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“Sparks” Artist John Graham Forster

Last week, in a post about 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, I included a drawing of Harry titled “Sparks Liniger” that was drawn by J. G. Forster. I believe Forster was John Graham Forster, a fellow radio student of Harry’s at radio school at Scott Field, Illinois.

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

I believe “Sparks” was derived at radio school as a nickname for Liniger from the obsolete (today) type of radio equipment called a “spark-gap” transmitter which generated radio waves by means of an electric spark.

Liniger’s fellow radio student, John Graham Forster, did not serve in combat in the same bombardment group as Harry. While in training in the states, servicemen (and servicewomen) were transferred to various stations around the country for different phases of their training and most likely lost track of others they trained with over time.

Regardless of whether they stayed in touch or lost track of each other, Liniger thought enough of the drawing to save it and his son still has it almost eighty years after it was drawn.

It is easier to learn more about men who served in combat together if those historical records have been gathered and presented for future generations by a historical association. But finding someone who served with a relative in a training setting can be quite difficult. Generally, those types of records or lists don’t exist.

So since I have been able to identify the artist who drew Liniger as “Sparks,” I’m going to take the opportunity to look into where Forster came from and a little of his WWII history as it serves to illustrate the differences in the backgrounds of those who were brought together to fight a world war and the enormous movement of those personnel as part of the American war machine to various points across the globe.

I usually research and write about those who served in the Eighth Air Force in WWII, and mostly about the specific B-17 heavy bombardment group in which my father served, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). But there were many other divisions of the United States Air Forces serving in different parts of the world during WWII, and this is a good opportunity to introduce the subject, which I will write more about at a later date.

John Forster was a third generation American. He was named after his grandfather, John Graham Forster of St. Louis Parish, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather John immigrated to America at eighteen years old, settled in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and married and raised a family there. Grandson John was born there in 1922.

John Graham Forster, Senior Year photo from Waltham High School Yearbook

In the 1940 Waltham High School Yearbook, John’s Senior year, he noted his first ambition was to,

Go round the world and see our 48 states

He liked nice girls and baseball, planned to enter an art career, and was Art Manager of the Senior Play.

In 1942, John enlisted in the United States Air Corps. After his training, including his and Harry’s time at radio school, John was assigned to the 764th Bomb Squadron of the 461st Bomb Group.

But the 461st was stationed nowhere near Harry’s 8th Air Force base with the 384th in Grafton Underwood, England. In fact, the 461st was not even part of the 8th Air Force, but was instead part of the 49th Bombardment Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force. The 461st flew B-24 Liberators and the group was known as the “Liberaiders.”

The Fifteenth Air Force operated in the WWII Mediterranean Theater of Operations and mainly operated out of bases in southern Italy. The 461st was based at Torretto Field, about 12 km (about 7 1/2 miles) south of the town of Cerignola, Italy.

John Forster was assigned to the Carl J. Schultz crew as radio operator/gunner. The Schultz (#3-1) crew consisted of:

  • Carl J. Schultz, Pilot
  • William R. Baird, Co-Pilot
  • James R. Merkel, Navigator
  • Joshua Loring, Jr., Bombardier
  • John G. Forster, Radio Operator/Gunner
  • John W. Rice, Engineer/Gunner
  • William F. Sanders, Gunner
  • Glenn A. Sligar, Engineer/Gunner
  • Don R. Trail, Gunner
  • William R. Vaitkunas, Gunner

On 23 March 1945, John Forster participated in the 461st’s Mission 200 to bomb a high priority target, the Kagran Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. Thirteen of the 461st’s thirty aircraft were hit by flak over the target and the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

On this mission, William Baird was pilot of the unnamed B-24J 44-41091 with Dwight B. Olson serving as his co-pilot. Other original crew members included John Rice, Glenn Sligar, William Sanders, William Vaitkunas, and of course, John Forster. Substitutes, besides Olson, included Edward T. Wenslik as Bombardier, Richard C. Davis as Navigator, and Marlin R. Smith as Gunner.

At about the time of bombs away, the Number 2 engine of 44-41091 was hit by flak and knocked completely off the ship. They dropped back in the formation with a fire in the wing. Following an unsuccessful attempt to put out the fire, they lost altitude and dropped about 5,000 feet. Five chutes were seen to emerge before the plane went into a dive and exploded.

Davis, the Navigator of the crew, reported that he was reunited in the next few days with all of the crew except for Lt. Baird, the pilot. A German guard reported that Baird was found dead with an unopened chute some distance from the wreckage of the aircraft.

One of the crew wrote in his Individual Casualty Questionaire that,

Lt. Baird … went beyond the “call of duty” that day in fighting the ship to keep it from going into a spin, and then momentarily leveling it out with the trim tabs giving us all, the nine of us, time to jump.

With the exception of Baird, the entire crew was held prisoner of war at Moosburg, Stalag VIIA. All were liberated from Moosburg on 29 April 1945 and were taken to Camp Lucky Strike in La Harve, France to begin their journey back to America.

Forster did become an artist after the war. In the 1952 Waltham Massachusetts City Directory, he listed his occupation as artist. He married a nice girl and had seven children.

John Graham Forster died on 24 June 1982 at the age of 59 in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in Section 23-N, Lot 48-A.

I don’t know if he ever saw all of our “48 states” (or additionally Alaska and Hawaii), but he did see quite a bit of the world, including Italy, France, Austria, and Germany, and saw things he couldn’t imagine during high school from the radio room of a B-24.

Thank you to Chuck Parsonon, Admin of the 461st Bombardment Group’s Facebook group for providing me with information for this post.

Thank you to the folks running the 461st Bombardment Group website for the excellent information on the group and its service members you provide.

Sources

Last week’s post, Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

461st Bombardment Group on Facebook

461st Bombardment Group

15th Air Force

March 1945 Missions

23 March 1945 Mission

Missing Air Crew Report, MACR13190

Wikipedia: Spark-gap Transmitter

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

Harry Allen Liniger

Harry Allen Liniger was a waist gunner with the 384th Bomb Group in WWII and was on the B-17 42-31222 Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944 when it, carrying Harry and the James Brodie crew, suffered a mid-air collision over Magdeburg, Germany with my father’s unnamed B-17 43-37822. Both Harry and my dad, along with two other crew members on the Lazy Daisy, survived. The other fourteen airmen aboard the two fortresses were killed.

Recently, I have been looking into the pre-combat/training phase of the men who transferred into combat at the same time as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. I have traced their path to the European Theatre of Operations (the ETO) through my dad’s letters home and through fellow 384th Bomb Group service member Frank Furiga’s diary. And recently Harry Liniger’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., shared a few letters with me that his father wrote to his future bride during his pre-combat military training in the United States.

The postmarks of some of those letters put Harry Liniger in Ardmore, Oklahoma for combat crew training at the same time as my dad and Frank Furiga were there, and in Kearney, Nebraska picking up a brand new B-17 to ferry across to the ETO, also at the same time as Dad and Frank.

But Harry’s letters start earlier than combat crew training, at the time he was in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, and during Gunnery School in Harlingen, Texas. I’m sharing, with Harry’s son’s permission, excerpts from those letters to illustrate the intensity of military training before the airmen of WWII were ready to go into combat, and to show the emotional toll inflicted from being away from home and family and other loved ones while these young men were preparing for a war from which they were unsure of their return.

Radio School

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

On 29 August 1943, future 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Liniger was a PFC in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois. I know this because a letter he wrote to his future wife, Miss Carrie Belle Carter of Hilton Village, Virginia, was mailed on this day from Belleville, Illinois with his return address of Barracks 797 of the Army Air Forces 30th Technical School Squadron at Scott Field.

Scott Field is now known as Scott Air Force Base and is about seventeen miles east-southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. During WWII, training skilled radio operators and maintainers was the primary wartime mission of Scott Field.

In his letter, Harry described the area around the base as “Nothing but Cocktail Lounges and Bars. Ever other building.” But, he said, “I never frequent those disreputable haunts. I try to be a model soldier which at times seems to be rather foolish, but just the same, I keep my head high and go on.”

Like most of the boys in the service, Harry was homesick for familiar places and faces and said, “I like this place swell. The only thing I dislike about it is it’s so damn far from home and I won’t get a chance to get there.”

Radio school was pretty tough and required a lot of work from serious students and not much time for anything else. Fellow 384th Bomb Group airman Lenard Bryant, a waist gunner (and later top turret gunner) and crewmate of my dad, also had a tough time at radio school and wrote home once that “I don’t think me and radio is getting along too well together.” He later wrote, “I washed out today.  I will go to gunnery school when I ship out of here…”

On 18 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie again from radio school at the same station.

In the letter, Harry related that he had been on a B-24 mission over the Gulf. I assume Harry meant that he was doing some airborne training over the Gulf of Mexico as by late 1943, students of the Radio School at Scott Field were in the air practicing code transmission under actual flight conditions.

On 25 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie, again from Radio School at Scott Field.

In this letter he didn’t talk much about his training. He was more concerned about trying to keep his relationship with Carrie going through the mail as I’m sure was the concern of many servicemen far from home in wartime.

Gunnery School

On 5 February 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie, this time from the Student Reception Pool at H.A.A.F. (Harlingen Army Air Field), Harlingen, Texas. Harry was at Army Gunnery School. I suppose, like Lenard Bryant, Harry and Radio School hadn’t gotten along too well together.

Harry wrote,

Believe me, my life has changed, I am working harder than I ever thought I would. Right now I am taking advanced Gunnery. I will go to P.O.E. from here. I am getting a ten day furlough before I go over. I will be home in about 2 months. I am looking forward to seeing you. There are some things I would like to tell you someday.

Combat Crew Training

On 16 May 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Combat Crew Detachment at Ardmore Army Air Field in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

While I haven’t included many of the more personal aspects of Harry’s letters to Carrie up to this point, it is clear to me that his love for her had been growing over his period of stateside training, while he was preparing to go to war. Although he was able to enjoy a few in-person visits during furloughs, Harry and Carrie were able to continue their relationship mainly through their letters to each other.

In this letter, now that his transfer into combat was fast approaching, Harry shared with Carrie the rigors of the training involved, the reality of entering combat, and thoughts of his own mortality.

Harry wrote,

Your sweet and most welcome letters have been coming daily; or almost daily. I sure do appreciate you writing so often. It seems to give me a “lift.” I try to answer as many of them as I possibly can. I hope you will try to understand when my letters are few and far between. I fly all day and go to school all night and I am so damn tired when I get back to the barracks I can’t seem to do anything but flop on my “sack” (bed).

In regards to my meeting you someplace I don’t think it will be possible for me to get any days off. I can get out almost every night if I pass all my subjects. And I think if seeing you were my reward I could pass anything. If you could only come out here. But that would be asking too much. I love you even though I may never see you again.

I will have to close for now darling. “I love you.”

A week later, on 22 May, 1944, again writing from Ardmore, Harry expressed his deep appreciation for all of the letters Carrie had written him, telling her,

You will never know how important mail is to a guy who is away from home, and being in the army makes him appreciate it even more. But the main thing is when you hear from someone you care for as much as I care for you. I really love you. I love you more than anyone or anything else in the world.

On the way to the ETO

On 28 June 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Kearney Army Air Field in Kearney, Nebraska.

The date of Harry’s letter coincides with a letter written by my dad to his mother, and a diary entry of fellow 384th service member Frank Furiga, putting them all in Kearney at the same time, picking up the B-17’s they would ferry to the European Theater of Operations.

According to Frank Furiga’s diary entries, they left Kearney the next day, on 29 June 1944. (Use the link below in the Sources section to follow the trail to the ETO of Liniger, Farrar, Furiga, and the rest of the servicemen in their crossing group).

On this date, Harry wrote,

My last letter in the States. I don’t know where the next one will be from but I will write to you as soon as I reach my destination. Your letters will be cherished more now than they ever were, and they were always more important than anything else.

I sure would like to open one and find you there. I am afraid my love for you is growing day by day now that I know I am not going to be able to see you.

I don’t have a date for the last of Harry’s letters that his son shared with me, but in it he gave Carrie an A.P.O. address care of the Postmaster in New York City. He may still have been in combat crew training in the States or he may have been overseas at this point.

In addition to Harry professing his deep love for Carrie with,

I love you more and more each day.

and

I don’t think I could possibly love you more than I already do.

Harry wrote about a landing accident, but also spoke as though he had not reached combat duty yet.

Nothing new except we had a plane make a belly landing the other day. No one was hurt. One of the guys had a nervous breakdown after the crash.

You would be surprised at the number of guys in a crew like this who go to pieces before they reach combat.

Combat

Training missions had their risks, but they were nothing like what the airmen would face in combat. Those men who could summon the courage to fly combat missions against their enemies faced brutal cold and lack of oxygen in the high altitude flying of unpressurized bombers, necessitating heated flying suits and an oxygen system to survive. Over enemy territory, they faced German fighters and flak from the ground guns.

Harry endured all of these challenges and horrors, a true assault on the senses, mission after mission, climbing right back in the B-17 day after day sixteen times. He didn’t break down. He didn’t go to pieces.

During the time Harry Liniger served his combat duty in the Army Air Forces, a combat tour with the 8th Air Force consisted of thirty-five missions. He had made it almost halfway through earning his ticket home, until the mid-air collision of 28 September 1944 ended Harry’s duty as an airman in combat.

Prisoner of War

What Harry had seen up to this point serving as a waist gunner on a B-17, with flak bursting around him, attacks from German fighters, watching nearby fortresses exploding and plummeting to the ground, counting parachutes coming out of those planes as they went down, was only the beginning of the horrors of war for Harry.

Nothing could prepare one captured by the Nazis physically or mentally for what came next. Harry needed to survive over four months starving in a prison camp and another eighty-six days with little food and water on a march of over five hundred miles across Germany before he would gain his liberation and freedom.

Home and Marriage

Harry’s son also shared with me a photo of his dad’s Guardian Angel, who apparently did a fine job protecting Harry while he served his country – in his training in the States, in his overseas combat, and during his POW experience. Harry Liniger was one of the lucky ones to return home.

Harry Liniger’s Figurine, “His Guardian Angel”

Harry survived it all and returned home during the summer of 1945 to marry the girl he exchanged letters with, the girl he fell in love with and who fell in love with him during such a dark time in our American history. Harry arrived back in the States on 9 June 1945 and he and Carrie Belle Carter married a little over a month later on 26 July.

Harry Allen and Carrie Belle Carter Liniger on the far right, in Miami Beach just after their marriage

Thank you, Harry Liniger, Jr., for sharing photos, letters, and stories of your dad from WWII.

Sources

Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Wikipedia: Scott Air Force Base

Lenard Bryant in Radio School

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 5 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 5 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Saturday, 5 August 1944

384th BG Mission 173/8th AF Mission 519 to Langenhagen, Germany.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and James Joseph Brodie of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. Brodie, in combat training, flew with the John Herzog crew. The remainder of Brodie’s crew did not participate in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

In the morning 1,062 HBs strike Magdeburg-Brunswick-Hannover region, bombing oil, aircraft, and engine works and A/F. 14 ftr gps provide spt, 657 airplanes completing sorties. The HBs and ftrs encounter about 100 ftrs and claim 30 destroyed. The ftrs of 6 gps fly strafing missions against highway and rail trafflc and several A/Fs. 14 HBs and 6 ftrs are lost. During afternoon 38 B-17’s, escorted by P-51 gp bomb 6 V-weapon sites and an A/F in France. No losses are suffered.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 3 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 519 to strategic targets in Germany, in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated
  2. Mission 520 to V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais
  3. Mission 522 to drop leaflets in the Netherlands and France during the night

Also,

  • 19 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night.
  • In England, HQ 492d Bombardment Group (Heavy) moves from North Pickenham to Harrington; and the 406th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), VIII Air Force Composite Command [attached to 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional)], moves from Harrington to Cheddington with B-24s.

Mission 519: In the morning, 1,171 bombers and 646 fighters are dispatched to attack strategic targets in the Magdeburg-Brunswick-Hannover region of Germany including oil refineries and tank and aircraft production; 13 bombers and 4 fighters are lost:

  • Of 215 B-17s, 93 hit Magdeburg/Neustadt, 87 hit Magdeburg/Krupp, 14 hit Helmstedt Airfield and 6 hit targets of opportunity; they claim 3-1-3 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-17s are lost and 189 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 8 WIA and 28 MIA. Escort is provided by 174 P-38s and P-51s; they claim 19-1-7 aircraft in the air and 1-0-2 on the ground; 1 P-38 and 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-38 and 5 P-51s are damaged; 1 pilot is KIA and 1 WIA.

  • 70 of 78 B-24s hit Halberstadt Airfield and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-24 is lost and 7 damaged; 9 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 41 of 47 P-47s; they claim 4-0-1 aircraft.

  • Of 452 B-24s, 98 hit Brunswick Aero-Engineering, 85 hit Fallerslaben, 69 hit Brunswick/Wilhelmitor, 65 hit Brunswick/Me 110 Assembly Plant, 44 hit Brunswick/Bussing, 30 hit Brunswick aircraft components factory, 9 hit Goslar Airfield and 8 hit targets of opportunity; 7 B-24s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 147 damaged; 13 airmen are KIA, 5 WIA and 55 MIA. Escort is provided by 172 of 188 P-51s; they claim 5-0-1 in the air and 3-0-3 on the ground; 1 P-51 is damaged.

  • Of 426 B-17s, 176 hit Nienburg, 143 hit Hannover/Langenhagen Airfield, 72 hit Dollbergen and 3 hit targets of opportunity; 2 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 130 are damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 5 WIA and 15 MIA. Escort is provided by 186 of 197 P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 6 damaged; 2 pilots are MIA.

Links / Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Marilyn Fryden’s Letter and Photos Sixty Years Later

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s John Oliver Buslee crew on which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner. Marvin was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 after being hit by flak. The young wife he left behind to grieve for him for the rest of her life was named Marilyn.

The photo above of Marvin Fryden is not of very good quality, but it is the first portrait I have seen of him. This new find is thanks to Frank Furiga, original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s Bert Brown crew, and the amazing volume of information he kept from the war, and to Frank’s son, Paul, for sharing it with me.

Before deciding to join a combat crew, Marvin Fryden was a bombardier training instructor in Deming, New Mexico. He and Frank Furiga crossed paths in Deming where Frank did his bombardier training.

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga

I know that’s where the two men met because Furiga noted it on the bottom of a page of the 8th Air Force Magazine that included Marvin’s photo and Marilyn’s letter. Frank wrote,

Met him at Deming for 1st time where I trained.

From that point, or sometime thereafter, Fryden and Furiga would continue on the same path into World War II combat, and both performed their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) at the same time, and were both assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

Frank Furiga remembered Marvin when he saw the photos in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine and read Marilyn’s letter, sixty-one years after their first meeting.


This is the page from the magazine that Frank Furiga kept and his son Paul recently ran across. Below, I have transcribed Marilyn’s letter, and noted a few discrepancies [in numbered brackets] in my transcribed copy.

Courtesy of Paul Furiga, son of 384th BG bombardier Frank Furiga

Marilyn Fryden’s letter as published in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine

1st LT. MARVIN FRYDEN
384th Bomb Group   544th Bomb Squadron   8th Air Force

Marv enlisted on January 13, 1942 from his home in Chicago. He was sent for pilot training but then went on to Bombardier School in Albuquerque where he got his Wings in October 1942.

We married and went to training command at Chandler, Airzona and Deming, New Mexico. In Deming on June 6th – D-Day – his comment was, “I should be there helping them,” after which he was assigned to advanced training in Midland, Texas. There he met bombardiers who had returned from their missions, and he became even more dedicated to serving in a combat zone. He requested combat duty and was sent to Salt Lake City, was assigned to a crew, and went on to Ardmore, Oklahoma for B-17 training.

His pilot, John Buslee, was from Forest, Illinois [1]. The copilot, his wife and infant daughter [2] were from Chico, California. They lived at the same place we did. I think that his name was Dick Albrecht or Albright and that her name was Patty [2], but I can’t recall for certain. The navigator was from Pennsylvania [3] and was the only survivor of that crew. [Frank circled this section and noted: Ray Sherer, Pittsburgh, PA]

They left Ardmore on the 26th of June in 1944 [4], flew to Kearney, Nebraska, picked up the Tremblin Gremlin [5], and flew it to England via Iceland. On August 4th they flew their first mission. Marv wrote me, “Your pappy’s a veteran now…”

On the mission flown the next day, Marv was fatally wounded and died in a hospital of chest wounds. He is buried in Cambridge, England. I have seen several of his student classmates’ names on the Wall of the Missing at the cemetery there. The crew’s plane was blown up on a subsequent mission and all of the crew but the navigator, who was not aboard, perished [6].

I treasure the 8th AF News Magazine. I wear Marv’s wedding ring, proudly. I remember it all and read your magazine eagerly, knowing that so many might share my story.

Sincerely,
Marilyn A. Fryden-Samet
Cary, North Carolina
Memorial Day, 2005

Postscript: I am a member of the 8th AF Historical Society Chapter here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am also a Gold Star wife. Although over sixty years have passed since those terrible war years, I am still deeply affected by the tragedy which shaped my life. Sometimes, I can’t read the articles in the magazine because they touch me so specially. I hope that I will be notified when renewal times comes for my subscription.

Keep up your wonderful work … even as those of us who remember are passing into the other world.

Notes/Discrepancies Explained

[1] Pilot John Buslee was from Park Ridge, Illinois

[2] Co-pilot was David Albrecht. His and his wife Patricia (Patty’s) daughter was not born until December 1944, after he was declared MIA. He did not have an infant daughter before leaving the States.

[3] Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk was from Toledo, Ohio. The navigator on Frank Furiga’s crew was named Raymond Scherer and was from Pittsburgh, PA.

[4] The officers of the Buslee crew may have flown to Kearney on June 26, 1944, but the enlisted men were already in Kearney as of this date, likely having traveled by train. I know this because my father wrote a letter home from Kearney on June 25.

[5] The name of the B-17 that the Buslee crew ferried to the ETO is unknown. The B-17 in which Marvin Fryden received a fatal flak injury on August 5 was named the Tremblin’ Gremlin. Marilyn may have assumed that the B-17 the Buslee crew ferried across the Atlantic was the same B-17 in which her husband was killed, but it was not the same ship.

[6] The Buslee crew’s aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944. Of the nine crew members aboard, only five of them were original Buslee crew members: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner turned engineer/top turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso (radio operator), and George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner, my dad). My dad was the only survivor on the plane. Other original Buslee crew members who survived the war because they were not on Buslee’s plane on September 28, 1944 were Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), James Davis (permanent replacement bombardier), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), and Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner).

There were also a few discrepancies in the included crew photo identifications and I have noted those in the photo caption,

Standing L to R: John Buslee, David Albrecht, Chester Rybarczyk (from Toledo, Ohio), and Marvin Fryden
Kneeling L to R: Sebastiano Peluso, Erwin Foster, Clarence Seeley, and Unidentified (possibly Lenard Bryant)

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is not in the crew photo and neither was Eugene Lucynski, and possibly Lenard Bryant.

Thank you again, Paul Furiga, for sharing these pieces of history with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga, bombardier/navigator, 547th squadron. Photo courtesy of Paul Furiga.

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.

George Edwin Farrar, likely in Kearney, Nebraska, June 1944

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.

Sources

Previous post:  From the US to the UK and Beyond

RAF Nutts Corner

Army Air Force Elements Stationed in Northern Ireland(1)

Army Air Force Stations

Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II

Visit Kearney

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 4 August 1944

In researching the missions of the 384th Bomb Group, and particularly the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron, I looked for information regarding the actions of the entire 8th Air Force, of which the 384th was a part, for the dates on which the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in combat missions.

There are two (and maybe more I haven’t discovered yet) very good resources online for WWII Combat Chronology. Both are very good historical records of Army Air Force missions for the duration of World War II.

Both of these resources list the various theaters of operation and the various branches of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) that served them, not just the 8th AAF in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Both chronologies are quite complete and present a wealth of information.

One was authored by Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller. Carter and Mueller compiled their U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 for the Center for Air Force History in Washington, DC. I believe the first edition was published in 1973. It and subsequent editions are available in print through various used book sources online. The 1991 edition is available to view online and download in pdf format here.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945, as described in the preface,

is concerned primarily with operations of the US Army Air Forces and its combat units between December 7, 1941 and September 15, 1945. It is designed as a companion reference to the seven-volume history of “The Army Air Forces in World War II,” edited by Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate. The research was a cooperative endeavor carried out in the United States Air Force historical archives by the Research Branch of the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center.

The second chronology I found online was compiled by Jack McKillop of Rutgers University. McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces can be found online in multiple formats starting with an Index here, with links to each month of combat operations. At the bottom of the Index list are two alternate formats, (1) alltxt.zip (the entire text available for download in one zip file), and (2) html (which leads to another list of all months of combat operations in html format for viewing onscreen, and includes two additional links for download of ZIP archives, one in html format and one in simple text format).

Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

I am presenting a series of articles, starting with this one, based on the entries from both Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces, but concentrating solely on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces. I will also concentrate on the dates of missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew participated, and the particular mission in which they participated when the 8th AAF flew multiple missions the same day.

The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

I will add a new installment to the series every few weeks. For today’s installment, see below for the 4 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Friday, 4 August 1944

384th BG Mission 171/8th AF Mission 514 to Peenemünde, Germany.

Target: CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and James Joseph Brodie of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. Brodie, in combat training, flew with the Jesse Maxey crew. The remainder of Brodie’s crew did not participate in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

In late morning and mid-afternoon raids, over 1,250 HBs attack 4 oil refineries, 4 aircraft factories, 4 A/Fs, Peenemunde experimental establishment, and torpedo plants in Germany, 2 coastal batteries in Pas de Calais area, and 2 V-weapon sites, 2 A/Fs, a M/Y, a railroad crossing, and a bridge in NW France. All of the Eighth’s 15 ftr gps spt the operations, flying 782 sorties. HBs claim 3 airplanes destroyed and ftrs claim 39 destroyed in air and 15 on ground. Strafing claims include numerous items of rolling stock. 14 HBs and 15 ftrs are lost during the day.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 3 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 514 to strategic targets in Germany, in which the Buslee crew and James Brodie participated
  2. Mission 515, the first APHRODITE mission flown using 4 radio-controlled war-weary B-17’s as flying bombs to V-weapon sites
  3. Mission 516 to V-weapon sites in France

Mission 514: 1,307 bombers and 746 fighters are dispatched to strategic targets in Germany; 15 bombers are lost:

  • Of 358 B-17s, 181 hit Hamburg oil refineries, 50 hit Bremen oil refineries, 23 hit Nordhof Airfield, 22 hit Ostend, Belgium coastal defenses, 14 hit Einswarden and 7 hit targets of opportunity; they claim 0-4-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; 8 B-17s are lost, 8 damaged beyond repair and 196 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 8 WIA and 63 MIA. Escort is provided by 234 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 38-1-5 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 9-0-1 on the ground; 2 P-47s and 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 2 P-47s and 2 P-51s are damaged.

  • Of 425 B-27s, 221 hit Peenemunde, 110 hit Anklam Airfield and 70 hit Anklam aircraft factories; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 94 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 40 MIA. Escort is provided by 223 of 250 P-51s; they claim 4-0-4 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground; 9 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 is damaged beyond repair; 1 pilot is KIA.

  • Of 446 B-24s, 148 hit Rostock aviation factories, 89 hit Kiel, 88 hit Schwerin aviation factories, 71 hit Wismar aviation factories, 12 hit Schlutup, 11 hit Warien and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 4 B-24s are lost and 114 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 40 MIA. Escort is provided by 209 P-38s and P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost and 1 P-38 is damaged; 1 pilot is KIA.

  • Of 78 B-24s, 39 hit Husum Airfield and 29 hit Hemmingstedt/Heide oil refinery without loss.

Links / Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John Buslee’s Ring

John Oliver (Jay) Buslee died September 28, 1944 when the B-17 he was piloting, the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17G 43‑37822, crashed after a mid-air collision with his own group’s B-17G 42‑31222 Lazy Daisy.  His parents were notified shortly thereafter that he was missing in action, but it would be another four months before they received news that he had died in the collision.

Jay’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee of Park Ridge, IL, a suburb of Chicago, eventually received Jay’s possessions, only to find that the Air Force ring they had given him as a gift was not among the items returned to them.  They assumed he must have been wearing the ring on his last mission, but it was not recovered with his body as far as they knew.

Several years after the war, in 1948, Jay’s ring surfaced.  At the time, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, the waist gunner and sole survivor on Buslee’s aircraft, was working for Jay’s father and living in the Buslee home.  I believe in that situation, he would have been aware of the ring’s discovery, but it’s not anything he ever mentioned to me.  He was a traveling salesman and it was the same year he met and courted my mother, and it probably wasn’t as important of a discovery to him as it was to Mr. and Mrs. Buslee.

The surfacing of the ring was one thing.  Getting the ring back was another.  Distance and politics and the state of the world in the 1940’s made this a very difficult task. This task was orchestrated between the finder of the ring (a Czech man the Nazis forced into slave labor in Germany), the finder’s parents in Czechoslovakia, a Czech immigrant living in Texas, the Adjutant General of the US Department of the Army, the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia, and Jay’s parents in Illinois.

From November 2014 to March 2015, I published the group’s communications through a series of letters they exchanged between January 21 and December 26, 1948, from the time of first contact to the expressions of gratitude between the parties after the return of the ring.

John Dale Kielhofer, Jay Buslee’s nephew, shared the letters with me, and with his permission, I share with you the story of the recovery and return of John Buslee’s ring.

This list of links below includes all of my original posts and all of the letters between the parties.

Note: The original posts indicate the name of Buslee’s aircraft B-17G 43‑37822 was “Lead Banana.” I learned after writing the posts that the name was mistakenly applied in 384th Bomb Group documents and photos to that particular aircraft and wrote an explanatory post regarding the error.

The Ring (Original post of this Introduction to the letters)

The Ring – Letter of January 21, 1948

The Ring – Letter of January 28, 1948

The Ring – Letter of February 20, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Mr B

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Z

The Ring – Letter of March 11, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 16, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 26, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 12, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 17, 1948

The Ring – Letter of August 25, 1948

The Ring – Letter Undated

The Ring – Letter of September 23, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 4, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 26, 1948

This post is also included on this site as a permanent page here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

In continuing my research into the original airmen assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group, and of the airmen who were aboard these two pilots’ respective fortresses in the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, I searched through morning reports, special orders, individual sortie records, and personnel records on the 384th Bomb Group’s website. I was looking for any other information about them outside of their bombing missions.

I discovered several entries in those documents regarding the men who were either original members of the Buslee and Brodie crews or were substitutes on missions when the original members did not participate. Today I present the information for the Brodie crew in timeline format. Last week I presented the timeline for the John Oliver Buslee crew.

Note that this information should not be considered complete due to sometimes illegible, incomplete, and missing records, but what I have found is included here. I have also included the Brodie crew’s bombing missions in the timeline.

Timeline of information from Morning Reports, Special Orders, Individual Sortie Records, and 384th Bomb Group website Personnel Records for James Joseph Brodie original crew members and mission substitutes:

25 JULY 1944

Donald William Dooley was assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group Headquarters Detachment, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #147 dated 25 July 1944 as a radar mechanic/bombardment.

26 JULY 1944

The James Joseph Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944. Crew members were:

  • William D. Barnes, Jr., Bombardier
  • James Joseph Brodie, Pilot
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
  • George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Navigator
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu, Ball Turret Gunner
  • Harry Allen Liniger, Waist Gunner
  • Wilfred Frank Miller, Tail Gunner
  • Leonard Opie, Waist Gunner
  • William Edson Taylor, Radio Operator
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle, Co-pilot

2 AUGUST 1944

The following enlisted men were promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #155:

  • Gordon Hetu
  • Harry Liniger
  • Wilfred Miller
  • Leonard Opie

4 AUGUST 1944

Mission 171 to Peenemünde, Germany. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

5 AUGUST 1944

Mission 173 to Langenhagen, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

Byron Leverne “Bud” Atkins was assigned to the 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #157 dated 5 August 1944 as Waist Gunner of the James Woodrow Chadwick crew.

7 AUGUST 1944

Mission 174 to Dugny (Paris), France. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), an Aircraft Fuel Depot.

8 AUGUST 1944

Mission 175 to Bretteville-sur-Laize, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Enemy Strong Points.

9 AUGUST 1944

Mission 176 to Erding, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Erding Airdrome & Airfield.

11 AUGUST 1944

Mission 177 to Brest, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

14 AUGUST 1944

William Taylor was promoted to Staff Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #163.

16 AUGUST 1944

Mission 181 to Delitzsch, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Delitzsch Air Field and Air Equipment Depot.

17 AUGUST 1944

Byron Atkins was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #165.

24 AUGUST 1944

Mission 183 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, a Synthetic Oil & Chemical Plant.

26 AUGUST 1944

Mission 185 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Buer Synthetic Oil Plant.

30 AUGUST 1944

Mission 186 to Crepieul, France. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site).

5 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 188 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

8 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 189 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

Tech Sergeant Donald Dooley was reclassified from MOS 867 (radar mechanic/bombardment) to MOS 757 (radio operator/gunner) and transferred from Headquarters Detachment 384th BG to 545th BS on SO #179, AAF Station 106, SPO 557, dated 8 September 1944.

Leonard Opie was transferred in grade to the Casual Pool, 8th AFRD, AAF Station 594.

9 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 190 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

James Brodie was appointed 1st LT AUS 9 September 1944.

10 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 191 to Sindelfingen, Germany. Target was Industry, the BMW Motor Component Parts Plant.

11 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 192 to Lützkendorf & Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, an Oil Refinery.

13 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 194 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Leuna Synthetic Oil Refinery.

The 13 SEPTEMBER mission was William Barnes’s last with the Brodie crew. Between 13 September 1944 and 17 October 1944, Barnes retrained as a Navigator. After the 13 SEPTEMBER 1944 mission, the Brodie crew was assigned a Togglier to missions instead of a Bombardier.

19 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 196 to Hamm, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

21 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 197 to Mainz, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

25 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 198 to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

26 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 199 to Osnabrück, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

28 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

The following airmen flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew on the 28 September 1944 mission went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action):

  • Byron L. “Bud” Atkins
  • James Joseph Brodie
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton
  • Donald William Dooley
  • George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu
  • Harry Allen Liniger
  • Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle

Subsequently, all were declared KIA (Killed in Action) except for George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Harry Allen Liniger, and Wilfred Frank Miller who were declared POW (Prisoner of War).

5 OCTOBER 1944

William Taylor went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action) over Cologne, Germany. Subsequently, he was declared POW (Prisoner of War).

7 OCTOBER 1944

William Barnes went from duty to sick quarters (LD).

11 OCTOBER 1944

William Barnes went from sick quarters (LD) to duty.

4 JANUARY 1945

William Barnes was relieved from assignment and transferred to the Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot Station 594 30 DECEMBER 1944 per 5 SO 365 HQ 1st BD departed 0800 hours 4 JANUARY 1945 (Completed tour).

Sources

Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 544th Bomb Squadron

In continuing my research into the original airmen assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group, and of the airmen who were aboard these two pilots’ respective fortresses in the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, I searched through morning reports, special orders, individual sortie records, and personnel records on the 384th Bomb Group’s website. I was looking for any other information about them outside of their bombing missions.

I discovered several entries in those documents regarding the men who were either original members of the Buslee and Brodie crews or were substitutes on missions when the original members did not participate. Today I present the information for the Buslee crew in timeline format. Next week I will present the timeline for the James Joseph Brodie crew.

Note that this information should not be considered complete due to sometimes illegible, incomplete, and missing records, but what I have found is included here. I have also included the Buslee crew’s bombing missions in the timeline.

Timeline of information from Morning Reports, Special Orders, Individual Sortie Records, and 384th Bomb Group website Personnel Records for John Oliver Buslee original crew members and mission substitutes:

6 MAY 1944

William Alvin Henson II was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #85 dated 6 May 1944 as Bombardier of the Gerald Sammons crew.

15 JUNE 1944

Robert Sumner Stearns was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #113 dated 15 June 1944 as Bombardier of the Larkin Durdin crew.

21 JULY 1944

William Henson overslept and received punishment of having to fly one extra sortie (mission) to complete his tour.

22 JULY 1944

The John Oliver Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. Crew members were:

  • David Franklin Albrecht, Co-pilot
  • Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner
  • John Oliver Buslee, Pilot
  • George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner
  • Erwin Vernon Foster, Ball Turret Gunner
  • Marvin Fryden, Bombardier
  • Eugene Daniel Lucynski, Tail Gunner
  • Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator
  • Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, Navigator
  • Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

26 JULY 1944

The following men were assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944:

  • Gerald Lee Andersen, Tail Gunner of the Joe Carnes crew
  • James Buford Davis, Bombardier of the Howard Jung crew

3 AUGUST 1944

James Davis’s 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.

4 AUGUST 1944

Mission 171 to Peenemünde, Germany. Target was a CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) Rocket Research & Development Complex.

5 AUGUST 1944

Mission 173 to Langenhagen, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), a Luftwaffe Controlling Station.

Marvin Fryden was (KIA) killed by flak on the 5 AUGUST 1944 mission.

Clarence Seeley was (WIA) wounded in action on the 5 AUGUST 1944 mission.

6 AUGUST 1944

The following enlisted men were promoted to Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #158:

  • Lenard Bryant
  • Erwin Foster

Clarence Seeley was placed on sick leave.

9 AUGUST 1944

Mission 176 to Erding, Germany. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Erding Airdrome & Airfield.

James Davis joined the Buslee crew on his first mission as Bombardier, replacing Marvin Fryden.

George Francis McMann, Jr., Ball Turret Gunner of the Stanley Gilbert crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #159.

11 AUGUST 1944

Mission 177 to Brest, France. Target was Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

12 AUGUST 1944

Mission 178 to La Perthe, France. Target was the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) “Landing Ground.”

13 AUGUST 1944

Clarence Seeley was moved from absent sick (LD) 65th Gen Hosp to absent sick (LD) 4209 U.S. Army Hospital Plant, APO 587.

24 AUGUST 1944

Mission 183 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, a Synthetic Oil & Chemical Plant.

25 AUGUST 1944

George McMann was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #171.

28 AUGUST 1944

William Henson was appointed 1st LT.

1 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #175.

3 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 187 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

5 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 188 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

6 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from sick quarters (LD) to absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston.

8 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 189 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

9 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 190 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Target was Industry, the I. G. Farben Chemical Works.

The following enlisted men were promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180:

  • Lenard Bryant
  • George Farrar
  • Erwin Foster
  • Sebastiano Peluso
  • Clarence Seeley

10 SEPTEMBER 1944 

Mission 191 to Sindelfingen, Germany. Target was Industry, the BMW Motor Component Parts Plant.

Erwin Foster went from duty to absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston.

11 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 192 to Lützkendorf & Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, an Oil Refinery.

John Buslee was appointed 1st LT.

Clarence Seeley went from absent sick (LD) 65th General Hospital to duty.

Gerald Andersen went from absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston to duty.

13 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 194 to Merseburg, Germany. Target was the Oil Industry, the Leuna Synthetic Oil Refinery.

14 SEPTEMBER 1944

Robert Stearns was appointed 1st LT.

16 SEPTMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from duty to sick quarters (LD).

19 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 196 to Hamm, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

Eugene Lucynski, flying as Tail Gunner with the Joe Carnes crew, went (MIA) Missing in Action when he was forced to bail out over Allied Territory. Seven of the crew returned to duty. The ball turret gunner was injured by flak and transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 4178 U.S. Army Hospital Plant. Lucynski was injured by flak and hospitalized from 19 September 1944 until 10 November 1944. Lucynski had replaced the Carnes crew Tail Gunner Gerald Andersen, who was on sick quarters.

20 SEPTEMBER 1944

Gerald Andersen went from sick quarters (LD) to duty.

25 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 198 to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards.

26 SEPTEMBER 1944

Erwin Foster went from absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital, Thrapston, to duty.

William Henson was ordered per Item #9 of Special Orders #190, AAF Station No. 106, APO 557, dated 26 September 1944 from duty to Moulsford Manor, AAF Station 511, to arrive prior to 1800 hours on 28 September 1944, TD to carry out instructions of CG, period not to exceed seven (7) days. Will leave Rest Home on 5 October 1944 to return to proper Station.

27 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 200 to Cologne / Köln, Germany. Target was Transportation, the Railroad Marshalling Yards (PFF Aiming Points).

28 SEPTEMBER 1944

Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Target was Industry, Steelworks.

The following airmen flying with the John Oliver Buslee crew on the 28 September 1944 mission went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action).

  • David Franklin Albrecht
  • Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • John Oliver Buslee
  • George Edwin Farrar
  • William Alvin Henson, II
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

Subsequently, all were declared KIA (Killed in Action) except for George Edwin Farrar who was declared POW (Prisoner of War).

22 OCTOBER 1944 

Clarence Seeley was promoted to Tech Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #209.

26 NOVEMBER 1944

The following officers were appointed 1st LT:

  • James Davis
  • Chester Rybarczyk

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).

18 DECEMBER 1944 

Erwin Foster went from duty to TD Ebrington Manor AAF Station 498 (TD 7 days).

20 DECEMBER 1944 

Chester Rybarczyk was released from assigned & transferred to Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot AAF Station 591, departed per 6 SO 355 HQ 1st Bomb Division (Completed tour).

25 DECEMBER 1944

Erwin Foster went from TD Ebrington Manor AAF Station 498 to duty (TD 7 days).

5 JANUARY 1945

Erwin Foster was reduced to Private for misconduct per 1 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106.

Erwin Foster was appointed Sergeant per 2 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106.

16 JANUARY 1945 

Clarence Seeley went from duty to furlough (7 days).

1 FEBRUARY 1945

Erwin Foster was reclassified to the Military Occupation Specialty (612).

5 FEBRUARY 1945

Clarence Seeley went from duty to TD Palace Hotel Southport AAF Station 524 (TD 7 days).

12 FEBRUARY 1945

Clarence Seeley went from TD Palace Hotel Southport AAF Station 524 to duty (TD 7 days).

28 FEBRUARY 1945

Erwin Foster completed his tour of 35 missions.

10 MARCH 1945

Clarence Seeley completed his tour of 34 missions.

4 JUNE 1945

Eugene Lucynski was recommended for the DFC (Distinguished Flying Crosss) for Ex. Achiev.

12 JUNE 1945

Eugene Lucynski was placed on DS for an indefinite period at Y-17, Marseilles/Istres, France, effective o/a (on or about) 13 June 45 and will report to COL SAULT upon arrival at Y-17.

22 JUNE 1945 

Eugene Lucynski went from DS, Y-17 Marseilles/Istres, France to duty, effective 22 June 1945.

Sources

Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.

Brodie crew timeline next week…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

“Minor Accident of War,” the Animated Short Film

I have previously written about 384th Bomb Group navigator Edward Field and ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook, and about the animated short film Edward’s niece, Diane Weis, created from Edward’s poem, “World War II.” The poem chronicles the events of their B-17’s crash into the North Sea on their return to England following the 8th Air Force’s mission to Berlin on February 3, 1945.

Today happens to be the seventy-sixth anniversary of Edward and Jack’s crash into the North Sea and today I’m happy to be able to share the entirety of the film, “Minor Accident of War” with you.

The film did very well on the film festival circuit and is now in consideration for this year’s Oscar race. The 93rd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

If you’d like to watch “Minor Accident of War” in its entirety, which comes in at just under ten minutes, I’ve embedded it below. Be sure to turn up the volume, go to full screen, and just click the Play button.

* * * Minor Accident of War * * *

*  *  *

The talented “Minor Accident of War” team includes,

  • Executive Producer Diane Fredel-Weis
  • Story Edward Field
  • Animator Piotr Kabat
  • Narrator Edward Field
  • Producers Diane Fredel-Weis and David Finch
  • Animation Consultant Alex Kupershmidt
  • Sound Design Michal Fojcik, Soundmind Studios
  • Composer Alex Gimeno
  • Production Supervisor Stephen M. Cyr
  • Narration Recording John Kilgore Studios
  • Technical Support Gabriel Weis
  • Film Photographer Elise Bloom
  • Legal Assistance Alana Crow
  • Research Consultant Cindy Farrar Bryan
  • Business Manager Andrea Ferraco
  • With Special Thanks to 384th Bomb Group website and Craig Murray

I am proud to have played my part in the making of the film as the team’s Research Consultant. And I am especially proud that Diane chose to include a photo of my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a fellow 384th Bomb Group airman of Edward and Jack, although at a different time in the war, in the film. If you were wondering, that’s my dad who shows up at 7:11 in the film.

I’d also like to share a few recent articles about the film.

  • “Diane Weis & Piotr Kabat Discuss Their Powerful Short ‘Minor Accident of War'” by Animation Magazine
  • “Gay WWII Veteran Tells Harrowing Tale of Survival in Animated Short” by The Advocate
  • “Hand-Drawn ‘Minor Accident of War’ Tells Harrowing Personal WWII Story” by Animation World Network
  • “Miami Beach native makes film about gay uncle serving in WWII” in the Miami Herald

For more information, visit…

The “Minor Accident of War” website


You may read more – all previous posts, in fact, if you’re so inclined – about Edward and Jack and their crash into the North Sea on February 3, 1945 by following the links at the end of this article.

And for the curious, a few photos…


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021