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WWII Timeline – Summer 1945

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1945 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1945

July 1, 1945

American, British, and French troops moved into Berlin.

July 5, 1945

Liberation of the Philippines from Japanese rule was announced by General Douglas MacArthur.

July 10, 1945

One thousand bomber raids against Japan began.

July 13, 1945

Italy (formerly an Axis power) declared war on Japan.

July 14, 1945

The first U.S. Naval bombardment of the Japanese home islands began when US Navy warships attacked the Japanese cities of Kamaishi and Muroran.

July 16, 1945

The first atomic bomb was successfully tested in the U.S. when the first-ever nuclear bomb was detonated in New Mexico at the Alamogordo Test Range. The bomb, nicknamed “Gadget,” created a crater nearly 1,000 feet wide. The test, code-named the “Trinity” nuclear test, began the Atomic Age.

July 17 – August 2, 1945

The Potsdam Conference, the last of the WWII meetings held by the “Big Three” heads of state (American President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his successor, Clement Attlee, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin) was held near Berlin. The conference established a Council of Foreign Ministers and a central Allied Control Council for administration of Germany. Talks primarily centered on the future of postwar Europe, but the “Big Three” also issued a declaration demanding “unconditional surrender” from Japan.

July 26, 1945

Clement Atlee of the Labour Party was elected British Prime Minister to succeed Conservative Winston Churchill.

The USS Indianapolis delivered components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” at Tinian Island in the South Pacific.

July 28, 1945

A B-25 Mitchell bomber pilot became disoriented in heavy fog and crashed his aircraft into the Empire State Building in New York City. Although the accident did not compromise the building’s structural integrity, it caused fourteen deaths, three crewmen and eleven people in the building.

July 30, 1945

A Japanese submarine sank the Cruiser USS Indianapolis resulting in the loss of 881 crewmen. The ship sank before a radio message could be sent out leaving survivors adrift for two days. Only 316 onboard survived.

August 6, 1945

The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan from a B-29 flown by Col. Paul Tibbets, killing as many as 140,000 people.

August 8, 1945

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria.

August 9, 1945

The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan from a B-29 flown by Maj. Charles Sweeney, killing as many as 80,000 people. Emperor Hirohito and Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki sought an immediate peace with the Allies.

August 14, 1945

Japan agreed to unconditional surrender. Some consider this date (August 15 in the UK because of time differences) as V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, but others consider September 2, when the surrender document was signed, to be V-J Day.

General Douglas MacArthur was appointed to head the occupation forces in Japan.

August 15, 1945

Some of the first child Holocaust survivors arrived in England from Europe.

August 16, 1945

General Jonathan M. Wainwright, a prisoner of war since May 6, 1942, was released from a POW camp in Manchuria.

Winston Churchill delivered an address in the British House of Commons stating,

…it is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the iron curtain which at the moment divides Europe in twain.

August 27, 1945

B-29’s dropped supplies to Allied POWs in China.

August 29, 1945

The Soviets shot down a B-29 dropping supplies to POWs in Korea,

U.S. Troops landed near Tokyo to begin the occupation of Japan.

August 30, 1945

The British reoccupied Hong Kong.

September 2, 1945

President Harry S. Truman declared V-J (Victory over Japan) Day as Japan formally surrendered and signed a surrender agreement during a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, as one thousand aircraft carrier-based planes flew overhead, officially ending WWII.

September 3, 1945

General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army, commander in the Philippines, surrendered to General Jonathan Wainwright at Baguio.

September 4, 1945

Japanese troops on Wake Island surrendered.

September 5, 1945

The British landed in Singapore.

September 8, 1945

General Douglas MacArthur entered Tokyo.

September 9, 1945

The Japanese in Korea surrendered.

September 13, 1945

The Japanese in Burma surrendered.

September 25, 1945

The Nazi party was declared illegal in Germany.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Potsdam Conference

Fold3 Blog Post: The 75th Anniversary of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Spring 1945

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Robert Osler “Ozzie” Couch

Standing, back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt (Janet’s first husband), Janet, Ozzie Couch (family friend), Carroll Jr.
Standing, middle, L to R: Martha, Dorothy (Dot) holding her daughter Phyllis, Raleigh, Carroll Sr.
Kneeling front: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb (Dot’s husband), Denny (Dot’s son)

A couple of years ago, I published the above photo and wrote about the Farrar family in 1941. My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is standing on the far left.

I asked for help in identifying family friend Ozzie Couch, but did not turn up any leads. Still curious about this man who was apparently important enough to the family to earn a place in their family photo, I kept searching.

I just recently found Ozzie, or at least who Ozzie was, because I found that he’s been gone since 1984.

My dad’s youngest sister, my Aunt Beverly, is the one who identified him by name and told me a few things about him. Among those, Ozzie and Carroll Jr. (the Farrar’s oldest son) both worked at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Georgia. Beverly remembered that Ozzie brought many gifts to the family including a variety of plants, Beverly’s first Persian cat, and a retired circus horse named Danny Boy that lived for a time in the garage. Ozzie was from North or South Carolina and served in WWII.

Unsure of the spelling of Ozzie’s last name (I had never seen it in writing), and wondering what formal name “Ozzie” stood for, I searched mainly for the first name “Oswald” and as many spelling variations of the last name “Couch” as I could think of. Google had a habit of showing me pictures of sofas when I Googled his last name with the spelling “Couch.”

I finally settled on searching Ancestry.com using his nickname “Ozzie Couch” and a birth year of 1915, thinking he was probably close in age to his friend Carroll, Jr. (who was born in 1916). I don’t know how, but after many unsuccessful searches, Ancestry finally turned up an “Osier Couch” in the 1942 Atlanta City Directory. The database actually contained a typo as he was listed in the directory with the correct spelling of his name “Osler.” I guess “Osler” preferred the nickname “Ozzie.”

Surprised as I was to finally find him, the bigger surprise was that his residence address in 1942 was listed as 79 E Lake Ter SE (East Lake Terrace), the Farrar family home. Along with parents Carroll Sr. and Raleigh, living in the home in 1942 were also G Edwin (my dad) and Robt B (Bob). I assume the younger children weren’t listed because of their ages. Carroll Jr. was not living there at the time as he had enlisted in WWII in 1941. Ozzie’s occupation was listed as Assistant Warden.

Once I had found Ozzie on Ancestry, census and other records revealed more information about him. I found that Ozzie was the oldest of the seven children of Dudley Spiegal (1890 – 1960) and Leila Ellison (1890 – 1975) Couch. Ozzie had five brothers and one sister. His parents and all the children were born in South Carolina.

In 1920, the family lived on a farm on North A Street in Easley, Pickens County, South Carolina. Ozzie’s father’s occupation was butcher. In 1930, his father had turned to the dairy business and his occupation was listed as dairyman of his own dairy.

In 1940, Ozzie was no longer living at home in Easley. When Ozzie filled out his military draft card on October 16, 1940, he listed his residence as 1428 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. According to that record, he was 5′ 10 1/2″ tall, weighed 157 pounds, had blue eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion. The record also noted he was 29 years old, born on December 28, 1910 in Easley, South Carolina. His employer was the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. He listed his father, D.S. Couch living on North A Street in Easley, Pickens County, South Carolina as the person who would always know his address.

Ozzie’s friend, Carroll Farrar Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on August 13, 1941. Ozzie enlisted in the Army the next year, on February 26, 1942, at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though the Atlanta City Directory showed him living on East Lake Terrace in 1942, Ozzie listed his residence as Pickens County, South Carolina on his enlistment record. He listed his education as four years of college.

I found a photo of Ozzie on Ancestry identified as obtained from the Fold3 website, with the original source being the 1943 WWII Yearbook of the Ninth Academic Group of Gulfport Field, Mississippi.

Robert Osler “Ozzie” Couch
Image from 1943 WWII Yearbook of the Ninth Academic Group of Gulfport Field, Mississippi

In the Gulfport yearbook, he was identified as a Second Lieutenant, Assistant Post Classification Officer. The yearbook describes the school as a technical school or more formally as the Army Air Forces Eastern Technical Training Command at Gulfport Field, Mississippi. I have been unable to determine how Ozzie spent the entirety of his WWII service other than that he was in the US Army Air Forces.

Aside from the war years, several years of Atlanta City Directory searches, both before and after his WWII service, resulted in Ozzie being listed as a warden or working at the Atlanta prison, or as a clerk, location unknown, but perhaps the location was Rich’s department store in downtown Atlanta where Carroll Jr. worked for a time.

Various years of Atlanta City Directory searches produced results of:

  • 1938 and 1939 Atlanta City Directories – no listing for Ozzie. I believe he was still living at home in Easley, South Carolina.
  • 1940 Atlanta City Directory – Robt O. Couch was an Assistant Jr Warden, Federal Prison. Residence, 1440 Lakewood Ave, SE.
  • 1941 Atlanta City Directory – Osler Couch was a Clerk. Residence, 1428 Peachtree NE, Apt. A-7. He had moved to Peachtree Street by at least October 1940 according to his draft registration card.
  • 1942 Atlanta City Directory – Osler Couch was an Asst Warden, Residence 79 E Lake Ter SE (the address of the Farrar home).
  • 1943, 1944, and 1945 Atlanta City Directories – no listing for Ozzie, probably due to his WWII service including training in the states and possible overseas service.
  • 1946  – no Atlanta city directory on Ancestry.com.
  • 1947 Atlanta City Directory – Robt O. Couch was an Emp [employee?], US Penitentiary, Residence 964 Piedmont Avenue NE.
  • 1950 Atlanta City Directory – Robt O. Couch was a Clerk, Residence 964 Piedmont Avenue NE.
  • 1951, 1953, and 1960 Atlanta City Directories – no listing for Ozzie; he likely moved from Atlanta around 1950.

I found Ozzie in a few more photos in the family photo collection, one with his friend, my uncle, Carroll Farrar, Jr.,

R to L: Carroll Farrar, Jr. and Robert Osler “Ozzie” Couch

And one in uniform,

Robert Osler “Ozzie” Couch in US Army Air Forces Uniform

Ozzie never married and died at 73 years old on August 7, 1984. His headstone notes (photo on Findagrave.com) that he was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force. His obituary noted,

Robert Osler Couch, 73, of 400 North A. St. [Easley, South Carolina], died Tuesday.

He was a retired warden with the Federal Penitentiary, Atlanta, Ga., and had served as chief of the Prison Parole Board in Tallahassee, Fla. He later served as personnel director for the Department of Social Services in Columbia [South Carolina].

Couch served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean Conflict. He was a member of Smith Grove Baptist Church.

Robert Osler “Ozzie” Couch, friend of the Farrar family, is buried in the West View Cemetery in Easley, Pickens County, South Carolina.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Spring 1945

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1945 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1945

Spring 1945

The Nazis continued marches of concentration camp and prisoner of war camp inmates. Some were marched westward away from advancing Soviet troops and some were marched eastward away from advancing American and British troops. At the same time, German civilians fleeing the advancing Russians often shared the road with the inmates marching. 

April 1945

The Allies discovered stolen Nazi art and wealth hidden in German salt mines.

Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Tito’s Partisan units captured Zagreb and toppled the Ustasa regime. Top Ustasa leaders fled to Italy and Austria.

Early April 1945

The Soviets drove the Germans and their Hungarian collaborators out of Hungary.

April 1, 1945

American troops encircled German forces in the Ruhr.

In the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Okinawa began with the final amphibious landing of the war when the U.S. Tenth Army invaded Okinawa.

April 4, 1945

The Soviets forced the surrender of Slovakia with the capture of Bratislava.

The Ohrdruf camp, a subcamp of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, was liberated. It was the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. troops. It was later visited by General Dwight D. Eisenhower (on April 12).

April 6, 1945

Codename “Operation Grapeshot” began. It was the Spring 1945 Allied offensive in Italy, the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign near the end of WWII. This attack into the Lombardy Plain in Northern Italy by the 15th Allied Army Group ended on May 2 with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.

April 7, 1945

American fighter pilots based on Iwo Jima escorted Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers in their first P-51 Mustang fighter-escorted mission against Japan.

U.S. Aircraft Carrier-based fighters sank the Japanese super-battleship Yamato and several Japanese escort vessels which planned to attack U.S. Forces at Okinawa.

April 11, 1945

U.S. troops from the 6th Armored Division of the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after the prisoners stormed the watchtowers and seized control of the camp.

U.S. forces liberated the Dora-Mittelbau camp.

April 12, 1945

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his Warm Springs, Georgia vacation home. Vice President Harry Truman, who had held the office for eighty-three days and had had little contact with Roosevelt, was summoned to the White House. Truman was unaware that Roosevelt had died. After being sworn in as President, one of Truman’s first acts was to meet with Roosevelt’s advisers to learn of matters of national security, including the existence of the atomic bomb.

Canadian forces liberated prisoners at the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands.

April 13, 1945

The Soviets captured Vienna, Austria.

April 15, 1945

British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus at this camp a month earlier.

April 16, 1945

The Soviets launched their final offensive and encircled Berlin.

April 18, 1945

German forces in the Ruhr surrendered.

Pulitizer prize winner Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese sniper’s bullet while reporting on the Battle of Okinawa.

April 23, 1945

Soviets troops reached Berlin.

The 358th and 359th U.S. Infantry Regiments (90th US Infantry Division) liberated Flossenbürg.

April 28, 1945

The Allies took Venice.

Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, captured as they attempted to flee to Switzerland, were executed by Italian partisans.

April 29, 1945

The U.S. 7th Army liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Adolf Hitler married longtime mistress, Eva Braun.

April 30, 1945

Holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. He and Eva Braun poisoned themselves and their dogs with cyanide capsules and Hitler shot himself in the head with his service pistol.

May 1945

Allied troops conquered Okinawa, the last island stop before the Japanese islands.

May 1, 1945

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda, and his wife Magda committed suicide after murdering their six children.

May 2, 1945

German troops in Italy surrendered.

The Theresienstadt Ghetto/Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic was taken over by the Red Cross.

The BBC History website reported about this date,

…After one of the most intense battles in human history, the guns at last stopped firing amongst the ruins of Berlin. According to Soviet veterans, the silence that followed the fighting was literally deafening. Less than four years after his attack on the Soviet Union, Hitler’s self-proclaimed thousand-year Reich had ceased to exist.

George Edwin Farrar, Lawrence Newbold, and other POW’s of Stalag Luft IV were liberated on the road near Gudow, Germany by the British Royal Dragoons.

May 5, 1945

The Mauthausen Concentration Camp was liberated. The camp was known for its “Todesstiege” (Stairs of Death) in the rock quarry at Mauthausen. The Nazis forced prisoners to repeatedly carry heavy granite blocks up 186 stairs until they died or were murdered if they failed.

May 7, 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.

May 8, 1945

V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.

May 9, 1945

Germany surrendered to Russia at Soviet headquarters in Berlin. The Soviets had insisted that a second ceremonial signing take place in Soviet-occupied Berlin.

Hermann Göring was captured by members of the U.S. 7th Army.

May 14, 1945

The Austrian Republic was re-established.

May 20, 1945

The Japanese began withdrawal from China.

May 23, 1945

The German High Command and Provisional Government were imprisoned.

SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler committed suicide while in British custody.

May 25, 1945

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved “Operation Olympic,” the invasion of Japan, scheduled for November 1, 1945.

June 5, 1945

The Allies divided up Germany into four Zones of Occupation and took over the government.

June 9, 1945

Japanese Premier Suzuki announced Japan would fight to the very end rather than unconditionally surrender.

June 18, 1945

Japanese resistance ended on Mindanao in the Philippines.

American President Harry Truman authorized “Operation Olympic.”

June 22, 1945

In the Battle of Okinawa, which had begun on April 1, Japanese resistance ended as the U.S. Tenth Army completed its capture of Okinawa.

June 26, 1945

The United Nations charter was signed by fifty nations in San Francisco, California, USA.

June 28, 1945

General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters announced the end of all Japanese resistance in the Philippines.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Spring 1945 Offensive in Italy

Battle of Okinawa

Ohrdruf Camp

Adolf Hitler Suicide

The Battle for Berlin

Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Joseph Goebbels

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1945

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Clarence Burdell Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner of the John Oliver Buslee Crew
Photo courtesy of grandson Jess Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley was born in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska on December 12, 1921, and grew up in Halsey, Thomas County, Nebraska. His parent were Ferris and Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley. Rather than Clarence, he preferred to go by his middle name, Burdell.

Burdell’s father, Ferris Seeley, was born in Nebraska in 1894. Ferris’s parents, John and Clara Seeley, were born in Iowa (John) and Illinois (Clara).

Burdell’s mother, Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley, was born in Christiansand, Norway in 1898. Her parents, George August and Gunnild Gurine Rasmussen, were both born in Norway. The Rasmussen’s immigrated to the United States in 1903 when Esther was five years old.

Ferris and Esther married on June 18, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska shortly before Ferris enlisted for WWI service. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and served in the Balloon Corps during the war. He was released from his military service on January 15, 1919.

I cannot locate a census record for Ferris and Esther Seeley for 1920, but their first son Donald Ferris Seeley was born that year in Omaha.

In 1930, according to the Federal census, the Seeley family lived at 2786 E. Street, Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, where Ferris Seeley worked as a delivery man in the construction industry. Ferris and Esther had four children – ten year old son Donald Ferris, eight year old son Clarence Burdell, six year old son Harold Floyd, and two months shy of four year old daughter Margaret Gwendolyn. All of the Seeley children were born in Nebraska.

In 1940, according to the Federal census and family records, the Seeley family lived in the village of Halsey in the Natick Precinct of Thomas County, Nebraska. The census record reported that on April 1, 1935, the family still lived in Lincoln, so the move to Halsey occurred after that point. Ferris worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher” on a ranch. Donald was no longer listed as living at home, but Burdell, Harold, and Margaret Gwendolyn were still at home with their parents. Burdell also worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher.”

In 1942, at twenty years old, Burdell was living in San Diego, California and working for Consolidated Air Craft when he registered for the draft on February 15. He listed his mother, Mrs. Esther Seeley of Halsey, Nebraska as the “person who will always know your address.” He listed his height at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, weight at 167 pounds, and with brown hair, brown eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Although I cannot find an enlistment record for Burdell in the National Archives under the Serial Number recorded for him in his 384th Bomb Group website’s personnel record (39270874), according to his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, he enlisted in the Army on December 22, 1942.

Of course, at the time, the Air Force was part of the Army, so he either signed up for the Army Air Forces or he was designated so because of his aviation employment at Consolidated Air Craft. [Even without finding an actual enlistment record, I believe the December 22 date to be accurate because Burdell’s Social Security Number as indicated on the BIRLS file matches the SSN for him in the Social Security Death Index (both records found on Ancestry.com).]

Burdell’s two brothers also served in WWII. Older brother Donald Ferris Seeley (1920 – 1974) served in the Navy aboard the ammunition ship USS Rainier, and younger brother Harold Floyd Seeley served in the Army in a clerical position.

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

At the completion of his military training in the states, Clarence Burdell Seeley became the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  After final crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated July 22, 1944. The crew flew heavy bomber missions in B-17s over Germany.  The ten-man crew included:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Once the Buslee crew of ten reached Grafton Underwood, flight crews had been reduced to only nine men per aircraft and included only one waist gunner rather than two. On the crew’s first mission on August 4, 1944 to Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany, Jay Buslee co-piloted alongside pilot Arthur Shwery, giving Buslee some combat training. This resulted in co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht flying with the Paul E. Norton crew, and George Edwin Farrar sitting out the mission as Lenard Leroy Bryant had been selected to fly as sole waist gunner on the Buslee crew’s first mission. Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his first mission as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner.

On the crew’s next mission, Shwery again provided combat training for Buslee, and Albrecht flew with the Norton crew. Farrar was rotated in as waist gunner and Bryant sat out this mission. This August 5 mission was to a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany with the Buslee crew aboard aircraft 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the beginning of the bomb run over the target, they were met with anti-aircraft fire. A shell exploded to the side of the Tremblin’ Gremlin’s nose and a shell fragment pierced the flying fortress and struck bombardier Marvin Fryden in the chest. Fryden managed to maintain his position and released Tremblin’ Gremlin’s bombs on the target before collapsing.

The engineer and top turret gunner, Clarence Burdell Seeley, sustained the second most serious injury. A piece of flak tore through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. Also incurring minor injuries on the mission were navigator Chester A. Rybarczyk, pilot Arthur J. Shwery, co-pilot John Oliver Buslee, and waist gunner George E. Farrar.

The fort had sustained heavy battle damage. The right inboard engine was out. The radio compartment was riddled with flak holes and the radio equipment was destroyed. The trim tabs that control the plane’s balance were shredded. The hydraulic brake system was shot out. Part of the oxygen system was also out, causing the men up forward to use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Only Fryden and Seeley needed immediate first aid treatment during the return trip. Navigator Chester Rybarczyk assisted Fryden, who remained conscious during the entire mission. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as they reached the English coast and Buslee headed for the nearest airfield. Even with his brakes gone, Buslee managed to bring the plane in on the concrete landing strip and slide it off onto the grass to reduce the speed before finally coming to a halt.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden died later in an Army hospital with his friend Chester Rybarczyk at his side.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence Burdell Seeley was seriously wounded and was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

The 65th General Hospital during World War II was a reserve unit made up of staff from Duke University Medical Center of Durham, North Carolina, and was located in England on the grounds of Redgrave Park in Suffolk County. It was mainly Nissen Hut construction supplemented by ward tents. The hospital had 1456 beds and served from February 1944 to August 1945 as the major hospital center for the surrounding U.S. 8th Army Air Force.

Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson speculated that,

I suspect the 65th General Hospital was the general hospital closest to the field (Halesworth, Station 365) that they landed at upon return from the mission. Once he [Seeley] was ambulatory and it was determined that he would possibly recover well enough to go back on flight status, I imagine he would be returned to GU [the 384th’s base at Grafton Underwood] for convalescence and evaluation by the squadron flight surgeon.

Following his flak injury, Burdell Seeley was not able to fly again for almost two months.  As a result, he was grounded until October 1944.

With Seeley out as the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner, and the fact that flight crews had been reduced to only one waist gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant was moved into the engineer/top turret gunner position on the crew. This left George Edwin Farrar as the sole waist gunner for the Buslee crew.

On September 28, just days before Seeley would return to flight duty, Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew collided with 43-37822 carrying the Buslee crew after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Of the Buslee crew, only waist gunner George Edwin Farrar survived. The other eight members of the crew (see note below) were killed in the mid-air collision.

Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203 on October 2, 1944. He safely completed his tour with 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945, and was able to return home.

Clarence Burdell Seeley was released from military service on June 12, 1945. He and Patricia Louise Johnson of Merna, Nebraska were married that year.

Burdell returned to cattle ranching after the war and he and Patricia had two children. Burdell died on March 18, 1980 at 58 years old of a heart attack while working cattle in the corral with a neighbor. He is buried at the Kilfoil Cemetery in Merna, Custer County, Nebraska.

Note

On the September 28, 1944 mission the Buslee crew was made up of:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Note of Apology

In an earlier post, I incorrectly identified Clarence B. Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, as Clarence Benjamin Seeley, born on February 26, 1921 to Clarence A. and Marie A. Seeley, died August 17, 2007 in Portland, Clackamas County, Oregon. Interestingly, both Seeley families had roots in both Iowa and Nebraska, so I think it’s possible there could be a family relationship somewhere between them. Regardless, I apologize to both Seeley families for the mis-identification and thank Clarence Burdell Seeley’s grandson, Jess Seeley, for correcting me and providing me with biographical information on his grandfather, Burdell.

Sources

Press Release of the Buslee Crew’s August 5, 1944 Mission as reported in the Park Ridge, Illinois Advocate

65th General Hospital

Clarence Burdell Seeley and family memorial infomation on FindaGrave.com

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Winter 1945

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1945 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1945

1945

As Allied troops advanced, the Nazis conducted marches of concentration camp and prisoner of war camp inmates away from outlying areas. Some were marched westward away from advancing Soviet troops and some were marched eastward away from advancing American and British troops. Prisoners received little aid from people in towns they passed through, and in some cases were harassed and assaulted. At the same time, German civilians fleeing the advancing Russians often shared the road with the marching camp inmates. 

January 1945

By January of 1945, the combined efforts of the Allied armies drove the Germans back to their original starting positions in the Battle of the Bulge. American troops reached the sight of the Malmedy Massacre of December 17, 1944 (see Fall 1944 post), now buried under two feet of winter snow.

The bodies of the eighty-one American POW’s lay frozen in the same spot they were murdered the previous month. They were located through the use of mine detectors and were numbered as each was uncovered. Forty-one of the POW’s had been shot in the head.

Columns of German POW’s were led by the site by their American captors during the U.S. medical team’s identification and recovery process, but no act of vengeance was perpetuated on the enemy soldiers.

January 1-17, 1945

German forces withdrew from the Ardennes.

January 3, 1945

In preparation for planned assaults against Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and mainland Japan, American General Douglas MacArthur was placed in command of all U.S. ground forces and American Admiral Chester Nimitz in command of all U.S. naval forces.

January 4, 1945

The British occupied Akyab in Burma.

January 6, 1945

The Russians liberated Budapest, Hungary, and in doing so, freed over 80,000 Jews.

January 9, 1945

The U.S. Sixth Army invaded Lingayen Gulf and landed on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

January 11, 1945

U.S. Aircraft Carrier-based planes carried out an air raid against Japanese bases in Indochina.

January 12, 1945

In the Vistula–Oder Offensive, the Soviet Red Army made a major advance into German-held territory in Poland.

January 14, 1945

Russian troops invaded eastern Germany.

January 16, 1945

The U.S. 1st and 3rd Armies reconnected after a month-long separation during the Battle of the Bulge.

January 17, 1945

As part of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, Soviet troops captured and liberated Warsaw, Poland.

Swedish Foreign Ministry diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who in 1944 had saved nearly 33,000 Jews, was detained by Soviet agents and was never heard from again. (See post for July 1944 in Summer 1944 timeline series).

January 18, 1945

The Nazis evacuated 66,000 prisoners from Auschwitz.

January 19, 1945

As part of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, Soviet troops captured and liberated Krakow, Poland.

January 20, 1945

Crematory II at Auschwitz-Birkenau was destroyed by the SS using explosives, along with Crematory III, just seven days before the death camp was liberated by the Soviets.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his fourth and final term in office.

January 26, 1945

Crematory V at Auschwitz-Birkenau was blown up by the SS as the Soviets were approaching.

January 27, 1945

Soviet troops liberated the remaining prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. By this time, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, had been murdered there.

January 28, 1945

The Allies finally eradicated the Ardennes salient (the Bulge).

The Burma road was reopened.

January 30, 1945

Adolf Hitler delivered his final radio address.

A Soviet submarine sank the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German armed military transport ship, in the Baltic Sea while evacuating German civilian refugees from East Prussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Estonia and military personnel from Gotenhafen as the Red Army advanced. An estimated seven thousand to more than nine thousand died.

February 1945

Peru, Lebanon, Turkey, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt joined the Allies and declared war on Nazi Germany and Japan.

Iran declared war against Japan.

February 3, 1945

The U.S. Sixth Army attacked the Japanese in Manila.

February 4, 1945

The U.S. First Army took the first of seven Ruhr Valley dams in Germany.

February 4 – 11, 1945

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin attended the conference at Yalta on the Crimean Peninsula to discuss post-war spheres of influence.

February 6, 1945

The march of prisoners of war of Stalag Luft IV, of which my father George Edwin Farrar was one, began.

Tens of thousands of German civilians fled Breslau (now Wrocław), Poland before the westward advance of the Soviet Red Army.

February 12, 1945

All German women between the ages of 16 and 60 were called to service in the Volkssturm, the German people’s army.

February 13, 1945

The Soviets captured Budapest, Hungary after a two-month siege.

The 70th motorized infantry brigade of the Soviet Red Army liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.

February 13 – 15, 1945

The German city of Dresden was destroyed by firestorm after Allied (British Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces) aircraft conducted bombing raids. Between 20,000 and 45,000 civilians were killed.

February 16, 1945

U.S. troops recaptured Bataan, a province on the Philippine island of Luzon, in the Philippines.

February 19, 1945

U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima with an amphibious assault.

February 23, 1945

U.S. Marines raised the flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

March 1, 1945

A U.S. submarine sank a Japanese merchant ship loaded with supplies for Allied POWs. The act resulted in a court martial for the captain of the submarine since the ship had been granted safe passage by the U.S. Government.

March 2, 1945

U.S. airborne troops recaptured Corregidor, an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines.

March 3, 1945

U.S. And Filipino troops took Manila.

March 6, 1945

The last German offensive of the war began in an effort to defend the oil fields in Hungary.

March 7, 1945

The Allies took Cologne.

U.S. troops of the US 9th Armored Division captured the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge at Remagen, between Koblenz and Bonn, Germany, and crossed the Rhine River .

March 9/10, 1945

U.S. B-29 aircraft firebombing raids on Tokyo destroyed sixteen square miles of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 people.

March 10, 1945

The U.S. Eighth Army invaded the Zamboanga Peninsula on Mindanao in the Philippines.

March 15, 1945

Anne Frank died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen Nazi Concentration Camp.

March 20, 1945

British troops liberated Mandalay, Burma.

March 26, 1945

The Battle for Iwo Jima ended with the Allied capture of the island from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA).

March 27, 1945

The last German V-2 rocket struck Great Britain. The V-2 campaign killed nearly three thousand Britains.

B-29 aircraft laid mines in Japan’s Shimonoseki Strait to interrupt shipping.

March 30, 1945

Soviet troops captured Danzig, a port city on the Baltic Sea.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

How Far Can You Throw That Bucket?

I’m presenting more detail on turbosuperchargers and bucket wheels to follow-up my previous posts, Gremlins, and Lazy Daisy’s Gremlin’s, Part 1 of 3, Part 2 of 3, and Part 3 of 3

During my research into gremlins, and particularly the gremlins infesting the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17 known as Lazy Daisy, I had to delve into a subject with which I am very unfamiliar, the mechanics of the B-17.

I am not at all mechanically-inclined, and in reading about Lazy Daisy’s gremlins (i.e., mechanical issues) some terms were more familiar ( like “broken piston heads,” “dropping oil pressure,” and “runaway props”) than others (like “lagging superchargers” and “throwing a bucket”).

So, to learn more, I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of reading. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Turbosuperchargers

In Lazy Daisy’s Gremlins, Part 2 of 3, the 384th Bomb Group’s Fred Preller and John Edwards helped me explain these terms, and since then, John and the 384th’s Keith Ellefson provided me with new information that I think deserves further review.

Remember the comment by pilot David Rucker after he used Lazy Daisy on the 29 May 1944 mission (in Lazy Daisy’s Gremlins, Part 3 of 3)? Rucker suggested,

A/C (Aircraft) 222 (Lazy Daisy) be taken out of combat because of oil regulator supercharger.  You cannot stay in formation with the electronic type.

John Edwards shed some more light on superchargers with,

When we say supercharger, that was a common name for the component as a whole. The actual name is turbosupercharger. There were two types of superchargers used, frequently called stages. You have a first stage which is used at lower altitudes and the one commonly referenced for higher (combat) altitude… The supercharger intake is a scoop on the bottom of the engine nacelle [the outer casing/housing of an aircraft engine]. This scoop feeds air into the charger which is the conventional way a supercharger worked back then.

The comment from the pilot is important because the GE [electronic type like Rucker mentioned] charger is a very widely used supercharger. It’s function operated in two stages as Fred indicated… [see Part 2 of 3].  I can’t determine other known vendors for the superchargers so for now I can only say that the tech data … clearly states the supercharger must be connected to an oil pump. These instructions apply to the B-17F and G model aircraft and Lazy Daisy is a G so this tech info applies. Therefore I can’t explain why the pilot mentioned the ‘oil one’.

Note: John is referencing a section named Removal of Turbosupercharger from B-17 Airplane of the book World War II – General Electric Turbosuperchargers.

With John’s new information, I’m not sure why Rucker phrased the reference to both the “oil regulator” and “electronic type” superchargers as he did either.

Apparently, the different models of B-17’s used different supercharger types and the transition from the (older) oil regulator to the (newer) electronic type came between the F and G models. I had determined that on all of David Rucker’s missions, up to the point of piloting Lazy Daisy on 29 May 1944, he had been assigned only G model B-17’s.

Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson told me that it was still possible that some of the G models Rucker had flown might still be of the older oil regulator type. Keith said,

I don’t know if all the G models were equipped with electronically controlled superchargers. I suspect that some of the early Gs were built with the oil control system until the inventory of oil control systems was used up and then the electronic system was phased in to replace the oil control system.

And even if Rucker had only flown the electronic type, Keith added,

Pilots would have to be briefed/trained on the difference between oil regulated and electronic regulated superchargers as the new ships came into the inventory. The controls for each system are different and it would be immediately apparent to the pilot when he got into the ship for a mission. In reality, I am sure that each pilot in the squadron knew which ships still had the oil regulator system and which ships had the electronic regulated system. From what I have read, the electronic system was a big improvement over the old, oil regulated system.

Keith also shared some information written by Wellwood E. Beall, who was Vice-President in charge of Engineering at Boeing Aircraft Company, that indicates that the electronic system was a “significant improvement” over the oil regulated system. The link to Beall’s document is below in the Further Reading section, and Beall’s more comprehensive text with illustrations in PDF format follows in the list.

Wellwood Edmetson Beall, who died in 1978, was an aerospace pioneer – an airplane designer and engineer – who had major roles in developing the B‐17 Flying Fortress, the B‐29 Superfortress, and the Boeing 707. In particular, for the B-17, Beall ordered continuous modification in the B‐17 Flying Fortress to meet changing battle conditions over Europe in World War II.

The History of

Turbosuperchargers

The information from Fred, John, and Keith led me to search the internet to learn more and I found a most interesting article in Google Books about the history of turbosuperchargers in B-17’s. Since it looks to be from a publication that is now in the public domain (a compilation of the 1945 issues of Air Force – The Official Service Journal of the U.S. Army Forces), I want to share part of it here.

In early March, 1939, Lt. P. H. Robey took a YB-17A up to 25,000 feet in a test run and clocked its speed at 311 mph. This was 100 mph faster than a B-17 had ever flown, even faster than any of our fighter aircraft had flown at that altitude. The test flight was an astounding performance for those days, but no one thought of it as milestone in the development of jet propulsion in this country. Yet, indirectly, that’s just what it was.

If that test flight had been unsuccessful, all orders for turbo-superchargers on B-17s would have been cancelled, for it was the turbo that produced the 100 mph margin in speed – and in early 1939 the turbo-supercharger definitely was on the spot. At the time of the flight, orders for turbos on B-17s had already been technically cancelled. The paper work had been initiated and forwarded to Washington. Boeing Aircraft and the AAF [US Army Air Forces] had lost faith in the turbo. For 20 years, the AAF had struggled with the gadget only to have one disappointing flight test after another. The Robey test used a turbo that was equipped with a new regulator, the final hope for assuring reliable performance.

As soon as the B-17 rolled to a stop after the record-breaking flight, the telegraph wires to Washington began to sizzle. Headquarters read the test results, threw the cancellation papers in the waste basket and issued a directive that all AAF high altitude bombers should be equipped with turbo-superchargers from that date on.

~ “Growing Pains of Jets” by Major Robert V. Guelich, Air Force Staff, June 1945 issue of Air Force (The Official Service Journal of the U.S. Army Forces)

For more information about turbosuperchargers, including the entire article “Growing Pains of Jets,” refer to the Further Reading list below.

Bucket Wheels

(And what it means to “throw a bucket”)

The 384th Bomb Group’s Historian, John Edwards, shed a little light on the bucket wheel that the pilots’ referred to “throwing,”

The wheel on the bottom of the [super]charger, which looks like the carousel of an old slide projector, is called ‘the bucket wheel’ as I found in [Roger] Freeman’s “The B-17 Flying Fortress Story on page 55.

The article, “Growing Pains of Jets” also explained the pilots’ phrasing of “throwing a bucket.”

The search for high temperature alloys [which could withstand the stresses of hot turbine wheels] was stimulated primarily by the AAF development program to the turbo-supercharger. This program was kept alive by a handful of men who refused to lose faith when time after time the turbo-supercharger would overheat and throw its buckets out of the turbo wheel.

~ “Growing Pains of Jets” by Major Robert V. Guelich, Air Force Staff, June 1945 issue of Air Force (The Official Service Journal of the U.S. Army Forces)

But the Pilot Training Manual for the Flying Fortress B-17 presented by the Aviation in World War II website explains turbosuperchargers and bucket wheels in short order in a section on Turbo-superchargers (links in Further Reading below).

Each engine on the B-17 has a turbo-supercharger which boosts manifold pressure for takeoff and provides sea-level air pressure at high altitudes.

To operate the turbo-superchargers, engine exhaust gas passes through the collector ring and tailstack to the nozzle box, expands to atmosphere through the turbine nozzle, and drives the bucket wheel at high speed…

…The amount of turbo boost is determined by the speed of the turbo bucket wheel.

As for the gremlins who liked to antagonize the pilots of Lazy Daisy and other AAF aircraft in WWII, I think disrupting turbosuperchargers and bucket wheels were probably a favorite pastime, and seeing which gremlin could throw a bucket the furthest must have been a competition for bragging rights. How far can you throw a bucket?

Please browse through the Further Reading links below for further (and quite interesting) reading about turbosuperchargers and bucket wheels and some excellent illustrations of the B-17’s mechanical parts.

* * * * *

Further Reading

Design Analysis of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress by Wellwood E. Beall (webpage)

Design Analysis of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress by Wellwood E. Beall (PDF document)

Aviation of World War II: Turbo-superchargers

Pilot Training Manual for the Flying Fortress B-17, Published for Headquarters AAF, Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Training

Supercharge Me: How Boeing Helped GE Reinvent Jet Travel (GE Reports)

The Turbosupercharger and the Airplane Power Plant – General Electric, January 1943

Turbosupercharger Field Service Manual – General Electric

“Growing Pains of Jets” which begins on page 24 of the June 1945 issue of Air Force (The Official Service Journal of the U.S. Army Forces), and starting on page 441 of the 1433-page downloadable PDF document. To download the entire 1433-page PDF document, click the sprocket in the upper right corner of the page, then select “Download PDF.” Note: Air Force is a book in the public domain that Google has made available in digital format. Terms of Service available through a link on the landing page.

Sources

Wellwood Beall’s Obituary from the New York Times

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Fall 1944

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1944 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1944

Late 1944

Oskar Schindler saved 1200 Jews by moving them from the Plaszow labor camp in the southern suburb of Kraków, Poland to his hometown of Brunnlitz, Czechoslovakia.

October 2 – 5, 1944

The Polish Home Army surrendered to the Nazis ending the Warsaw Uprising.

October 7, 1944

After learning that they were going to be killed, the Sonderkommando (special work units who were made up of Nazi death camp prisoners, usually Jews, and were forced to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims) revolted at Auschwitz-Birkenau resulting in the complete destruction of Crematory IV.

October 10-29

Soviet troops captured Riga, the capital of Latvia on the Baltic Sea.

October 11, 1944

The U.S. began air raids against Okinawa.

October 14, 1944

German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel committed forced suicide by cyanide poisoning after being implicated in the July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. His death was announced to be due to battle wounds suffered on July 17, 1944.

The Allies liberated Athens, Greece.

October 15, 1944

As the Hungarian government was pursuing negotiations for surrendering to the Soviets, the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross movement, with German support, carried out a coup d’état (a revolt performed through violence), allowing the Nazis to seize control of the Hungarian puppet government. The deportation of Jews, which had been temporarily halted due to international political pressure, resumed.

October 17, 1944

SS leader Adolf Eichmann arrived in Hungary.

October 18, 1944

Fourteen American B-29 Superfortress aircraft based on the Mariana Islands attacked the Japanese base at Truk.

October 20, 1944

The U.S. Sixth Army invaded Leyte in the Philippines.

Soviet forces captured Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, from the Germans.

October 21, 1944

The Germans surrendered at Aachen, Germany in the Battle of Aachen. It was the first German city to fall to the Allies.

October 23-26, 1944

The three-day Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, resulted in a decisive U.S. Naval victory over Japan.

George Edwin Farrar’s younger brother Robert (my Uncle Bob) Burnham Farrar served aboard the USS Intrepid, which was involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 25, 1944

In World War II, a Japanese aircraft loaded with explosives and making a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target was known as a Kamikaze (meaning “Divine Wind”) attack. Fleet Admiral William Halsey called it the “only weapon I feared in the war.” The first recorded Kamikaze attack occurred against U.S. warships during the three-day Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 28, 1944

Two thousand Jews in the last transport from Theresienstadt (a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto in the town of  Terezín, located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), arrived at Auschwitz.

October 29, 1944

A Japanese Kamikaze hit Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, on one of her port side gun positions. Damage to the ship was minimal, but ten men were killed and six were wounded. 

October 30, 1944

The last transport of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz and the gas chambers there were used for the last time.

November 8, 1944

The Nazis forced 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in rain and snow from Budapest to the Austrian border. A second forced march of 50,000 persons followed, ending at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

For the first time since 1933, Adolf Hitler failed to appear in Munich on the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

November 7, 1944

Franklin Roosevelt won his fourth consecutive term as U.S. President.

November 11, 1944

The U.S. navy bombed Iwo Jima.

November 18, 1944

The U.S. Third Army crossed the German frontier.

November 20, 1944

French troops drove through the ‘Beffort Gap’ in southwestern France to reach the Rhine.

November 23, 1944

American troops liberated the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp, located in the Vosges Mountains close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller in France.

November 24, 1944

The French captured Strasbourg, France.

Twenty-four B-29 Superfortresses bombed the Nakajima aircraft factory near Tokyo.

November 25, 1944

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematories at Auschwitz. Crematory IV had already been destroyed by inmates during a revolt on October 7, 1944.

Shortly after noon, two Japanese Kamikazes crashed into Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, killing sixty-six men and causing a serious fire. Bob Farrar was injured in the attack, mainly due to smoke inhalation. The ship remained on station, however, and the fires were extinguished within two hours. She was detached for repairs the following day.

December 4, 1944

Athens, Greece was placed under martial law during a Civil War.

December 11, 1944

At Hartheim Castle, near Linz Austria, German authorities carried out the last gassing of inmates, and under SS guard, Mauthausen (Austria) concentration camp prisoners dismantled the killing facility. Hartheim was one of six gassing installations for adults, the majority of them mentally and physically disabled patients, established as part of the Nazi’s “euthanasia” program.

December 15, 1944

U.S. Troops invaded Mindoro in the Philippines.

In the summer of 1944, bandleader Glenn Miller (a member of the U.S. Army since late 1942 and later Army Air Forces) formed a fifty-piece USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) band and departed for England where he gave hundreds of performances to Allied troops over the next six months. On this date, he left England to entertain American troops in France in a UC-64 Norseman (a Canadian single-engine bush plane), traveling over the English Channel, but never arrived. The wreckage of his plane was never found and his official military status remains Missing in Action.

December 16, 1944

The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg’s Ardennes Forest began as the Germans launched a final offensive in the west known as Operation Wacht am Rhein. The objectives were to re-conquer Belgium, split the allied forces along the German border, and capture the strategic port of Antwerp. Three German Armies conducted a surprise attack along a 70-miles front and quickly overtook the American line.

December 17, 1944

On the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazi Waffen-SS (the military branch of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) murdered eighty-one American POW’s in the Malmedy Massacre.

A regiment of the 1st SS Panzer Division of the Leibstandarte-SS, commanded by SS Lt. Col. Jochen Peiper, intercepted a truck convoy of the U.S. 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion’s Battery B southeast of Malmedy. Peiper’s troops, called the Blowtorch Battalion, had burned their way across Russia and had slaughtered civilians in two separate villages.

The Panzer tanks fired upon and destroyed the lead vehicles in the truck convoy. The convoy halted while the tank fire continued. The Americans were forced to abandon their vehicles and surrendered.

The captured American Battery B soldiers were herded into a nearby field where an SS tank commander ordered an SS private to shoot into the prisoners. The SS opened fire on the unarmed Americans with machine guns.

When the machine gunfire ceased, an English speaking SS man walked among the victims on the ground asking if anyone was injured or needed help. Those survivors who responded were killed by a pistol shot to the head. In what was the single worst atrocity against American troops during World War II in Europe, a total of eighty-one Americans were killed.

Three American survivors reported the massacre to a U.S. Army Colonel stationed at Malmedy. Because the news spread quickly that Germans were shooting POW’s, the American troops became determined to hold the lines against the German advance.

The same day, in the Pacific Theater of Operations, the U.S. Army Air Forces established the 509th Composite Group to operate the B-29 Superfortresses that would drop the atomic bombs.

December 20, 1944

Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, reached San Francisco for repairs.

December 21, 1944

The Germans besieged U.S. paratroopers in Bastogne, Belgium. Units of Germany’s 5th Panzer Army captured St. Vith, Belgium.

December 22, 1944

Surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge, American Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne Division received a surrender ultimatum from the Germans. His immortal reply: NUTS! [Use the link in Sources below to read the fascinating story.]

December 26, 1944

The 4th Armored Division, leading the attack by General George S. Patton’s Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and was the first unit to break through to relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division of paratroopers. While American troops held the town, refugees were able to evacuate.

December 27, 1944

Soviet troops besieged Budapest.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Oskar Schindler

The Forced Suicide of Erwin Rommel

USS Intrepid

Last Gassing at Hartheim

The Malmedy Massacre

The Story of Anthony McAuliffe’s NUTS! Reply

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Lazy Daisy’s Gremlins, Part 3 of 3

Continuation of my previous posts, Gremlins, and Lazy Daisy’s Gremlin’s, Part 1 of 3 and Part 2 of 3

In this post, I’m picking back up with the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17G 42-31222’s (Lazy Daisy’s) missions after her six week break following the April 18, 1944 mission. For information on her December 1943 through April 1944 missions, follow the link above for prior posts about Lazy Daisy’s gremlins in Part 2.

In reviewing Lazy Daisy’s missions, note that she was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group’s 546th Squadron and was assigned to 546th crews exclusively until early June 1944. After that point she was assigned as a spare aircraft on many occasions, something that had been done for this aircraft only once previously, in February 1944. And she was also assigned to other squadrons.

In this continuation of the list of Lazy Daisy’s missions, the missions were flown by crews of the 546th Bomb Squadron unless I note otherwise. ALL of her missions aren’t listed. I’ve listed the ones with the most serious problems and if no problems were reported on a mission (although only a few missions had no technical or equipment failures of any kind), that mission wasn’t included either.

On Lazy Daisy’s first mission back in action on 28 MAY 1944, the James Gibson crew reported the bomb doors motor burned out and the pilot’s oxygen system ran out twenty minutes after the target. The pilot was forced to use a “walk around” oxygen bottle on the return to base. The 384th Bomb Group webmaster’s – Fred Preller’s – father, Robert Henry “Bob” Preller, was Gibson’s co-pilot aboard Lazy Daisy this date, his second mission.

On the 29 MAY 1944 mission, the David Rucker crew reported the ship received battle damage – a 20 mm hole in the left wing and minor flak holes in the rudder. The ball turret was also reported as being inoperative and kept burning out fuses. The pilot also suggested that,

A/C (Aircraft) 222 (Lazy Daisy) be taken out of combat because of oil regulator supercharger.  You cannot stay in formation with the electronic type.

The ship was held as a spare for the 4 JUN 1944 mission, but returned to the formation on 6 JUN 1944.

On 6 JUN 1944, she was assigned to the Robert Menke crew of the 547th Bomb Squadron. The only failure he reported that mission was that the elevation clutch slipped out in the upper turret. More serious mechanical problems reappeared after that.

  • 8 JUN 1944 The Edward Thoma crew reported #3 Turbo Supercharger went ‘out’ at altitude.

On 21 JUN 1944, Lazy Daisy was not flown at all by the 384th, but instead was assigned to the Willis Matter crew of the 379th Bomb Group. I did not find any comments from Matter about any failures of the aircraft in the mission reports.

  • 20 JUL 1944 The Daniel Young crew of the 384th’s 545th Bomb Squadron reported, Engines: #2, #3, #4 lag bad. Major battle damage to right wing.
  • 21 JUL 1944 The Joseph Patella crew of the 384th’s 544th Bomb Squadron reported exhaust stack on #1 engine broke, cut spark plug lead and all manifold pressure lost through hole in exhaust stack. #2 engine ran away on and off. #3 oil pressure gauge gave readings from 5 (typed report says 35, but pilot’s hand-written narrative looks like 5) – 75 lbs.

On 25 JUL 1944, Lazy Daisy was assigned to the Ned Sweeney crew of the 547th Bomb Squadron. Sweeney did not report any aircraft failures after the mission, but sadly he was killed four days later on the 29 JUL 1944 mission aboard 43-37870.

  • 29 JUL 1944 The Frank Mead crew reported a bad oil break in #2 engine.
  • 31 JUL 1944 The Ralph Hicks crew of the 384th’s 547th Bomb Squadron reported manifold pressure on #1 (or #2?) engine reading inconsistently (handwritten report reads ‘incorrectly’ rather than ‘inconsistently’).

The 547th Bomb Squadron continued to man Lazy Daisy on 1 AUG 1944 (no failures reported) and again on 3 AUG.

  • 3 AUG 1944 The John Mock crew of the 384th’s 547th Bomb Squadron reported #2 supercharger lags.

The 545th Bomb Squadron manned Lazy Daisy on 4 AUG 1944 and did not report any failures, but did report 10 flak holes throughout the aircraft.

On 5 AUG 1944, the 546th took back their ship, and didn’t report any failures, but did report battle damage of flak holes in the left and right wings and the #3 nacelle (outer casing/housing of an aircraft engine).

  • 7 AUG 1944 The Donald Duesler crew reported No. #4 engine ran away. Oil temperature went up so it had to be feathered. Worked O.K. until target area was reached. They also reported battle damage of a few flak holes in the vertical stabilizer.
  • 13 AUG 1944 The James Brookshire crew reported #3 engine out. Returned with #3 prop windmilling because the shaft broke. They also reported battle damage of flak holes in the right flap.

After the 13 AUG mission came another gap, this time for a month, in combat missions for Lazy Daisy. She was assigned as a spare on 11 SEP, but was unused. But she did return the next day.

  • 12 SEP 1944 The John Mohler crew reported #3 cylinder head gauge out. #4 prop governor ran away. They also reported some flak damage.
  • 17 SEP 1944 The Ralph Hicks crew of the 384th’s 547th Bomb Squadron reported #4 leaking oil. It’s unclear if it was due to battle damage or technical failure.
  • 19 SEP 1944 The Frank Mead crew reported #4 Engine throwing oil badly.
  • 25 SEP 1944 The Frank Mead crew reported #2 and #3 sluggish at altitude. OK till 15,000 ft. They also reported moderate flak damage over the target and that the co-pilot was unable to transmit over the interphone. And, Mead, the pilot, wrote in his narrative, “Brief B-24s to quit flying collision courses with us.” A forewarning?

In Lazy Daisy’s entire combat mission history, in addition to her engine and/or supercharger defects, pilots reported 5 malfunctions with the bomb bay, 20 problems with the radio and interphone system, 5 issues with the oxygen system, and a variety of other issues with the vertical stabilizer, ball turret, flight indicator, hydraulic lines, gyro compass, fluxgate compass, upper turret, chin turret, and most alarming, on Lazy Daisy’s next-to-last mission, the steering wheel aileron.

On that next-to-last mission on 27 SEP 1944, the 348th’s 547th Bomb Squadron used Lazy Daisy and the pilot, Rueben Farnsworth, reported that the steering wheel aileron control had too much vertical play. Also, the same issue that was reported two days earlier on 25 SEP, a problem with the interphone was reported as “Interphone needs checking – co-pilot’s system wouldn’t work,” along with a newly reported problem that there was a spark in the motor of the top turret which caused it to smoke. Battle damage was recorded as one minor hole, location unreported, due to flak at the target.

What sounded pretty significant to me was the report of a steering issue, a problem with the steering wheel aileron. Not being particularly well versed in the parts of or functions of the parts of a B-17 aircraft, I looked up the term “aileron.” I learned,

Ailerons help a pilot maintain control of an aircraft. On the outer rear edge of each wing, the two ailerons move in opposite directions, up and down, decreasing lift on one wing while increasing it on the other. This causes the airplane to roll to the left or right. To turn the airplane, the pilot uses the ailerons to tilt the wings in the desired direction.

Becoming more concerned with this news, I asked the 384th’s group of volunteer researchers for more information about the effects of a B-17’s aileron with too much vertical play in close formation flying during a combat mission.

Marc Poole, Founder of the 384th Bomb Group website, aviation artist, college art instructor, and a licensed pilot, provided this insight regarding the aircraft’s aileron and steering,

I would think any play in the control yoke would be similar to having too much slop or slack in your steering like on an old pickup truck…One of the 172’s I trained in last summer had a lot of slack in the control yoke…you could turn the wheel left or right about 1/8 turn either way with zero response…pretty unnerving. I didn’t fly that one much!

On 28 SEP 1944 the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron used Lazy Daisy on the mission to Magdeburg, Germany. The John (Jay) Buslee crew was nearby in the formation aboard 43-37822. It would be the last mission for both crews. Official reports show,

Lazy Daisy collided with 43‑37822 over the target. Both ships went down on fire and out of control; no chutes observed; crashed near Erxleben, Germany; (Missing Air Crew Report) MACR9366.

A witness, Wallace Storey, co-pilot on 43-38548 with the Kenneth Gross crew on 28 SEP, later described the mid-air collision and the moments before it,

We found ourselves on a crossing course with another Group and just after “bombs away” the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn. Our high element, being on the inside of this steep turn, had to move quickly by reducing power while climbing slightly. Glancing to my right, I saw that “Lazy Daisy” was sliding toward me. I pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path while keeping my eye on the #2 ship of the lead element, Lt. Buslee in 43-37822, on whose wing our element was flying. I yelled to Gross [the pilot] to watch for him to come out on the other side and, sure enough, he slid under us and right into Buslee in the lead element.

Note: The other group on the crossing course on this date was a B-17 Group, not a B-24 Group as it was three days earlier.

Speculation now in overdrive, I wondered, was Lazy Daisy’s steering wheel aileron issue addressed before the 28 September mission? Overnight from the return of the formation the afternoon of 27 September when Lazy Daisy was used by the 547th Bomb Squadron, to take-off of the formation on the morning of 28 September, was a pretty narrow window for maintenance to take place for,

  • A steering wheel aileron control which had too much vertical play
  • The co-pilot’s interphone system which wouldn’t work (and hadn’t worked the prior mission of 25 SEP)
  • A spark in the motor of the top turret which caused it to smoke
  • Battle damage of one minor hole, location unreported, due to flak at the target

The 546th Bomb Squadron’s ground crew also had a lot of work to do on Lazy Daisy earlier that week. After the 25 September mission, they had to address the #2 and #3 engines, which had been reported sluggish at altitude, repair moderate flak damage, and fix the problem with the co-pilot’s interphone system (which apparently didn’t get fixed by 27 September).

IF on 28 September, Lazy Daisy’s engines were being sluggish (as they were often reported) AND the steering wheel aileron still had too much play, how would Lazy Daisy have reacted to Lt. Brodie’s attempts to quickly reduce power, climb, and change direction with the formation when they found themselves on a crossing course with another Group as Wallace Storey described?

The mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and 43-37822 on 28 September 1944 likely did not happen because of one single issue – the flak, the crossing course with the other group, the quick maneuvering, the prop wash, or the gremlins – but a compounding of these and perhaps other issues I’m not aware of.

I have been struggling to make sense of all the information I discovered about Lazy Daisy’s mechanical issues, or gremlins, from all of her mission reports. I still think there may be something there that I’m missing or not considering. But it’s more likely that the answer I search for is written nowhere in history.

I now know more about Lazy Daisy, her gremlins, and about how they may have contributed to her collision with my dad’s B-17, but I will never know exactly why it happened. I could look forever, review thousands of more documents, create hundreds of more theories, and spend many more sleepless nights pondering all the conditions. But the reality is that the answer I search for died with Lazy Daisy’s pilots when she fell to earth. And there it shall remain.

Sources

Ailerons – NASA

Flight Control Failures – AOPA

Aileron – Wikipedia

Thank you Marc Poole for your help on this post.

Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for a post about the mechanics of a B-17, in particular, turbosuperchargers, and “throwing a bucket…”

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Summer 1944

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1944 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1944

Summer 1944

The highest-ever daily number of those gassed and cremated at Auschwitz-Birkenau was recorded at just over 9,000. This overwhelmed the capacity of the crematories and required six huge pits to burn the bodies.

July 1944

The Swedish Foreign Ministry sent diplomat Raoul Wallenberg to Budapest, Hungary with the support of the World Jewish Congress and American War Refugee Board to aid the 200,000 Jews left in the Hungarian capital. He saved nearly 33,000 Jews by securing their release from deportation trains, death march convoys, and labor service brigades, and by issuing diplomatic papers (protective documents) and establishing a network of thirty-one safe, or protected, houses in Budapest, called the International Ghetto. On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was detained by Soviet agents and was never heard from again. 

July 3, 1944

The Battle of the Hedgerows began in Normandy, named so because the Allies were hindered by the agricultural hedges in Western France which intelligence had not properly evaluated. The US First Army VIII Corps advanced only seven miles in twelve days.

The Soviets captured Minsk.

July 4, 1944

Less than one month since D-Day on June 6, the Allies had landed 920,000 troops, and lost 62,000 men, the count including those killed, wounded, and missing.

July 8, 1944

The Japanese withdrew from Imphal, the capital city of the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. They had invaded Imphal in a bid to capture British Colonies, but were defeated.

July 9, 1944

British and Canadian troops captured Caen, France.

Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest as first secretary to the Swedish legation in Hungary and with financing from the US War Refugee Board.

July 11, 1944

The Czech family camp at Auschwitz was liquidated.

July 17, 1944

German General Erwin Rommel was seriously injured in Normandy when a British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter plane strafed his staff car, injuring the driver, which caused it to crash into trees. Rommel was thrown from the car, suffering cuts to his face from glass shards and three fractures to his skull. He was taken to a hospital with major head injuries and then to his home in Germany to convalesce.

July 18, 1944

British General Bernard Montgomery, the commander of all the Allied ground forces in Normandy, launched Operation Goodwood 40 miles east of Caen.

U.S. troops reached and captured St. Lô, France.

July 20, 1944

German Army officers who were part of the German resistance attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler, but failed when a heavy conference table deflected the blast from a bomb placed under it. Hitler was only slightly wounded.

July 21, 1944

U.S. Marines invaded Guam in the Mariana Islands. In Operation Stevedore, Task Force 53, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard L. Connolly of the U.S. Navy, the Third Marine Division and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, along with the U.S. Army 77th Infantry Division, landed on Guam.

July 24, 1944

Soviet troops liberated the first concentration camp at Majdanek where over 360,000 had been murdered.

U.S. Marines invaded Tinian, an Island in the Northern Mariana Islands.

July 25, 1944

The U.S. Army began Operation Cobra in Normandy.

The II Canadian Corps began Operation Spring, an offensive south of Caen.

July 27, 1944

American troops completed the liberation of Guam.

July 28, 1944

Soviet troops took Brest-Litovsk, Belarus.

U.S. troops took Coutances, France.

August 1, 1944 – October 5, 1944

The non-communist underground Home Army in Poland, the dominant Polish resistance movement when Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II, rose up against the Nazis in an attempt to liberate Warsaw before the arrival of Soviet troops. The Soviet advance stopped on the east bank of the Vistula River. On October 5, the remnants of the Polish Home Army fighting in Warsaw surrendered to the Nazis.

August 1, 1944

Patton’s U.S. Third Army was activated in Normandy, France.

U.S. troops reached Avranches, France.

August 2, 1944

The SS liquidated the Gypsy family camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

August 3, 1944

U.S. And Chinese troops took Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar (Burma), after a two month siege.

August 4, 1944

Anne Frank and her family were arrested by the Gestapo in Amsterdam, Holland. They were first sent to the Westerbork Transit Camp and then on to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot were later sent to Bergen-Belsen where Anne died of typhus on March 15, 1945.

August 6, 1944

Lodz, the last Jewish ghetto in Poland, was liquidated with 60,000 Jews sent to Auschwitz.

August 7, 1944

The Germans began a major counter-attack toward Avranches, France.

August 8, 1944

American troops completed the capture of the Mariana Islands.

The Canadians launched Operation Totalize south of Caen, France with 600 tanks and 720 guns.

August 15, 1944

In Operation Dragoon, Allied forces landed in southern France near Nice and advanced rapidly towards the Rhine River to the northeast.

August 19, 1944

The French Resistance caused an uprising in Paris against the Germans.

August 19/20, 1944

A Soviet offensive in the Balkans (an area comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia) began with an attack on Romania.

August 20 – 25, 1944

Allied troops reached Paris. On August 25, Free French forces, supported by Allied troops, entered the French capital. By September, the Allies reach the German border; by December, virtually all of France, most of Belgium, and part of the southern Netherlands were liberated.

August 20, 1944

The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in WWII. The Western Allies encircled the German Army Group B, 7th Army, and Fifth Panzer Army, in the Falaise Pocket, a pocket formed around Falaise, Calvados, in the Normandy region of France.

August 23, 1944

The appearance of Soviet troops on the Prut River induced the Romanian opposition to overthrow the Antonescu regime. The new government concluded an armistice and immediately switched sides in the war. The Romanian turnaround compelled Bulgaria to surrender on September 8, and the Germans to evacuate Greece, Albania, and southern Yugoslavia in October.

August 25, 1944

Paris was liberated when Germany surrendered Paris to the Allied forces, ending four years of occupation.

August 29, 1944 – October 28, 1944

The underground Slovak resistance uprising began under the leadership of the Slovak National Council, consisting of both Communists and non-Communists, against the Germans and the indigenous fascist Slovak regime. In late October, the Germans captured the headquarters of the uprising at Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia and ended the organized resistance.

August 31, 1944

Soviet troops took Bucharest, the largest and capital city in Romania.

September 1944

As the British and American Air Forces destroyed most of the V-1 launch sites, by September of 1944, the Nazis introduced the V-2 rocket. The V-2 was much more sophisticated, a liquid-fueled rocket that traveled at supersonic speeds as high as 50 miles. It would plunge toward its target at a speed of nearly 4,000 miles per hour, smashing its 2,000 pound high explosive warhead into the ground without warning. Unlike the V-1, the V-2 rockets could not be intercepted. Over a thousand were fired at London.

September 1-4

The cities of Verdun, Dieppe, Artois, Rouen, and Abbeville in France, and Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium, were liberated by Allies.

September 3, 1944

The British Second Army liberated Brussels, Belgium.

Field Marshal Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt assumed command of the German armies in the West.

September 4, 1944

Finland and the Soviet Union agreed to a cease-fire.

September 13, 1944

U.S. troops reached the Siegfried Line in western Germany.

September 15, 1944

U.S. Troops invaded Morotai Island in Indonesia.

September 17 – 25, 1944

The Allied assault known as “Operation Market-Garden” was an attempt by combined Allied airborne and ground assault troops to capture bridges over Dutch waterways in order to open a rapid northern route for the Allied advance into Germany.

The First Allied Airborne Army dropped at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem to secure bridgeheads and the British Second Army pushed north into Holland from Belgium, to link up.

It was the largest Allied airborne operation of the war and the most costly. The third of the three airborne landings, at Arnhem, proved to be a complete failure as British troops landed too far from the Arnhem bridges and the Germans quickly recovered from the surprise of the aerial assault. Of 10,000 British troops at Arnhem, 1,400 were killed while over 6,000 were taken prisoner.

September 19, 1944

The Moscow Armistice ended the Continuation War when it was signed by Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other side. Finland had participated in the Continuation War in an Axis partnership with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944.

September 25, 1944

The British evacuated the remaining paratroopers from Arnhem in the Netherlands, but only 2,163 men out of nearly 10,000 returned.

Adolf Hitler ordered the formation of the Volkssturm (the “people’s storm”), the German home guard or national militia. It was created not by the formal German Armed Forces, but rather by the Nazi Party on Hitler’s order. Members were conscripted from those between sixteen and sixty years of age who were not already serving in a military unit. It was not officially announced until October 16, 1944.

September 26, 1944

Soviet troops occupied Estonia.

September 28, 1944

Frogmen from the German Marine Einsatzkommando demolished the Nijmegen, Holland railway bridge, which had been a key objective for the Allies to hold in Operation Market Garden.

The two B-17’s of the John Oliver Buslee crew and the James Jospeh Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Four of the eighteen airmen aboard the two ships survived: George Edwin Farrar (my father), Harry Allen Liniger, Wilfred Frank Miller, and George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Raoul Wallenberg

Hedgerow Warfare During the Battle of Normandy

Battle of the Hedgerows

Erwin Rommel

Volkssturm

Operation Market Garden

Nijmegen Railway Bridge

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Lazy Daisy’s Gremlins, Part 2 of 3

Continuation of my previous posts, Gremlins and Lazy Daisy’s Gremlin’s, Part 1 of 3

Why would I think the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17G 42-31222, nicknamed Lazy Daisy, was infested with gremlins? After reviewing the aircraft’s failures in the post-mission documents from her first mission in December 1943 to her next-to-last in September 1944, I was overwhelmed by the number and kinds of problems the aircraft experienced.

Lazy Daisy, a B-17G of the 384th Bombardment Group’s 546th Bombardment Squadron, experienced serious engine problems from the start and was taken out of commission for long periods, presumably for major repairs. Later in her career, she was assigned often as a spare aircraft and unused. At one point, it seems the 546th was trying to avoid using her (my opinion), so she was assigned to other bombardment squadrons of the 384th, and even once to another bombardment group because, (also only my theory) the men of the 546th Squadron didn’t want to fly in her.

When my dad, George Edwin Farrar, told me the story of surviving a mid-air collision between two B-17’s in WWII, he told me the reason the other ship (Lazy Daisy) collided with his ship (B-17G 43-37822), was that Lazy Daisy had been hit by ground fire (flak) which caused it to be knocked off course and into his ship.

I long believed flak was the sole reason for the collision until,

  1. A 384th Bomb Group B-17 pilot, Wallace Storey, who witnessed the collision, told me he didn’t think Lazy Daisy was hit by flak and,
  2. Many of the reports from the day of the collision do not attribute flak as the cause (although some do), and speculated on other causes, such as (1) the group was forced to pull up to avoid collision with another group, (2) pilot error during evasive action, and (3) the formation was broken up by very sharp turns and prop wash.

But, in the case of what seemed to some like pilot error, what if a mechanical problem with the aircraft caused the aircraft to not respond correctly to properly executed maneuvering by the pilot, James Brodie? And what if this mechanical problem compounded the scenario of flak damage?

Only the aircraft’s pilot, James Brodie, and co-pilot, Lloyd Vevle, would have been able to answer that question and neither one lived to do so. I can’t pretend to know the extent of what they were facing that day, that moment, that Lazy Daisy collided with my dad’s B-17, but I can look at what kinds of issues Lazy Daisy experienced in the missions leading up to that fateful one on September 28, 1944, and venture a guess.

I reviewed the mission reports of all 64 missions to which Lazy Daisy was assigned, looking for mechanical issues or anything else that stood out, to try to build a greater understanding of the aircraft’s history. Before I get into the mission details, here’s a little background info on the ship.

Lazy Daisy was,

  • Built by the Boeing Airplane Company
  • A new replacement aircraft assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group, 546th Bombardment Squadron (H)
  • Formally identified as B-17G 42-31222, with the ’42’ prefix meaning built in 1942, a newer ‘G’ series B-17
  • Identified with Aircraft ID Code BK*D, BK being the squadron code of the 384th’s 546th Bomb Squadron
  • Assigned to Ground Crew Chief James F. Flynn for maintenance

Lazy Daisy’s start date with the 384th Bomb Group was 23 November 1943 and her first assigned mission was 5 December 1943. Of course, Lazy Daisy’s End Date was 28 September 1944, failing to return from a combat operation due to the mid-air collision over Magdeburg, Germany.

Of Lazy Daisy’s assigned 64 missions, she received combat credit for 49.

Lazy Daisy’s entry in Dave Osborne’s B-17 Fortress Master Log is,

42-31222 Del Denver 4/10/43; Gr Island 17/10/43; Memphis 24/10/43; Ass 545BS/384BG [JD-D] Grafton Underwood 546 [BK-D] 23/11/43; MIA Magdeburg (Berlin) 28/9/44 w/Jim Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, Byron Atkins, Bob Crumpton, Don Dooley, Gordon Hetu (6KIA); George Hawkins, Harry Liniger, Wilf Miller (3POW); flak, cr Erxleben, Ger; MACR 9366. LAZY DAISY.

I introduced you to Lazy Daisy’s first “date” (first official combat mission’s pilot), Lt. Sidney Paul Taylor, in Lazy Daisy’s Gremlin’s, Part 1 of 3.

Following Taylor’s previous very rough mission of November 29, 1943 in Silver Dollar, he was probably looking forward to a less eventful round trip in his new ship to a Luftwaffe Fighter Airfield in Saint-Jean-d’Angély, France on December 5, 1943. It was less eventful in that Lazy Daisy had to return to base with a broken piston head soon after takeoff.

Not a great start for Lazy Daisy, and in the missions that followed, the ship was plagued by aircraft technical failure after technical failure. Over the course of her life, the crews of Lazy Daisy reported engine problems on 27 missions, including 21 engine/prop malfunctions and 9 supercharger problems (3 missions included both).

It wasn’t hard to notice the many engine and supercharger issues once I had them all in a list. Next question, what the heck is a supercharger?

Fred Preller, the 384th Bomb Group website’s Webmaster, helped me out with this one, noting,

A supercharger is an air compressor. On the B-17 it is a turbo-supercharger, meaning it is driven by a turbine in the engine exhaust line. The supercharger compresses air being fed into the engine.

Side note: as you go up in altitude the air pressure lessens, and there is consequently less air pressure to force air into the engine.

So the supercharger offsets that loss in air pressure to provide sufficient air to the engine for proper combustion. In fact, it “supercharges” the air pressure several times the normal atmospheric pressure. I seem to recall that the B-17 turbos would provide up to 45 psi air to the engine (normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is about 15 psi).

So, how does this all work? The engine exhaust gases are routed to the turbine which spins the compressor. There is a “waste gate” in the exhaust line which will route more or less exhaust gas to the turbine, and is the means of controlling the “boost” in air pressure that the compressor provides.

So what about all the “lagging” of the superchargers that I read in the pilot narratives of the mission reports? Fred added,

I am not sure of this but I imagine it has to do with the supercharger response to the waste gate setting – in fact, there is quite a linkage between the cockpit and each engine for controlling the waste gate, so it is easy to see that different kinds of problems could occur.

John Edwards, 384th Bomb Group Historian, helped me out when I pointedly asked what would happen to a B-17 during all those supercharger failures? Would it make the aircraft seem sluggish, or lazy? John noted,

A supercharger failure at altitude would certainly make it hard for the aircraft to hold position especially if still carrying the full bomb load and the higher amount of fuel before the target. If the charger is not performing appropriately at lower altitudes, the impact can be slow to climb which puts the aircraft behind schedule and makes the pilot push the engines harder when it finally reaches altitude.

And much more to come about the fascinating subject of superchargers at a later date, following this series…

I can’t help but speculate that once her first pilot, Lt. Sidney Paul Taylor, got to know her “personality”, why wouldn’t he name his new B-17 Lazy Daisy?

So here comes the mission list, and in the list of Lazy Daisy’s missions I present here, December 1943 through April 1944, all the missions were flown by crews of the 546th Bomb Squadron. ALL of her missions aren’t listed. I’ve listed the ones with the most serious problems and if no problems were reported on a mission (although only a few missions had no technical or equipment failures of any kind), that mission wasn’t included either. [May through September 1944 missions coming up in Part 3.]

Specific engine/supercharger problems and other serious issues on different missions included,

  • 5 DEC 1943 Broken piston head in the No. 2 engine. The pilot, Lt. Taylor, wrote in his narrative statement, “On take-off the manifold pressure dropped to 31” & 1800 RPM. The engine was feathered when we attained an altitude of 200’. It was impossible to climb. The engine was feathered, but created such a drag that it was necessary to re-feather it. We drew 46” & 2500 RPM on the three remaining engines in order to maintain altitude & speed. When these settings were reduced, it was not possible to maintain altitude & flying speed. As soon as the group completed take-off we landed. We landed with full bomb load.”

It would take 8 days of tinkering before Lazy Daisy was assigned to another mission after having problems with the No. 2 engine. So what happened on 13 DEC 1943 with the Taylor crew assigned to the ship for her second mission?

  • 13 DEC 1943 No. 2 engine oil pressure dropped to 37 lbs. Taylor wrote, “On the trip over, the manifold pressure repeatedly dropped to about 20lbs. for no apparent cause. The pressure could be brought back up by manipulation of the supercharger control. Eventually the oil pressure dropped to 40 lbs. We continued for about 15 minutes, then the oil pressure began to drop further, so I attempted to feather the engine. It would not feather. I turned back and bombed a Target of Opportunity. At low altitude the engine performed alright.”

The Taylor crew would not man Lazy Daisy again until Christmas Eve, so on her next mission, Lazy Daisy’s gremlins were able to antagonize a different crew.

  • 16 DEC 1943 The Clifford Moore crew reported a problem with the fuel pressure on #3 engine. Prop on #2 over sped. They also reported flak damage and that the heated gloves on the ship were faulty, too.

The Taylor crew was back on board on 24 DEC 1943, Christmas Eve, but reported no aircraft failures, only an equipment failure that the co-pilot’s microphone was out. Over the next few months, the Taylor crew and other crews reported a slew of problems.

  • 30 DEC 1943 The Austin Rinne crew reported #3 supercharger drew only 22 inches at 22,000 ft. They also reported that the antenna brace on the vertical stabilizer was broken off, the bomb bay doors wouldn’t close, and flak had pierced the left outboard Tokyo fuel tank.
  • 5 JAN 1944 The Ralph Courtemanche crew reported #1 and #3 superchargers lagged on climb. #2 engine was shooting oil at altitude. It ran all right at lower altitudes.
  • 7 JAN 1944 The Sidney Taylor crew reported that the flight indicator was completely out and must be replaced. They became separated from formation in dense clouds after group assembly, failed to make wing rendezvous, and were forced to abort.
  • 30 JAN 1944 The Merlin Reed crew reported a runaway prop on #2 engine. A separate report alternately reported the problem as – Returned to station early due to runaway No. 3 propeller. Inspection revealed a broken shaft.
  • 3 FEB 1944 The Sidney Taylor crew reported #1 supercharger threw a bucket, but it was not noticed until the ship had landed.
  • 20 FEB 1944 Today was pilot Sidney Taylor’s 25th mission, completing his tour. He reported Lazy Daisy threw a bucket from #1 supercharger, #2 prop over traveled, and #1 supercharger regulator out. I guess Lazy Daisy’s gremlins couldn’t let Taylor have an easy final mission.
  • 21 FEB 1944 The James Miller crew reported #3 supercharger lags. Apparently Lazy Daisy’s gremlins didn’t leave Grafton Underwood with Sidney Taylor.
  • 25 FEB 1944 The Ralph Courtemanche crew reported fuel had to be siphoned out of #4 wing tank when fuel pressure went up to 19.5 lbs, and #3 engine began throwing oil.
  • 2 MAR 1944 The Charles Bishop crew reported #4 fuel pressure was extremely high. Had to run engines between 20” and 25” to keep it down.
  • 3 MAR 1944 The Charles Decker crew reported #1 engine was running roughly and vibrated excessively. Alternately reported – #2 engine failed and couldn’t be feathered. Pilot believes it was ignition trouble. #3 supercharger lagged at altitude.
  • 8 MAR 1944 The Charles Bishop crew reported No. 1 engine was running roughly and vibrated excessively. Returned early with feathered No. 1 engine. On ground check excessive blow-by of the valves was noted. Inspection revealed No. 7 exhaust valve broken. Further inspection showed No. 6 exhaust valve broken off.
  • 22 MAR 1944 The James Miller crew reported #2 Engine knocked out by flak and had general flak damages. Miller wrote, “Hit by flak. Lost #2 engine. Oil pressure dropped. Evidently oil line hit by flak. Unable to feather prop. Dropped off at enemy coast.”
  • 13 APR 1944 The Anthony Gekakis crew reported No. 1 Engine running rough and smoking continuously at altitude.
  • 18 APR 1944 The James Miller crew reported #1 Engine went out over target.

After the April 18, 1944 mission, Lazy Daisy was out of service for almost six weeks (40 days). I turned to my fellow research volunteers of the 384th Bomb Group to help me analyze this and other breaks in Lazy Daisy’s inclusion in combat missions.

384th Bomb Group’s Historian John Edwards’ thoughts on the gap of missions were that,

  1. In Fall 1944, there are typically more aircraft on station than crews so the group could afford a tail to sit a while as maintenance worked the gremlins.
  2. The USAAF maintenance system was designed to move aircraft with problems to the next level of maintenance if the required amount of time to complete the repair exceeded certain time requirements.

The SD (Sub-depot) would work the aircraft since it stayed on station. We would see an annotation had the aircraft been sent to a SAD (Strategic Air Depot) or BAD (Base Air Depot).

Keith Ellefson, the 384th Bomb Group’s Combat Data Specialist, found that indeed,

42-31222 was at 2SAD (the 2nd Strategic Air Depot), Station 547 (aka Abbots Ripton at Alconbury, England) on 6 May 1944 and back at Station 106 (Grafton Underwood) on 6 June 1944.

A few photos from the 384th Bomb Group photo gallery of Lazy Daisy undergoing various repairs…

Dispersal 24
Courtesy of 384th Bomb Group photo gallery

Apparently 42-31222 BK*D “LAZY DAISY”
Note bent or sheered propeller shaft and damaged cowling sections in foreground.
Courtesy of 384th Bomb Group photo gallery

Lazy Daisy
Courtesy of 384th Bomb Group photo gallery

Thank you Fred Preller, John Edwards, and Keith Ellefson for you help on this post.

Stay tuned for Lazy Daisy’s Gremlins, Part 3 of 3 and her return from maintenance…

Sources

Dave Osborne’s B-17 Fortress Master Log (Fortlog)

2nd Strategic Air Depot, Station 547

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020