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Ed and Bernie Marry

On June 30, 1949, George Edwin Farrar and Bernice Jane Chase married in Meno, Oklahoma.  It was a small ceremony with just Ed and Bernie standing in front of the Justice of the Peace.  No family.  No photos.  Even though I don’t have a wedding photo, I do have a photo from early in their marriage.

Bernie and Ed Farrar

Bernie and Ed Farrar

My mother, Bernice Jane Chase, was raised on a wheat farm in Meno, Oklahoma.  She was the middle of three daughters of Louis Albert and Mary Selina Chase.  Bethel was the oldest, Bernice in the middle, and Beatrice the youngest.  Mary Chase called them her “three little B’s.”

Left to right:  Beatrice Chase, Bernice Chase, and Bethel Chase

Left to right: Beatrice Chase, Bernice Chase, and Bethel Chase

At some point in the future, I will explore my mother’s life growing up in Meno, Oklahoma.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Ed Meets Bernie

Sometime in June 1948, or thereabouts, George Edwin Farrar met his future bride and my mother, Miss Bernice Jane Chase of Meno, Oklahoma.  Meno was a wheat farming community twenty miles from Enid.  In the 1940’s, Bernie worked for Montgomery Ward in Enid, doing office work.

Ed’s brother Carroll was married to Bernie’s friend Millie, the former Mildred Dustin of Enid, Oklahoma.  Millie provided a few pictures of Bernie to Ed, they met, and hit it off immediately.

Bernice Jane Chase

Bernice Jane Chase

Ed was a traveling salesman and was on the road most of the time, so much of their courtship was through exchanges of letters and pictures.

Bernice Jane Chase "To Ed with all my love, Bernie"

Bernice Jane Chase
“To Ed with all my love, Bernie”

With the war behind him, and a bright future in front of him, it was time for George Edwin Farrar to take time for love and thoughts of marriage and a family of his own.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Christmas 1945

George Edwin (Ed) Farrar had written to his family in Atlanta, Georgia on December 10, 1945.  He stated in his letter that he would be leaving Chicago, Illinois on the 15th to come home for a family Christmas.  I don’t know his method of travel.  He may have traveled with another person by car, or perhaps by train.  He expected to be home by the 16th of December.  He sounded in high spirits and was looking forward to reuniting with older brother Carroll Jr. on the visit.

Left to Right:  Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr. and George Edwin (Ed) Farrar. May 8, 1941 Carroll enlisted in WWII 3 months later, on August 13, 1941

Left to Right: Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr. and George Edwin (Ed) Farrar.
May 8, 1941

Carroll Sr. and Raleigh Mae Farrar had nine children, four of them boys.  Carroll Jr. was the oldest and had also served with the Army Air Forces during WWII, but in the Pacific theatre.  My dad, George Edwin, was the middle child and second son.  Younger brother Bob was the third Farrar son to serve in WWII, in the Navy aboard the USS Intrepid.  The youngest boy, Gene, was too young to join the fighting.

Raleigh Mae was excited about having most of the family home that year to celebrate Christmas and to celebrate that her three sons in WWII had all made it back home alive.  Carroll Sr. was very ill and bedridden, but was anxious to see his boys back together again.

Left to Right:  Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr. and Raleigh Mae Farrar Date Unknown

Left to Right: Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr. and Raleigh Mae Farrar
Date Unknown

Youngest daughter, Beverly, who was only eight years old at the time, remembers that Christmas to this day.  Bob and Carroll Jr. had arrived home first.  Carroll Jr. decided the house needed some sprucing up and took to painting and wallpapering the interior.  There were no decorations, presents, or even a Christmas tree, so instead of a festive holiday atmosphere, the house was a wreck with Carroll Jr’s paint and wallpaper supplies scattered about.

Six of the Farrar children gathered at their parents’ home for the holidays – Janet, Carroll Jr., Ed, Bob, Gene, and Beverly.  Only three – Geraldine (Gerry), Martha, and Dorothy (Dot) – were absent.  Ed was the last to arrive.

Carroll Sr. had been waiting to see his boys all together, home from the war.  He had been holding off the business of dying, waiting for his sons to arrive.  A few days after their arrival, Carroll Sr.’s condition worsened and he was taken to the hospital.  Beverly was sent to a neighbor’s house, the Patterson’s, while the rest of the family gathered at her father’s hospital bedside.  Carroll Sr. died at Grady Hospital on December 20.

Beverly remembers Carroll Jr. coming to the Patterson’s very late to take her home.  He told her their father had died.  She would spend her eighth Christmas, just five days away, without her father.  Instead of planning a joyous holiday, the Farrar’s would be planning a funeral.

Christmas Eve came with no Christmas tree and no presents.  After Beverly was sent to bed, older brother Gene, fourteen years old, walked over to North Kirkwood in search of a Christmas tree.  The tree lot was closed, but he found a tree he liked remaining and brought it home.  When Beverly arose on Christmas morning, she was surprised to find a decorated Christmas tree and a Christmas present for her, a pair of skates, under it.

Carroll Farrar, Sr. didn’t live to see that Christmas, but he did live to see what was much more important to him.  He made death wait to take him until he saw with his own eyes all three of his sons who had survived WWII come together again for a family Christmas.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Other Crew

Normally, Mr. Buslee was the letter writer of the Buslee family, but today John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s mother took the time to write to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.

April 9, 1945
Park Ridge, Ill.

My Dear Mrs. Farrar: –

We have received your letter telling of the good news of hearing from your son, George, it is, and must be wonderful for you to know he is alive and well, at least I imagine that’s all he could say or they wouldn’t pass it if he would say he was ill or hungry which I’m sure he is. I understand all prisoners would really be in a bad way if it weren’t for the Red Cross. I hear each fellow gets certain rations from them each week which should help a little, altho, their life must be almost unbearable there in those camps.

Just a day or so before we received your letter I noticed in one of our papers where a boy who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft 4 B – Germany had notified his people he’d be released, so we are in hopes your son is also free again. We are so happy to know that George at least is alive and that he may some day be able to tell us all about the rest of the crew. Isn’t it strange the nothing has been heard of the other two boys?

We have never had a word from the McManns altho Mr. Buslee has written them several times, the Peluso’s have promised to let us hear as soon as they hear anything, and the family of Lt. Brody who was the other pilot haven’t heard any other news than missing, either, and according to some of the other eye witnesses he was in the most dangerous spot, so you see we never can tell so we hear are still hopeful because each day we see where someone who had been reported killed has been found to be alive. I do hope our prayers will be repaid with good news soon.

We are so sorry to hear your other son is ill in the hospital, please let us hear how he is, we are very much interested in you and your family. Hope good luck follows your son in China, and that you will continue to hear good news of George often. Wish we could get something to him to lighten his burden in camp. Mr. Buslee has written him, it must have been a terrible blow to him to have them tell him all his crew were gone – but we heard tell that the Germans like to break down the hopes of the boys by telling them all sorts of lies.

We hear the Henson’s are enjoying a trip to Florida, they seem to be such grand folks, nice that you live so close to each other in Atlanta.

We have had such nice letters from so many of the wives and mothers of the boys and we do appreciate them so much.

We hope you and Mr. Farrar are in perfect health and try to keep up your spirits until your sons come home again and thank you so much for all your kindnesses, and write again soon.

Sincerely,
Mrs. John Buslee

Lots of interesting information for me in this letter.  From this one letter I have learned:

  1. How uninformed the folks back home were about conditions in Germany.  Most of the boys were out on the road marching, not sitting in a prison camp.  They weren’t receiving those Red Cross rations either.  Most of the boys were slowing starving to death.  Don’t know how or what kept them going.
  2. Mrs. Buslee must have meant Sebastiano Peluso of the Buslee crew and James Brodie of the Brodie crew as the “other two boys.”  From reviewing letters, I believe all of the Buslee crew next-of-kin except the Pelusos had heard word of their sons.
  3. I don’t have any letters from the McManns, and apparently other familes had not heard from them either.
  4. The families did know the identity of at least the pilot of the other crew as Mrs. Buslee references Lt. Brody (meaning James Brodie).  This is the most interesting piece of information in this letter to me.  It does let me know that the families knew that their boys were involved in a mid-air collision that involved two flying fortresses and did know about the other crew.
  5. My Uncle Bob, George Edwin Farrar’s (my dad) younger brother, who was injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid in November 1944 must have still been hospitalized.
  6. My Uncle Carroll, Dad’s older brother, was still serving in China.
  7. The Hensons were the parents of the crew’s navigator, William Alvin Henson II.  Mrs. Buslee may also have been including Henson’s wife and infant daughter.
  8. “Mr. Farrar”, my dad’s father, was not in good health.  He was bedridden and very ill and the family hoped he would live long enough to see the three of his four sons that were in WWII come home from the war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Bob Farrar Injured in Kamikaze Attack on USS Intrepid

Robert Burnham Farrar

Robert Burnham Farrar

By late 1944, Raleigh Mae Farrar would have more than one son in the war to worry about.  George Edwin Farrar’s younger brother, Robert Burnham Farrar, known as Bob, had enlisted in the Navy on May 8 the year before, just a few months after turning eighteen.  His parents were against it, thinking him too young to go to war, but he had made his mind up that he was going to serve his country like his older brothers Carroll and Ed.

Bob was serving on the USS Intrepid when it was attacked by two Japanese kamikaze pilots within five minutes on November 25, 1944, the day after Thanksgiving.  Six officers and fifty-nine crew were killed, while about a hundred men were wounded.  Bob survived the attack, but was injured, possibly from smoke inhalation from the resulting fire.  He required later hospitalization.

The fire was reportedly extinguished in two hours.  Still able to sail, Intrepid headed to San Francisco the next day, November 26, for repairs and arrived there on December 20.

A slide show of photos of the attack on the USS Intrepid on November 25, 1944 can be seen on YouTube.

Bob and older brother Ed as children in Atlanta, Georgia:

Left to right, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar and younger brother Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar

Left to right, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar and younger brother Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Farrar Family Reacts to the News

George Edwin Farrar, my dad, was born in 1921 and was the middle child in a family of nine children.  His mother was Raleigh Mae George Farrar and his dad was Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr.  The ages of the Farrar children spanned twenty-seven years, from Geraldine born in 1910, to Beverly born in 1937.

Geraldine was eleven years older than my dad and was called “Gerry.”  A photo of Gerry and my dad as a child:

Farrar-503

By 1944 Gerry was married to Wallace “Wally” Mass and living in Susanville, California.  On October 15, 1944, she sent this telegram home after hearing the news of my dad being missing in action:

1944-10-15-Mass-001

And finally, a photo of my dad and his mother when he was home on leave earlier in his service:

Farrar-511

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

War Letters

Many servicemen in WWII kept diaries, and even more wrote letters home.  It wasn’t unusual for families to keep every letter sent home and many soldiers returned from war with their diaries.  Most of these are now in the hands of their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, packed away and not read for many, many years.  Now 70 years later, these are family treasures.  Through these letters and diaries we can all realize the sacrifices these soldiers and their families made for our freedom.

If my dad, George Edwin Farrar, wrote a lot of letters home, they have been lost over the years.  And there is no evidence of a diary.  I do have some letters he wrote to his mother, which I will publish.

The most treasured letters I have are the letters to my grandmother from the families of other members of the Buslee crew after the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between their B17, Lead Banana, and another 384th Bomber Group B17, Lazy Daisy.  These letters show how slowly news traveled during WWII, and how much anguish families experienced not knowing the fate of their loved ones for such a long time.

When an airman jumps from an airplane, he is in free fall until he deploys his parachute.  His life hangs in the balance until the parachute stops the free fall and glides him gently down to earth.  Without the chute, his descent would be much faster, and with a very unpleasant abrupt ending.

Here at home, the families of the men involved in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision were all in free fall for a very long time.  I imagine, for the families that eventually found their boys were alive, they felt an emotion very like the airman whose parachute opens and sets him down again on earth, an elation.

But for the families whose agony of not knowing continued for so long, the abrupt news that their sons wouldn’t be coming back from war would emotionally be like never deploying the chute and hitting the ground at full speed.  At first, with the pain, there would be disbelief.  The news took so long in coming that it must be wrong.  Families still hoped for a good outcome and still waited in free fall, as if when hitting the ground, they were to bounce back into the realm of not knowing.  Perhaps the second landing would be more gentle.

I will start publishing the letters I have, sharing the information and emotions they represent.  The first will be letters my dad wrote home before beginning combat duty, and I will soon get to the ones the families of the crew sent to my grandmother while they were all waiting for news of their sons.

I will also publish official letters and documents that my grandmother received from the government.  One of my purposes is to try to show the timing of news to the families in relation to what was actually happening.  News from Germany was very slow in coming and so was very outdated.

If anyone has any letters that were written by my grandmother, Mrs. Carroll J. (Raleigh) Farrar, during WWII, I would very much appreciate hearing from you and obtaining copies.  Also, copies of any letters home from any of the Buslee crew that describe what life was like at Grafton Underwood or during prior training or combat missions, would be appreciated.  I would like to get a better feel for what life was like for these boys and their families during this time period.  Please contact me at cindy@thearrowheadclub.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Farrar Boys in WWII

Farrar Boys in WWII

Farrar Boys in WWII

Honoring the Farrar boys of Atlanta, GA – my dad and his brothers – who served in WWII on this Veteran’s Day:  from left to right, Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr. who served in Army Air Force Service Squadron 315 from 1941 to 1945, Robert Burnham Farrar, who served until 1945 with the US Navy and was injured on the US Intrepid, which was torpedoed, and my dad, George Edwin Farrar, who served in the 8th Air Force, 384th Bombardment Group, 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) from 1942 to 1945, was a POW at Gross Tychow, and survived the Black March in the Winter of 1945.  All three returned home from the war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013