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MISSION 201

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #201 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #652.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his sixteenth and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as the “C” Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Two Bomb Runs – Primary Target Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st CBW C Wing on today’s mission. Near the target, another formation of bombers flew below this wing, forcing them to hold their bombs. The wing made a second bomb run and released their bombs on the primary target.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the target as Krupp Steel Works at Magdeburg, Germany, 35,000 workers.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

P.T. [Primary Target]. Is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. Its the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV Tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [perhaps “shells”], it is a One Plus priority, and employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

P.F.F. target is the Mar. [Marshalling] Yards, in the city of Magdeburg, and adjacent to your P.T. [Primary Target].

Last Resorts. A/F [i.e., German Airforce/Luftwaffe targets] at Gardelegen, Quedlinburg, and Giessen. Every effort should be made to attack one of these targets. If not possible, then any Mil. Obj Pos. Iden. [military objective positively identifed] as East of the current strategic bomb line, which can be bombed without disrupting the fighter support.

Stay on the alert for E/A [Enemy Aircraft]. Yesterday E/A jumped the 2nd Div [Division] on 9 Degrees East and shot down 33 A/C [aircraft]. The E/A came in at 6 O’Clock high in waves of 15 – 20 [abreast] breaking away in all directions and then coming up from below while next wave attack at 6 O’Clock high.

Forty aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 40,

  • 31 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare completed the mission
  • 1 aircraft aborted due to personnel illness
  • 2 aircraft were scrubbed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 1 aircraft returned early, the aircraft of Lt. Richard Glen Wismer, due to a mechanical failure
  • 1 aircraft landed in Allied Territory. The Wing Lead, with Commander Horace Everett Frink aboard, landed away in Brussels due to flak damage
  • 2 aircraft failed to return, the aircraft of the Buslee and Brodie crews, with my dad aboard Buslee’s ship

On Mission 201, the Buslee crew was part of the High Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing led by Capt. William T. Johnson.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “C” Group and Senior Air Commander Major Horace Everett “Ev” Frink, serving his second tour with the 384th Bomb Group, previous and soon-to-be again 547th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer
  • Capt. William T. Johnson, 41st “C” Wing High Group Lead
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #201, with several crew substitutions, was:

  • 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)

The Buslee crew for #201 was essentially the same as the previous day’s Mission #200, with the only difference being the airman in the ball turret.

William Henson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator, Robert Stearns replaced James Davis as bombardier, George McMann replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret and Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822 on this mission. Mission reports show their “Time took off” as 0731.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, navigator George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., replacement togglier Byron Atkins, replacement radio operator Donald Dooley, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the High Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing aboard B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy. Mission reports show their “Time took off” as 0742.

The High Group formation with the Buslee and Brodie crews looked like this,

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

The Brodie crew’s favorite ship, A/C 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory, had not been repaired in time for the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 from the damage and technical failures reported by the Farra crew, which had flown her on the previous day’s Mission #200. Kathleen would not go back into combat service until Mission #202 on 30 September 1944.

Mission data in group reports included,

From the Navigators Narrative for the High Group,

  • High Group takeoff began at 0730 hours.
  • Completed climb to bombing altitude at 1110, altitude 27,500.
  • No enemy fighter attack.
  • Flak accurate and moderate at the target at 1210.
  • Bomb run began at 1154 at altitude of 27,700.
  • Bombs away at 1211 at altitude of 27,700.
  • Number of Runs: 2.

From other reports, including the post-mission “Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, 41st ‘C’ Combat Bombardment Wing on Mission Flown 28 September, 1944,”

  • No fighters encountered.
  • Behind schedule 20 minutes.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being noted.
  • Battle damage was recorded post-mission for twenty-three of the 384th’s B-17’s. Damage varied from “minor damage” to major damage such as “hydraulic system shot out,” “right and left Tokyo tanks hit,” “bombardier’s compartment, pilot’s compartment, exhaust stack on #3 engine, waist, and tail vertical stabilizer hit,” “#1 engine hit, 3-inch flak hole,” and “5 flak holes and 1 engine shot out,” among others. The aircraft of the Wing Lead, with Commander Horace Everett Frink aboard, was so badly damaged by flak that it had to drop out of formation and land away in Brussels.
  • The extent of battle damage can best be visualized using the mission’s formation chart. Aircraft circled in red sustained major flak damage. Aircraft circled in yellow sustained minor flak damage. The two aircraft outlined in blue are the ships of the Buslee and Brodie crews involved in the mid-air collision. Considering their positions, it is likely that one or both of them also sustained flak damage.

Battle Damage noted in 384th Bomb Group Formation Chart for 28 September 1944 Mission 201

  • Fighter escort was excellent on the entire mission and close support was given at all times.
  • In a “Flash Telephone Report on A.A. Gunfire,” flak was reported as, (a) On first run on target, CPF fire [Continuously Pointed Fire] encountered with inacc. Barr [inaccurate Barrage flak]/ over target, and (b) Sec. [Second] run CPF encountered almost exclusively. Also noted was, 2 A/C lost in collision over target.
  • Lead Bombardier, Lt. George K. Smith reported reason for “other than primary attacked” to be, “Another Wing flew under us over release point.” In a narrative, Smith reported more details,

Turned short of the I.P. [Initial Point of the bomb run] because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at the I.P to encounter complete coverage on the bomb run. Ships flew under us so we couldn’t release our bombs. We flew out and made a 180 degrees turn to put us on a heading of 260 degrees heading back over the target. There was a little opening in the clouds over a part in a river, which I believe the Lead Bombardier [Joe Baggs aboard Major Frink’s lead aircraft] killed his course. We dropped the bombs PFF and shortly after the lead aircraft was hit by flak. Then we took over from our deputy lead position to reform the Wing and start home. No flak was encountered on the way home.

28 September 1944 Mission #201 to Magdeburg, Germany, Target Photo

  • Regarding the Wing Leader’s, Major Frink’s, aircraft, which happened to be the 384th Commanding Officer Dale’s Smith’s personal favorite B-17 44-8007 Screaming Eagle,

After we dropped our bombs, and swung off the target, the Wing Leader informed the Deputy to take over as the former had been hit by flak. At this point, the entire Lead Section started to break up. We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing and the Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section.

The High and Low reassembled and flew alone until we finally picked up the Lead Section ten (10) miles ahead of us. I called the Deputy Leader to slow down, which he did, and we assembled back into Combat Wing formation.

  • Regarding Lt. Buslee’s and Lt. Brodie’s aircraft,

Two (2) of our aircraft are known missing.

Two (2) aircraft of the High Section, A/C 337-822 (Lt. Buslee, pilot) and A/C 1222 (Lt. Brodie, pilot) collided over the target and both ships were observed going down on fire and out of control. No chutes were observed.

  • Observer Ronald H. Froebel wrote,

Two ships in the high group, Brodie & Buslee, which were involved in the collision appeared to have been caught in prop wash on a turn to the left.  It appeared that Brodie was thrown down and into Buslee one plane, immediately disintegrated and the [other] broke into at the ball turret and finally caught fire and broke up.  I observed one chute.

  • Co-pilot Wallace Storey flying with the Gross crew in the High Group on Brodie’s left wing provided this firsthand account of the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 to Magdeburg,

MAGDEBURG
September 28, 1944

On this day the 384th Bomb Group was dispatched to bomb the Krupps Steel Manufacturing Plant at Magdeburg, Germany. This was a heavily defended target and a long flight of almost ten hours. On this mission there was a tragic occurrence illustrative of some of the little discussed risks of combat flying that sometimes happened but, fortunately, was never repeated on any of my missions.

After being awakened at 0310 we had breakfast and briefing and were in our planes at 0610 as the “start engine” flares arched from the 384thBG control tower—or “Cherub” as was its call sign. Of course, the radio was not used for aircraft control as the group departed so as to avoid alerting the German defenses any earlier than necessary. Once we were airborne the fact that the 8th was assembling was soon evident to the enemy but any delay increased the chances of deception.

On this mission, I was to follow ship #222, [42-31222]“Lazy Daisy”, flown by Lt. Brodie, on to the taxiway leading to the runway. He was to fly #2 position of the high element of our squadron and I was to fly position #3 (i.e. right and left wing respectively off of the lead plane,#941, [42-97941, “Marion”] of the element). Take off went well as we began our roll at 0720. The Group assembled without incident and we fell into line as briefed for the Wing Order of Battle.

Our 41st Combat Wing was made up that day of the 303rdBG in lead, followed by the 379th, with the 384th last. This order, which varied from mission to mission, was to prove fateful on that day. Just a few weeks earlier the Luftwaffe had begun a new tactic which they called “company front attacks”. They added extra armor and guns to three or four dozen Focke Wolfe FW-190 single engine fighters. They approached the 8th Air Force Groups head on in wedges of eight to sixteen planes so as to saturate the bombers’ defensive fire and sometimes disrupt their formation. Although we did not know it at the time, they had used this tactic against the 446th Group of the Second Division the previous day and inflicted the greatest loss ever suffered by a single group of the 8th Air Force in World War II—-25 B-24’s.

The German fighters used this tactic against the 303rd Group, the lead group in our Combat Wing, on the mission to Magdeburg on the 28th. The 303rd lost eleven B-17’s in this frontal assault. One of the lead pilots of the 303rd is quoted as saying “When we turned on our bomb run we were attacked by about 50 Nazi fighters en masse, coming at us as a solid bunch. Those guys were like mad men–with one idea–to knock us down in a suicidal attack”. There was a total of fifteen B-17’s that were lost that day from our Combat Wing. This amounted to a 13.9% loss of the 108 planes–the highest loss in the Wing of any of my missions.

Being the 3rd Group in the Wing we were fortunate not to be as heavily attacked as the other two Groups, but what happened led to confusion as we bombed the target. Flak was extremely heavy that day and the Wing had been somewhat disrupted by the heavy opposition. 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 #337 [43-37822], on whose wing our element was flying. I yelled to Gross 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.

I watched the two planes as they collided. It cut #337 [43-37822] in half and the wings on #222 [42-31222] folded up and both planes fell in a fireball. They were 18 men lost in those two ships. We didn’t see any chutes as we continued our turn to the right.

Some of the formations were broken up, both because of this and because of the fighter attack, but we did not have any further problem as we headed back home. Even though the 1st Division lost 23 planes, the Germans did not come out unscathed. There were 10 confirmed fighters destroyed, 7 probables, and 5 damaged by the B-17 gunners. Our crew was extremely lucky that day as “Lazy Daisy”, by all normal odds, should have collided with us and must have crossed under with less than five foot clearance as I pulled up. And for Buslee, flying on the last of his 35 missions [correction: Buslee was on his 16th mission], and for Brodie, and their crews it was the unluckiest of all days.

We were all happy to be safely back at Grafton Underwood as we touched down on the soil of England. Upon inspecting our plane we found two sizable Flak holes but, fortunately, they missed our fuel tanks and other vital points. Fighters and Flak were not the only dangers of combat flying. Taking off, assembling, and landing in extremely bad English weather (such as grounded the 8th frequently in 1943 but not later) formation flying in weather where only the adjoining plane could be seen and maneuvering large formations required great competency in the flight crews and, often, great luck as described in this mission.

Copyright (C) 2002—Lt/Col. Wallace A. Storey

Many more details of the 28 September 1944 Mission #201 have previously been published in my posts,

Contrary to the lack of chutes observed coming from the two ships of the Buslee and Brodie crews, there were a handful of survivors. My father, George Edwin Farrar, was the lone survivor of the Buslee crew’s B-17. Three survived on the Brodie crew’s B-17 – Harry Liniger, Wilfred Miller, and George Hawkins. Four men out of eighteen survived. Fourteen did not and perished on September 28, 1944.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 201. Note: at the time of my previous post about Mission 201, the Buslee crew’s aircraft was misidentified in the 384th Bomb Group database and photo gallery. At the time, the photo and name attached to B-17 43-37822 were actually those of B-17 42-37822. A/C 43-37822 was unnamed or the name never recorded or nose art, if it existed, never photographed.
  • Previous posts of details about Mission 201 in “What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg?”, Part 1 and Part 2
  • Previous post Propwash?
  • Previous post, Wallace Storey
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

With the exception of material in this post copyrighted by Wallace A. Storey, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

MISSION 200

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #200 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #650.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 27 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The Group’s 200th Mission Celebration was held the previous weekend on 23 September 1944, with the mission actually flown four days later on the 27th.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew in the “A” Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Marshalling Yards Bombed By PFF
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st CBW A wing for today’s attack on railroad marshalling yards in Cologne, Germany.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the “A” Combat Wing as Cologne (Koln), with three specific Primary Targets based on Group,

  • High Group target was Cologne
  • Lead Group target was Reisholz, near Dusseldorf, Never been bombed
  • Low Group target was Monheim, near Dusseldorf, Oil Refinery

Briefing Notes repeated the three Primary Targets as,

  • LEAD at Reisholz near Dusseldorf
  • LOW at Monheim
  • HI. Niehl, near Cologne

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 flying spare completed the mission
  • 1 aircraft aborted due to engine failure
  • 2 aircraft were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 2 aircraft did not take off due to a ground accident

In his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group, Ken Decker reported that before mission takeoff, Sgt. Lowell Hatfield, the Lloyd Peters crew waist gunner, was run over by a truck while carrying gun barrels out to the plane. Hatfield suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, and other injuries. He did not regain consciousness for three weeks and upon awakening was shipped home to continue his recovery.

Prior to takeoff of Mission #200, two B-17’s were involved in a ground accident. The Bert Oliver Brown crew aboard the unnamed B-17 44-6080 and the Donald George Springsted crew aboard B-17 44-6141 Sneakin Deacon collided in a taxi accident.

Aircraft 6080 was in #3 position for takeoff and Aircraft 6141 was #4. Weather was not a factor as far as visibility went, but the accident did occur in darkness, prior to sun-up. On or about 0528 (5:28 A.M.), Brown taxied 44-6080 out onto the perimeter track, ninety (90) degrees to Take-off Runway 24. Springsted taxied Sneakin Deacon to the aft end of the runway, stopped, and then taxied to the extreme left side of the runway, and proceeded to take-off position. On passing the perimeter track, Sneakin Deacon’s left wing collided with nose section of Aircraft 44-6080.

Sneakin Deacon’s left outer wing panel was repaired and replaced at Grafton Underwood, and the aircraft was back in service the next day. The damage to 44-6080, described as “Complete nose section torn away from bulkhead No. 2 forward and [w]rinkle in fuselage behind No. 3 bulkhead” was too great for repairs and the aircraft had to be salvaged. Fortunately, no crew members from either crew were injured in the accident. Review Accident Report AR44-09-27-510 for more details…

Before the formation even took to the skies, one airman was injured and two aircraft were damaged. But for those that did take off and left Grafton Underwood headed for Germany on Mission #200, all aircraft returned. But they returned from the mission with one airman seriously wounded and one killed, both due to intense and accurate flak at the target.

The B-17 42-97282, named Rebel, of the William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with a wounded man aboard. Rebel received major battle damage from flak at the target. The horizontal & vertical stabilizers were hit, the right wing’s main and Tokyo tanks were hit, and the waist was hit near the bottom of the fuselage. The tail gunner’s structure was weakened by flak and its occupant, tail gunner Sgt. Robert H. Hoyman, was hit in the head near his left eye. Hoyman did return to duty almost two weeks later, but the 9 October 1944 mission was his last of the thirteen he completed.

The B-17 42-98000, named Fightin’ Hebe, of the Raymond John Gabel crew landed with a dead navigator. Fightin’ Hebe received major battle damage from black and white accurate tracking barrage flak at the target. The aircraft was riddled with flak holes in the radio room, tail, fuselage, and left wing. Gabel reported that navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren was hit and killed at the target and Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group author Ken Decker reported that Lovegren was struck in the spine by flak.

On Mission 200, the Buslee crew was part of the High Group of the 41st “A” Combat Wing led by Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “A” Combat Bombardment Wing Lead, Air Commander Col. Dale Orville Smith, 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944, in the 384th’s lead aircraft in the Lead Group. This was the second of my dad’s missions in which the Group Commander participated.
  • Major Thomas Dale Hutchinson, High Section leader for the 41st “A” Combat Wing
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #200, with several crew substitutions, was:

  • 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 – Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

William Henson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator, Robert Stearns replaced James Davis as bombardier, Robert Mitchell replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret and Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail for the second time.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-102449 Hale’s Angels on this mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0536
  • Time landed 1158
  • Target (Cologne)  attacked at 0922 from an altitude of 28,600 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500 GP
  • Flak at Target reported as “Inaccurate – Barrage. (7 black & 1 white burst). Main barrage. Low Rockets observed after leaving area. Inaccurate CPF reported over the Rhine.
  • Radio Equipment Failure: Liaison – Frequency Meter dead.
  • Technical Failures Aircraft: Elevation clutch on top turret slipped. Gee box inaccurate.
  • Armament Failures: none
  • Battle damage: none

The James Brodie crew did not participate in Mission 200, but they had flown the day before, 26 September 1944, on Mission 199, in which the Buslee crew did not participate.

The Brodie crew makeup for Mission #199 was James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Richard Potter, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger, all of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

The Brodie crew flew aboard their favorite aircraft, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory on #199. It was their eighth mission aboard Kathleen. Brodie did not report any aircraft failures, but did report battle damage of “minor flak damage in wings.”

With the Brodie crew sitting out Mission #200, their favorite ship, 42-97309 Kathleen Lady of Victory, was assigned as a spare to the Robert Leslie Farra crew. The Farra crew and Kathleen were needed and joined the formation in the Lead Group for #200.

Upon return to base after the mission, Farra reported several issues with Kathleen,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Gun sight on chin turret rheostat burned out. Gas gauge inoperative after target. #2 prop runs away continuously. Mike switch on pilot’s control wheel improperly installed. Rheostat in tail inoperative.
  • Battle Damage: Right aileron hit. Horizontal stabilizer, fin and rudder hit. At target.
  • Crew Suggestion: Transportation in morning to carry guns from armament shop to A/C [aircraft]. [Suggestion likely due to Sgt. Hatfield’s morning accident].

Considering the amount of damage received on Mission #200 and defects reported by Farra, and the amount of work needed by the ground crew on Kathleen, would it be ready for the Brodie crew the next day?

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy fighters encountered.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Both CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Black bursts noted.
  • Good fighter escort. As briefed.
  • None of our A.C. is missing.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 200
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

MISSION 198

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #198 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #647.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fourteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 25 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew in both the “B” and “C” Wings.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Primary Target Attacked By PFF
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st CBW B Wing, and as the lead and high groups of the 41st CBW C Wing. In all, 53 aircraft took off between 0700 and 0736. All formations bombed the primary target using PFF aiming, with unobserved results.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for both the “B” and “C” Combat Wings as the Frankfurt Ost Marshalling Yards. The Secondary Target was the Center of the city of Frankfurt and the Target of Last Resort was the Branch Ordnance Depot at Giessen, Germany.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Target: Frankfurt Ost Marshalling Yards: It is located on the eastern end of the city of Frankfurt and north of the Main River. It has a capacity of 2400 wagons per day and is of vital importance in connection with the waterways system of the Rhineland, since it serves the port area to its south which is the third most important inland port in Germany. This is a request target by army headquarters and the traffic in this marshalling yards has been very heavy in the last few days.

Fifty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 53,

  • 48 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare completed the mission
  • 3 aircraft aborted, 1 due to mechanical failure, and 2 due to personnel illness
  • 1 aircraft failed to return

The B-17 42-10757 Spririt of 96 of the Noel Elwin Plowman crew failed to return. They were flying in the Lead Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

In his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group, Ken Decker reported two stories of this mission shared with him by mission participants, the first regarding the loss of the Plowman crew.

Flying with the William Elmer Doran crew in the Low Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing, ball turret gunner Melvin Edward Holtwick had a bird’s eye view of the action from his turret which hung from the belly of his B-17 44-6109 Ole Tulik. It was Holtwick’s very first mission. They were flying off the wing of B-17 42-10757, Spirit of 96. Holtwick recalled,

The plane that was lost was flying off our wing and I saw the plane get hit. This was my first mission and I was as green as grass about what was in store for us. I was watching the squadrons ahead of us going into the flak area and watching the flak burst all around them. Seemed pretty to me. About that time we were going into it also.

I was looking at the plane off our wing when all of a sudden the entire tail assembly flew off. It fluttered off to the left like a leaf in a wind storm. The rest of the plane fell off to the right and went into a tight spin. There were a lot of debris falling and I couldn’t make out any bodies. It had been a hit around the waist door and the right waist window. No doubt blowing the waist gunner to bits. That was when my idea of flak being pretty made a 180 turn, and I saw it for what it really was.

Ole Tulik received battle damage due to flak in the plexiglass nose. The pilot, William Doran, reported his observation of the Spirit of 96 in his post-mission tactical interrogation report,

Direct hit no left window of waist cut it in 1/2. Tail went past us underneath. Rest of fuselage nosed over. No chutes seen.

The observer, Melvin Holtwick, was fortunate to finish his tour of 35 missions on February 9, 1945.

Contrary to the expected outcome, the tail gunner and waist gunner survived the flak hit. Of the crew of Spirit of 96, the Pilot, Co-pilot, Navigator, Bombardier, and Radio Operator were killed. The Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Tail Gunner, and Waist Gunner all became POW’s. All were held in Stalag Luft IV, the same camp as my dad, except for Tail Gunner Kenneth Lentz who was seriously injured and held in Obermassfeld Hospital #1249.

The Missing Air Crew report, MACR9414, for the Plowman crew provides more detail.

The report’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts notes,

  • In formation when hit, and nosed over
  • Flak was meager to moderate and very accurate
  • The tail was blown off in front of the horizontal stabilizer
  • The aircraft nosed over straight down out of control and was lost in the clouds
  • Number of parachutes seen was NONE.

The plane crashed near Wiesbaden, Germany.

In a Casualty Questionnaire filled out after the end of the war and his liberation and return to the states, Kenneth Lentz stated that,

I was unconscious from time plane was hit – until two weeks after.

Lentz also noted that,

My mother received a letter from England stating four parachutes were seen bailing out of the plane.

He also included a personal note saying,

Dear Sir,

Am very sorry that I can [not] give you the necessary information concerning the members of my crew because I was unconscious and do not know how I bailed out.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Lentz

The Ball Turret Gunner, Armando Oliva, reported on his Casualty Questionnaire that they left the formation right over the target and he bailed out. He added,

My waist gunner bailed out immediately after me and my engineer a few seconds before us through the nose hatch. I have no knowledge of my tail gunner.

The Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Robert Allen Cameron, reported, regarding the Radio Operator,

…when I came out of my turret, next to the radio room door, I saw him lying on the floor very still which makes me believe he was unconscious. I tried to pull him toward me and out to the waist but just then the ship went into a spin and I was knocked past the ball turret landing near the waist window & seeing the ground very close I barely had time to jump.

My supposition is that since the waist gunner bailed out directly behind me, and my chute barely opened before I hit the ground, no one else could have had time to jump, especially if he was unconscious when I had seen him.

Also according to Cameron, but reported by one of the other survivors, as Cameron was passing the pilot’s compartment on the way to bail out, he noticed that the pilot and co-pilot had just broken loose their safety belts and were scrambling on the floor. That led them to believe that since the plane was at approximately 4000 feet when Cameron bailed out, and since the plane was in a dive, that the pilot and co-pilot went down with the ship.

They also supposed that due to the wild spinning of the ship that the navigator and bombardier may have been knocked against some object and lost consciousness, also going down with the ship.

Also shared with Decker and reported in his book was a story from this same mission from pilot Raymond Causa, also flying in the Lead Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing, aboard the unnamed B-17 42-107083, which collided with a B-24, but was able to return to base with a damaged left wing. Causa said,

I was flying Lead in the top flight of the 384th Formation. A Captain Smith was flying Lead in the Group. While returning we descended a bit and flew close to the Rhur, right into the bomb line of B-24’s. We missed the first group, re-formed and into the second group. While in a climbing turn to the right to miss the 24’s, my plane was struck by the left wing of a B-24, which took a major portion of my left wing, just behind the centerline. I don’t know what happened to the 24, but we had no trouble getting home. The B-17 was a fine ship. Our crew finished all our missions without any difficulties.

Post-mission, Causa reported minor flak damage and major damage to the left wing due to a collision. On his Tactical Interrogation form, he wrote,

Our Gp. Nav. turned into the B-24 Bomb Line. B-17 & B-24 formation split up and 1 B-24 wing collided into our left wing.

Battle damage: Left wing major damage due to a collision. Horizontal & vertical stabilizer damage. Minor flak holes.

On Mission 198, the Buslee crew was part of the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing led by Captain Roy Alan Vinnedge.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Captain Roy Alan Vinnedge, Low Section leader for the 41st “C” Combat Wing
  • Major Arthur E. Bean, Jr., Air Commander and Lead Section leader for the 41st “C” Combat Wing, Assistant Group Operations Officer (Primary) and Group Training Officer
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.
  • Air Commander Major Horace Everett “Ev” Frink, serving his second tour with the 384th Bomb Group, previous and soon-to-be again 547th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer, led the 41st “B” Combat Wing on this mission

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #198, with the only crew substitutions in the ball turret and tail, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Irving L. Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret for the fifth time. Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene Daniel Lucynski in the tail for the first time. Lucynski had been injured in the 19 September 1944 mission aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-39888 Hotnuts on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0733
  • Time landed 1411
  • Target attacked at 1053 from an altitude of 26,700 ft.
  • Bombs on target: All (12 x 500 GP)
  • Flak at Frankfurt was “not accurate on this formation. 4 gun bursts. Rockets in area. Rocket observed – trail of white smoke dissipated at once. No explosion.”
  • Technical Failures: 5 walk-around oxygen bottles not filled.
  • Armament Failures: (1) Bombs would not release in train, and (2) Doors failed to retract electrically
  • Battle damage: none
  • Crew suggestion: Don’t believe escort on time on way in to target.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Jack Irvin Haas, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Low Group of the 41st “B” Combat Wing aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory. This mission was the Brodie crew’s seventh aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Inaccurate barrage flak in the target area.
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: none.
  • Battle damage: Upper turret window broken. Over target area.
  • Observed the “direct flak hit, tail blown off” of the A/C in the #3 lead.

Mission data in group reports included,

For the “B” Wing,

  • No enemy fighters observed.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. CPF and Barrage type fire employed. Rockets also observed in the area. Black bursts noted.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.
  • One of our aircraft is missing. A/C 057 [42-10757] was hit by flak in the target area. And tail was seen to fall off. Three chutes observed.

For the “C” Wing,

  • No fighters encountered.
  • Moderate, CPF and Barrage type flak encountered at target. Rockets also seen.
  • Fighter escort as briefed.
  • No A/C are missing in this formation.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 198
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The Fate of Tremblin’ Gremlin and Her Crew on Mission 196

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #196 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #642.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his thirteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 19 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying as the only Buslee crew member on a ship piloted by William Marcus Reed. I wrote about the 384th’s and my dad’s participation on this mission last week.

Today I will concentrate on the two 384th Bomb Group crews that flew in the 303rd Bomb Group formation rather than with their own Group, and the only other Buslee crew member to participate on Mission 196, the crew’s tail gunner Eugene Daniel Lucynski, who was aboard B-17 42-39782, Tremblin’ Gremlin with the Joe Carnes crew on this mission.

My dad flew eleven missions with Eugene Lucynski. Also, the B-17 42-39782 Tremblin’ Gremlin, was the ship of my father’s first combat mission and the only B-17 name he ever mentioned in his WWII stories to me as I was growing up.

The two 384th Bomb Group crews and aircraft were flying spare, but instead of filling in for scrubbed aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group, they joined the formation of the 303rd Bomb Group on the 19 September 1944 mission. They were the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin and the Hassing crew aboard Little American II. Both were assigned to fly in the 303rd’s High Group.

The 303rd Bomb Group, known as “Hell’s Angels,” was based in Molesworth, England, about twelve miles east of the 384th’s Grafton Underwood, England base. For the 303rd Bomb Group, this 8th Air Force Mission #642 was their mission #244. (The 303rd’s Mission #1 occurred on 17 November 1942, with the 384th’s Mission #1 six months later on 22 June 1943. This one was #196 for the 384th Bomb Group.)

According to these excerpts from the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents,

The high Group encountered intense but inaccurate flak at Osnabruck and intense and accurate fire over the Ruhr Valley. Returning aircraft had eight major and fourteen minor instances of battle damage.

A 384BG B-17, flying with the high Group, was lost to flak after bombs away.

The 303rd Mission Documents also included a narrative titled “THE RUHR VALLEY AND BAD WEATHER” written by Herbert Shanker, a 303rd Bomb Group mission participant and Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. This excerpt from Shanker’s narrative tells the story of the Carnes and Hassing crews’ mission experience not covered in 384th Bomb Group mission documents.

The date was September 19, 1944. The 303rd Bomb Group was briefed to fly a bombing mission to Hamm, Germany. This mission would take seven and half hours.

The 359th [the 359th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group] was scheduled to fly with the High squadron of the Group [the same part of the formation in which the two 384th Bomb Group crews were flying], which meant that they would drop their bombs between the Lead squadron and the Low Squadron. At the IP the three squadrons separated and bombed individually, two minutes apart, and then reformed as a cohesive unit as quickly as possible to consolidate the Group’s fire power for defensive purposes.

On this particular mission, the Lead squadron had two Radar equipped aircraft (code name Mickey) and the Low squadron had one Mickey ship. For some inexplicable reason, the High squadron had none. The 303rd BG was scheduled to be the last group to bomb this day which meant that the 359th Squadron would be the next to last squadron in the entire bomb stream to bomb.

As things worked out, the Lead and Low squadrons were able to bomb visually, therefore having no need for the radar aircraft for bombing purposes. The High squadron, on the other hand found the target obscured by clouds and made a 360 degree turn to make another attempt.

The second attempt was less successful than the first and so the High squadron “Lead” decided to find a “target of opportunity” on the way home. As the other two squadrons had completed their part in the mission, they took off for home, which was standard practice, so as to limit exposure to loss. All crews had been constantly briefed not to hang back to protect disabled aircraft as the practice usually resulted in greater loss.

The High squadron was now completely on its own as even our fighter escort had disappeared by this time. The squadron, consisting of 12 or 13 aircraft, eventually bombed the town of Osnabruck. Because of a navigational error after “Bombs Away,” the squadron found itself in the Ruhr Valley, one of the most heavily defended areas in the world. At least one aircraft was shot down and all aircraft were subjected to extremely intense flak.

Read more of the 303rd Bomb Group’s mission documents in their entirety.

Flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the aircraft of Lt. Eugene Theron Hassing was hit by flak and the crew was forced to land in Allied territory in France. Hassing described in a post-mission report titled “Lt. Hassing’s Story” that they,

Flew with the 303rd High Group, and just before bombs away, got into the overcast and went on to bomb Munster [actually Osnabruck?]. Hit by flak in the Rhur area. (Leader of this group got lost and we went thru the Rhur area). Low and Gas, and left formation to find a landing field just after leaving the Rhur. Landed at Vitry En Artois. Plane was undamaged. Only one hole in gas lines.

Stopped at Dugua. They fed eighteen men for four days.

None of the men of the 384 Bomb Group’s Hassing crew were reported to be injured during the mission.

Also flying in the 303rd Bomb Group formation, the men of the Carnes crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin were not so lucky. A statement recorded in the post-mission documents of the 384th Bomb Group by the co-pilot of the Carnes crew, William Glenn Wyatt, reads,

Statement by Lt. Wyatt, Co-pilot, Mission to Hamm, Germany, 19 September 1944

We were Flying Spare aircraft in our Wing. When we reached the point of turnback we joined the 303rd Group, flying in No. 5 position, Low Squadron, High Group. Bombing was to be done visually, but clouds covered the target just before we reached it. The High Group, therefore, went into the Ruhr area and bombed a Marshalling Yard near ____________ [left blank by Wyatt, but noted in 303rd Bomb Group mission reports that the Low and Lead groups dropped their bombs on Hamm and the High Group dropped on Osnabruck, Germany].

Here we lost two engines. We feathered No. 1 engine, but No. 4 engine could not be feathered. The prop. shaft broke and No. 4 prop. began windmilling and continued to do so all the way back. At the same time the supercharger on No. 3 engine ran away and became uncontrollable. We necessarily lagged behind the formation, finally losing it. The Navigator [Alfred David Benjamin] and Togglier [Robert William Chanter] were brought out of the nose because of the danger of No. 4 prop. flying off.

The Ball Turret Gunner [James Bernard King, Jr.], Waist Gunner [Raymond Arnold Panici] and Tail Gunner [Eugene Daniel Lucynski] were hit by flak at approximately the same time the engines were knocked out. We encountered intense and accurate flak in and around the target area and crossing the Rhine River. We took evasive action the entire route back at 10,000 feet. The co-pilot [William Glenn Wyatt] went back to the waist to take care of the wounded men.

The No. 2 engine then blew the cylinders out, leaving one engine with runaway supercharger. In the meantime the Ball Turret had been jettisoned. The ground was not visible and we were on instruments. The Pilot [Joe Ross Carnes, Jr.] then gave the order to bail out, when the Navigator [Benjamin] was fairly sure that we were over friendly territory.

The waist escape hatch stuck, but we finally got rid of the escape door by firing a .45 automatic at the hinges. The Togglier [Chanter] left by the tail escape hatch. The Waist Gunner [Panici], Radio Operator [Frank Joseph Schick, Jr.], Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski], as well as the Co-Pilot [Wyatt], left by the waist escape hatch.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King], being seriously injured, was hooked to static line. The Engineer [Top Turret Gunner Charles William Ford, Jr.] and Pilot [Carnes] left by the Navigator’s escape hatch and were the last to bail out. The entire crew landed in Binche, Belgium.

The injured men, including the Navigator and Togglier, who were slightly injured bailing out, were taken immediately to Gilley [Gilly] (St. Joseph’s Hospital), since the nearest Army Hospital was approximately 40 miles away. It was necessary for the Ball Turret Gunner’s [King] left foot to be amputated. The operation was performed by a Belgian doctor, under the supervision of Major Heron from the Surgeon’s office, 1st Army Headquarters.

The Ball Turret Gunner [King] and Co-Pilot [Wyatt] landed approximately 150 yards apart in a field and were immediately surrounded by Belgian civilians. A doctor was secured as soon as possible and the Ball Turret Gunner [King] was taken to a small hospital at Binche, Belgium, where his foot was dressed. From there he was taken by American ambulance of the 30th Photo Reconnaissance Group to the hospital at Gilley [Gilly].

The Co-Pilot [Wyatt] sent messages to the 8th Air Force concerning the status of the entire crew as soon as possible. Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Radio Operator [Schick] and Togglier [Chanter] returned to the U.K. via 9th TAC Headquarters, Paris, and the regular channels for evadees and escapees.

The Navigator [Benjamin], Ball Turret Gunner [King], Waist Gunner [Panici] and Tail Gunner [Lucynski] are to be evacuated through medical channels. They will be removed to an American hospital as soon as their physical condition permits. The Pilot [Carnes] and Engineer [Ford] were in touch with the M.P. Station at Binche.

SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe from late 1943 until the end of World War II] called this Group to try to get transportation for us back to the Base (Co-Pilot [Wyatt], Togglier [Chanter], and Radio Operator [Schick]). We were unable to contact the Officer of the Day or any officer on duty. These three men had to borrow money to come from London back to the Base. The Group would not send transportation to Kettering for the three men.

These men arrived back at this Station in the P.M. 22 September 1944.

In his book “Memories of the 384th Bombardment Goup (H), Second Edition, Ken Decker added – likely from a story shared with him by one of the crew after the war – that after bailing out of Tremblin’ Gremlin,

The danger wasn’t over yet as the aircraft, as if trying to punish the crew for leaving it in the air, started to circle and they feared it might hit them in their chutes before finally diving into the ground and exploded about 3 – 5 miles from Binche (about 10 miles west of Charleroi, Belgium).

The entire Hassing crew returned to Grafton Underwood from France and on 28 September 1944 participated in their next mission, Mission #201 to Magdeburg, Germany.

The men aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin did not participate in a mission again until October for many of them – 2 OCT for Chanter, 3 OCT for Schick, 5 OCT for Wyatt, 9 OCT for Ford, 14 OCT for Carnes, and 17 OCT for Benjamin – November for Panici on 1 NOV, and King and Lucynski did not ever return to combat.

King was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 4178 U.S. Army Hospital Plant.

Lucynski was hospitalized until 10 November 1944. On the recommendation form for the Purple Heart, Lucynski’s wounds were described as “multiple lacerations of right hand and left wrist.” He received the Purple Heart on 7 December 1944 at Grafton Underwood.

I am not certain how Lucynski continued his service in WWII, but a passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on October 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.

Notes/Resources

  • Previous post on Mission 196
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • 303rd Bomb Group website
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 196

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #196 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #642.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his thirteenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 19 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying as the only Buslee crew member on a ship piloted by William Marcus Reed. See more detail about the makeup of the crew below in the loading list…

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they led the 41st “A” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Mixed Results
The 384th Bomb Group, flying as the 41st A CBW, attacked the primary target at Hamm, Germany, with fair results for the Lead group [squadron], and poor results for the Low group [squadron]. The High group [squadron] did not bomb.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day as the R.R. M/Y [railroad marshalling yards] at Hamm, Germany. PFF, same target.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Target: Rail Road Marshalling Yards at Hamm. Target has capacity of 10,000 railroad cars per day and is the largest and busiest yards in Germany. The nerve center of German Rail Traffic. Handles traffic between the Ruhr and North and Central Germany. Four lines leave the South end of the Yard and two from the North. Yard is three miles long. It is directly connected with supplying the enemy troops opposing our airborne operation.

PFF Target is the same as your primary target visual.

Last Resort are two Air Force targets at Gütersloh and Handorf. If unable to bomb these, any military target positively identified as being in Germany and East of the Current Strategic Bomb Line, which is marked on flak maps of lead navigator.

[Briefing Notes edited by the author for readability].

A special warning instructed,

Be on the alert for enemy aircraft entire time from England.

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare completed the mission
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 landed in Allied territory. Both were flying spare and filled in with the 41st “B” wing with the 303rd Bomb Group. One crew (Carnes) bailed out over Binche, Belgium and one crew (Hassing) landed in France.

My dad flew in the Lead Group commanded by Col. Dale Orville Smith, 384th Bomb Group Commander.

Dad flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “A” Combat Bombardment Wing Lead, Air Commander Col. Dale Orville Smith, 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944, in the 384th’s lead aircraft in the Lead Group. This was the first of my dad’s missions in which the Group Commander participated.
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944.

The Air Commander’s (Col. Dale Smith’s) Narrative stated, regarding one of the crews landing in Allied territory,

A/C No. 7982 [B-17 42-39782, Tremblin’ Gremlin], Lt. Carnes, Pilot is missing. [Buslee crew tail gunner Eugene Daniel Lucynski was aboard this aircraft]. This aircraft, a spare, joined the formation of 41st Combat Bombardment Wing “B.” Just before the I.P. this aircraft was struck by flak and left the formation immediately after dropping its bombs on the Target. Aircraft appeared to be under control at the time.

The B-17 42-39782, Tremblin’ Gremlin, was the ship of my father’s first combat mission and the only B-17 name he ever mentioned in his WWII stories to me as I was growing up.

The Low Section Leader’s (Capt. Edgar Ellsworth Ulrey’s) Narrative stated, regarding the crew that landed in France,

A/C No. 8014 [B-17 42-38014, Little America II], Lt. Hassing, Pilot is missing. This aircraft, a spare, joined the formation of the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing “B.” The aircraft was struck by flak just before the I.P. and immediately after dropping on the target was observed leaving the formation, apparently under control.

The Loading List for Mission #196 for the aircraft carrying George Edwin Farrar of the Buslee crew was,

  • Pilot – William Marcus Reed (originally co-pilot of the Frank Allred crew; promoted to pilot and at that time took over command of the Dale McKinney crew when McKinney was transferred; Mission 196 was his next to last mission before he completed his tour of 35 missions)
  • Co-pilot – Donald George Springsted (of the Dale McKinney crew)
  • Navigator – Edward Gregory Jacobs (of the Dale McKinney crew)
  • Togglier – Nickolas Leschak, Jr. (of the Frank Allred crew)
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Melvin Joseph Meyer (of the Dale McKinney crew)
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – William C. Murphy (of the Dale McKinney crew)
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr. (of the Frank Allred crew)
  • Tail Gunner – Albert Richard Macuch (of the Dale McKinney crew)
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad, of the John Buslee crew)

Other than Farrar, the only other Buslee crew member to participate in this mission was Eugene Daniel Lucynski, the Buslee crew’s tail gunner.

My dad flew aboard pilot William Marcus Reed’s B-17 43-38062, Pleasure Bent. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Reed at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 1000
  • Time landed 1630 Away
  • Target attacked at 1355 from an altitude of 24,600 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Inaccurate flak reported at the target
  • Visual observations: 6 barges in one of canals
  • Technical Failures: none
  • Armament Failure: none
  • Battle damage: none

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, replacement navigator Richard Potter, replacement togglier Theodore Rothschild, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the High Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Moderate to heavy inaccurate flak at the target area and East of the Moselle River.
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: none.
  • Battle damage: none.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft encountered.
  • Flak encountered at target only was inaccurate for the Lead and Low Groups and fairly accurate for the High Group. Continuously Pointed Fire (CPF) employed.
  • Fighter support as briefed – good.
  • A/C 982 and A/C 014 missing. The two missing aircraft were briefed to fly as spares in the Lead and Low Groups respectively, but filled in with 303rd Bomb Group. Hit by flak after bombs away and forced to leave formation. No further information available at present – to follow.
  • Thirty-seven aircraft returned to England 19 September. A/C 083 only returned to base that date, A/C 703 landed at Woodbridge, one engine out. Balance of aircraft landed at Old Buckenham because home base was closed in. All aircraft except 703, 9888, 7788, 7320, and 1222 returned to home base 20 September. The five aircraft have remained at the bases they originally landed at.
  • PFF Aircraft 007 and 986 flew Lead and Deputy Lead of Lead Group respectively.

Written by Lt. Eugene Theron Hassing, pilot of the B-17 that flew with the 303rd Bomb Group and landed in France, “Lt. Hassings’ Story” was also included in the Mission Folder.

Flew with the 303rd High Group, and just before bombs away, got into the overcast and went on to bomb Munster. Hit by flak in the Rhur area. (Leader of this group got lost and we went thru the Rhur area). Low and Gas, and left formation to find a landing field just after leaving the Rhur. Landed at Vitry En Artois. Plane was undamaged. Only one hole in gas lines.

Stopped at Dugua. They fed eighteen men for four days.

To be continued next week, the fate of the Tremblin’ Gremlin and her crew…

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 196
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 194

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #194 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #628.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his twelfth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 13 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with two other original crew members of the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew. See more detail about the makeup of the crew below in the loading list…

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they led the 41st “A” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

The ‘Oil Campaign’ Continues
The 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) led the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission, supplying all planes and crews, except for the high section of the high group which was filled by three aircraft from the 303rd BG.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day as the Oil Plant at Merseburg.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Target: Synthetic Oil Plant at Merseburg. Attacked by this group several times in the past. Produces 600,000 tons of oil per annum when in full production. Is 2 miles from N to  S and 3/4 miles from E to W. Oil is the very life blood of the Luftwaffe and the German War machine, and your target for today is very vital to the Hun in the last ditch defense of his Fatherland. There is no indication that this target has been effectively hit recently. Effective smoke screen at target.

Secondary Visual Target: An aircraft engine plant just outside town of Eisenach.

PFF Target: If weather A/C report both primary and secondary visual obscured, then all wings of 1st Division will attack Merseburg Synthetic plant using PFF.

Last Resort Visual: Rubber Tyre Factory at Fulda, Germany, or any military objective positively identified as being east, repeat, east of the Rhine River.

The 384th Bomb Group was the seventh wing of eight Combat Wings of the 1st Bombardment Division into Germany this date and the fourth of five wings on their target.

A special warning instructed,

There are no convoys expected. Stay on the alert for enemy aircraft. First Division alone lost 19 aircraft on Monday and 26 aircraft yesterday. It takes only one pass at you for them to knock you down. Gunners should stay at your guns and keep your eyes open at all times.

Thirty-nine aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 39,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 flying spare completed the mission
  • 2 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 2 were scrubbed
  • 1 returned early
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)
  • 1 failed to return

The three Buslee crew members flew as the High Group Lead commanded by Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr.

The Buslee crew members flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Leader, Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr., 544th Bomb Squadron. Mission #194 was Fairfield’s 30th and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group.
  • 41st “A” Combat Wing Lead, Lt. Col. William Edward Buck, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Deputy Group Commander. Mission #194 was Buck’s 21st and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

Two ships with major battle damage landed away at RAF Manston, Kent. Both were flying as part of the High Group following the High Group Lead aircraft carrying the members of the Buslee crew.

Also following the High Group Lead aircraft carrying the Buslee crew members was the unnamed B-17 43-38213, the only 384th Bomb Group fortress lost on Mission 194. Immediately after bombs away, at 1124, the aircraft was seen going down in flames due to flak.

On this mission, the Canion crew was aboard 43-38213 with experienced pilot Lee White Dodson checking out new pilot William E. Canion. The Canion crew was on their second mission, their first mission aborted due to engine failure two days earlier.

On Mission 194, two members of the crew were killed, five became POW’s, and two, including Lee Dodson on his 34th mission, remain missing. The Missing Air Crew Report, MACR8902, and a prior post (see the section “September 13, 1944”) provide more details.

The Loading List for Mission #194 for the aircraft carrying the three members of the Buslee crew (bolded) was,

  • Commander – William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr.
  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Kenneth Smith Lord
  • Bombardier – Donald Leroy Ward
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Albert Keith Sherriff
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Lloyd Earl La Chine
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Other than Buslee, Bryant, and Farrar, the remaining original Buslee crew members did not participate in Mission 194.

The Buslee crew members flying with Commander Fairfield were aboard 43-38016, Lorraine, on this mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0635
  • Time landed 1520
  • Target attacked at 1124 from an altitude of 27,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: only 5 x 500 due to a malfunction, and the pilot salvoed 5 x 500 on the center of the town of Mühlhausen, Germany at 1145
  • Flak reported at the target, accurate CPF, Barrage, few rockets
  • Visual observations: at 1126 at the target, altitude of 27,000 feet, #3 lead element in flames, #1 high element in flames, #3 high element were hit by flak & left formation. 2 were on fire.
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: #4 engine lost oil. #1 engine vibrating badly and overheated. Oxygen system hard to draw on. Top turret out in azimuth. GEE box out, radio compass out, left [bomb] rack failed to release on bombardiers salvo or intervalometer – released on pilot salvo.
  • Armament Failure: Upper turret operates rough at high altitude.
  • Battle damage: Control cables in bomb bay shot out. Trim tab controls cut by flak. Lots of small holes throughout aircraft. Most damage the last minute before bombs away.

Note: Buslee’s salvoed bombs apparently missed the Mühlhausen Synagogue at Jüdenstraße which had been damaged during the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938. It was one of only a few Synagogues in Germany that survived the Nazi period and World War II.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Low Group aboard B-17 42-97521, The Saint.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Multiple reports of accurate flak, including at the target area.
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Radio compass out. Has been out and written up before. Left upper turret gun inoperative. Written up before.
  • Battle damage: Turbo knocked out by flak in target area.

Narratives from 384th Bomb Group crew members who participated in Mission 194 describe events of the mission better than official Group reports. The following excerpts were taken from personal experience shared with Ken Decker and published in his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition.

Bombardier Leo Feider, who was in one of the aircraft in the High Group that landed away due to battle damage, described the mission as “one of the severest flak barrages of the war.” (Note: Feider began flying missions at the end of August 1944 and completed his tour at the first of February 1945). He estimated his ship received fifty to seventy-five flak holes on Mission 194.

Feider wrote,

We saw Lee Dodson, a pilot with a new crew go down in flames, right along side of us, over the target. His whole left wing came off, just after we saw only one man get out. I had supper with Dodson last night and he said he had become a father just a few days previously. It was horrible seeing him go down. The flak was so close you could hear it and see the red inside of those damn black bursts. I felt frozen, yet I guess I still functioned, for I got my bombs toggled off and the bomb bay doors closed. I know, though, I shall never be the same after that experience.

Lt. Canion, the pilot in training with Lt. Dodson in the High Group, was blown out of the doomed aircraft, and survived and became a POW. He wrote,

We were high element, high group and we took all the flak. It was so heavy you could have gotten out and walked on it. The last flak that hit us blew up in the ball turret and blew the plane apart.

In his diary, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Sgt. William P. Hornack, aboard 42-102430, Spam-O-Liner, described,

When we hit the I.P. [Initial Point of the bomb run], the flak was as we suspected (unbearable) again. I was thinking to myself, how in the hell are we going through that stuff? There goes that “rumping” noise, that sound makes your heart skip a beat and swallow your tongue. Every burst of flak seemed like it was rumping against our plane. I’m telling you, a guy really holds a service all of his own, by his guns, hoping we won’t be next.

Spam-O-Liner’s Co-Pilot Gerald Rose said of the mission,

This was in my opinion, one of our most dangerous missions. We had been under a heavy flak barrage from the IP and received many hits, but when we got the explosion from almost a direct hit under our right wing, it flipped us up on our side and we started to fall. I salvoed the bombs and without that weight, we were able to get control after falling 4 or 5 thousand feet.

The Buslee and Brodie crews were lucky to survive this mission unscathed.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 194
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Wikipedia: Mühlhausen Synagogue
  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 192

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #192 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #623.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his eleventh mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 11 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of both the 41st “A” and “B” Combat Wings.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Primary Targets Spared By Weather
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the high section of the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing (41A Group) and as the high section of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing (41B Group) on this mission. The primary target for the 41A Group, Lützkendorf oil installations in Germany, were obscured by a solid undercast, as was the secondary and an airfield near Giessen. Finally, a successful visual attack was accomplished on an unidentified factory in the Friedberg, Germany, area. This group saw several Me-163 ‘Komet’ rocket-powered aircraft in the vicinity of Leipzig, and one near the Belgian coast, but they were not attacked. The 41B Group primary target, oil installations in the Merseburg, Germany, area was obscured by weather conditions. The formation then proceeded to the secondary target. Although the rest of the formation broke off the attack, the 384th pressed on and were able to drop their bombs in the vicinity of the target, although results were deemed ‘poor.’ This group was attacked by a single ME163 ‘Komet’ rocket-powered aircraft, which made two passes on his formation (the high and low squadrons), in the vicinity of the primary target.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the 41st A High Group as the synthetic oil plant at Lutzendorf, and the 41st B High Group as the synthetic oil plant at Mersberg.

The 384th was part of the fourth and fifth combat wings alternately over the two oil targets.

Briefing Notes further detailed,

Primary Targets: Synthetic oil plants at Merseburg and Lutzendorf, Germany. 41A on Lutzendorf. 41B on Merseburg. These plants are producers of large quantities of oil now so very vital to the Germans war effort. Both have been damaged on previous attacks but are now partially in production with repairs being rushed to get them back into full production. They are being attacked today to ensure maintaining the favourable condition presently existing in regard to German’s fuel supply. Smoke screens at both visual targets.

Secondary Visuals: 41A AC Engine factory in the town of Eisenech. 41B AC Engine factory located 2 mi. NE of town of Eisenach.

Last Resort Visuals: 41A&B Airfield at Erfurt and an airfield at Frieburg. Only Military objects Pass Iden in Germany and go east, repeat east of the Rhine River.

A special warning instructed,

Stay on the alert for enemy aircraft. You are going on two of the Huns most precious targets and he may use his Hoarded Luftwaffe to destroy you.

Twenty-nine aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 29,

  • 21 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 flying spare (the Robert C. Owens crew in 42-97142) from the 41B Group filled in the 41A Group and completed the mission
  • 3 aborted due to aircraft equipment failure
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 failed to return

The B-17 42-107058, White Angel, of the James Woodrow Chadwick crew was the only 384th Bomb Group fortress lost on Mission 192.

Flying in the 41B Group, the aircraft,

Received a direct burst of flak in the area of the Primary Target at 1208 hours, 28,400 feet. He was hit in the bomb bay and immediately released his bombs whereupon the ship caught fire. He was last observed diving down to 18,000 feet where he levelled off and was lost sight of. No chutes were observed.

The aircraft crashed near Halle, Germany and all crewmembers were killed except for the navigator and tail gunner who became POW’s. Few details are provided in the Missing Air Crew Report, MACR8903.

On Mission 192, the Buslee crew flew with the 41A Group (High Group) led by Capt. Edward William Lane.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “A” Combat Wing High Section Leader Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #192, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Paul Leland Watson replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard 42-102661, Big Dog, on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0744
  • Time landed 1526
  • Target attacked at 1251 from an altitude of 27,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 10 x 500
  • Oxygen: Flow indicator in Ball Turret inoperative.
  • Battle damage: Minor flak damage.

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the 41B Group High Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory, led by Assistant Group Operations Officer Major A. E. Bean, Jr.

The Brodie crew reportedly landed back at Grafton Underwood after completion of the mission with the bomb bay doors open.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Multiple reports of flak.
  • Crew suggestion: Code word for chaff should be given over VHF on every (with “every” underlined 4 times) mission.
  • Battle damage: Moderate flak damage.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crews had flown four missions in the past four days and were likely ready for a day off, which they would receive on 12 September, but both crews would participate in the 13 September mission after a needed rest.

Mission data in group reports included…

For the 41A Group,

  • The 41st A Wing attacked a Target of Opportunity – a factory outside Friedberg – with very good results.
  • No attacks were made on the formation.
  • Flak at the target was fairly accurate, CPF and Barrage type fire.
  • Fighter escort good.
  • None of our aircraft are missing.

For the 41B Group,

  • This Group bombed the Motor Assembly Plant at Eisenach-Stock-Hausen. Bombs hit about half mile from the N.P.I.
  • Two jet propelled A/C attacked this formation, but did little damage. Crew members identified the aircraft as the ME 163.
  • Flak was moderate to intense in the target area. CPF and Barrage type fire.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.
  • One of our A.C. is missing. A/C 058 was seen to receive a direct burst of flak directly over the target on the second run. Two chutes were seen to emerge.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 192
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 191

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #191 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #619.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his tenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 10 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

384th Leads Wing
The 384th Bomb Group (H) provided all aircraft for the 41st B CBW, the tenth of eleven wings in Air Task Force 3 of Eighth Air Force Mission 619. The lead and high squadrons attacked the primary target at Sindelfingen visually, after four and two bomb runs, respectively. The low squadron lost contact with the group leader and, after finding the primary target obscured by clouds, went on to bomb a target of opportunity, railroad marshaling yards between Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt, Germany.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as Sindelfingen nr. [near] Stuttgart (MT Works of Daimler Benz) [BMW Motor Component Parts Plant].

The Secondary Target was the Stuttgart Marshalling yards and the Targets of Last Resort were any military positively identified as being east of the Rhine; also, Neckarsulm nr Bockingen – aircraft components (pistons).

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted due to aircraft equipment failure
  • 4 were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed

Bombardier Vern Arnold provided a great narrative on his introduction to the Nazi “box barrage” type of flak attack on today’s mission in Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition.

[A box barrage flak attack] is possible only at large, vital targets where there are an almost unlimited number of gun installations. All of the guns in that area are coordinated into a single overall plan in which each gun is assigned a particular spot in our bomb run path to fill it with continuously exploding shells.

As soon as they spot a group going onto its bomb run (where we cannot swerve or dodge) they begin to create a solid cut of bursting flak directly in its path. Obviously, it is impossible to squeeze 36, 105 foot wide bombers through such a nightmare without everyone getting hit and hit plenty.

Watching the group ahead of us, they seemed to be actually swallowed up in the inferno. I had to busy myself with checking the bomb control panel to maintain any semblance of self control. Seconds later, we were in it too and it was just as bad as it looked from a distance.

Arnold continued and explained how their ship was hit, lost an engine, and then a second engine, nearly needing to abandon ship. They had to limp home alone, having been abandoned by the bomber stream, and eventually made it back, but not without a flak burst near Dunkirk just before crossing the English Channel.

On Mission 191, the Buslee crew was part of the Lead Group led by Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun, Jr., originally of the 303rd Bomb Group, transferred to 41st CBW HQ at Molesworth as Director of Operations and Executive Officer until 23 DECEMBER 1944.
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #191, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Paul Leland Watson replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-38213 on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0754
  • Time landed 1457
  • Target attacked at 1200 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Observed Results, Probable damage: Hit City.
  • Radio: VHF shot out over target.
  • Guns and Turrets: Left solenoid upper turret is out.
  • Battle damage: 15 minor flak holes; left flap to be replaced #9 Tokyo

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-97521, The Saint.

The Brodie crew was the one crew flying spare that completed the mission. Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group mission notes read,

Lead Squadron flying spare; joined formation. The Brodie crew may have been originally assigned to fly 42‑97309 [Kathleen Lady of Victory], and was forced to switch aircraft for unknown reasons. Apparently they were told to go to Ground Spare Aircraft 43‑37971, but that had already been assigned to Johnstone. Again for unknown reasons, the Chadwick Crew was told to move to lead Ground Spare Aircraft 43‑37971, and turn over 42‑97521 [The Saint] to the Brodie Crew.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Armament failure: Left gun would not fire in upper turret.
  • Technical failure, aircraft: Entire interphone [system] went out on route back.
  • Battle damage: Moderate flak damage.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • The Lead and High groups bombed the primary target with unobserved results.
  • The Low group bombed a target of opportunity (Zuffenhousen) with poor results.
  • No enemy fighters were observed.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Both CPF and Barrage type fires being employed. Rockets were also fired upon this formation. Without any visual damage being done.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 191
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 190

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #190 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #614.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his ninth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 9 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Ludwigshafen – Again!
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the B Wing of the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing for today’s mission. The primary target was a chemicals plant near Ludwigshafen, Germany. A visual attack was planned but a 10/10ths undercast required the Group to bomb using PFF aiming.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as a return trip to Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries, for the fourth time in the last four missions. It would also be the last time the 384th targeted Ludwigshafen.

The day’s Briefing Notes detailed the objectives of the mission with,

Visual: Large Chemical Works at Ludwigshafen, bombed several times by this group recently. Producers of many chemicals and poison gases. The relation of today’s target to the present land operations in Europe makes it of vital importance. Chemicals, Marshalling Yards, and as a supply center and the lines of communications concerned makes Ludwigshafen very important to the Germans at present.

PFF: RR Marshalling Yards in Mannheim, located just across the Rhine River from your primary visual target.

Last Resort: Any military target positively identified as being East, repeat East, of the Rhine River.

The briefing also stressed for the crews to,

Stay on alert for enemy aircraft, especially the new jet propelled jobs.

Empty your pockets before leaving. If forced down travel only at night and try to join allied forces in France. Stay off the railroads and main highways. If captured, give only Name, Rank, Serial Number.

Forty-one aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 41,

  • 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted due to aircraft equipment failures
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused
  • 1 missing, crashed in enemy territory

* * * * *

The aircraft that crashed was piloted by Joseph Hartness and carried the majority of the Roy Vinnedge crew, including ball turret gunner Raymond Orlando Wisdahl, the 384th’s combat data specialist Keith Ellefson’s uncle. They left the formation on return to base due to battle damage and crash landed in France near the town of Harville, Muse.

The entire crew evaded and returned to allied lines the next day. Tail gunner Delmar Beesley told the story of evasion to his family through a series of letters he wrote home. The letters were later compiled into one document and the fascinating story published here courtesy of Keith Ellefson on the 384th Bomb Group’s website.

After making their way back to their base at Grafton Underwood, most of the crew would not return to combat until the end of October and eventually completed their tours. However, Delmar James Beesley was sadly killed in action on 23 March 1945 on his thirty-fourth mission, one short of completing his tour.

* * * * *

On Mission 190, the Buslee crew was part of the Lead Group led by Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., Lead Group Commander, 41st “B” Combat Wing and Senior Air Commander
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #190, with the only crew substitution of navigator, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – George John Jacobson
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

George Jacobson replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822, the second of a trio of missions they would participate in on this ship, including their final mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0711
  • Time landed 1418
  • Target attacked at 1102 1/2 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500 GPs
  • A rocket and flak at several locations including the target
  • Battle Damage: Minor damage.
  • At 1113, observed a “B-17 from outfit ahead was seen going down, #4 engine smoking badly, no chutes.”

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Low Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory.

This was the third of eight missions for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Leave nuts alone on chin turret.
  • Battle Damage: Top turret glass broken.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. CPF and barrage type fire being employed. Black and white bursts observed.
  • Fighter support fair in and about the target area.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 190
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 189

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #189 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #611.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his eighth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 8 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Target Visible at Last Minute
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing C Wing. There were broken clouds near the target area but, at the last minute, sufficient clear areas opened allowing the Norden bombsight to be used. The primary target was bombed using visual sighting, with good results.

Forty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 45,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 4 aborted due to aircraft equipment failures
  • 2 flying spare, completed mission
  • 6 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 3 returned early

One of the aircraft landed post-mission with wounded aboard (the seriously wounded tailgunner aboard Vern Arnold’s ship – more on that below). None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a return trip to Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries, for the third time in the last three missions.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold described the injury to the Edgar Bills’ crew tailgunner Keith Mauck, who he described as “one of the youngest on the crew and a very likable young squirt”. Arnold offers a glimpse of the hazards of WWII bombing missions.

I guess our luck was due to run out eventually and it finally happened on this one. Keith Mauck, our tail gunner caught a nasty chunk of flak through his ankle. I suppose we should be grateful that we got him back to the base alive. We debated about landing in France and trying to get him quickly to a hospital but decided that his chances were better if we took him back to the base where we knew he would receive immediate, excellent attention. He was given morphine for the pain and the waist gunners kept a tourniquet on him to slow the loss of blood. The burst that got him was one of those nearly direct hits that exploded just under the skin of the ship near the tail. It was so close that it spilled us up on our nose momentarily.

After a harrowing return trip to base – subsequent bursts took out one engine and the oxygen system, requiring them to drop out of formation and dive down to an altitude where they could breathe, and without the protection of the bomber stream and fighter escort – Mauck required several pints of whole blood and surgery and in the end lost his foot, finishing his tour of duty.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Leader, Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr., 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings (Lead Group Commander), 41st “C” Combat Bombardment Wing Air Commander, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #189, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

This would be the third time Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-97320, Hot Rock. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0749
  • Time landed 1542
  • Target attacked at 1157 from an altitude of 29,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 x 1000
  • Flak at the target, below and at 9 o’clock black, white, barrage, accurate
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failure, Aircraft: VHF reception on “A” channel weak
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tube needed in A/C

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory with waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other original waist gunner had previously been transferred. Liniger would fly the remainder of the Brodie crew missions in the waist position.

This was the second of eight missions for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory. 

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Oxygen connection on right side of radio room is broken. Plugs for throat mike are both missing in waist position. Ball turret and waist guns froze at 28,000 feet. Ball turret guns have no heated covers. Tail gunner’s heated trousers inoperative. Radio operator’s jacket began smoking and continued to smoke until taken off.
  • No battle damage reported.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed and no attacks made on our formation
  • Flak was moderate to intense and accurate at target. CPF & barrage type of fire being employed
  • Fighter escort reported excellent

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 189
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020