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London Leave

Postcard of sights of London
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

I can’t say why, but every time I think of the possibility that my dad, George Edwin Farrar, visited London while he was serving with the 8th AAF during WWII in England, I think of this poem, first published in London during 1805 in the book “Songs for the Nursery.”

Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?
I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.
Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

According to my mother, I had memorized a great deal of nursery rhymes by the age of two, so maybe this was one of them. Still to this day, I associate this rhyme when I think of London.

Anyway, pussycats aside, the question in my mind really is, did Dad see London? I don’t recall him ever telling me he did, but another one of Frank Furiga’s (fellow 384th Bomb Group NexGen member Paul Furiga’s dad’s) stories has me believing he did.

Postcard of West Towers, Westminster Abbey, London
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

Frank Furiga recorded the story twice. One version was a short summary, but the second had much more detail. His summary version was,

On August 13th, our whole crew departed for a hotel in London with the good graces of our 384th entertainment fathers. Upon arriving we ran into the John Buslee & David Albrecht crew from the 544th Squadron. We stayed at a nice hotel for the weekend. We had a most memorable dinner at a place called the Hungaria Club in Piccadilly.

There was a great Hungarian gypsy orchestra that serenaded us with a few songs. Then there was an opera star seated at a table dining and she was persuaded to sing some operatic numbers. It was a most enjoyable evening and we rode the train back to Kettering refreshed and looking ahead to more combat.

Postcard of London, Piccadilly Circus
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

The version with a lot of interesting detail went like this,

One sunny afternoon I entered the officers’ quarters to see our pilot, Lieutenant Bert Brown and the copilot Lieutenant William Bayne, dancing around the coal stove and shouting excitedly. When I inquired as to what had brought this about, they showed me the leave passes for a three day leave. And better than that, the whole crew would be taking a nice trip to the big city, London, England.

The very next morning, our entire crew, officers and enlisted men, departed from Kettering by train for the great trip. When we arrived in London, we were very fortunate to have found lodgings at the Regent Palace, traveling in somewhat of a grand style.

Having properly registered and having stowed our luggage, we then started to look about for a nice pub where we could quaff some good British beer. At the very first one we went into, we encountered Lieutenant John Buslee and Lieutenant David Albrecht of the 546 [correction, Buslee crew was in the 544th] Squadron and their crew.

So as we sat and drank, we talked about getting involved in some group activity that evening, and a decision was finally made to perhaps attend some good play, and then have a fine dinner somewhere. And Lieutenants Buslee and Albrecht handled the details.

So that afternoon, we attended a matinee performance of the famous Noel Coward production “Blithe Spirits” at the Haymarket Theatre. The actors did a very superb job, and we certainly enjoyed it immensely. After this activity, we traveled to a very fine nightclub restaurant, the Hungaria Club.

When we arrived here, we were greeted by the host, who told us that our table was not yet ready and we could partake of cocktails while we waited. We were then led to a rather intimate room downstairs where Gypsy or Castro was playing. As we enjoyed our drinks, the enticement of a few pound notes brought the orchestra ever closer, and they outdid themselves in entertaining us.

Sometime later, we were taken to our table upstairs. Another type orchestra was playing there for entertainment of the guests and one of the patrons of the restaurant happened to be an operatic singer and she was persuaded to sing several arias. And one of the selections was from Puccini’s “La Bohème.” “Musetta’s Waltz”, I believe. While she sang, the entire room of diners was held spellbound, and many of the people stopped eating.

And as she finished her selections, the audience applauded very warmly and long. This was something that we had not expected to see and left us with a very nice and warm feeling. It was something that we would always remember the wonderful evening we spent at the Hungaria Club. And so the evening ended there.

And the very next day, we went on a tour of London, visiting all of the standard tourist attractions such as the Tower Bridge, the Westminster Cathedral and other points of interest, which we found to be very enjoyable. That being over, we headed back for Grafton Underwood and war.

Our very last thing was to stop at the Hollywood Lounge in Kettering for some brew and a hearty dish of fish and chips as we got off the train in Kettering.

Instead of ending the story here, master storyteller Frank Furiga included a little foreshadowing by saying,

But this story does not end here, however.

Frank went on to describe an awful thing he saw happen to his friends on the Buslee crew when he was a tail observer on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. You can read his story here.

So, there are a few things about Frank’s story of the three-day pass to London that makes me believe my dad was in London with the Buslee crew for those three days in August 1944, the thirteenth to the fifteenth. One, Frank specifically mentions Buslee and Albrecht by name. Two, Frank says that his entire crew was there, officers and enlisted men, and says Buslee’s crew was there, too. Three, the entire Buslee crew “were all off ops” as 384th Bomb Group Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson puts it, i.e., they were not part of operations (did not fly any missions) between August 12 and August 24, with a few exceptions.

If any of them had been left behind at Grafton Underwood and not included in the London visit, they likely would have been assigned to fly as substitutes with other crews during that time.

When I checked the dates that the men of the Buslee crew were off ops during this time, I see that John Oliver Buslee (Pilot), Chester Rybarczyk (Navigator), James Davis (Replacement Bombardier), Sebastiano Peluso (Radio Operator), Erwin Foster (Ball Turret Gunner), Eugene Lucynski (Tail Gunner), Lenard Bryant (Waist/Top Turret Gunner), and George Edwin Farrar did not fly any missions between August 12 and August 24.

I also believe most of the Buslee crew (the ones who didn’t fly another mission until August 24) may have also been sent to a flak house, probably Southport, after they returned from London. With eleven days without flying a mission, that would give them a whole week to rest up at the flak house on top of three days in London.

David Albrecht (Co-pilot) did not fly any missions between August 12 and August 18. Perhaps most of the Buslee crew were sent to a flak house because of their experience on the 5 August 1944 mission on which original bombardier Marvin Fryden was killed and Clarence Seeley was seriously injured. Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew that day and perhaps was not included in the trip to the flak house. Seeley did not fly another mission until 5 September 1944 and was hospitalized during most of this time, so likely did not go on the trip to London or possible trip to the flak house.

Of course, my theory that most of the Buslee crew visited a flak house after visiting London is purely speculation on my part. I can find no documentation to support my theory. Unfortunately, images of the squadron’s morning reports during the August 12 to 24 time period are unreadable and cannot be used to confirm either the London leave or flak house visit. However, I cannot imagine what else would have kept the Buslee crew from participating in combat missions for that lengthy of a period of time.

One thing does perplex me, however, and it may indicate the possibility that my dad did not go to London with the Buslee crew. He wrote a letter home to his mother dated 14 August 1944, which would have been right in the middle of the August 13 to 15 London visit. In the letter, he does not mention London at all. The stationery he used was plain and had no markings, no hotel name or anything else. The envelope was postmarked 546 17 AUG 1944 (two days after the end of the London visit), U.S. ARMY POSTAL SERVICE and also stamped with U.S. POSTAGE VIA AIR MAIL in the amount of 6¢.

Even more interesting, it was the only letter he kept that he mailed home during his entire stay at Grafton Underwood. I’m sure Dad and his mother corresponded quite frequently while he was at Grafton Underwood, but no other letters from either one of them during this time exist in his memorabilia from the war.

I also want to note a terminology discrepancy that Keith Ellefson pointed out to me. Keith has poured through mountains of wartime records and reports in his research and does not recall ever seeing any documentation in the unit morning reports placing anyone on “Pass.”  The usual terminology in the morning reports is “Leave” for Officers and “Furlough” for Enlisted men, but no “Passes.” I assume that the airmen just used the terminology of “Pass” loosely to mean the paperwork for being granted a leave or a furlough.

Frank Furiga made a very thorough list of all the sights he saw in London in 1944 while he was in the service with the 384th Bomb Group. It’s possible that Frank visited London more than once as he was in England two months longer than the men of the Buslee crew, so his list may not have all been accomplished in this one visit from 13 to 15 August 1944. If my dad did visit London at the same time as Frank Furiga, John Buslee, and David Albrecht, I imagine he saw at least some of these sights.

Places Frank Furiga visited in England in 1944
Image courtesy of Paul Furiga

A transcription of Frank Furiga’s “Places I Visited in England (1944)”,

  1. London Times Building
  2. London Bridge
  3. Tower of London
  4. London Mint
  5. St. James Palace
  6. St. James Park
  7. Buckingham Palace
  8. Guards Barracks
  9. Westminster Abbey
  10. House of Commons
  11. House of Lords
  12. Big Ben
  13. Scotland Yard
  14. The Cenotaph [the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial]
  15. Lord Nelson’s Statue – Trafalgar Square
  16. British Admiralty House
  17. Thames River
  18. Cleopatra’s Needle – Imported from Egypt
  19. Old Hallows Church – A.D. 675
  20. Roman Wall Ruins
  21. Bank of England
  22. Mansion House – Residence of Lord Mayor
  23. St. Paul’s Cathedral
  24. Sir Christopher Wren’s Tomb
    1. Whispering Galley
    2. Duke of Wellington’s Tomb
    3. Duke of Wellington’s Funeral Cart
    4. Florence Nightingale’s Monument
    5. Lord Nelson’s Tomb
    6. Sir George William’s Tomb (Y.M.C.A.)
    7. Lord Kitchener Monument and Chapel
  25. Fleet Street
  26. Courts of Justice
  27. Charles Dickens’ Curiosity Shop
  28. Victoria Theater
  29. Drury Lane [The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, commonly known as Drury Lane, is a West End theatre and Grade I listed building in Covent Garden, London, England.]
  30. Leicester Square
  31. London Subway
  32. St. Pancras Station [Railway Station]

Thank you to Paul Furiga for sharing new detail through his dad’s stories and to Frank Furiga for recording them.

Further reading

The Cenotaph

St. Pancras Station

Drury Lane

Hungaria Restaurant – described as,

A Hungarian restaurant on Lower Regent Street. It was called the Hungaria and had the attraction in wartime London of a very deep basement fitted with gas and waterproof doors.

The waiters, some of whom slept on the premises, were trained as air raid precaution (ARP) wardens and first-aid workers … Their advertising during the war read “Bomb-Proof and Boredom Proof – we care for your safety as well as your Pleasure.”

Except for the stories of Frank Furiga, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 30 August 1944

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

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

Today’s installment is the 30 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Wednesday, 30 August 1944

384th BG Mission 186/8th AF Mission 590 to Crepieul, France.

Target: CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site).

The James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron did not participate.

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

About 200 HBs supported by 16 P-51’s bomb 8 V-weapon sites in Pas de Calais area. Later in the day over 600 B-17’s supported by 7 P-51 gps bomb U-boat base and shipyards at Kiel, and aircraft plant and other industry in the Bremen area.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

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

  1. Mission 590 to V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area of France. The Brodie crew participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 591 to the U-boat base and shipyards at Kiel and aircraft plant and other industry in the Bremen area.
  3. Mission 592, a leaflet drop in France and Belgium during the night.

Mission 590: 107 of 159 B-17s and 108 of 145 B-24s dispatched hit 8 V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area of France; one wing uses GH and H2X methods; 22 bombers are damaged. Escort is provided by 16 of 16 P-51s without loss.

Links/Sources

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

Frank Furiga, Mid-Air Collision Witness

On September 28, 1944, on the 384th Bomb Group’s mission to Magdeburg, Germany, the B-17’s of the Buslee and Brodie crews collided coming off the target. I have written extensively about that day – my father, George Edwin Farrar, was the sole survivor of the Buslee crew.

I have reported eye witness accounts of the collision as told by 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey and ball turret gunner Robert Mitchell. Today, just a day past the seventy-seventh anniversary of the collision, I have a new eye witness account to report, this one from fellow 384th NexGen member Paul Furiga, as recorded by his father, 384th bombardier Frank Furiga.

First, let me explain how Frank Furiga had such a bird’s eye view of the collision. Frank was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group at the same time as my father. Frank was a bombardier on the Bert Brown crew and my dad was a waist gunner on the John Buslee crew.

At the time they entered combat duty, only the bombardiers aboard the lead aircraft in the formation actually determined the point at which the group would drop their bombs on the target. The remainder of the bombardiers didn’t do much else besides toggle or flip a switch to send their bombs away as soon as they saw the bombardier in the lead aircraft release his.

Considering the duration and intensity of their stateside training prior to entering combat and their status as officers, this practice was not very fulfilling for the group’s trained bombardiers. In fact, many bombardiers were replaced with an enlisted man, a gunner, who was called a togglier. Many of the trained bombardiers were reassigned from their original crews upon entering combat and many of these trained bombardiers retrained to become navigators.

Frank Furiga was one of these men. He flew his first ten missions as bombardier, first with the pilot of his original crew, Bert Brown, until Brown was wounded on September 5, 1944, then a couple of missions with pilot Russell Cornair.

Following those missions, Frank Furiga and the entire Brown crew had a break from combat with a week’s flak leave to the city of Southport on the west coast of England sometime between September 10 to 21, 1944. Frank reported in his diaries and stories that they were lodged in a lovely large hotel run by the Red Cross for about seven days.

A page from Frank Furiga’s scrapbook, the Bert Brown crew at Southport, photos taken during flak leave.
Photo courtesy of Paul Furiga.

After returning to duty from flak leave, Frank Furiga wrote,

When we got back to the 547th Squadron, I was contacted by Captain [Maurice Arthur] Booska, one of the staff officers. He told me that there was a need for a Flight Control Officer [FCO]. This position necessitated the crew member to ride in the Tail Gun position of the Lead Plane. A clip board was supplied with all of the planes diagramed on sheets. The job was to act as a “seeing eye dog” for the Lead Pilot and report anything important and unusual happening with the planes flying behind.

In view of the fact that I was just tripping switches on my missions now, I accepted. My very first mission as FCO was to Mainz (Sept 21), followed by Frankurt (Sept 25), and then Osnabruck (Sept 26). This [Sept 26] was my thirteenth mission. Yes, there was flak about and enemy planes especially the German jet fighters.

On the mission on which the Buslee crew’s and Brodie crew’s B-17’s collided, Frank wrote,

On September 28th, we went to Magdeburg, Germany, an industrial city. Coming off the target after bomb drop, I was horrified to see the plane of our very good friends, John Buslee and David Albrecht collide with the Brodie-Vevle plane and they immediately went into death spirals and I could see no parachutes.

It was a bad evening for the Bert Brown crew. I still lived in the same barracks even though I was no longer on the Brown crew.

Frank also recounted the incident in an audio recording which his son Paul transcribed. It began,

On the 28th of September, we were bombing an antiaircraft factory at Magdeburg, Germany. I had been released from my original crew now and was flying as a mission tail observer, with the lead plane of the 547th Squadron. The 546th Squadron was flying higher and behind us and to the right. [Correction: the High Group consisted of crews of the 544th Squadron, like the Buslee crew, and 545th Squadron, like the Brodie crew, rather than crews of the 546th Squadron].

As diagramed In the formation chart, Frank Furiga was an observer in the tail of Capt. Booska’s B-17 43-38542 leading the Low Group.

September 28, 1944 Low Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Buslee (B-17 43‑37822) and Brodie (B-17 42‑31222) crews were positioned in the High Group and as reported by Frank Furiga, “flying higher and behind us and to the right.”

September 28, 1944 High Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Frank Furiga continued,

The flak was accurate and heavy. I narrowly missed getting hit myself when a flak burst disintegrated the entire windscreen in my tail position, and a floor around me was littered with fragments.

As we dropped our bombs and made a tight right turn off the target, I saw a Fortress suddenly slacking its speed and then drop like a rock and smash into the plane of Lieutenant Buslee. The entwined fortresses went into a dance of death.

And as they plummeted downward, separated turrets, engines and shared wings were tossed aside. There are no signs of opening parachutes. Our hearts were saddened when we landed at Grafton Underwood.

The group debriefing showed that no one had observed chutes opening. This hurt for a long, long time. And the barracks were really quiet that night.

Frank Furiga flew nine missions as a tail observer and then retrained as a navigator. He served the remainder of his missions as a navigator and I’ll be telling you more about his service and interactions with both Buslee and Brodie crew members in future posts.

Seventy-seven years after the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944, over fifty years since I listened to my dad first tell the story, and ten years after I started researching the accident, I am still finding new information about that day. On this day, I thank Paul Furiga for sharing new detail through his dad’s stories and Frank Furiga for recording them.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The Crossing

Thanks to the stories and diaries of 384th Bomb Group Bombardier-Navigator Frank Furiga, I have a little more detail about the journey of a group of airmen, including Furiga of the Bert Brown crew, and my dad, George Edwin Farrar of the John Oliver Buslee crew, as they ferried a formation of B-17’s into the European Theater of Operations in the summer of 1944.

I have written previously about the journey, but Frank’s stories add new details to the crews’ experience.

In the latter part of June 1944 (likely sometime between June 23 and 25) , both the Brown and Buslee crews, along with several other air crews who had completed their combat training at Ardmore, Oklahoma, traveled by train from Ardmore to Kearney, Nebraska, on the first leg of their journey to their air bases in England.

Frank Furiga described Kearney as,

…where we were assigned a brand new B-17 G FLYING FORTRESS bomber to fly to Europe. It was so new that the plane had fresh paint odor. Here we assembled our flight clothes plus a few pieces of equipment. At 3 A.M. on June 29th, we took off [departing Kearney, Nebraska] headed to Europe.

Our first overnight stop was Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire [arriving June 29]. On the next day [departing June 30] we flew to Goose Bay Labrador [arriving the evening of June 30]. We were held up by bad weather for a day.

On our next flight we left early in the morning [departing the evening of July 1] and flew to Meeks Field at Keflavik, Iceland [arriving the morning of July 2].

We flew above clouds and witnessed a very interesting phenomenon. The shadow of our plane on the clouds was encircled by a beautiful multi-colored rainbow. Some of the fellows saw small icebergs on the way. Because of bad weather over the Atlantic we rested here a few days. Here again we experienced something else new — the length of the sunny day.

Early in the morning [departing the morning of July 4], we left for Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland. Approaching the airfield [arriving July 4], we saw the control tower firing a variety of colored flares which was most puzzling to our pilots as there were no alarms over the radio. Upon landing, we found out the control tower boys were having a jolly good time saluting us with various colored flares as they were celebrating our July Fourth national holiday!

Within a few days we departed for Bovingdon near London where we had combat lectures and procedures with our planes. We had left the new Fort [B-17 Flying Fortress] at Nutts Corner since it had to be combat-outfitted with armor plating and other items. Here we were assigned Bomb Groups. For us on July 23rd, we arrived at the 384th Bomb Group at Kettering, England, in Northamptonshire County. Our airfield was known as GRAFTON-UNDERWOOD.

Special Orders #144 indicate the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, England effective July 21, 1944. Special Orders #148 indicate the Brown crew was assigned to the group effective July 25.

Frank Furiga brings up Buslee crew bombardier Marvin Fryden again, reflecting on Fryden’s August 5 death on his second mission, while also remembering the loss of his brother, John, while they were in Ardmore, Oklahoma during combat crew training.

Lt. Fryden, on an early combat mission with the Buslee-Albrecht crew, was hit by flak in the chest during their bomb run over the target. When they landed, he was rushed to the hospital, but died on the operating table. In two events [the deaths of his brother, John, and friend, Marvin Fryden], combat had produced a profound effect on me. Especially since just a scant few weeks before we had been in London. The brevity of combat life was aging me, indeed.

While stationed at Grafton Underwood, Frank Furiga had the opportunity to see his older brothers Stephen and Michael, who were both also stationed in England at the time. Frank wrote,

Stephen, just a few years older than I, had been in the service the longest. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne paratroops and was somewhere in England. I happened to run into a few of his men and was surprised to find out that he was stationed at Cottesmore Aerodrome, just a twenty minute trip by train. I managed to spend an afternoon with him. Later on, I visited brother Michael at Thatcham near Reading where he was with the Medical corps.

Frank Furiga, George Farrar, and their respective crews were very quickly immersed in the dangers of aerial combat with mission after mission over the European continent, assisting in the liberation of France, and destroying the Nazi war machine in Germany. The war wasn’t “over there” anymore. The war was in them and they were in the war.

Each time they climbed aboard the B-17 for a mission, they knew might be their last. They knew it was best not to think about it, to just do their jobs. But before the end of the year, for both Furiga and Farrar, the war was over as both would become prisoners of war until the Spring of 1945.

Notes

Previous post, Frank Furiga

Previous post, Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

Previous post, From the US to the UK and Beyond

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Frank Furiga

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga, bombardier/navigator, 384th Bomb Group, 547th Bomb Squadron. Photo courtesy of son Paul Furiga.

I have previously written about Frank Dominic Furiga, 384th Bomb Group Bombardier-Navigator and father of my fellow 384th NexGen member Paul Furiga. Frank and my dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed their combat crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time and traveled to the European Theater of Operations at the same time, with both of their crews ferrying brand new B-17’s into the war zone.

Frank recorded many of his memories from World War II, and his son, Paul, kindly shared them with me. As the stories Frank wrote also reflect my father’s WWII history, they are, of course, very interesting to me.

There are several different subjects in which I’ve been able to learn more about the actions of my dad and his crew through Frank’s stories, so expect to see several future posts which rely on information from Frank Furiga.

I’d like to start with a little about Frank himself, and then my next post will add to some information I’ve already written about, their crossing into the ETO (European Theater of Operations).

* * * * *

Frank Furiga was fascinated with airplanes at least as early as the age of five when the sound of a low-flying bi-plane caught his attention. By then he knew all about American aviator “Charlie Lindbergh” from an older brother. Growing up, Frank immersed himself in aviation from every source possible, from books and movies, and in making his own aircraft from orange crate wood and model plane kits.

Frank had three older brothers and all four of the Furiga boys became involved in the war effort in WWII. The oldest, John, served in a Special Forces group, the next, Michael, was in the Medical Corps, the third, Stephen, was an early member of the 82nd Airborne paratroopers, and Frank was a B-17 bombardier and navigator.

Frank was part of a large Catholic family from Avella, Washington County, Pennsylvania. His parents Andrew Furiga and Anna Pankovic Furiga also had three girls, Mary, Helen, and Pauline.

Frank Furiga was born on February 9, 1925. At the age of seventeen, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps with his enlistment delayed until he reached his eighteenth birthday. On his eighteenth birthday in February 1943, Frank was ready to begin his service to his country and was classified for Bombardier training at the Nashville Classification Center. He began his service on April 12, 1943 and attended basic cadet training in Santa Ana, California.

Following basic training, Frank attended gunnery training in Kingman, Arizona, where my dad was a flexible gunnery instructor for seven months in 1943. Although I see no mention of it in Frank’s writings, perhaps they crossed paths in Kingman at that time.

Frank would follow gunnery training with bombardier training in Deming, New Mexico, arriving there in the last week of October 1943 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on February 26, 1944. While training at Deming, Marvin Fryden – future Buslee crew bombardier and one of my dad’s crew mates – was one of Furiga’s instructors. They later became friends on their shared path into combat.

Furiga next reported to Salt Lake City, Utah in March for crew assembly and spent about three weeks there. His crew, number #338, consisted of Bert Oliver Brown (Pilot), William Davis Bayne (Co-pilot), Raymond Julius Scherer (Navigator), Frank Dominic Furiga (Bombardier), Richard George Regan (Top turret gunner / Engineer), Marvin John Ondrusek (Radio operator), Joseph William Chalkus (Left waist gunner), Walter Dewitt Franklin (Right waist gunner), William Jesse Jones (Ball turret gunner), and Raymond George Palmer (Tail gunner).

Following crew assembly, the Bert Brown crew attended combat training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where my dad was an aerial gunnery instructor for six months before joining a combat crew himself, the John Oliver Buslee crew. The RTU, or combat, training at Ardmore lasted about one and a half months.

Furiga wrote about this experience,

We simulated all sorts of combat conditions and near the end flew quite a few combat formation missions. It was a great experience flying in the big B-17ʼs. I dropped a number of bombs and liked the way the big ship responded to the Norden Bomb-sight compared to the AT-11 trainers in Bombardierʼs School.

In one of his recorded stories, Frank Furiga related a heartbreaking incident that happened in his last week of combat training at Ardmore,

I received a telegram from my oldest sister Mary in Pittsburgh that my parents had received a telegram from the U.S. Government that our oldest brother John had been killed at Anzio, Italy on May 23rd. I was quite shocked as I always looked up to him.

At this time, Lt. Marvin Fryden, the bombardier on Lt. Busleeʼs crew expressed great sympathy for me. He had been one of our Bombardier instructors at Deming, New Mexico, and signed up for combat when we graduated. He took it upon himself to see if I could get emergency leave of a few days to go home to Pennsylvania. He went so far as to contact the base commander at a country club.

My request was denied.

More about Frank Furiga, his World War II experiences, and connections with my father’s crew to come…

Links

Frank Dominic Furiga, 384th Bomb Group Personnel Record

American Air Museum in Britain, Frank Dominic Furiga

Veterans History Project, Interview with Frank Furiga (Transcript)

Veterans History Project, Interview with Frank Furiga (Audio)

Imperial War Museum, Frank D Furiga (Oral History)

Obituary, Frank D. Furiga

Find-a-Grave, Frank Dominic Furiga

Notes

RTU is an abbreviation for Replacement Training Units

Thank you, Paul Furiga, for sharing your dad’s stories and diaries!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 26 August 1944

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

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

Today’s installment is the 26 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Saturday, 26 August 1944

384th BG Mission 185/8th AF Mission 576 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Target: Oil Industry, the Buer Synthetic Oil Plant.

The James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron did not participate.

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

HBs are dispatched in 4 operations against tgts in France and Germany. In first operation 95 B-24’s bomb synthetic oil plant at Ludwigshafen, M/Ys at Ehrang and Konz-Karthaus, and other tgts at Alzey and Meisenheim. 2 ftr gps fly spt, with 1 gp later strafing Speyer A/F. In second operation 171 B-17’s escorted by 1 P-51 gp bomb 8 gun positions at Brest while clouds prevent over 150 other HBs from bombing. In the third operation over 400 B-17’s and B-24’s bomb 2 synthetic oil plants, 2 oil refineries, a fuel depot, 2 A/Fs, and T/Os in NW Germany. 7 ftr gps escort, with 1 gp later conducting strafing attacks. In last operation an attack by 30 B-17’s against 3 liquid oxygen plants in Belgium is aborted because of thick haze. 1 P-51 gp gives uneventful spt.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 8 missions are flown (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of bombers attacking).

  1. Mission 575 to attack gun batteries in the Brest, France area.
  2. Mission 576 to attack oil refineries, fuel stores, and chemical works in Germany. The Brodie crew participated in this mission.
  3. Mission 577, an AZON bomb mission to the Moerdijk rail bridge in the Netherlands. Clouds prevent the attack.
  4. Mission 578 to liquid oxygen plants in Belgium. Aborted due to clouds.
  5. Mission 579, a special bomb test using Micro H radar against aviation industry targets at Meaulte, France.
  6. Mission 580, a Micro H test mission and leaflet drop.
  7. Mission 581, to provide aid to Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command.
  8. Mission 582, a leaflet drop in France and Belgium during the night.

Also, 183 P-47s and 206 P-51s attack transport targets in Belgium, E France and W Germany; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft; 2 P-47s and 7 P-51s are lost and 9 P-47s and 6 P-51s are damaged; 1 pilot is WIA and 8 are MIA.

Mission 576: 588 bombers and 402 fighters attack oil refineries, fuel stores and chemical works in Germany; 10 bombers and 3 fighters are lost:

  1. 109 B-24 are dispatched to the chemical works at Ludwigshafen (41); secondary targets hit are marshalling yards at Ehrang (33) and Kons/Karthaus (8); 11 others hit Alzey and 2 hit other targets of opportunity; 7 B-24s are lost and 53 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 3 WIA and 70 MIA. Escort is provided by 77 of 81 P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft on the ground; 1 P-51 is lost.

  2. 259 B-17s are dispatched to oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen/Buer (89) and Gelsenkirchen/Nordstern (85); 19 hit Deelen Airfield, a secondary target, and 11 hit targets of opportunity; 3 B-17s are lost and 89 damaged; 5 airmen are WIA and 26 MIA. Escort is provided by 159 P-47s and P-51s without loss.

  3. 220 B-24s are dispatched to Dulmen fuel dump (73) and oil refineries at Salzbergen (71) and Emmerich (36); 36 others hit Eindhoven Airfield; 2 B-24s are damaged. Escort is provided by 129 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; 1 P-38 and 1 P-51 are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-51 is damaged beyond repair.

Links/Sources

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

The B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist/flexible gunner with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in World War II. On 28 September 1944, the Buslee crew and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the same group became forever connected when the B-17’s they were aboard on a combat mission over Germany suffered a mid-air collision.

I am currently updating the biographical information of the men of these two crews, and I thought it would be a good time to explain the duties involved in each position of the airmen aboard the aircraft, the B-17. I have recently updated the information of the three 384th Bomb Group Radio Operators/Gunners who flew with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but radio operator of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

For a list of all of the airmen of the Buslee and Brodie crews, see permanent page The Buslee and Brodie Crews, which is maintained with new information/posts.

Duties and Responsibilities of the B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

Training in the various phases of the heavy bomber program is designed to fit each member of the crew for the handling of his jobs. The radio operator will be required to:

  1. Render position reports every 30 minutes.
  2. Assist the navigator in taking fixes.
  3. Keep the liaison and command sets properly tuned and in good operating order.
  4. Understand from an operational point of view Instrument landing, IFF, VHF, and other navigational aids equipment in the airplane.
  5. Maintain a log.

In addition to being a radio operator, the radio man is also a gunner. During periods of combat he will be required to leave his watch at the radio and take up his guns. He is often required to learn photography. Some of the best pictures taken in the Southwest Pacific were taken by radio operators.

Aside from these duties noted by the 303rd, I have read that when B-17 crews were reduced from ten airmen to nine, losing one of the waist gunners, the radio operator was tasked with manning the left waist gun if needed while the lone waist gunner manned the right waist gun. That may have been true in some B-17 groups and may have been true for some crews in the 384th Bomb Group, but one of the group’s veterans once told me that was not the case.

The 384th veteran told me that the lone waist gunner would man both waist guns and the side he manned – left or right – depended on where his B-17 was in the formation, and which side of the aircraft was more vulnerable to enemy attack. He said that the radio operator, aside from his radio duties, was also tasked with distributing chaff, the aluminum strips dropped from aircraft in the formation to confuse enemy radar.

Radio communications during the war needed to be precise and understandable and the phonetic alphabet helped in the effort. The 384th Bomb Group’s website includes this chart and explanation.

Combined Phonetic Alphabet

This phonetic code was adopted for 8th AF use in 1942. The purpose of the code is to improve the accuracy of radio voice communications by providing an unambiguous key word for each letter that would improve recognition of the intended letter through static, intermittent transmissions, and jamming.

Letter Phonetic Letter Phonetic Letter Phonetic
A Able J Jig S Sugar
B Baker K King T Tare
C Charlie L Love U Uncle
D Dog M Mike V Victor
E Easy N Nan W William
F Fox O Oboe X X-ray
G George P Peter Y Yoke
H How Q Queen Z Zebra
I Item R Roger

Phonetic Alphabet Chart courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Location of the Radio Room in a B-17

The radio room of a B-17 sits between the bomb bay and the ball turret. Should the radio operator have to bail out of the aircraft, he would likely bail out through the bomb bay doors.

In the following diagram, Sebastiano Peluso is noted in the radio room of the aircraft along with the other Buslee crew members in their positions on September 28, 1944.

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944
Diagram courtesy of 91st Bomb Group and modified by Cindy Farrar Bryan in 2014

B-17 Radio Room Photos

I took the following photos of the Collings Foundation’s B-17 Nine-O-Nine a few years before its tragic crash.

Entry of the radio room from the bomb bay catwalk of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio operator’s desk of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio room of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio room of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Radio Operators

I thought it might also be interesting to read stories, diaries, and journals written by or view video interviews of some of the 384th’s own radio operators. You’ll find a chart of several radio operators of the 384th Bomb Group below with links to their personnel records and their written and oral histories as are provided on the Stories page of 384thBombGroup.com.

Airman Personnel Record Stories, Diaries, Journals, and Interviews
Grosbier, Gordon Joseph⇗ Grosbier, Combat Mission Diary⇓ (8.508 MB)
Grosbier, Gordon Joseph⇗ Grosbier, Daily Journal⇓ (6.235 MB)
Levison, Jules Sidney, “Julie”⇗ Jules Levison Diary⇓ (3.622 MB)
Misch, Henry Conrad⇗ Henry C Misch WWII Diary⇓ (7.671 MB)
Pratt, John Butler⇗ Diary of John Butler Pratt⇓ (7.246 MB)
Spearman, Eugene (NMI)⇗ The Eighth Air Force in World War II⇓ (3.588 MB)
Williamson, Albert (NMI)⇗ The Trip of a Lifetime⇓ (3.296 MB)
Kovach, Joseph William⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Lustig, David Carl, “Dave”, Jr⇗ 2003 Oral History Interview⇗
Lustig, David Carl, “Dave”, Jr⇗ Book:  “Initial Point: Reminiscences of a World War II B-17 Bomber Crewman” (out of print, but occasionally available on used book sites)
Wininger, Dexter Gene⇗ Oral History Interview⇗

Sources and Further Reading

303rd Bomb Group:  Duties and Responsibilities of the Radio Operator

384th Bomb Group:  Combined Phonetic Alphabet

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

The Army Air Forces in World War II: VI, Men and Planes, Edited by W.F. Craven and J.L. Cate, Chapter 19: Training of Ground Technicians and Service Personnel

Training to Fly:  Military Flight Training 1907 – 1945 by Rebecca Hancock Cameron

Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group for granting me permission in 2014 to use and modify their B-17 diagram for use on The Arrowhead Club.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Buslee and Brodie Crew Buried at Margraten

On Memorial Day this year (May 31, 2021), I posted a memorial on my Facebook page honoring the eight men of my father’s B-17 crew who lost their lives on September 28, 1944 in a mid-air collision over Germany. My father, George Edwin Farrar, was the only survivor on the ship.

The eight lost were 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., and Tail Gunner Gerald Lee Andersen.

My Facebook friend, Arjan van Prooijen, who lives in Holland, saw the post and responded,

Margraten cemetery has been opened recently after COVID 19 lockdown restrictions had been in order since December 2020. I will make a visit this summer and if you are interested I will make pictures of their graves.

I gladly accepted Arjan’s generous offer and gave him the names of the men of both the Buslee and Brodie crews who lost their lives in the mid-air collision and are buried at Margraten.

Three of the men of the Buslee crew – Co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, Engineer Lenard Leroy Bryant, and Ball Turret Gunner George Francis McMann, Jr. – are buried at Margraten. Two men of the Brodie crew, whose B-17 collided with the Buslee crew’s B-17, are also buried at Margraten – Pilot James Joseph Brodie and Engineer Robert Doyle Crumpton.

Following up on his Memorial Day promise to take pictures, Arjan visited Margraten on Saturday, August 14. Arjan said,

A clear blue sky and temperatures around 25C (77F) and the cemetery immaculate as usual all combined to make it a beautiful and impressive visit.

Arjan was also at Margraten to visit his adopted grave, that of Eugene L. Longley, a private in the 261st Infantry, 65th Division. Longley was from Iowa and died April 7, 1945, sadly so close to the end of the war.

After his visit, Arjan shared these beautiful photos with me of Margraten, including the memorial and photos of all of the graves of the Buslee and Brodie crew members who lost their lives on September 28, 1944.

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten

Memorial and reflecting pool at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

* * * * *

Memorial at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

* * * * *

David Franklin Albrecht

Buslee Crew

Grave marker of David F. Albrecht at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

David Franklin Albrecht

  • Born 1 March 1922 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11

* * * * *

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee Crew

Grave marker of Lenard L. Bryant at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

Lenard Leroy Bryant

  • Born 7 March 1919 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot G, Row 7, Grave 22

* * * * *

George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gilbert Crew

Flew with Buslee Crew 28 September 1944

Grave marker of George F. McMann, Jr. at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

  • Born 26 September 1924 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4

* * * * *

James Joseph Brodie

Grave marker of James J. Brodie at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

James Joseph Brodie

  • Born 14 November 1917 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4

* * * * *

Robert Doyle Crumpton

Brodie Crew

Grave marker of Robert D. Crumpton at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

Robert Doyle Crumpton

  • Born 26 July 1920 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22

* * * * *

American flag and graves at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

* * * * *

Earlier this year, World War II Genealogist Teresa (Terry) Hirsch educated me about American Military Overseas Burials and American Overseas Military Grave Adopters. I also compiled a list of the Buslee and Brodie Crew Burial Locations for all the men of these 384th Bomb Group crews.

Thank you, Arjan van Prooijen, for performing this greatly appreciated kindness and helping me honor these World War II heroes who gave their lives for our freedom.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 24 August 1944

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

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

Today’s installment is the 24 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Thursday, 24 August 1944

384th BG Mission 183/8th AF Mission 568 to Merseburg, Germany.

Target: Oil Industry, a Synthetic Oil & Chemical Plant.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

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

Almost 400 HBs attack armament factory and 17 oil installations, aircraft assembly plants and aero engine works and over 20 T/Os in Germany, losing 27 HBs, but claiming 10 enemy airplanes destroyed. VIII FC flies over 600 sorties in spt of mission, claiming 10 combat victories. 4 gps strafe A/Fs near Brandenburg and Nordhausen, an M/Y near Brunswick, and the Neuenhaus-Nordhorn area. Ground tgts destroyed include 14 airplanes, 7 locomotives, trucks, and boats.

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

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

  1. Mission 568, visual attacks on strategic targets in Germany. The Buslee and Brodie crews participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 569, a leaflet drop on Brest, France during the night.

Mission 568: 1,319 bombers and 739 fighters are dispatched on visual attacks on strategic targets in Germany with some PFF on targets of opportunity; 26 bombers and 4 fighters are lost; targets are (numbers in parenthesis indicate bombers attacking):

  1. 433 B-24s are dispatched to attack aviation industry targets at Brunswick/Waggum (125), Brunswick/Querum (99) and Hannover/Langenhagen (72) and an oil refinery at Misburg (88); 5 others hit targets of opportunity; they claim 0-0-1 aircraft; 5 B-24s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 183 damaged; 1 airman is WIA and 54 MIA. Escort is provided by 248 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 2-0-0 aircraft in the air and 8-0-0 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost and 2 damaged; 1 pilot is MIA.

  2. 451 B-17s are dispatched to hit Merseburg oil refinery (185), Weimar (129) and Kolleda Airfield (30); targets of opportunity hit are airfields at Goslar (37), Nordhausen (11), Vorden (11) and Stade (2), and Leipzig (10) plus 7 others; they claim 10-3-3 aircraft; 16 B-17s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 189 damaged; 3 airmen are KIA, 39 WIA and 148 MIA. Escort is provided by 121 of 152 P-51s; they claim 4-0-1 aircraft without loss.

  3. 383 B-17s are dispatched to hit oil industry targets at Brux (139), Ruhland (135) and Freital (65); 15 hit targets of opportunity; 3 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 143 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 5 WIA and 18 MIA. Escort is provided by 240 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 4-0-0 aircraft in the air and 6-0-0 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 is damaged.

  4. 43 of 52 B-24s hit Kiel/Walther; 3 others hit Hemmingstedt Airfield and 2 hit targets of opportunity; 2 B-24s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 32 damaged; 27 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 17 of 17 P-51s without loss.

Links/Sources

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

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Update

A new search on Ancestry.com has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) WWII crewmate Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, radio operator of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was on board Buslee’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. Corrected information is bolded.

To view my original post and other information about Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, please see the links at the end of this post.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was the radio operator on the John Oliver “Jay” Buslee crew. Sebastiano, known as Yano (or Yono) to family, was born on July 7 or 8, 1924. His parents were Giuseppe (Joseph) Peluso and Antonetta Fiore Peluso, Italian immigrants to the United States. Sebastiano had two older sisters, Sara and Gina. All three children were born in New York. During WWII, the Peluso’s lived in Brooklyn, New York.

To update the information I know about Sebastiano Peluso, I searched back through Peluso family records in Ancestry.com. Unfortunately, I did not uncover much new information about Sebastiano himself, but I did learn a lot more about his family.

Sebastiano’s father, Giuseppe (changed to Joseph in the U.S.) Peluso was born on September 1 or 7, 1887 in Augusta, Italy. Augusta is in the Province of Syracuse and is on the east coast of the island of Sicily. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy.

Sebastiano’s mother, Antonetta Fiore Peluso, was born on December 1, 1894 or 1895 in Marigliano, Italy, a metropolitan city of Naples, also noted in some records as in the Italian province of Caserta.

Both of Sebastiano’s parents would emigrate from their native Italy, and, of course, this means Sebastiano’s parents were first generation Americans, arriving in the United States in the early 1900’s.

On September 5, 1908, Antonetta Fiore boarded the Sannio in Naples, Italy with her family. Antonetta was fourteen years old. Prior to coming to America, the Fiore family resided in Marigliano, Caserta, Italy. For everyone in the Fiore family, it was their first time in the United States except for Antonetta’s father. The Fiore family arrived in the US on September 30, 1908, at the port of New York, New York, but their final destination was indicated to be New Jersey. The arrival records indicate Antonetta’s father had previously been in the U.S. from 1904 to 1908, so he possibly returned to Italy to accompany the rest of his family to America.

Early the next year, on April 23, 1909, Giuseppe (Jospeh) Peluso boarded the Liguria in Napoli (Naples), Italy. Giuseppe was twenty-one years old and single. Prior to coming to America, Giuseppe last resided in Augusta, Siracusa (Syracuse Province), Italy. Giuseppe arrived in the United States on May 7, 1909, at the port of New York, New York, with twelve dollars in his pocket. His final destination was New York and noted a person he knew in the U.S. was Eugenio De Filippo. He had left his father, named Sebastiano, behind in Augusta.

Seven months later, on December 4, 1909, Giuseppe’s older brother Salvatore Peluso, age twenty-four, departed Augusta via Napoli on the Oceania. He arrived in America on December 16 or 17, 1909, with eleven dollars in his pocket.  His arrival port was, like his brother, New York, New York and that was his final destination.

Settling into life in America, both Antonetta and Giuseppe (and also Salvatore) show up on the 1910 Federal Census.

In 1910, Antonetta Fiore (age 15) and her family lived in Manhattan Ward 12 in New York. The family included her father, Giacinto (age 50 and a varnisher in a piano factory), her mother, Rochele (age 37), sister Maria (age 18), sister Elvira (age 16), sister Cirio (age 13), sister Maddalena (age 9), brother Francesco (age 6), and brother Peitro (age 1 1/2 and the only Fiore child born in the United States). The census record indicates Giacinto immigrated prior to the rest of the family, in 1900 (differing from arrival records).

In 1910, Giuseppe (now known as Joseph) Peluso (age 23) was single and was employed as a tailor. He and his brother Salvatore (age 26) were living in the home of their cousin Giovanni Daniele (known in the U.S. as John Daniels) and John’s mother Vincenza Daniels, both of whom had immigrated to the U.S. in 1906, on First Avenue in the Borough of Manhattan. John Daniels owned a cigar store.

At some point, Joseph’s brother Salvatore (now 28 years old) must have returned to Italy because records indicate he again left Italy, departing Napoli on January 14, 1914 and arriving in New York on January 28, 1914 on the Taormina. On this arrival, Salvatore was carrying twenty-five dollars.

On January 13, 1916, Giuseppe (Joseph) Peluso married Antonetta Fiore in Manhattan. Their first daughter, Sara, was born on November 17, 1916 in Manhattan.

On June 5, 1917, Joseph Peluso, under the name Giuseppe Peluso, registered for the World War I draft. He noted on his registration form that he was married, was age 29, was a “Declarant” concerning citizenship, and was born September 1, 1887 in Augusta, Siracusa, Italy. Joseph was employed as a presser and his mother, father, and brothers were dependent upon him for support. He had no previous military service, no disabilities, and he signed his form as Giuseppe (after scratching through the name “Joseph”) Peluso. At the time, he resided in Manhattan on E. 113th Street.

On May 22, 1918, Joseph and Antonetta Peluso’s second daughter, Gina, was born in Manhattan.

The 1920 Federal Census shows the Peluso family lived at 1920 East 119th Street in Manhattan Assembly District 20 in New York. The family was reported as Joseph Peluso (age 31, occupation Presser on Suits, head of household, and naturalization status Alien), wife Antonette (age 24), daughter Sara (listed as Sala, age 3), and daughter Gina (listed as Jennie, age 1 9/12).

On June 17, 1924, Joseph Peluso petitioned for Naturalization. His documents listed his age as 36, born September 7, 1887 in Augusta, Italy, and arrived May 7, 1909 on the vessel Liguria in New York, New York from Naples. His spouse was Antonietta and their residence was 2869 W 17th St. Coney Island, NY. His occupation was Presser. Joseph noted these facts in his declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen:

  • I declared my intention to become a citizen of the US on November 12, 1917 in New York, NY.
  • My wife’s name is Antonietta. She was born on December 1, 1895 in Marigliano, Italy.
  • Have two children. Sara, born November 17, 1916 and Gina, born May 22, 1918. Both born at New York, NY and reside at same res.

The next month after Joseph Peluso petitioned for U.S. citizenship, on July 7 (or 8), 1924, his and Antonetta’s son Sebastiano was born.

On September 18, 1924, Giuseppe Peluso took the oath of allegiance to the United States and by the Order of Court Admitting Petitioner, Joseph Peluso became a citizen of the United States. I don’t know how hard a life the Peluso family had in New York as Italian immigrants in the 1920’s, but 1924 seemed a fortunate year for Joseph Peluso. He became the proud father of a son, whom he named Sebastiano after his own father, and he became an American.

As life seemed good for the Peluso family in America in the 1920’s, things were going differently in Europe. On July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler became the leader of National Socialist (Nazi) Party. On October 28, 1922, Benito Mussolini, the first of 20th-century Europe’s fascist dictators, became head of the Italian government.

The year before Joseph Peluso welcomed his son into the world and became an American citizen, on November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler and other Nazis attempted a government takeover, known as Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, in Munich, Germany. Approximately two thousand Nazis marched on the Feldherrnhalle in the Munich city center, but were confronted by a police line, which resulted in the deaths of sixteen Nazi Party members and four police officers.

Hitler was wounded during the clash and temporarily escaped arrest. Two days later, Hitler was arrested and charged with treason. Hitler generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world, especially garnering attention in Germany. His twenty-four day trial was the perfect platform for him to express his nationalist sentiments to the German nation. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in prison, but on December 20, 1924, he was released after serving only nine months, free to develop his Nazi propaganda.

Little did Joseph Peluso know during those happy moments of 1924 that twenty years later he would lose his son to the American war effort to fight Hitler’s Nazism in World War II, the ultimate sacrifice for American freedom, because of history in the making halfway around the world in Germany.

In 1929, the U.S. stock market crashed leading to the Great Depression. I do not know how the Peluso family fared early on during this terrible time. I do not find a 1930 Federal Census record for the family, but the 1933 New York City Directory for Brooklyn does list Joe and Antoinette Peluso and indicates that they lived in Brooklyn and that Joseph Peluso was a garment worker.

In the 1940 Federal Census record, the Peluso family lived at 6802 Thirteenth Avenue in New York, Kings County, New York, and all three children were still living at home. Joseph Peluso (head of household, age 52, was a naturalized citizen, occupation Presser, Industry Dresses, rented the home, and noted his highest grade completed was elementary school 2nd grade).

Antoinette (Antonetta) Peluso (wife, age 44), Sarah (Sara) Peluso (daughter, age 24, Occupation Examiner, Industry Dresses), Jean (Gina) Peluso (daughter, age 22, Occupation Secretary, Industry Fur Industry), and Yano Peluso (son, age 15) were all listed in the census record. “Yano” was short for Sebastiano and Yano or Yono was also the name his mother referred to him by in letters to my grandmother in 1945.

On January 5, 1942, Sara Peluso married Joseph Cambria in New York, Manhattan, New York. At the time, her occupation was airbrush artist.

On April 26, 1942, Joseph Peluso registered for the World War II “old man’s” draft. At the time he was 54 years old and resided at 6802 13 Ave., Bklyn, Kings, NY. This document notes his birthdate as September 1, 1887.

On November 4, 1942, at the age of 18, Sebastiano J. Peluso enlisted in the Army Air Corps in New York City. He resided in Kings County, New York City, New York. Although I don’t see this information in his enlistment record online for NARA, his enlistment record in Ancestry.com states he was 69 inches (5 ft 9 inches) tall and weighed 134 pounds. The Ancestry record also noted that he had completed one year of college.

On April 6, 1944, Antonetta Peluso, age 48, and residing at 6802 – 13th Av. Bklyn, Kgs. NY, became a naturalized United States citizen.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group based in Grafton Underwood, England, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944.

Sebastiano Peluso’s 384th Bomb Group Sortie Record indicates he had the rank of Sgt. (Sergeant), his duty was Radio Operator, and his pay was $140.40 per month. He listed his Home Address as Mrs. Antonetta Peluso, 2963 West 24th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.

On his second combat mission on 5 AUGUST 1944, Sebastiano narrowly escaped serious injury or possibly death during a flak attack on the Buslee crew’s B-17. A newspaper report notes that,

Probably the fact that the radio operator, Sgt. Sebastino Peluso, 20, 2963 West 24th   Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., was bending over attending to a chore, saved him from becoming a casualty when the flak pierced the sides of the big bomber and so thoroughly smashed up his radio compartment.  More than a dozen flak holes ringed his section of the ship.

On 9 SEPTEMBER 1944, Sebastiano Peluso was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180.

On his fifteenth and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Sebastiano Peluso, flying with the John Oliver Buslee crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared KIA (Killed in Action).

On September 28, 1944, just two months past his twentieth birthday, he was aboard B-17 43-37822 with the Buslee crew and was killed in the mid-air collision with B-17 42‑31222 Lazy Daisy.

Sebastiano was the last man of the crew to be identified, and most likely was buried in the Ost Ingersleben cemetery near Magdeburg with his crew mates, and later re-interred at the Netherlands American Military Cemetery at Margraten.

Sebastiano’s mother and father corresponded with my dad’s mother in 1945, attempting to learn more about their son’s fate. You can read their letters to my grandmother here.

In 1924, Joseph Peluso had become an American citizen and welcomed his son Sebastiano into the world. In 1944, Antonetta Peluso became an American citizen and they lost him.

On June 21, 1947, Gina Peluso married Carmelo Mesite in Meriden, Connecticut.

On December 31, 1948, the U.S. Army transport Barney Kirschbaum returned the body of Sebastiano Peluso to his parents, one of 4,384 war dead returned on the ship. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was buried on January 19, 1949 in his final resting place in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York in Plot J, Site 15423.

On July 3, 1953, according to a List of Outward-Bound Passengers, Joseph and Antonetta Peluso departed New York, New York on the S.S. Homeland. They were bound for Genoa Italy. They indicated they intended to remain abroad for three months, with their country of Destination listed as Italy.

On September 28, 1953 (the ninth anniversary of the day of the mid-air collision), Joseph and Antonetta Peluso departed Naples, Italy on the S.S. Homeland, heading back to America. According to the List of In-Bound Passengers, they arrived back in New York on October 12, 1953.

On March 25, 1987, Antonetta Fiore Peluso died in Meriden, New Haven, CT. Her death record indicates she was a homemaker, was widowed from Joseph, and was 92 years old. She is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut. I have been unable to find a death record for Joseph Peluso.

In 1994, Jospeh’s and Antonetta’s daughter Gina lived in Brooklyn and Sara lived in Meriden, Connecticut.

On April 2, 1999, Gina Peluso Mesite died as the widow of Carmelo D. Mesite (b. 1920 – d. 1990) in Meriden, New Haven, Connecticut at 80 years old. Her occupation was Cafeteria worker for the Meriden School System. Gina is also buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut, the same cemetery as her mother.

On June 21, 2007, Sara Peluso Cambria died at age of 90, as the widow of Joseph Cambria, in Meriden, New Haven, Connecticut. Sara is buried at South Main St., Middletown. Sara and Joseph Cambria had two children, Lisa Cambria and Gina Dunlap.

If any family or friends of Sebastiano Joseph Peluso has information about him or photos of him to share, please contact me. I would very much like to connect with descendants of Giuseppe (Joseph) and Antonetta Peluso.

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021