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MISSION 183

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #183 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #568.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 24 AUGUST 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,

Oil Pressure
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The 8th AF continued to decimate the enemy’s fuel supply by attacking this giant chemical complex. The C wing was to follow the A and B wings, but over the North Sea, they caught up and passed both, leading them from the enemy coast, for the rest of the mission. This was apparently due to the wings making different adjustments for cloud layers, and perhaps navigation errors. Although the 384th was prepared for a target obscured by clouds and smoke screen, there was sufficient visibility for visual bombing.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 5 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 returned early due to flak damage

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a hydrogenation or water softener plant with an area of 1250 feet by 125 feet in Merseburg (Leuna). It is a new target, one that has not previously been hit. The whole of this particular target is dependent on water processed at this softener plant. Its destruction would put the target out of production.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was a synthetic oil and thermal power station in Lutzkendorf.
  • Targets of Opportunity and Last Resort are any military objective in Germany positively identified and not disrupting fighter escort.
  • Enemy fighter opposition expected to be strong.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Major Gerald Busby Sammons.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (High Group Leader), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • 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
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

Back in action after a twelve day gap since their last mission, the Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #183 was the same as the previous three missions with the exception of the assigned navigator:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Leonard Galloway
  • 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)

The navigator flying with the Buslee crew on this mission, Leonard Galloway, completed his last mission and tour with the 384th on this day.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-98000, Fightin’ Hebe. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0707
  • Time landed 1530
  • Target attacked at 1212 from an altitude of 23,800 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 10 x 500
  • Too much smoke for observed results and damage
  • Flak was accurate and intense, including at the target, with black barrage flak, white tracking flak, twin rockets, and red bursts
  • On the way to the target observed 30 ships in a convoy and several large ships anchored, and 13 large ships strung out like forming a convoy
  • German ME-109 and ME-410 attacking the group ahead
  • 2 B-17’s from group in front of this group were seen to crash
  • 5 enemy fighters were seen going down in the target area
  • On return to base, No. 2 engine acting up
  • Battle damage: Hit by flak. No. 2 & 3 engines were hit. Prop Governor hit cable. Through cylinder. Right wing flap hit (at root). Horizontal stabilizer hit. Two holes in top of nose.
  • Technical failures: Oxygen ran low. No safety wire on [Oxygen] regulators on most (transcribed in typed reports as nose) positions. Radio: Mike button shot off on nose gun. Navigator’s finger was hit, [notably, Chester Rybarczyk’s substitute, Leonard Galloway on his last mission]. “Something” on trailing antenna lost.

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-32106, Worry Bird (aka Voan), minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Flak at three points during the mission including at the target.
  • Dogfights seen.
  • Battle damage of Co-pilot’s oxygen hose shot in two, and about 20 flak holes in ship.
  • Technical failures of Flux gate compass out/inoperative, bomb bay doors stay open one to two inches, and therma-couple in tail was inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good and effective. Approximately 30 to 35 miles east of Wesermunde, we observed from 20 to 30 single and twin engine enemy fighters attacking the Wing directly ahead of us. However, no attacks were made on our Wing on the entire mission.

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 183
  • 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 178

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #178 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #545.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fourth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 12 AUGUST 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,

Luftwaffe Attacked Near Paris
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The mission proceeded generally as briefed, up until bomb release – then the bomb release on the high group lead aircraft failed to operate. The high group leader asked wing for permission to make a second run, which was granted, but the target was so obscured by prior bombing that they were unable to aim accurately. The high group then proceeded to the briefed secondary, an airfield between Étampes and Mondesir and completed a successful attack there.

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

  • 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of equipment failures
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as La Perthe, a Landing Ground actively used by the Germans, a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) target in France.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was Etampes/Mondesir.
  • The Targets of Last Resort were Any A/D, M/Y, any bridge, any enemy column or convoy on the road, any concentration of troops or equipment not in the area restricted west of Paris.
  • Meager to moderate opposition may be expected.

The Buslee crew flew spare today, filling in for the Gilbert R. Lindberg crew when the Lindberg crew could not find the formation. They were part of the Lead Group led by Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall, Lead Group Commander , 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding 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 #178 was the same as #176 and #177:

  • 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 – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-38013, Nevada Avenger. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0610
  • Time landed 1400
  • Target attacked at 1049 from an altitude of 20,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Engines: #1 and #4 cylinder head temperature gauge went out. Written up. Oxygen: Ball turret (written as Lower Ball) auto mix [Foster’s oxygen system] not operating properly; used more oxygen than when in safety position. Not written up.
  • Technical Failures, Flying Equipment and Battle Damage: None
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tubes should be put in A/C 013, none at present.
  • No armament failures reported

Mission data in group reports included,

  • A B-24 section gave us considerable difficulty, evidently crowding the Division leader and we made a 360° turn just prior to reaching the French coast.
  • We had no encounters with enemy aircraft throughout.
  • At the I.P. … meager and inaccurate flak was fired between the Lead and Low Sections after they had taken bombing interval. Nuttall’s pilot, 1st Lt. Allred reported between 30 – 40 bursts sent up. No damage resulted. No other flak was encountered during the Mission.
  • Fighter escort was excellent today.
  • The Scouting Force (led by prior 384th Commander Budd Peaslee) gave us our target weather long before we reached the target area.
  • Suggest that the Second Division not have course and departure points which practically coincide with the First Division. Such a practice causes no end of worry to Wings which must go in abreast as they did today.

Also of note on this date…

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr, a United States Navy Lieutenant and older brother of future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was killed on an experimental flight over England as part of a program code-named “Aphrodite.”

As part of the secret program, Joe Kennedy, Jr. was pilot on an old B-17 which was filled with explosives. After the ship was set for a pre-determined course, the pilot was to bail out, allowing the ship to crash into its target. On this day, Kennedy’s aircraft exploded prematurely and he vanished in the blast.

As the eldest son of Joe Kennedy, Sr., he was being groomed by his father to run for President of the United States. After his death, younger brother John followed the path first planned for Joe Jr., from House to Senate to the Presidency.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 178
  • 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.

Source of information on Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition
  • Wikipedia

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 177

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #177 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #541.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his third mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 11 AUGUST 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 “A” Combat Wing.

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

More Troop Support
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. Little opposition and good weather conditions permitted each group formation to bomb their assigned targets in the Brest area accurately. Note that each group was assigned a different aiming point for this mission.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 4 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “A” Combat Wing as Brest, France for the purposes of ground support. The 384th Bomb Group website notes the target as tactical and specifically, the military target of Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

Mission documents include additional target information:

  • These targets were requested by the Army Ground Forces and it is believed that they are probably fortified positions or concentrations of personnel and material.
  • Convoys: None expected, however, crews should be briefed to be on the lookout for friendly convoys at all times.
  • Penhat A.C. Reporting Station
  • Aiming point Gun Emplacements and Observation Tower

The Buslee crew flew today in the Lead Group led by Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lead Group Commander Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., 384th Bomb Group 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 #177 was the same as #176:

  • 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 – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-37822, The Lead (or Led) Banana. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 1357
  • Time landed 1920
  • Target attacked at 1725 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Flak reported as 4 Rockets at Time of 1723 at Place the target
  • No battle damage reported
  • No aircraft technical failures reported
  • No armament failures reported

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew spare on this mission in the Low Group, but joined the formation and completed it aboard B-17 42-102518, Damn Yankee, minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the radio compass was out with the indicator inoperable, the left waist gun feed belt was damaged, and the right waist interphone went out during the mission after being ok at the start of the mission.

Mission data in group reports included,

Returning crews reported rockets fired from ground leaving white and brown smoke trails following an angular course and burst at formation altitude but well ahead of formation. Rockets were reported in two concentrations, one over Brest, one SW of city. Up to 15 rockets were reported. Lead crew reports 14 in a line along the Brest waterfront.

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 177
  • 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 176

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #176 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #533.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his second mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 9 AUGUST 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,

More Bad Weather
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing – except for three aircraft from the 303rd BG, which formed the high element of the high group – on today’s mission. Although the division abandoned operations at the Dutch Coast due to bad weather, the 41st B carried on until after they had passed Aachen, at which point the weather had become impenetrable. The wing leader ordered the wing to attack the briefed target of last resort, which the lead and high groups accomplished. However, the low group’s bombsight gyro ‘tumbled’ just before bombs away, so they went on to bomb a target of opportunity (TOO).

Thirty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 35,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of personnel failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 were scrubbed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

Erding Air Depot and A/F 20 miles NE of Munich, very important Air Storage Deport [Depot] holding large stores of A/C parts and equipment. Repairs and overhaul of operational A/C are carried out in the workshops. MPI is the center of the Sq. group of bldgs. 1 3/4 mi WNW of the A/F. This is a dispersed storage unit.

The targets of last resort were A/F at Stuttgart and the shoe factory at Permarens.

The Buslee crew flew today in the Low Group led by Capt. Edward William Lane. In his Low Section Leader’s Narrative, Lane noted that they bombed a target of opportunity, a bridge at Nohfelden, Germany, over the Nahe River.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun, Jr., originally of the 303rd Bomb Group, transferred to 41st CBW at Molesworth as Director of Operations and Executive Officer until 23 DECEMBER 1944. [The American Air Museum in Britain reports that Calhoun was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at age 23 and Clark Gable pinned Calhoun’s silver oak leaves on him. Read more about Calhoun on their site].
  • 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 #176 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 – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew were aboard B-17 44-6149, Hot After It. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0705
  • Time landed 1345
  • Target attacked at 1052 from an altitude of 18,500 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 with group, Returned: 4
  • Observed Results, Probable Damage: Poor
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported

Buslee reported Technical Failures:

  • Tail gunner’s (Lucynski’s) interphone push to talk button on the gun inoperative.
  • Three (3) bombs hung up on the right inboard rack. 1 on upper station of right outboard rack.
  • Fluxgate compass inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included Armament Failures reported for 44-6149 as Four bombs returned.

With Buslee flying his first mission as first pilot, David Franklin Albrecht flew in the co-pilot position with the Buslee crew for the first time in combat.

With Clarence Seeley in the hospital recovering from his flak wound of the 5 AUGUST mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, took over as Engineer/Top Turret gunner for the crew.

With the death of Marvin Fryden due to flak on the 5 AUGUST mission, James Buford Davis became the Buslee crew bombardier, and flew his first combat mission of the war.

Also on this same mission with the Buslee crew, but flying in the High Group, the original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron completed Mission #176 aboard B-17 42-31484, Mairsy Doats, minus waist gunner Leonard Opie. The crew’s other waist gunner, Harry Liniger, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Opie to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the range sites were bent on both waist guns and the tail gunner’s heated suit went out.

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 176
  • 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 courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 173

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #173 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #519.

On 5 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their second combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group. It was the first combat mission for my dad, who did not participate in the crew’s first mission.

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,

Fighter Control Center
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission to knock out a control center for enemy fighter aircraft. Intense flak at the primary target did not deter the bombers, and visual bombing conditions enabled accurate bombing.

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

  • 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 2 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 had 5 enlisted crewmembers bail out when they misheard the bailout standby order

One of the aircraft landed away post-mission with battle damage and wounded aboard. None of the aircraft are missing.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition), 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold related the story of his first mission and noted that,

Our group didn’t lose any ships, but there were so many so badly shot up that we are “stood down” tomorrow to allow the ground crews time to patch them up.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

GAF [German Air Force/Luftwaffe] Controlling Station at Langenhagen, 6 miles north of Hannover. This airfield is believed to be producing FW 154’s. This is the German version of the Mosquito. It has been bombed as ATO but little damage had been done. Dimensions are 2000 yds E-W by 2750 yds N-S.

Also noted was that,

There were three dummy airfields in the vicinity of the target,

and enemy opposition was expected as,

Both single and twin-engine fighters may be encountered. Moderated opposition is expected.

Like the previous day’s mission, the Buslee crew flew with experienced pilot Arthur Shwery, today in the High Group led by Gerald Sammons.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Commander Major Gerald Busby Sammons, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William Edward Buck, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Deputy Group Commander
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #173 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-37982, Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the target, the group encountered intense and accurate flak, including major flak damage to the Gremlin. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Arthur Shwery at the completion of the mission described the destruction.

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, front, as reported by Arthur Shwery

and (over),

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, back, as reported by Arthur Shwery

On his post-mission Tactical Interrogation form, F/O (First Officer) A.J. Shwery indicated the location or Place of the flak as the Target, marked it as Intense, and specified it as Accurate.

In the top margin of the form (not shown in the photos), Shwery indicated that the crew landed at Hailsworth with injured, 1 serious, 2 slight.

In the form’s printed fields, Shwery did not enter the Time took off that day, but he did indicate Time Landed with the entry,

1455 at Hailsworth
Returned to GU at 2200 with another A/C

In his narrative further describing the details of the flak, Shwery’s hand-written notes included the following information.

  • Flak hit A/C [aircraft] on Bomb Run and killed Bomb. [Bombardier Marvin Fryden], Engineer [Clarence Seeley] in leg, & F/O Shwery (Pilot) were injured.
  • Bomb. [Bombardier] received first aid and toggled on lead.
  • Co-Pilot took over controls after pilot was hit and piloted A/C over target and back to Hailsworth.
  • After landing bombardier received treatment at hospital but had a relapse and died.

(Over).

  • Damage: T Turret [Top Turret] went out after target.
  • Command radio antenna shot up.
  • 106 [underlined 4 times] flak holes.
  • #4 turbo bucket wheel lost 4 buckets.
  • #3 engine hit at tgt [target] & feathered.
  • #2 engine out just before reaching Eng. [English] coast on return.
  • Right rudder shot out at target.
  • All trim tabs, oxygen, hydraulic systems also hit.
  • Bomb bay mechanism hit.
  • Returned in formation after leaving gp [group] at target and then rendezvous again.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed.
  • Per Gerald Sammons, “Flak was intense and accurate.”
  • Per Lead Bombardier for the Lead Group, Capt. A. Palazzo, “Approximately 1 1/2 minutes before bombs away we were hit severely by flak and I for a moment thought my bomb load might have been hit.”
  • “A/C 982 landed at Hailsworth due to major flak damage and three injured.”
  • Also per Gerald Sammons, “Bombs were away at 1302 hours from 25,500 feet…with good results.”
  • Bombing results believed to be excellent.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht again did not fly with the Buslee crew. For the second time, Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102459, Little Kenny.

With George Edwin Farrar manning the waist gun on this mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, the other waist gunner assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out.

Marvin Fryden, the Buslee crew bombardier, died of his injuries on this, his second, combat mission of the war. Engineer/top turret gunner Clarence Seeley was seriously injured and was hospitalized. Seeley resumed flying in October and completed his tour in March 1945.

Notes

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 171

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #171 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #514.

On 4 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their first combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group.

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,

V-Weapon Laboratory Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The long haul to Peenemünde on the Baltic – over 10 hours total flying time – was rewarded with visual bombing conditions at the primary target. Crews felt that the target area was well hit.

For the 384th, it was “a double mission day,” as late WWII historian Ken Decker called the date in his Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition). On this day, forty-two aircraft were assigned to #171, the target a Crossbow V-Weapons rocket research and development complex in Peenemünde, Germany. Of the 42,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents specify that the primary target was the Hydrogen Peroxide Plant at Peenemünde, a building 170 yards wide and 300 yards long. The document also noted, “This is the work that is connected to buzz bombs.”

On the second mission of that double mission day, in the afternoon, nine aircraft were assigned to #172, the target a Crossbow (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site) in Crepieul, France, but a thunderstorm at the target area resulted in no target attacked.

Assigned to the first mission of the day, #171, the Buslee crew flew in the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing, with 2nd Lt. Arthur Shwery in the cockpit providing Buslee with his first real-time combat training. According to historical mission documents, the crew took off at 0939 (9:39 A.M British time), and landed at 1823 (6:23 P.M. British time), almost a nine-hour mission.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander James Wesley Hines, 545th Bomb Squadron Operations Officer
  • 41st “C” Combat Wing Air Commander Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings, 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 Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #171 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-102620, De Rumble Izer, and Shwery reported on the post-mission Tactical Interrogation Form that everything went as briefed. They attacked the target at 1449 (2:49 P.M. British time) from 21,000 feet, with good results of all bombs on target. Shwery reported three incidents of flak, including flak at the target.

In other post-mission documents, Shwery reported,

  • No battle damage to his aircraft, 42-102620, De Rumble Izer.
  • One technical failure, a radio issue. The tail gunner’s interphone was inoperative.
  • No enemy aircraft.
  • No armament failures.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good except for about a half hour after leaving the target.
  • Flash Telephone Report on A.A. (Anti-Aircraft) Gunfire: Eight or more rockets were observed in the target area. They had white trails and white bursts. Three aircraft reported a huge rocket which burst behind the formation just after bombs away. It burst into a ball of fire, which broke up into 4-5 smaller balls with fiery streamers emanating from them.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, the crew’s original co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on the unnamed B-17 42-102959.

The tenth member of the crew, my father George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  At this time in the war, the 384th assigned only one waist gunner per aircraft on missions. Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 171
  • 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

What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 2

The continuation of “What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1” published on May 22, 2019.

Recap:

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.) The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy. Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

In the high-level group narrative documents for the mission, I discovered,

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (possibly means Continuous Predictive Flak or Continuously Pointed Fire) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of the formation, creating much prop wash

Quite a bit of information was gleaned from the high-level post-mission documents, but there was much more detail about the collision in the Visual Observation section of the Tactical Interrogation Forms that each pilot filled out in the post-mission briefing, which I will add to what I have already reported.

B-17 formation flying was tricky in itself, but it became even more difficult and dangerous when things out of the ordinary happened as they did on September 28, 1944. Not that there were many “ordinary” missions, but mid-air collisions were just one of the ways a B-17 could be brought down in addition to flak from ground fire, rockets, and enemy fighter attacks.

384th Bomb Group in Formation
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The 384th Bomb Group’s formation on September 28, 1944 was made up thirty-six (36) crews and aircraft, twelve (12) each in three groups, Lead, High, and Low. Both the Buslee and Brodie crews were part of the High Group.

Below are each of the Lead, High, and Low Groups’ formation charts, a list of each crew and aircraft, and narratives I found recorded in various sections, but mainly the Flak and Visual Observations sections, of each pilot’s Tactical Interrogation Form, along with several comments from crew members pertinent to the Buslee-Brodie mid-air collision found on the Technical Failure report.

LEAD GROUP

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

Frink, Horace Everett, Commander, and Davis, L K, Pilot, of 44-8007

Wing Leader and PFF ship was hit by flak just after bombs away. Forced to land away in Brussels due to flak damage and therefore not available for post-mission briefing reporting.

Rummel, Brian D, Pilot of 44-6476

Just after bombs away the lead ship had direct hit in #4 supercharger & the formation scattered because of his slow air speed. Two B17’s collided & both went down. No chutes seen.

Henderson, William V, Pilot of 43-38616

No observations regarding the collision, but he did note,

ME109 went down, attacked by 2 P51’s

Tracy, Edward H, Pilot of 42-97251

Saw one B17 break in half at Target. No chutes.

Salley, Thomas R, Pilot of 42-97510

2 B-17’s collided. No chutes were seen. One man came out but no chute. High Gp, High Sq.

Cepits, Francis F, Pilot of 42-107121

2 planes go down.

Duesler, Donald B, Pilot of 42-102500

2 B17’s from high group went down. One ship was hit by a direct flak burst & broke at the waist & fell on the second a/c. Both went down in flames.

Duesler also noted on the second page of the form in the “Facts concerning our a/c destroyed” section, the reasons,

flak & collision

Hassing, Eugene Theron, Pilot of 42-102501

2 A/C from high sqdn high group collided. 1A/C lost right wing, the other broke in half. No chutes seen. All parts burning when A/C fell into undercast.

Mead, Frank Willard, Pilot of 42-102620

No observations regarding the collision, but one of Mead’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

Two bomb runs made on 3 of the last 4 missions. Circled right through the flak today.

McDaniel, Clifford F, Pilot of 42-107125

Saw 2 ships collide – go down.

Green, Loren L, Pilot of 42-31484

No observations regarding the collision

Doran, William Elmer, Pilot of 43-37971

No observations regarding the collision

Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

Filled in for Rice in the High Group – see next grouping

HIGH GROUP

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

Johnson, William T, Commander and Toler, Harold M Pilot, of 43-38016

Reported at the time of 1217, at the location of Helmsledt (approximately 30 miles west of Magdeburg), and at an altitude of 28,000 feet,

2 17s. One crashed into each other. Both went down.

Groff, Richard Hubert, Pilot of 43-38615

Ball turret gunner Robert Mitchell was aboard this ship flying just to the left of the Buslee ship.

2 B-17’s fr our Gp in sharp climbing bank to right #2 in Ld Sq High Gp collided with #2 High Sq High Gp. Lt. Brodies left wing hit Lt. Buslees tail and cut part of wing off & Lt. Buslee’s A/C broke off at waist.

Buslee, John Oliver, Pilot of 43-37822

Collided with 42-31222 aka Lazy Daisy

Combs, William Felix, Pilot of 42-102661

This CBW [combat wing] was pretty well scattered & 2 B17’s collided. One was OD (olive drab) color. They are thought to be from High Sqdn., High Group. No chutes seen, both planes went to pieces.

Blankenmeyer, William J, Pilot of 42-39888

Chester Rybarczyk (original Buslee crew navigator) was aboard this ship.

Group was forced to pull up to avoid collision with another group (Red diagonal strip & letter J in white triangle). Ball turret of one ship hit tail of the other, tearing off both tail and ball turret. Both ships went down. 4 chutes seen.

The group with the tail symbol Triangle J was the 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the Eighth United States Army Air Force, based at Polebrook, Northamptonshire, England, during World War II.

Gabel, Raymond J, Pilot of 43-38062

James Davis (Buslee crew bombardier who replaced original crew bombardier Marvin Fryden) was aboard this ship.

2 B-17’s (384th) seen to collide rt after bombs away & fell about 50 feet & wings came off & started turning. The other spun down to 10,000 feet on fire. 3 chutes observed out of plane with wings off. None out of other.

Carlson, Walter E, Pilot of 42-97320

No observations regarding the collision, but one of Carlons’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

Collision of B-17s due to pilot error in evasive action after bombs away.

Rice, Robert E, Pilot of 43-37703/Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

Rice turned back due to personnel illness and was replaced by Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

No observations regarding the collision.

Patella, Joseph David, Pilot of 44-6141

Right after bombing, diving off target, ran into another group, lot of prop wash, formation broken up by very sharp turns & prop wash. 2 A/C – 1 from high squadron, the other unknown, collided. Both A/C broke up. No chutes seen.

Johnstone, William A, Pilot of 42-97941

A/C 222 & 822 mid air collision. No chutes seen. Both ships broke up.

Johnstone reported the observation of the collision at 1218 at the target area. He also reported barrage and CPF flak “after bombs away” at the same time of 1218.

Gross, Kenneth Eugene, Pilot of 43-38548

Co-pilot Wallace Storey, who after the war reported Brodie’s plane almost hitting him and seeing it hit Buslee’s plane, was aboard this ship.

No observations regarding the collision reported, but Gross did report tracking black flak at the target area.

Brodie, James Joseph, Pilot of 42-31222

Collided with 43-37822

LOW GROUP

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

Booska, Maurice Arthur, Commander and Bean, Donald W, Pilot of 43-38542

2 B17s from High group collided & both fell apart & went down in flames. No chutes.

Reported accurate CPF flak, black gray, big brown bursts at the same time as the observation of the collision at 1211.

Sine, George H, Pilot of 42-38013

2 A/C from high group in collision. 1 broke in half at radio room. A/C clipped wings went down in spin, then hit again. One broke up. Possibly one chute seen.

Hicks, Ralph B, Pilot of 42-102449

2 A/C in our Hi Group collided and blew up. No chutes seen.

One of Hick’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

It is thought that 2 A/C in high group collided because lead group formation scattered when lead A/C left formation at target area.

Goodrick, Gene Robert, Pilot of 44-6135

No observations regarding the collision reported.

Majeske, Charles P, Pilot of 42-37788

No observations regarding the collision reported, but he did record accurate tracking black white flak all around A/C [aircraft] at the target.

Brown, Bert Oliver, Pilot of 42-38208

No observations regarding the collision reported, but one of Hick’s crew asked on the Technical Failures report,

Why were two wings making run at target at same time?

Rowe, George B, Pilot of 44-6105

2 Gp A/C crashed. Silver A/C cut in half at radio room & wings folded off. OD (olive drab) just went straight down & disappeared in overcast. 1 chute seen from silver A/C.

Keller, Marion W, Pilot of 43-37990

Saw 2 B-17 collided. One came from 7 o’clock, other from 4 o’clock & appeared to collide sideways. Both went down. No chutes seen. No additional info. No markings seen on tails. Too far away.

Owens, Robert Clare, Pilot of 43-37843

No observations regarding the collision reported, but he reported,

2 E/A (enemy aircraft) shot down by escort and P-51 blown up by flak over target.

Farra, Robert L, Pilot of 44-6294

Below barrage. 2 planes collided above us.

Wismer, Richard Glen, Pilot of 42-32106

Was not in the formation at the target. Returned early. Aircraft suffered mechanical failure; bombs dropped at 50°45’N,9°25’E, Germany, in enemy territory with unknown effect. Returned to base.

Fahr, John, Pilot of 42-107148

2 B-17 collided High Gp. High Sq. Both A/C went straight down. No chutes were seen.

Summary

In addition to the information I learned from the high-level post-mission documents, I also learned,

Reported Causes of the Mid-air Collision

  • The Wing Leader was hit by flak and his air speed slowed, causing the formation to scatter (Rummel)
  • Lead group formation scattered when lead aircraft left formation at target area (Hicks crew)
  • One ship was hit by a direct flak burst (Duesler). [There were many reports of flak at the target and the Wing Lead was undoubtedly hit by flak. Duesler’s is the only reported visual observation of Brodie’s ship being hit by flak.]
  • Group forced to pull up to avoid collision with another group (351st Bomb Group) (Blankenmeyer)
  • Right after bombing, ran into another group, a lot of prop wash, formation broken up by very sharp turns and prop wash (Patella)
  • Pilot error in evasive action after bombs away (Carlson crew)

Reported Collision and Damage

  • 2 B-17’s collided
  • Both went down
  • One B-17 broke in half
  • Ship hit by flak broke at the waist and fell on the second aircraft (Duesler)
  • 1 aircraft lost right wing, the other broke in half (Hassing)
  • Lt. Brodie’s left wing hit Lt. Buslee’s tail and cut part of wing off; Lt. Buslee’s aircraft broke off at waist (Groff)
  • Ball turret of one ship hit tail of the other, tearing off both tail and ball turret (Blankenmeyer)
  • 1 broke in half at the radio room (Sine)
  • Silver aircraft (Buslee’s) cut in half at radio room and wings folded off. Olive Drab aircraft (Brodie’s) went straight down and disappeared in overcast (Rowe)
  • Wings came off and started turning; other spun down on fire (Gabel)
  • Burning when fell into undercast

Chutes Seen

  • None
  • One man came out, but no chute (Salley), [likely Brodie crew togglier Byron Atkins]
  • 3 out of plane with wings off (Brodie’s); none out of other (Buslee’s) (Gabel)
  • 1 from silver aircraft (Buslee’s) (Rowe)

Why did the Brodie crew’s B-17 collide with the Buslee crew’s B-17? Many factors led to the disaster including a need for a second bomb run due to another wing flying underneath at the target on the first run, slightly being off schedule, the wing lead being hit by flak on the second run, slowing air speed, the deputy taking over and the formation breaking up, very sharp turns and prop wash, finding themselves on a collision course with another group coming off the target, a possible direct flak hit on Brodie’s aircraft, flak at the target, or just plain pilot error in a critical situation.

What happened to the two B-17’s of Buslee and Brodie? After the collison, at least one broke in half at the waist or near the radio room. The tail of Brodie’s was cut off as was Buslee’s ball turret. One or both lost one or both wings. They were both burning as they spun or fell into the undercast.

Was there any hope of survivors? Most witnesses did not see any chutes, but three were reported out of Brodie’s aircraft and one out of Buslee’s. One man was seen coming out of Brodie’s aircraft with no chute. The three survivors on the Brodie crew were waist gunner Harry Liniger, tail gunner Wilfred Miller, and navigator George Hawkins. Togglier Byron Atkins was likely the man seen coming from Brodie’s aircraft without a chute when he was knocked out of the nose. My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was the one chute coming from Buslee’s aircraft.

Do I know much more now than I did before I saw the mission reports? Yes and no. The story, causes, and result of the mid-air collision mostly remains the same for me. But Donald B. Duesler, pilot of 42-102500, has provided me with the possibility that Brodie’s ship was hit by flak like my dad always said before it ran into his ship. (Although Duesler’s report seems unclear as to which ship was hit by flak as it was Buslee’s ship, not Brodie’s, that broke at the waist).

The families of the fourteen men who died on the two ships never really understood what happened to their boys, and I’m still not sure I really do either. Was it pilot error, was it flak, or could Lazy Daisy have suffered some sort of malfunction at a very inopportune moment? My next research will be into Lazy Daisy’s mechanical failures history and I’ll report what I find in a future post.

Thank you to Keith Ellefson and Marc Poole for helping me decipher the handwriting of the pilots on their Tactical Interrogation Forms!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.)

The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy.

Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

Many years later, I met Wallace Storey, a 384th Bomb Group pilot who witnessed the mid-air collision. I was surprised to hear Wallace say that Lazy Daisy could not have been hit by ground fire from flak guns as there wasn’t any flak over the target that day. As a result, I have been searching for the reason why Lazy Daisy veered off course ever since.

Two 384th Bomb Group researchers, Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson, have a special life mission – to obtain as many of the group’s mission documents as possible to share on the group’s website. On one of their trips to the National Archives, they copied the mission documents of Mission 201 and shared them with me. After reviewing the available information, I’m still not positive what caused Lazy Daisy to veer off course, but because of various post-mission statements and one pilot’s post-mission Tactical Interrogation report, I do see the possibility that my dad may have been right about the flak after all.

I’ll get to the pilot Tactical Interrogation reports in Part 2, coming two weeks from now, but first I want to share a few facts about the mission itself and a few things that may have contributed to the mid-air collision.

The mission map shared with the officers in the morning briefing showed the flight plan for the mission in red. The route actually followed was added in blue, post mission.

September 28, 1944 Mission Map, Mission 201
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Briefing Notes prior to the mission describe the primary and secondary targets.

P.T. [Primary Target] is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. It’s the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [shells?], it is a one plus priority. And employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

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

Other Efforts.  You are the last of 12 36 A/C Wing of First Div. The 1st 6 groups of the 1st A.B.C. and 40th A.B.C. attack oil plant 4 miles No. of your target. The 94th A.B.C. bomb A/C fact. [Aircraft Factory] 3 miles No. of your target, 94th C, 41st A.B.C. bomb your target. Should PFF be used all groups will attack your PFF RR M/Y [Railroad Marshalling Yards] at Magdeburg.

The Lead Bombardier’s post-mission narrative explains the first problem with the mission. George K. Smith, 2nd Lt., Air Corps, Deputy Bombardier, Combat Wing 41st C described how the bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point.

Turned short of I.P. because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at 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 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.

The Navigator’s post-mission narrative indicated that the 384th was not on schedule and also noted flak at the target. Lt. Clarendon George Richert wrote,

Route flown as briefed to target. Behind schedule 20 minutes. Two runs on target due to deputy taking over.

Flak concentrations encountered (not scattered bursts).

  • Place: Target
  • Time: 1208 – 1211
  • Accuracy: Accurate
  • Intensity: Moderate

In his Operational Narrative, Major W. E. “Pop” Dolan, Station S-2 Officer, wrote,

Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being notes.

Two of our A/C is missing. These two ships collided at the target to reasons unknown. Both ships were seen to break up and go down in flames. No chutes were observed.

In these selections from his Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, “Pop” Dolan offered more detail.

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.

Assembly of the Group and Wing was accomplished fifteen (15) minutes before departure time from our Base at 0823 hours, 7,000 feet without difficulty. We were ahead of “Cowboy-Baker” but we swung wide on the first Control Point and got in our correct slot in the Division at 0920 hours over Cambridge, 7,000 feet. We left the coast of England on course and on time at 0937 hours, Clacton, 9,000 feet. Speeds were S.O.P.

The route to the Belgian Coast was without incident and we crossed it at 1001 ½ hours, 51°10’N.-02°44’E., 15,000 feet. From this point into the I.P. [Initial Point of the final bomb run to the target] the mission was flown as briefed and without difficulty. No flak was encountered prior to the target and no enemy fighter attacks were made on our Wing for the entire mission.

At the I.P., we were notified by Buckeye-Red that target weather would be approximately 8/10ths which was accurate. We made our run from the I.P. to the target in Wing formation on PFF. When we approached the target, there was another Section making a run 90° to us on the same target. They passed over the target at the same time we did directly underneath us and we were unable to drop because we would have dropped on them. We therefore made a turn and started a second run in Wing formation. Bombs were away on PFF at 1211 hours from 26,000 feet. However, in the opinion of Capt. Booska, Low Section Leader, it is possible that today’s bombing may have been visual as there was a break in the clouds directly over the target one (1) minute before bombs were away. As it is presumed that the Lead Wing Bombardier landed in Belgium, our reports will state that PFF bombing was accomplished. Magnetic heading of bombs away was 265 degrees. Some crews observed the results through breaks in the clouds and they state that the bombs hit in the target area. Flak at the target was moderate and accurate.

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. After this, we had no other difficulties and the rest of the mission was flown as briefed and without incident. We departed the Belgian Coast at 1437 hours, 10,500 feet and recrossed the English Coast at 1508 hours, 1,000 feet.

And finally, the 384th Bomb Group’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts summarized what happened to the two aircraft in the mid-air collision.

Brodie:  Aircraft broke up near tail assembly and went down in flames. Aircraft was burning and slowly spiraling down until it disappeared in the clouds.

Buslee:  Pieces of tail and wings falling off. Plane in flames from engines. Going down in flames spinning into the clouds.

As for the statement, “We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing,” in “Pop” Dolan’s Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, one of the pilots’ Tactical Interrogation reports described the tail symbol of the 351st Bomb Group. The 351st’s Intelligence S-2 Report for what was their group’s Mission 211 noted,

Two Triangle “P” ships were observed to collide just after the target. One chute was seen.

And a 351st combat crew comment from their aircraft 956-L remarked,

Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash.

Summary of information from the September 28, 1944 Mission 201 documents:

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash

To be continued with the mission’s individual pilot Tactical Interrogation Form visual observations and combat crew comments…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Robert Jeremy Fisher

Several years ago, as I was researching the 384th Bomb Group’s mission of September 28, 1944 – the mission on which my dad’s B-17 and another B-17 of his Group collided over Magdeburg, Germany – I wrote about original Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk. The original post is here.

Chester Rybarczyk was flying with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew that day aboard Hot Nuts. The Blankenmeyer crew’s Sortie Report for that mission stated that they “Left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base.” With Rybarczyk on board, I imagined that the reason they left formation was to try to determine the fate of Rybarczyk’s Buslee crewmates as he watched the two planes fall to earth.

I have learned that was not the case. The 384th Bomb Group’s Facebook Group is a wealth of information and that is where I found that my reasoning about why the Blankenmeyer crew left formation was not correct.

Through the Facebook group, I have made many connections with 384th Bomb Group Veterans and their children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great-nieces and nephews. Sometimes one of them provides me with a missing piece of the puzzle of my father’s WWII service and this was one of those times.

Robert Jeremy “Bob” Fisher was the co-pilot of the Blankenmeyer crew and was aboard Hot Nuts on September 28, 1944. Bob and his son and daughter are all members of the Facebook group. When Bob’s children chimed in on one of the threads on Facebook and mentioned their dad, I looked him up in the 384th Bomb Group’s database and found that he was on that mission and on the B-17 with Chester Rybarczyk.

Formation chart of the High Group, September 28, 1944. Buslee and Brodie collide after coming off the target. The Blankenmeyer crew, including co-pilot Bob Fisher and Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk, witness the collision.

After I requested Bob’s children to ask their dad if he remembered that mission, his daughter did so and told me of a small notebook in which her dad wrote notes about each mission. On September 28, 1944, Bob Fisher wrote:

Made reciprocal run on target due to group under us when we were to drop the first time. On turn one we almost hit our squadron leader due to an exceedingly sharp turn. On turn off target 2 planes hit together and both went down. Seven chutes reported. Let down more slowly then formation due to the fact that Bill’s ears would not clear. Had some trouble with mine – ambulance met us at dispersal and took Bill to get his ears cleared. Bill grounded-as is Reed and Obermeyer.

The reason the Blankenmeyer crew left formation was because the pilot, William J. “Bill” Blankenmeyer was having trouble clearing his ears.

But there is another interesting clue in Bob Fisher’s notebook. Obermeyer was not the crew’s navigator on September 28, 1944 as he had previously been grounded. Because of his grounding, Chester Rybarczyk filled in for him, keeping him off the Buslee crew’s plane that day. Had he flown with the Buslee crew, he would have been one of the men to perish aboard Lead Banana that day after the mid-air collision. My father, George Edwin Farrar, was the only survivor.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The Boys

On September 28, 1944, the Lead Banana, manned by the Buslee crew, and the Lazy Daisy, manned by the Brodie crew collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Neither crew of the 384th Bomb Group was the original crew as assigned.

That day, the Buslee crew was made up of five original crew members and four fill-ins. The Brodie crew was made up of seven original members and two fill-ins.

These are the two crews as they were that day:

The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, 544th Bomb Squad

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR William Alvin Henson II, Gerald Sammons crew, KIA 9/28/1944

William Alvin Henson II

BOMBARDIER Robert Sumner Stearns, Larkin Durden crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

BALL TURRET GUNNER George Francis McMann, Jr., Stanley Gilbert crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Gerald Lee Andersen, Joe Ross Carnes crew, KIA 9/28/1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

George Edwin Farrar

 

The Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy, 545th Bomb Squad

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

TOGGLIER Byron Leverne Atkins, James Chadwick crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Donald William Dooley, from Group Headquarters, KIA 9/28/1944

Donald William Dooley

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Fourteen out of the eighteen boys aboard the two B-17’s were lost that day. Not only did they leave behind grieving parents and siblings, but they also left behind at least five wives and three children.

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Sortie reports provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017