′ 7″ tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. He noted a scar on his inside right wrist as an “other obvious physical characteristic that will aid in identification.”

Enlistment

On 24 March 1943, Harry enlisted in WWII at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and was inducted into military service as of this date. Harry’s enlistment record notes his residence as Gates County, North Carolina, and that he was born in Ohio in 1924. According to his enlistment record, his civilian occupation was “paymasters, payroll clerks, and timekeepers.”

One week later, 31 March 1943, was Harry’s date of entry into Active Service at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina (according to his Honorable Discharge).

Training in the States

The Gates County Index newspaper reported two significant events in Harry’s stateside training.

On 12 April 1944, Harlingen Army Air Field, Texas: “Harry Liniger … was graduated this week at this field as an aerial gunner and was awarded his silver wings. … [Next] he will join an aerial combat team…”

On 20 September 1944, Army Air Field, Oklahoma: “Pfc. Harry Liniger … has completed final phase training as aerial gunner of a heavy bombardment unit at the 222nd Combat Crew Training Station, 2nd Army Air Force.”

Other stateside training stations for Harry included basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 613 Training Group at St.  Petersburg, Florida, 403 Training Group at Miami Beach, Florida, and Academic Squadron 1 at Scott Field, Illinois.

WWII Combat Duty at Grafton Underwood, England

Harry Allen Liniger’s 384th Bomb Group Individual Sortie record indicates that his duty was Arm-Gunner, one month’s pay was $140.40, and his home address was Mrs. Estelle Prysock Liniger, Box 251, Gatesville, NC.

Harry was credited with sixteen combat missions with the 384th Bomb Group, from his first on 7 August 1944 to his last on 28 September 1944.

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group indicate the following for Harry Allen Liniger:

  • On 26 JULY 1944, Corporal Harry Allen Liniger was assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group, 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944 as a waist gunner (classification AAG, Airplane Armorer/Gunner, with the MOS, military operational specialty, of 611).
  • On 2 AUGUST 1944, Corporal Harry Allen Liniger was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #155.
  • On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Harry Allen Liniger, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared POW (Prisoner of War).

The Gates County Index newspaper was quick to report Harry’s 2 August promotion to Sergeant.

On 23 August 1944: “Harry Liniger, now in England, has been promoted to sergeant.” Their source was a letter Harry wrote to his sister, identified as Mrs. Wesley Parker of Gatesville.

Side Note: From Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1, remember one of the lodgers living with the Liniger family during the recording of the 1930 census? Ancestry transcribed the name as Parker Westley, but apparently his correct full name was Jonathan Wesley Parker. He and Harry’s sister Eileen married that same year of the census on 8 August 1930. Wesley was 22 years old and Eileen was 14 according to their ages as recorded in the 1930 Federal census.

More about Harry Liniger and his MIA/POW experience in my next post…

Notes

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

Previous post, Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Edwards Military Institute – North Carolina Postcards Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Southwood College, previously Edwards Military Institute and Pineland College

Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search, and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the Brodie crew and was one of the three survivors on Brodie’s B-17 in the mid-air collision on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Because I have so much new information to share after my latest research into Harry Allen Liniger, this update will be presented in multiple parts. First up, some background about the Liniger family.

The Liniger Family

The 384th Bomb Group waist gunner, Harry Allen Liniger, was born in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio on 9 August 1924 to father Paul Whitney Liniger (1889 – 1960) and mother Estella Jeanette Prysock Liniger (1893 – 1973). Paul and Estella married on 17 February 1912 in Belmont, Ohio. Harry had an older sister, Eileen May Liniger (1916 – 1972).

Harry first appears in the Federal Census in 1930 as a 5-year-old. He, his parents, and sister (all listed with the last name misspelled “Lianeger” and with his sister’s name misspelled “Oleen”), lived in Lynnhaven, Princess Anne County, Virginia. Paul was the Head of Household and 41 years old. Also included in the Liniger’s household were Estella (wife, age 36), Eileen (daughter, age 14), and Harry (son, age 5).

Also living in the Liniger household were Paul’s brother Harry A. (age 43), sister Mary (age 45), and two lodgers, Conard Ginon (age 32) and Parker Westly (age 22). Other than the two lodgers, all were recorded as born in Ohio. All, including the Liniger’s children Eileen and Harry, were recorded with the occupation of Showman or Show woman in a Traveling Circus.

384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger at 3 years old
Photo courtesy of his son, Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

Going back twenty years, and two years before he and Estella married, Paul Liniger (misspelled Linneger, age 20), is recorded in the 1910 Federal Census as living in Pultney Township, Belmont County, Ohio with his father John (age 56, occupation – engineer on a ferry boat), his mother Sarah (age 46, no occupation), and brother Harry (age 23). Both Paul and Harry were listed with the occupation of Acrobat in the Circus. [Note: John Liniger is recorded under the name “William Liniger” on the 1900 Federal Census].

Beginning a career in the circus at least as far back as 1910 with the Liniger brothers in their early twenties, they went on to have their own show and eventually their own circus.

In 1916, the “Liniger Bros. & O’Wesney Shows” was described as a new show in the amusement world that was destined to be a big success. The staff was identified as Paul Liniger (manager), Ray Owesney (secretary-treasurer), and Harry Liniger (equestrian director), among others. Also of note was the comment that “Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger will learn with delight that the stork paid them a visit on May 11 and left a ten-pound baby girl. [Billboard, May 20, 1916, p. 62, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

Paul Liniger in his areal uniform
Photo courtesy of his grandson Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

In 1917, the “Liniger Bros.’ Combined Shows” big show program consisted of nineteen numbers, including the Three Liniger Brothers, and many other comedy, acrobatic, animal, and other acts. The transportation included six wagons and other vehicles. The brand new “canvas” included the big top – a “50,” and a “35” and two “20s.” Staff included, among others, Paul W. Liniger (manager), Mrs. Paul W. Liniger (ticket taker), and Harry Liniger (boss canvasman). [Billboard, June 2, 1917, p. 26, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

The Liniger Brothers
Photo courtesy of Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

In 1918, the show did not go on, “Owing to the fact that Harry Liniger, of the Liniger Bros. Shows, has been drafted and is somewhere in France, the show did not take the road this season.” [Billboard, August 10, 1918, p. 24, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

In a 1920 entry found on the Classic Circus History website of the Circus Historical Society, in the Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922, Harry was described as having been a clown in the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Forces). Harry served in WWI, enlisting on 27 May 1918.

According to the Ohio Roster of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in WWI, Harry spent part of his military service in WWI in the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), from 22 July 1918 to 23 February 1919. The Showman certainly took his show on the road in World War I! Harry’s military service release date, when he received an honorable discharge, was on 6 May 1919. [Read more about this aspect of the A.E.F. on The World War History and Art Museum website, “The Circus Goes to War – Show Business and the Armed Forces of World War I.”]

Harry Liniger of the Liniger Brothers Circus on the left, unidentified on the right
Photo courtesy of his great-nephew Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

I did not find a 1920 Federal Census record for the Liniger’s, but I found another record of their involvement in the circus during the 1920’s on the Classic Circus History website of the Circus Historical Society. The Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922 notes that the brothers performed as the “Liniger Brothers” in the circus in that timeframe.

In 1921, Paul and Harry were with the Rhoda Royal show, “one on the sailor rope and the other in clown alley,” and in a later article, Harry Liniger wrote that he left the Rhoda Royal Circus, and the “Liniger Bros. will be out next spring with their own vaudeville and picture show under canvas.” [Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922]

In 1922, Paul and Harry had their own Liniger Bros. Circus-Vaudeville Motorized Show. [Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922]. The staff included, among others, Liniger Bros. (proprietors), Paul Liniger (manager), Harry Liniger (operator) ; Stella Liniger (pianist), Paul, Jr. and Eileen Liniger (kid workers). The program included Harry Liniger, Paul, Jr., and Eileen Liniger in songs and dances, and comedy acrobats by the Liniger Bros. and Paul, Jr. [Billboard, July 15, 1922, p. 63, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

The Liniger Brothers Circus Family
Photo courtesy of Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

For 1925, the only archive record I find online is this archive from Circus World. It is an Archive Record Herald. A herald is a circus advertisement that was similar to a hand bill. Below is the header for the Liniger Bros.’ herald.

Photo courtesy of Circus World Archives

Please check the Archive Record Herald link for images of the herald itself, both Side A –“WATER-PROOF TENTS” and Side B –“CASTLE’S CONGRESS OF ANIMAL ACTORS.” Among the “notable acts” are the “3 Liniger Brothers.”

Added 29 December 2022, a recently discovered Liniger Brothers postcard, found by Harry Liniger, Jr.

Liniger Brothers postcard
Courtesy of Harry Liniger, Jr.

After 1925, I know the show went on because the Liniger’s were recorded in the 1930 census with the occupations of Showman and Show woman in a traveling circus, but I find no other mentions of the Liniger Brothers in internet searches after this year. To learn more about the American circuses of this era, I may have to visit the Showmen’s Museum just south of Tampa, Florida.

The Showmen’s Museum is described as “Unlike other museums, the Showmen’s Museum houses decades of memories and history of carnivals and circuses of the past. Guests can stroll the 54,000-square-foot property and view the many artifacts, photographs and relics of the past.” Check their website for hours and ticket prices. 6938 Riverview Dr., Riverview, FL  33578, (813) 671-3503.

But I need to back up one year for a notable event in 1924. In 1924, the Liniger family grew by one. When Paul and Estella’s son was born in 1924, Paul named him for his brother – Harry Allen Liniger. The future 384th Bomb Group waist gunner grew up in a circus family whose many acts included everything from clowning to acrobatics and more. But for all the shows the Liniger’s performed, Paul’s son Harry would perform the most death defying act of any of them.

As a waist gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber, Harry celebrated his twentieth birthday on 9 August 1944 participating in his third combat mission of World War II. He risked his life on a total of sixteen combat missions, avoiding injury from enemy fighters and the ground fire of the German flak guns, until seven weeks after that birthday mission. On 28 September 1944, after his bomber and another of the 384th collided 25,000 feet above Madgeburg, Germany, Harry was propelled from the B-17 in an explosion that threw him from the ship.

If Harry had any flashbacks from his family’s circus days, he may have felt like he had been shot out of a cannon and was flying through the air, but not with the greatest of ease, no trapeze, and without a net to catch him and break his fall. Fortunately for Harry, his chest chute functioned properly and delivered him safely to the ground, although the “safely” part ended rather abruptly when he was taken into custody as a prisoner of war upon landing.

More about Harry Liniger and his military training and World War II service in my next post…

Notes

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

The World War History and Art Museum website, page “The Circus Goes to War – Show Business and the Armed Forces of World War I.”

Circus World Archive Record Herald

Parkinson’s Directory of American Circuses, 1916-1925, Classic Circus History from the Circus Historical Society – Liniger Brothers listing

Classic Circus History from the Circus Historical Society – Liniger Brothers

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

The Loss of the Brodie Crew on 28 September 1944

Last week I wrote about The Loss of the Buslee Crew on 28 September 1944. This week I want to explore the Brodie crew’s losses on that day.

We are just past the seventy-eighth anniversary of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee crew’s and Brodie crew’s B-17’s over Magdeburg, Germany. Killed in Action on this day were original Brodie crewmembers James Brodie (pilot), Lloyd Vevle (co-pilot), Robert Crumpton (engineer/top turret gunner), and Gordon Hetu (ball turret gunner). Original crew members George Hawkins (navigator), Wilfred Miller (tail gunner), and Harry Liniger (waist gunner) became prisoners of war.

Two more airmen were also killed aboard the Brodie B-17, men who were from different crews, but were flying with Brodie that day. They were Byron Atkins (togglier) and Donald Dooley (radio operator).

Original Brodie crew waist gunner Leonard Opie had been transferred after his third mission with the group. The crew’s original radio operator, William Taylor, became a POW on his twenty-first mission one week later, on 5 October 1944 (seventy-eight years ago today). The crew’s bombardier, William Barnes, was the only one of the original Brodie crew to complete his tour of thirty-five missions and return home without serious injury, death, or capture by the enemy.

When you look at the statistics for this one original B-17 crew of ten airmen from World War II, four were killed in action, four became prisoners of war, one transferred, and only one completed his tour without serious injury, death, or capture.

The statistics for the original Brodie crew:

  • Killed in Action 40%
  • Prisoner of War 40%
  • Transferred 10%
  • Returned home without major incident (or transfer) 10%

As I mentioned last week, remember, these boys weren’t just “statistics.” They were sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. They were from all over the United States, some from farming communities, some from big cities, and everywhere in between. But regardless of their differences, ten young men came together to create one cohesive air crew, and they would fight, even to their deaths, to protect their families and country.

To learn more about each of these airmen of World War II, visit my permanent page, The Buslee and Brodie Crews, which is continuously updated with new information.


At this point, I want to note a few more grim statistics for these twenty airmen, ten from the original Buslee crew and ten from the original Brodie crew.

Nine of the twenty airmen were killed in combat, eight young men only in their twenties, and one at only nineteen years of age.

Adding in those who survived the war,

  • One died in his teens 5%
  • Nine died in their twenties (including one post-war) 45%
  • One died in his forties 5%
  • Two died in their fifties 10%
  • Four died in their sixties 20%
  • Three died in their seventies 15%

None of the survivors lived to see eighty years old. The last surviving airman of the original Brodie crew, radio operator William Taylor died in 2002, the only one of both crews to live into the 2000’s.

None of the Buslee crew survivors lived past sixty-one years old. All of the enlisted men of the Buslee crew who had not died on 28 September 1944 died between 1980 and 1982, Clarence Seeley in 1980, Erwin Foster and Eugene Lucynski in 1981, and my dad, George Farrar, in 1982.

Not only was Dad the sole survivor on his B-17 on 28 September 1944, he was the last survivor of the original Buslee crew. I wonder if he knew.

Notes

Previous post, The Loss of the Buslee Crew on 28 September 1944

Permanent page, The Buslee and Brodie Crews

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022