New information from a new search on Ancestry.com, and new information from military records have provided me with some new and updated information regarding James Buford Davis, the second bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. Davis was the crew’s replacement bombardier following the death of original crew bombardier Marvin Fryden.
To view my original post and other information about James Buford Davis, please see the links at the end of this post.
James Buford Davis was born on October 5, 1921 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana to Charles Raymond “Ray” (1891 – 1986) and Bessie “Bess” Millican (1893 – 1981) Davis. James’ birth certificate originally listed his name as Donald Millican Davis, but the name was scratched through and replaced with the name James Buford Davis. His parents changed their minds in naming their son and named James after his paternal grandfather.
In 1920, Ray and Bess Davis lived in Crofton, Christian County, Kentucky and Ray was a farmer. But by the time son James was born in 1921, the family had moved to Indiana.
In 1930, the Davis family lived at 716 [corrected from previous article] South 14th Street in the Fifth Ward of New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. Charles R. “Ray” was thirty-nine years old and Bess was thirty-six.
The 1930 Federal Census notes that Ray was born in Kentucky and both of his parents were from Kentucky. Bess was born in Indiana. Her father was from Indiana and her mother was from Kentucky. James was eight years old at the time of the 1930 census. He had a younger brother Charles Raymond Jr., age five, and a younger sister Evelyn Joy, age four. Ray was employed as a commercial paint salesman in 1930.
In 1940, the family lived at 1216 Woodlawn Drive in New Castle, and had lived in the same house since at least 1935. Ray was still working as a salesman for a paint company. James was now eighteen years old, and had another brother, Neel D. Davis, who was nine.
Education and Civilian Employment prior to Military Service
James Buford Davis graduated from New Castle Chrysler High School with the Class of 1940. Following high school, James attended two years of college at Purdue University where he majored in Mechanical Engineering, specialized in the subjects of math and science, and participated in the sport of wrestling.
While attending Purdue University, from 7 September 1940 through 30 May 1942, James Davis was a Pfc. in the ROTC. He was classified as in “Field Art., Student, Inactive.”
Prior to his military service, James was employed at Perfect Circle Mfg. Co. in New Castle, Indiana from May 1942 to January 1943. The business was a Piston Ring Foundry. James supervised five employees and his position was “Heat Treater.” His duties were to “heat piston rings to definite temperature & for specified time & remove from furnace for cooling.”
Entry into WWII Military Service
On 16 February 1942, James Davis registered for the WWII draft at the Selective Service Board, Area #1 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. He listed his Place of Residence as 1216 Woodlawn Drive, New Castle, Henry County, Indiana, and Mailing Address as Cary Hall – West, West LaFayette, Indiana. James’ Employer’s Name was Purdue University – Student and place of employment was LaFayette, Tipp County, Indiana. He was 20 years old and born on 5 October 1921 in New Castle, Indiana.
Charles R. Davis (James’ father) of the same residence was the person who would always know his address.
James described himself as 5′ 8″ tall, 140 pounds, with gray eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. He noted no “other obvious physical characteristic that will aid in identification.”
On 21 July 1942, James B. Davis enlisted in the Reserve Corps at Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky for Aviation Cadet Training for service in Air Corps Enlisted Reserve. James’ enlistment record notes his residence as Henry County, Indiana and that he was born in Indiana in 1921. His Army Serial Number at the time of enlistment was 15113648. Note: Officers were reassigned with a new serial number when they were commissioned and James’ later become O-769104.
At the time of his enlistment, James Davis had completed 2 years of college and was single, having no one dependent on him for support.
From 22 July 1942 to 6 January 1943, James was a Pvt. in the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve, New Castle Indiana, AAF, Inactive.
Per Special Orders No. 317 from Headquarters Fifth Service Command, Services of Supply, Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio, dated 26 December 1942, James B. Davis, 15113648, was ordered to Active Duty effective 6 January 1943 as an Aviation Cadet and would be sent to AFCC, San Antonio, Texas. He was accepted for active duty on 6 January 1943.
Note: James’ enlistment record is found in the Reserve Corps Records, rather than in the Enlistment Records file, link below.
From 6 January 1943 to 25 February 1943, James was assigned to classification as an A/C (Aviation Cadet), Air Corps, at the Classification Center, San Antonio, Texas, AAF, Classification, Active.
On 22 February 1943, James’ Final Grade Sheet was reported for the Class of 43-J of the Army Air Forces Preflight School (Pilot) at San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, San Antonio, Texas. It was stamped at the bottom of the form with “Harmon Flying School, Ballinger, Texas.” It noted James’ Record of Academic Training and Record of Military Training, and Disposition was noted as “SAACCSO 65 Mar.17.1943.”
From 25 February 1943 to 2 April 1943, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Pilot Preflight Tng., San Antonio, Texas, AAF, Pilot Training, Active. He successfully completed the training in March 1943.
From 2 April 1943 to 9 May 1943, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Primary Training, Bruce Field, Ballinger Texas AAF, Pilot Training, Active. However on 16 April 1943, he was determined to have failed to meet the prescribed standards in flying for further training as a pilot. He had previously been classified for air crew training as (1) pilot, (2) bombardier 4, and (3) navigator 6. James did not successfully complete his pilot primary training and was reclassified in May 1943.
On 23 April 1943, James was reclassified as a Navigator.
From 9 May 1943 to 1 June 1943, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Reclassification Center, San Antonio, Texas AAF, Reclassification, Active.
From 1 June 1943 to 26 August 1943, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Preflight Training, Ellington Field, Houston, Texas, AAF, Navigator Training, Active, for pre-flight bombardier training of nine weeks.
On 13 or 21 August 1943, James was reclassified as a bombardier.
From 26 August 1943 to 13 October 1943, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Aerial Gunnery School, Las Vegas, Nevada AAF, Aerial Gun. Tng., Active, for flexible gunnery training of four weeks.
From 23 October 1943 to February 1944, James was assigned as an A/C (Aviation Cadet) to Advanced Bombardier Training, Carlsbad, New Mexico AAF, Bomb Training, Active. Bombardier training lasted eighteen weeks.
On 25 February 1944, James received an enlisted honorable discharge to accept commission as 2nd Lt., AUS, AAFBS, CAAF, Carlsbad, NM.
James Buford Davis entered active service on 26 February 1944. He graduated bombardier school at Carlsbad Army Air Field in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and became 2nd Lt. as of this date.
From 9 March 1944 to 7 April 1944, James was assigned to 18 Replacement Wing, Salt Lake City, Utah, while awaiting further assignment.
From 14 April 1944 to 23 June 1944, James was assigned to 222 CCTS, Ardmore, Oklahoma for Bombardier, B-17, Phase Training.
From 24 June 1944 to 24 July 1944, James Davis was in processing & travel overseas station, via air. He left the USA on 30 June 1944 (reported in his separation papers as 1 July 1944) for England in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
From 25 July 1944 to 6 November 1944, James Davis served in the 544th Bomb Squadron, 384th Bomb Group, England, 8th AF, Bombardier B-17, 25 combat missions, under G.B. Sammons, Major.
From 7 November 1944 to 6 December 1944, James Davis served in the 544th Bomb Squadron, 384th Bomb Group, England, 8th AF, Bombardier B-17, 10 combat missions under M.A. Booska, Major.
Combat Duty in World War II in the 384th Bomb Group
James Davis’ 384th Bomb Group Individual Sortie record indicates that his duty was Bombardier, one month’s pay was $247.50 which increased to $275.00 when he was promoted from 2nd Lt. to 1st Lt., and his home address was Mrs. Bess Davis (his mother), 1216 Woodlawn Dr., New Castle, Ind.
James Davis was credited with thirty-five missions with the 384th Bomb Group. His first mission was on 9 August 1944 and his last was on 4 December 1944.
Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group and other military documents indicate the following for James Buford Davis
- On 26 JULY 1944, 2nd Lt. James Buford Davis was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944 as Bombardier of the Howard Jung crew with the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of 1035.
- On 3 AUGUST 1944, James Davis’ crewmates Howard Jung (pilot), Thomas C. Bates (navigator), and Harold T. Perry (engineer/top turret), and non-crewmate William T. Sellars (radio operator) were killed in a flying/training accident. Jung’s co-pilot James Vrana, also on board, was seriously injured and placed on sick leave. Having never flown a mission, on 8 AUGUST 1944, James A. Vrana was released from assignment and transferred to Detachment of Patients, 4204 U.S. Army Hospital Plant. James Davis was not on board the aircraft in the accident and lost his original crew before he ever flew his first mission.
- On the 9 AUGUST 1944 Mission 176 to Erding, Germany, target German Air Force (Luftwaffe) Erding Airdrome & Airfield, James Davis joined the John Oliver Buslee crew on his first mission as Bombardier, replacing Marvin Fryden who had been killed on the Buslee crew’s second mission of 5 AUGUST 1944.
- On the 28 SEPTEMBER 1944 Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany, the Buslee crew went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). James Davis was not on board the aircraft and lost his second/replacement crew on this date. (See note at the end of this list).
- On 26 NOVEMBER 1944, James Buford Davis was promoted to First Lieutenant effective 26 November 1944 per Headquarters, Eighth Air Force Special Orders #323, EXTRACT dated 26 November 1944.
- On 6 DECEMBER 1944, James Davis was released from assigned & transferred to Casual Pool 79th Replacement Depot AAF Station 591, departed per 3 SO 341 HQ 1st Bomb Division (Completed Tour).
Note: Chester Rybarczyk, the original Buslee crew navigator, was also not on board Buslee’s aircraft on 28 September 1944. James Davis and Chester Rybarczyk became good friends while serving in the 384th Bomb Group and maintained a close friendship after their service ended.
More about James Buford Davis and his return to the States, release from WWII active duty, appointment to the reserves, and civilian life after the war in my next post…
Previous post, James B. Davis
Previous post, More Information About James B. Davis
James Davis’ Enlistment Record in the online National Archives (in the Reserve Corps records)
James Buford Davis’ Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
MOS means Military Occupational Specialty
Previous post, Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews
Previous post, Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 544th Bomb Squadron
Previous post, Chester Rybarczyk – After the War
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2023
This is an incredible amount of work. Where do you find all your information?
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I found information on Ancestry.com and in James Davis’ personnel file at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. He was one of the lucky ones whose file did not burn up in the fire!