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Category Archives: #173, 8/5/1944

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

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Transcription

This is the transcription of the press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

SENT TO:  Park Ridge (Illinois) Advocate
Passed for Publication
112
1 September 1944
SHAEF
Field Press Censor

AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND – Although mortally wounded, the bombardier of a B17 Flying Fortress calmly reported his injury to his pilot and then released his bombs on the target in a remarkable exhibition of sheer courage and presence of mind during a recent American heavy bomber attack over Germany.

The bombardier, 1st Lt. Marvin Fryden, 23, 6719 North Lakewood, Chicago, died later in an army hospital after his bomber, the “Tremblin’ Gremlin,” had reached England with only two of its four engines functioning, its fuselage riddled with more than 100 flak holes and with more than half of its crew wounded.

The “Tremblin’ Gremlin” was flying in a fortress formation attacking the German airfield at Langenhagen, north of Hannover.  As the American heavies started their bomb run over the target, a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire suddenly exploded all around them.

One shell exploded at the side of the “Tremblin’ Gremlin’s” nose, and a fragment whirled through the bomber’s metal skin and struck the bombardier in the chest below his left shoulder.  Lt. Fryden swayed and nearly toppled over from the force of the enemy steel entering his body, but he regained his balance and clutched his bomb release more firmly.

“I’m hit”, was all that the wounded airman reported over the inter-communication system to the pilot’s compartment.

Perhaps he was thinking of the slogan for bombardiers at this station – “Get the bombs on the target” – for he pressed the bomb release that sent the explosives, carried in the belly of his Fortress, plunging toward the German airfield…Lt. Fryden had accomplished the job that had brought him into central Germany.

This story of Lt. Fryden’s valorous action was told by his friend and pilot, another resident of the Chicago area, 2nd Lt. John O. Buslee, 21, 411 Wisner Ave., Park Ridge.

Lt. Buslee and Lt. Fryden were members of a crew that had just recently arrived in England for action on the Eurpoean aerial front and the Langenhagen operation was their second mission.  [This was GEF’s first mission.]  On both of these, Lt. Buslee flew in the position of co-pilot with a veteran pilot to gain some combat experience before taking his own ship aloft in the danger ridden skies of Europe.  However, he handled the controls the majority of the time.

The flight from England to the center of Germany was made without incident, but when the Fortresses initiated their bomb run in the vicinity of the target, ground defenses opened up with a thick curtain of flak that burst about the planes like black mushrooms popping out of the ground after a heavy rain.

A fragment from the same burst that wounded the bombardier, hit the navigator, 2nd Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, 21, 1118 Elum St., Toledo, Ohio behind the ear, but the injury was not serious.

“It was popping all over the place during the few minutes we were in the bomb run,” said Lt. Buslee, describing the flak.  By the time we made our turn away from the target, more than half the crew had been hit and suffered injuries of varying degrees.”

The engineer and top turret gunner, Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, 22, of Halsey, Neb., was the next of the nine-man crew to be hit.  A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle.  Another burst of flak alongside the nose sent hot metal flying into the pilot’s compartment.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Arthur J. Shwery, 20, Route 2, Janesville, Wis., was hit above the eye, and cut, while a fragment bounced off Lt. Buslee’s thigh, however, merely breaking the skin and inflicting a bruise.

The sixth crew member to be hit was the waist gunner, Sgt. George E. Farrar, 22, 79 East Lake Terrace, S.E., Atlanta, Ga.  He was cut on the cheek and a small piece of flesh was torn off one finger.

While its crew was having its bad moments, the big silver-colored ship was taking a heavy pounding.  The right inboard engine was hit and ceased to function; the radio compartment was riddled with holes and the radio equipment destroyed; the trim tabs that control the plane’s balance, was shredded; the hydraulic brake system was shot out, and part of the oxygen system was eliminated, necessitating that the men up forward use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

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

Only the bombardier and top turret gunner were in need of immediate first aid treatment during the return trip, and the navigator, Lt. Rybarczyk, did as much as possible for Lt. Fryden, who retained consciousness during the entire mission.  Sgt. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as the “Tremblin’ Gremlin” reached the English coast and Lt. Buslee headed for the nearest airfield.  With his brakes gone, he was faced with a ticklish landing, but he brought the plane in nicely on the concrete landing strip and slid it off onto the grass to reduce the speed of the freely-rolling uncontrollable wheels.

The other members of the crew not already mentioned, and neither of whom was touched by the liberal quantity of flak the German gunners planted in the sky over Langenhagen, were Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, 24, 356 West Water St., Elmira, N.Y., the ball turret gunner, and S/Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, 24, 7307 North Dort Highway, Mt. Morris, Mich.

Lt. Fryden was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fryden, 6719 North Lakewood, Mrs. Marilyn Fryden, lives at 2410 West 51st St.  He was a graduate of Tuley High School and Central College, and worked for a cement company in Chicago as a laboratory assistant before entering the service.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant October 10, 1942, and was promoted to first lieutenant October 9, 1943.

Tony Rybarczyk reports that Marvin Fryden did not die alone.  His friend, and crew navigator, Chester Rybarczyk (Tony’s dad), was with Marvin and held him as Marvin died.  Rybarczyk was put in for the Purple Heart on this mission, but didn’t think it would have been right to accept it.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Scanned Images

These are scanned images of a press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 173 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 519.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-37982, named The Tremblin Gremlin.

The primary target was a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – Arthur J. Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Again, Buslee flew as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  Another training opportunity for Buslee.

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

Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out and waist gunner George Edwin Farrar, flew with the crew this mission.  Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew.  Bryant had flown with the crew on their first mission, and Farrar had his first actual combat experience on this one.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden was mortally wounded on this mission.  He died later in an Army hospital.

Pilot, Arthur J. Shwery was wounded, but was able to fly again by Mission 176 on August 9.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Clarence B. Seeley was more seriously wounded and was not able to fly again until Mission 203 on October 2, 1944.  His long recovery kept him from flying with the Buslee crew on September 28, and being involved in the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  Seeley completed 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945.  He completed his tour and returned home.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013