A new search has provided me with some new information regarding my dad George Edwin Farrar, one of the original waist gunners of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group in World War II.
To view my original post and other information about George Edwin Farrar, please see the links at the end of this post.
Continued from George Edwin Farrar, Update – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
This part will cover George Edwin Farrar’s journey home from Germany following his liberation as a POW and his release from military service.
George Edwin Farrar was liberated by the British Royal Dragoons on 2 May 1945. Just five days later, on 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.
On 8 May 1945, V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.
On the day of Germany’s surrender (7 May) and V-E Day (8 May), George Farrar was likely still in Germany or possibly in Brussels, Belgium, but would travel to both France and England before returning home. I am able to track his path through letters home and a medal application.
Waiting to Return Home
George Edwin Farrar just wanted to get home, but between the time he was liberated and the day he departed the European Theater calculates to sixty-one days.
In Germany following 2 May 1945 Liberation
George Edwin Farrar first wrote home after liberation, filling out the blanks of a “Priority Message.” Within his fifteen word limit, he did not indicate what day it was or where he was.
Dear Mother, was liberated May Second. Am in good health. Will be home soon. Love, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar, ASN 14119873
In Germany on 6 May 1945
Four days after he was liberated, George Edwin Farrar wrote a longer letter to his mother from Germany. Some of the highlights of the letter were that,
- I was liberated by the English May 2nd.
- I should be home soon.
- I have been on the road marching since Feb. 6th with very little food, but am not in bad condition.
- I guess I’ll have to get a new watch when I return as I had to sell mine for bread when I was on the march.
- I hope you can read this, as I am writing on an old German gas mask case, and it is a bit rough, so will close until I have a better chance to write.
In Brussels, Belgium after leaving Germany
In filling out my dad’s posthumous Prisoner of War (POW) Medal Application on 17 August 1988, my mother wrote,
He was liberated on May 2, 1945. Sent to Brussels, Belgium and on to a hospital in France where he spent several weeks.
I do not know the source of her information other than probably told to her by my dad.
According to a U.S. World War II Hospital Admission Card, on 14 May 1945, George E. Farrar was hospitalized for ten days (presumably till about May 23) in a field hospital with a diagnosis of acute Tonsillitis. This field hospital likely was in Belgium, but the location was not included on the transcription of the card.
In France, 22 to 29 May 1945
On 22 May 1945, George Edwin Farrar wrote a letter to his mother from France. In part, he wrote,
- Thought I had better drop you a line, as it is taking a little longer to get away from here than I thought, but it won’t be much longer.
- I had better cut this as it is getting late and the lights here are very poor. And if I expect to do any more flying I had better take good care of them (my eyes).
At this point, he probably thought he would have to return to combat duty and flying. He also noted that while he was a prisoner of war,
I was in three German Hospitals for about two and a half months.
This indicates he was not placed in the general population of Stalag Luft IV until mid-December 1944, not mid-November as I have been thinking. I am also now even more curious about in which three German hospitals he stayed.
After not having a chance to mail his letter, Ed Farrar added a few more lines on 29 May 1945, with the new information that,
I have been in France for little over a week, and am going to England before I come to the States.
That last line leads me to believe he was in Germany and Belgium for almost three weeks before he arrived in France around 22 May.
In addition to a hospital stay in France, as indicated in the POW medal application, I believe it’s possible he was processed through the Cigarette Camp, Camp Lucky Strike, while he was in France. Most American airmen who had become POW’s during the war were processed through this camp.
I’ll write more about Camp Lucky Strike and the other RAMP (Recovered American Military Personnel) camps in a future post.
In England, June 1945
On 29 June 1945, George Edwin Farrar wrote a letter to his mother from England. He had thought he would be going home near the end of May and now it was a whole month later and he was still in Europe, in England.
He wrote that,
This will be my last letter from England, as we are leaving to-night. I will call you the first chance I get, after we reach the States. It will take a good while to cross, as we are going to be on a very small ship.
But George Farrar didn’t leave that night. According to his separation papers, he left England three days later, on 2 July 1945.
George Edwin Farrar left England one year and one day after he left the States on 1 July 1944 heading to the European Theater of Operations for combat duty. He returned home by ship from an unknown departure point in England on 2 July 1945 to an unknown arrival port in the U.S. on 17 July 1945. I have not found any more details about his journey, including the name of the ship.
Release from WWII Military Service
George Edwin Farrar’s WWII Final Payment Worksheet noted a “Previous Organization” as Miami Beach, Florida. Just like Brodie crew waist gunner Harry Liniger, I believe George Farrar was sent to Army Air Forces Redistribution Station No. 2 in Miami Beach for reassignment processing after completing his tour of duty outside the continental United States.
The Gates County Index newspaper reported for Harry Liniger that, “During his processing, he is housed in an ocean-front hotel and enjoys abundant facilities for rest and recreation in this year-round beneficial climate.” George Farrar likely spent time in Miami for the same reason and probably in the same or a similar hotel.
Before going to Miami, Harry Liniger enjoyed some time at home, and I believe George Farrar would have also. George must have been considered to be on furlough from 24 July (a week after he returned to the States on 17 July) until 5 October 1945, and I believe the two locations he would have been in during this timeframe would have been home in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the AAF Redistribution Station in Miami.
During this time, on 14 August 1945, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender, but surrender documents would not be signed until 2 September. Some consider the 14 August 1945 date to be V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, but others consider it to be 2 September 1945, when the surrender document was signed.
From Miami, George Farrar was likely next sent to San Antonio, Texas, where he received his Honorable Discharge and Separation Notice on 29 October 1945, from Miami.
According to his Final Payment Worksheet, George Edwin Farrar was discharged from the Army Air Forces on 29 October 1945. Up until this final payment, he was last paid on 30 June 1945, which was just before his departure from England, on the way home.
His Accrued Base & Longevity Pay from 1 July 1945 to 29 October 1945 was $399.84. His Foreign Service Pay from 1 July to 17 July 1945 was $10.88. His Furlough Rations from 24 July 1945 to 5 October 1945 was $48.84.
Honorable Discharge and Enlisted Record and Report of Separation
George Edwin Farrar was honorably discharged from the military service of the United States of America on 29 October 1945.
His place of separation was SAD AAFPDC (Army Air Forces Personnel Distribution Command), San Antonio, Texas.
He recorded his Honorable Discharge with the Clerk Superior Court of DeKalb County, Georgia on 14 November 1945.
George Edwin Farrar’s Report of Separation listed his height as 5’8″ tall and weight as 140 pounds. Comparing these measurements to those he listed on his draft registration card, during the course of his military service he lost an inch in height and two pounds. I can’t say why there was a height difference, but he must have regained the weight he lost as a prisoner or war over the six months since his liberation.
His separation record listed his (partial) Military History and Pay Data,
- Military Occupational Specialty and No. – AP Arm Gnr. 612
- Military Qualification – AAF Air Crew Member Badge (Wings)
- Battles and Campaigns – Normandy, No. France, Rhineland
- Decorations and Citations – listed below…
- Service Outside Continental U.S. and Return – listed below…
- Wounds Received in Action – Germany 28 Sept 44
- Longevity for Pay Purposes was 3 years, 4 months, and 25 days
- Total Length of Continental Service – 2 years, 4 months, and 9 days
- Total Length of Foreign Service – 1 year and 16 days
- Reason and Authority for Separation – RR 1-1 Convn of the Gov’t.
- Service Schools Attended – Kingman, Ariz., Ft. Myers, Fla.
Decorations and Citations (Awards and Decorations)
- American Theater Ribbon
- EAME Ribbon w/3 Bronze Stars
- Good Conduct Medal
- Air Medal w/1 Bronze (Oak Leaf) Cluster
- World War II Victory Medal
- Purple Heart
George Farrar was awarded the Purple Heart medal for wounds received on 28 September 1944 per General Orders #41, San Antonio District, AAF PDC dated 25 October 1945.
- POW Medal (awarded posthumously in 1988)
Service Outside Continental U.S. and Return
- Departure from U.S.
- Date of Departure 1 Jul 44
- Destination ETO
- Date of Arrival 3 Jul 44
- Departure from ETO
- Date of Departure 2 Jul 45
- Destination USA
- Date of Arrival 17 Jul 45
George Edwin Farrar’s Separation Record noted for his Military Occupational Assignments,
- 1 month, Grade Pvt, a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of AAF Basic Tng 521
- 13 months, Grade Sgt, MOS of AAF Gunnery Instructor 938
- 3 months, Grade S/Sgt (Staff Sergeant), MOS of Airplane Armorer Gunner 612
The Summary of his Military Occupations noted,
- AAF GUNNERY INSTRUCTOR (938) – Instructed Military Personnel in flexible gunnery for 7 months 1943 at Kingman, Arizona. Conducted and administered training classes and gunnery tests. Administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunner for six months at Ardmore OTU, Okla.
- AIRPLANE ARMORER GUNNER – Was a crew member of a B-17 at an 8th AF Heavy Bombardment Base in England for 3 months in 1944. Flew 17 missions over German Occupied territory. Flew as Armorer Gunner in lead ship and was responsible for inspection and repair of bomb racks, gun sights, and turrets. Fired 50 caliber machine gun from Waist position when in combat.
George Farrar’s Military Education noted,
- ACGS: Kingman, Ariz. Flexible Gunnery, (30 and 50 caliber machine guns) 6 weeks.
- AC INSTRUCTORS SCHOOL – Ft. Myers, Fla. 6 wks. – Course included instruction and practical training in teaching methods and Student Psychology as well as fundamentals of advanced Aerial Gunnery.
Additional Information noted,
POW in Germany 28 Sept 44 – 2 May 45.
Thank you to the 384th Bomb Group and especially Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for their research and obtaining and presenting records of the servicemen of the Group.
Previous post, George Edwin Farrar, Growing Up in Atlanta, Georgia
Previous posts, George Edwin Farrar, Update – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
George Edwin Farrar’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022
You’ve done an amazing amount of research. I wish I had this much information about my father’s experience. Right about the time your father was arriving at Grafton-Underwood, my father was leaving. I think he left in July or August 1944, returning to the States for assignment in New Jersey, Texas, and Louisiana (where I was born).
Not many of the men of his generation talked about their battle experiences. If they saw anything terrible, it just stayed with them, and they didn’t want to bring it up. Almost all the fathers in my neighborhood were veterans. I recall one of them telling me that he got a medal for landing on D-Day. At ten years old, I had no idea what D-Day was, so I replied, “You got a medal just for landing a plane on a certain day?” He got a laugh out of that.
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Thanks, Donna. Still discovering new information all the time!