The Arrowhead Club

Category Archives: Buslee Crew

The B-17 Ball Turret Gunner

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

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

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew ball turret gunner, but ball turret gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

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

Duties and Responsibilities of the B-17 Ball Turret Gunner

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

Training in the various phases of the heavy bomber program is designed to fit each member of the crew for the handling of his jobs. The ball turret gunner:

  • Requires many mental and physical qualities similar to what we know as inherent flying ability, since the operation of the power turret and gunsight are much like that of airplane flight operation.
  • Should be familiar with the coverage area of all gun positions, and be prepared to bring the proper gun to bear as the conditions may warrant.
  • Should be experts in aircraft identification. Where the Sperry turret is used, failure to set the target dimension dial properly on the K-type sight will result in miscalculation of range.
  • Must be thoroughly familiar with the Browning aircraft machine gun. They should know how to maintain the guns, how to clear jams and stoppages, and how to harmonize the sights with the guns.
  • Should fire the guns at each station to familiarize himself with the other man’s position and to insure knowledge of operation in the event of an emergency.

Location of the Ball Turret in a B-17

The ball turret of a B-17 is suspended below the fuselage of the aircraft, between the radio room and the waist. Should the ball turret gunner have to bail out of the aircraft, he would likely bail out through the waist door. The ball turret gunner first had to exit the ball turret and hook up his chute as he did not have room in the ball turret to wear it (although there are stories of ball turret gunners who saved their lives by wearing their chutes in the ball and exiting the aircraft by rotating the ball and bailing out directly from it).

In the following diagram, George McMann is noted in the ball turret of the aircraft along with the other Buslee crew members in their positions on September 28, 1944.

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

B-17 Ball Turret Photos

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

The exterior of the B-17 ball turret.

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

For a little perspective of the size of the B-17’s ball turret, 384th Bomb Group pilot John DeFrancesco stands beside the Collings Foundation’s aircraft.

John DeFrancesco, WWII B-17 pilot in front of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

A view of the ball turret from inside the aircraft, the top hatch of the ball can be seen in the foreground of this photo near the bottom of the image, with a view to the rear of the aircraft and the waist area.

Ball turret and waist area of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Ball Turret Gunners

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

Airman Personnel Record Stories, Diaries, Journals, and Interviews
Burns, Robert (NMI)⇗ My Bit For Victory⇓ (2.721 MB)
Estrin, Leonard (NMI), “Len”⇗ Len Estrin’s Combat Diary⇓ (6.029 MB)
Lavoie, Ralph Edmund⇗ Near-Escape From Infamous Stalag 17⇓ (0.971 MB)
Werbanec, George Frank⇗ Our Fatal Day, June 22,1943⇓ (8.075 MB)
Jaworski, Frank (NMI)⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Jones, Lynn Tilton⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Smith, Luther Earl, “Smitty”⇗ 2011 Veteran’s History Project Oral History Interview⇗

Sources and Further Reading

303rd Bomb Group:  Duties and Responsibilities of the Engineer and the Gunners

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

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

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

George Francis McMann, Update

George Francis McMann, Jr.
Photo provided to WWII Memorial Registry by crewmate Noah Hickman

A new search has provided me with a photo and some new and updated information regarding the ball turret gunner, George Francis McMann, Jr., who was onboard my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) B-17 the day of the Buslee crew’s mid-air collision with the Brodie crew’s B-17, 28 September 1944.

George McMann was the ball turret gunner of the Stanley Gilbert crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII and filled in for Buslee crew ball turret gunner Erwin Foster on that date.

To view my original post and other information about George Francis McMann, Jr., please see the links at the end of this post.

On 21 DECEMBER 1942, George Francis McMann registered for the WWII draft. He noted his address as 27 Brewster Dr., Hoxsie, Kent County, Rhode Island. (Wikipedia notes that Hoxsie is the largest section in the city of Warwick). He was 18 years old, born on September 26, 1924 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The person who would always know his address was Mrs. Richard McMann of the same address in Hoxsie. He listed his employer as Student, Gorton High School. McMann listed his height as 5’7″, weight as 154 pounds, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. He also listed a birth mark on leg as a physical characteristic that would aid in identification.

With a little more research into George McMann’s family, I found that Richard McMann (from George’s draft registration information) was one of his father’s younger brothers. George Jr’s father was not George Francis McMann, Sr., but named rather George Washington Ambrose McMann. He was one of eleven children of Frank and Elizabeth McMann. of Providence, Rhode Island. This leads me to believe that George Jr got his middle name of Francis from his father’s father, Frank (short for Francis).

George W.A. McMann also registered for the WWII draft and listed his son George (with the Hoxsie address) as the person who would always know his address.

I only find George Jr listed with both parents, George W.A. and Nellie McMann, on one census record, the 1925 Rhode Island state census. They never appear all together again on any record I can find. In fact, I only find Nellie in a few city directories, and only listed by herself. I find George W.A. in the 1930 census as not living with George Jr or Nellie, but listed as married, although with no wife in the listing. I also find him in the 1940 census as widowed. I am uncertain if George Jr’s parents divorced or if Nellie died.

As for his military record with the 384th Bomb Group, on 9 AUGUST 1944, George Francis McMann, Jr., Ball Turret Gunner of the Stanley Gilbert crew was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #159. He was assigned to the Stanley Milton Gilbert crew as a Corporal, and as an AG (aerial gunner) with MOS (Military Operational Specialty) of 612 (Airplane Armorer / Gunner). His pay per month was $140.40. He listed his home address as Mr. George F. McMann, 354 West Ave., Bridgeport, Conn.

On 25 AUGUST 1944, George McMann was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #171.

On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, George Francis McMann, Jr., flying with the John Oliver Buslee crew on the 28 September 1944 Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). McMann replaced Buslee crew ball turret gunner Erwin Foster on this mission. Including the 28 September mission, McMann participated in ten combat missions with the 384th Bomb Group. He later was determined to have been killed in action on the mission. He had just turned twenty years old two days before his death.

McMann’s next of kin noted on his Headstone Inscription and Interment Record was his father, Mr. George F. McMann, 354 West Ave., Bridgeport, Conn., the same name and address as on his group Sortie Record.

George Francis McMann, Jr. would not be forgotten by his friend and crewmate Noah Hickman, radio operator of the Gilbert crew. Hickman honored McMann by posting a memorial page to him on the online WWII Memorial Registry.

Memorial to George McMann honored by his crewmate and friend Noah Hickman

Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Erwin Vernon Foster, Update

A new search has provided me with some new and updated information regarding my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) WWII crewmate Erwin Vernon Foster, ball turret gunner of the original John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. 

To view my original post and other information about Erwin Vernon Foster, please see the links at the end of this post.

Erwin Vernon Foster’s mother was the former Mary Caroline Carpenter. She was born about 1896 in New York and married Erwin’s father, Erwin Sr., on August 12, 1917 in Cheming County, New York. Ruth Carpenter (see census record references in previous posts) was her sister.

Erwin Vernon Foster’s draft registration card notes that he registered for the WWII draft at the age of 21 on July 1, 1942 while living in Elmira, Chemung County, New York. His date of birth was February 12, 1920 in Horseheads, New York. His occupation was as “steel chaser.” His employer was American Bridge Co. of Elmira Heights, New York.

At the time of his draft registration, Erwin was 5’7″ tall and weighed 140 pounds. He had blue eyes, black hair, and a ruddy complexion.

The name of the person who would always know his address was Mrs. Kenneth B. Smith, who I believe was his mother, who apparently had remarried, date unknown.

On 22 JULY 1944, Erwin Foster was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group based in Grafton Underwood, England, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144.

He was assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew as a Corporal, and as an AG (aerial gunner) with MOS (Military Operational Specialty) of 611 (Aerial Gunner/Waist, Ball & Tail). His pay per month was $140.40. He listed his home address as Mrs. Mary C. Smith (his mother), 356 W. Water St., Elmira, New York.

On 6 AUGUST 1944, Erwin Foster was promoted to Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #158.

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

On 10 SEPTEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster went from duty to absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital Thrapston. The possible reason for his sick leave was, as noted in his records at the National Personnel Records Center, jaundice, which he suffered in 1944. (See More About… post link below).

On 26 SEPTEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster went from absent sick (LD) 303rd Station Hospital, Thrapston, to duty.

On 27 SEPTEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster’s original crew, the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron, participated in the mission to Cologne, Germany, but Erwin Foster did not participate. Perhaps he was still en route from the Thrapston hospital back to Grafton Underwood, or perhaps a substitute ball turret gunner, Robert McKinley Mitchell, had already been assigned to take his place.

On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, the Buslee crew participated in the mission to Magdeburg, Germany, but again, Erwin Foster was not assigned to the crew as the ball turret gunner. Robert McKinley Mitchell was first assigned to take Foster’s place in the ball turret, but it was Mitchell’s final mission and his request to fly his last one with his original crew was granted, so he was replaced by George Francis McMann, Jr. at the last minute. The substitutions proved fortunate for both Foster and Mitchell, and it would be McMann’s fate to die in the mid-air collision over Magdeburg between the B-17s of the Buslee and James Joseph Brodie crews just after bombs away.

On 30 SEPTEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster flew his first mission after he returned to duty from his sick leave. He flew his first of twenty-one missions with the Stanley Milton Gilbert crew. Foster replaced the original ball turret gunner of the Gilbert crew, George Francis McMann, Jr., who had just two days before been lost with the Buslee crew on the mission to Magdeburg, replacing Erwin Foster in Buslee’s ball turret on 28 SEPTEMBER.

The Gilbert crew is pictured with Erwin Foster kneeling on the far right with the notation of the mission of 2 OCTOBER 1944, which would have been Foster’s second mission with the Gilbert crew. On that mission, it had been five days since Foster’s original Buslee crew with the Gilbert crew’s George McMann went missing over Magdeburg following the mid-air collision with the Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

Crew of 42-98000 “Fightin’ Hebe” on 2 OCTOBER 1944 mission to Ford Motor Works at Cologne, Germany
Back row, left to right: Lyle Orin McKnight (waist gunner), Emmett Patrick Culhane (co-pilot), Stanley Milton Gilbert (pilot), and Noah Clarence Hickman (radio operator)
Front row, left to right: Marion Butler Chase (engineer/top turret gunner), Jack Vito Carella (tail gunner), and Erwin Vernon Foster (ball turret gunner)

On 18 DECEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster went from duty to TD (temporary duty) to Ebrington Manor (a flak house), AAF Station 498 for seven days to carry out the instructions of the Commanding General per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #248 dated 17 December 1944.

On 25 DECEMBER 1944, Erwin Foster went from TD (temporary duty) at Ebrington Manor AAF Station 498 to duty.

On 5 JANUARY 1945, Erwin Foster, Berton Robert Finstad (waist gunner), and Eddia Kenneth Cook (ground crew Airplane and Engine Mechanic), were reduced to Private for misconduct (for unknown reasons) per 1 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106. Subsequently, on the same date/morning report, Foster and Finstad were appointed Sergeant per 2 SO 4 HQ AAF Station 106.

On 1 FEBRUARY 1945, Erwin Foster was reclassified from MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) 611 to MOS 612 (Armorer Gunner/Togglier) per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #25.

On 3 FEBRUARY 1945, Erwin Foster was promoted to Staff Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #27.

On 28 FEBRUARY 1945, Erwin Foster completed his tour of 35 missions.

On 22 APRIL 1945, Erwin Foster left the 384th BG and was transferred to the Casual Pool, 70th Replacement Depot, Station 569, per 1 SO 105 Hq 1st Air Div departed (EDCMR 22 Apr 45).

After the war, Erwin Vernon Foster married Virginia Stone in Elmira, New York on November 28, 1946. Together they had a daughter named Sharon.

Virginia Stone Foster was born February 8, 1925. She had been married previously, and her Social Security index showed her with the last name of Williams as of May 1943. By January 1960, she was known with the last name of Bolton, so she and Erwin had divorced at some point prior. By June 1975, her last name was Eisenhart. She died January 11, 1985 and is buried in Section M of Maple Grove Cemetery in Horseheads, Chemung County, New York. It is the same cemetery in which both Erwin Foster Sr. and Jr. are buried.

Erwin V. Foster married Bessie A. Sheddon on July 1, 1962. Bessie’s maiden name was Bessie Irene Allen (born August 20, 1920, died October 12, 1994), and she was previously married to Duane Sheddon, and widowed from him in December of 1960.

I very recently connected with Erwin Foster’s daughter Sharon and hope to soon learn more about his life and family.

Note

Although I found reference to Erwin Foster regarding the 306th Bomb Group, 368th Bomb Squadron in his records at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri (see More About… post), I find no record of his name on the 306th Bomb Group website rosters or anywhere else on the site. (See link below to the 306th).

Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The B-17 Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

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

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

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

Although Lenard Leroy Bryant served as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the Buslee crew after Clarence Seeley was seriously wounded, he was originally assigned as one of the Buslee crew’s Flexible/Waist Gunners and I will include him in my future post regarding that position in the B-17.

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

Duties and Responsibilities of the B-17 Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

Training in the various phases of the heavy bomber program is designed to fit each member of the crew for the handling of his jobs. The engineer/top turret gunner:

  • Has been trained in the Air Forces’ highly specialized technical schools.
  • Works closely with the pilot and co-pilot, checking engine operation, fuel consumption, and the operation of all equipment.
  • Must be able to work with the bombardier, and know how to cock, lock, and load the bomb racks.
  • Must be thoroughly familiar with the armament equipment, especially the Browning aircraft machine gun. He should know how to strip, clean, and re-assemble the guns, how to maintain the guns, how to clear jams and stoppages, and how to harmonize the sights with the guns.
  • Should have a general knowledge of radio equipment, and be able to assist in tuning transmitters and receivers.
  • Should be an expert in aircraft identification.
  • Should know more about the airplane than any other member of the crew, including the pilot and co-pilot. He must know his engines and his armament equipment thoroughly. This is a big responsibility: the lives of the entire crew, the safety of the equipment, the success of the mission depend upon it.

Location of the Top Turret in a B-17

The top turret of a B-17 sits behind the pilot and co-pilot, who are seated in the cockpit. Should the top turret gunner have to bail out of the aircraft, he would likely bail out through the bomb bay doors.

In the following diagram, Lenard Bryant is noted in the top turret of the aircraft along with the other Buslee crew members in their positions on September 28, 1944.

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

B-17 Top Turret Photo

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

Top turret view of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

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

Airman Personnel Record Stories, Diaries, Journals, and Interviews
Bardue, Theodore Roosevelt⇗ A Rough Mission to Munich⇓ (0.120 MB)
Clemis, Joseph Bernard⇗ Joseph Clemis Mission Diary⇓ (2.525 MB)
Stahlhut, Robert Fred⇗ The Way I Remember It⇓ (1.945 MB)
Turlington, Howard Joe⇗ My Experience⇓ (0.312 MB)
Wick, Harvey Arthur⇗ A Tribute to Harvey Arthur Wick⇓ (9.481 MB)
Wilkens, William John, “Bill”⇗ Bill Wilkens’ Combat Diary⇓ (3.842 MB)
Barber, Raymond Clifford⇗ 2004 Veteran’s History Project Oral History Interview⇗
Furrey, Thomas Edwin, Jr⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Oglesby, Howard Jasper⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Wilkens, William John, “Bill”⇗ 2020 Video Interview of Bill Wilkens⇗

Sources and Further Reading

303rd Bomb Group:  Duties and Responsibilities of the Engineer and the Gunners

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

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

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Update

A new search has provided me with some new and updated information regarding my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) WWII crewmate Clarence Burdell Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the  original John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. 

To view my original post and other information about Clarence Burdell Seeley, please see the links at the end of this post.

Clarence Burdell Seeley
Photo courtesy of Jess Seeley via Ancestry.com

Clarence Burdell Seeley was the original engineer/top turret gunner on the John Oliver “Jay” Buslee crew. He was known as Burdell to family.

On 22 JULY 1944, Seeley was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group based in Grafton Underwood, England, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144.

Clarence Burdell Seeley’s 384th Bomb Group Sortie Record indicates he was assigned with the rank of Sgt. (Sergeant), his duty was Engineer, and his pay was $140.40 per month. He listed his Home Address as Mrs. Esther Seeley, Gen. Del. (General Delivery), Halsey, Nebraska.

On 5 AUGUST 1944, on his second combat mission to Langenhagen, Germany, Seeley was seriously wounded during a flak attack on the Buslee crew’s B-17. A newspaper report notes that,

The engineer and top turret gunner, Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, 22, of Halsey, Neb., was … hit.  A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. …

Only the bombardier and top turret gunner were in need of immediate first aid treatment during the return trip  ….  Sgt. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

Seeley was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

Following his flak injury, Seeley did not fly another mission for almost two months.

On a report dated 6 AUGUST 1944, Clarence Burdell Seeley was placed on sick leave and assigned to be hospitalized at the 65th General Hospital.

On 13 AUGUST 1944, Seeley was moved from absent sick (LD) 65th Gen Hosp to absent sick (LD) 4209 U.S. Army Hospital Plant, APO 587.

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

On 11 SEPTEMBER 1944, Seeley went from absent sick (LD) 65th General Hospital to duty.

On 2 OCTOBER 1944, Clarence Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203, just four days after his original crew went MIA on the 28 SEPTEMBER 1944 mission to Magdeburg, Germany.

On 22 OCTOBER 1944, Seeley was promoted to Technical Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #209.

On 1 JANUARY 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley was involved in an aircraft accident. Flying with the Robert Jeremy Fisher crew, shortly after takeoff,

Aircraft brushed tree tops when pilot maneuvered to prevent collision with what he believed was another aircraft….

As his (the pilot’s) aircraft was making this maneuver, his left wing and nose collided with a small group of trees, tearing the wing tip loose and smashing the left wing and plexiglass nose.

As the flight’s engineer, Clarence Burdell Seeley made the following statement,

At take-off for an operational mission I was watching the instruments and calling off air speeds. When I called off 130 the pilot made a normal take-off. On the climb I was watching the altimeter and after it reached a reading of fifty (50) feet it started to drop and I immediately looked out the window and saw what I thought to be the ground. I immediately yelled to the pilot to pull up, after which the plane came in contact with some object which later proved to be trees. The pilot made a very good recovery and after gaining altitude we contacted Flying Control on the R/T and notified them of the incident after which they instructed us to jettison our bombs in the channel and return to base. Upon returning to base a normal landing was made.

Excerpt from Accident Report AR45-01-01-524:

Accident report statement made by Clarence Burdell Seeley regarding 1 January 1945 aircraft accident

I see no indication that any of the crew members aboard the aircraft were injured in the accident.

On 16 JANUARY 1945, Seeley went from duty to furlough for seven days. It was reported on the 17 January 1945 morning report for the 544th Bomb Squadron.

On the 23 JANUARY 1945 morning report, Seeley went from furlough to duty. HOWEVER, he is listed on the Sortie Report of the Earle Allen Van Popering crew as having completed the mission of 20 JANUARY 1945. I cannot explain how he could have completed a mission while on furlough.

On 5 FEBRUARY 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley went from duty to TD Palace Hotel, Southport, AAF Station 524 (a flak house) for seven days temporary duty to carry out instructions of the Commanding General per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #26.

On 12 FEBRUARY 1945, Seeley went from TD Palace Hotel, Southport, AAF Station 524 to duty.

On 10 MARCH 1945, Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his tour of 34 missions.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

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

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

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

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

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

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

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Combined Phonetic Alphabet

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

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

Phonetic Alphabet Chart courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Location of the Radio Room in a B-17

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

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

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

B-17 Radio Room Photos

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Radio Operators

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

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

Sources and Further Reading

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

384th Bomb Group:  Combined Phonetic Alphabet

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

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

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Buslee and Brodie Crew Buried at Margraten

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

The eight lost were Pilot John Oliver Buslee, Co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, Navigator William Alvin Henson II, Bombardier Robert Sumner Stearns, Radio Operator/Gunner Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Lenard Leroy Bryant, Ball Turret Gunner George Francis McMann, Jr., and Tail Gunner Gerald Lee Andersen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

David Franklin Albrecht

Buslee Crew

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

 

David Franklin Albrecht

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

* * * * *

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee Crew

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

 

Lenard Leroy Bryant

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

* * * * *

George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gilbert Crew

Flew with Buslee Crew 28 September 1944

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

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

* * * * *

James Joseph Brodie

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

 

James Joseph Brodie

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

* * * * *

Robert Doyle Crumpton

Brodie Crew

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

 

Robert Doyle Crumpton

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Airmen of the Buslee and Brodie Crews of the 384th Bomb Group

I have been writing about the men of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII for many years, particularly those airmen who served on the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bomber group based in Grafton Underwood, England during the war.

My connection with these two crews is my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a waist gunner on the Buslee crew.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crew departed the states from their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other.

On 28 September 1944, the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in the 384th’s Mission 201 (which was the 8th Air Force’s numbered Mission 652).

On the mission, coming off the bomb run on the target, the B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy, piloted by James Joseph Brodie, collided with the unnamed B-17 43-37822 piloted by John Oliver Buslee with my father manning the machine guns in the waist.

All aboard Buslee’s aircraft were killed in the collision, ensuing explosion, and crash except for my father, the sole survivor of his fortress. Eight of my father’s bomber brothers perished on this one B-17 on this one day.

Three men survived aboard Brodie’s aircraft, and the remaining six perished, a total of fourteen killed in the collision of the two aircraft.

I have been researching the lives of these airmen for many years and am about to embark on another search for new information on each, so I thought it was time to recap what I have already learned and share links of what I have previously written about them.

Keep in mind, there are more than eighteen men (the number of airmen that made up the two crews on 28 September 1944) involved in this story. Each crew was originally made up of ten men, although neither crew ever flew missions with all ten aboard. All of their missions were flown with a crew of nine containing only one waist gunner instead of two, a change from earlier in the war.

And neither crew flew as all original members on every mission. Substitutes were more common on missions for the Buslee crew, but both crews flew with substitute airmen on the fatal mission of 28 September 1944. My histories of the men of the Buslee and Brodie crews include both original members and those who were substituting for them on that final mission.

Including original crew members and substitute crew members on 28 September 1944 for both crews, plus two key witnesses to the collision, the number of airmen whose family history I research is twenty-nine, thirty including Lloyd Vevle’s twin brother, Floyd.

In the list below, I’m listing all of the airmen by position in the B-17 and noting who were original crew members, who were crew substitutions, and who were key witnesses to the mid-air collision. I’m also including very brief biographical information (birth, death, and burial data), links to each airman’s personnel record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website, and links to histories I’ve previously written about them.

This post will also be available as a permanent page which will be updated with additional links to posts of any new findings from my research.


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

  • Born 14 November 1917
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 26
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • James Joseph Brodie

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

  • Born 1 March 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 22
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • David Franklin Albrecht

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

  • Born 9 December 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium, Plot C, Row 37, Grave 20
  • Lloyd’s twin brother Floyd Martin Vevle (Born 9 December 1922 – Died 14 January 1945, age 22) of the 390th Bomb Group is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at  the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Floyd Martin Vevle
  • The Vevle Twins

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

William Alvin Henson II, Sammons crew navigator, but navigator of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

James Buford Davis, Jung crew bombardier & Buslee crew replacement bombardier after Fryden’s death

Robert Sumner Stearns, Durdin crew bombardier, but bombardier of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 25 August 1923
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA, Section B, Site 302
  • Memorial marker at Family/Home Cemetery at Juniper Haven Cemetery, Prineville, Crook County, Oregon, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

Byron Leverne Atkins, Chadwick crew flexible (waist) gunner, but togglier of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

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

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

  • Born 27 July 1920
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 24
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew ball turret gunner, but ball turret gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 26 September 1924
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 20, two days past his 20th birthday
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

  • Born 26 September 1925
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 19, two days past his 19th birthday
  • Buried Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

  • Born 22 December 1919
  • Died 14 April 1981, age 61
  • Burial information unknown, but parents (Gustave and Dominica Lucynski) are buried All Saints Church Cemetery, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, USA
  • Also known as Eugene D. or Dan Lucyn
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Eugene D. Lucynski

Gerald Lee Andersen, Carnes crew tail gunner, but tail gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

Lenard Leroy Bryant, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner, reassigned to top turret gunner after 5 August 1944 mission

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr., Allred crew ball turret gunner

Thank you to Fred Preller, webmaster of 384thBombGroup.com, and his volunteer researchers for providing and sharing information of the Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Marilyn Fryden’s Letter and Photos Sixty Years Later

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s John Oliver Buslee crew on which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner. Marvin was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 after being hit by flak. The young wife he left behind to grieve for him for the rest of her life was named Marilyn.

The photo above of Marvin Fryden is not of very good quality, but it is the first portrait I have seen of him. This new find is thanks to Frank Furiga, original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s Bert Brown crew, and the amazing volume of information he kept from the war, and to Frank’s son, Paul, for sharing it with me.

Before deciding to join a combat crew, Marvin Fryden was a bombardier training instructor in Deming, New Mexico. He and Frank Furiga crossed paths in Deming where Frank did his bombardier training.

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga

I know that’s where the two men met because Furiga noted it on the bottom of a page of the 8th Air Force Magazine that included Marvin’s photo and Marilyn’s letter. Frank wrote,

Met him at Deming for 1st time where I trained.

From that point, or sometime thereafter, Fryden and Furiga would continue on the same path into World War II combat, and both performed their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) at the same time, and were both assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

Frank Furiga remembered Marvin when he saw the photos in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine and read Marilyn’s letter, sixty-one years after their first meeting.


This is the page from the magazine that Frank Furiga kept and his son Paul recently ran across. Below, I have transcribed Marilyn’s letter, and noted a few discrepancies [in numbered brackets] in my transcribed copy.

Courtesy of Paul Furiga, son of 384th BG bombardier Frank Furiga

Marilyn Fryden’s letter as published in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine

1st LT. MARVIN FRYDEN
384th Bomb Group   544th Bomb Squadron   8th Air Force

Marv enlisted on January 13, 1942 from his home in Chicago. He was sent for pilot training but then went on to Bombardier School in Albuquerque where he got his Wings in October 1942.

We married and went to training command at Chandler, Airzona and Deming, New Mexico. In Deming on June 6th – D-Day – his comment was, “I should be there helping them,” after which he was assigned to advanced training in Midland, Texas. There he met bombardiers who had returned from their missions, and he became even more dedicated to serving in a combat zone. He requested combat duty and was sent to Salt Lake City, was assigned to a crew, and went on to Ardmore, Oklahoma for B-17 training.

His pilot, John Buslee, was from Forest, Illinois [1]. The copilot, his wife and infant daughter [2] were from Chico, California. They lived at the same place we did. I think that his name was Dick Albrecht or Albright and that her name was Patty [2], but I can’t recall for certain. The navigator was from Pennsylvania [3] and was the only survivor of that crew. [Frank circled this section and noted: Ray Sherer, Pittsburgh, PA]

They left Ardmore on the 26th of June in 1944 [4], flew to Kearney, Nebraska, picked up the Tremblin Gremlin [5], and flew it to England via Iceland. On August 4th they flew their first mission. Marv wrote me, “Your pappy’s a veteran now…”

On the mission flown the next day, Marv was fatally wounded and died in a hospital of chest wounds. He is buried in Cambridge, England. I have seen several of his student classmates’ names on the Wall of the Missing at the cemetery there. The crew’s plane was blown up on a subsequent mission and all of the crew but the navigator, who was not aboard, perished [6].

I treasure the 8th AF News Magazine. I wear Marv’s wedding ring, proudly. I remember it all and read your magazine eagerly, knowing that so many might share my story.

Sincerely,
Marilyn A. Fryden-Samet
Cary, North Carolina
Memorial Day, 2005

Postscript: I am a member of the 8th AF Historical Society Chapter here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am also a Gold Star wife. Although over sixty years have passed since those terrible war years, I am still deeply affected by the tragedy which shaped my life. Sometimes, I can’t read the articles in the magazine because they touch me so specially. I hope that I will be notified when renewal times comes for my subscription.

Keep up your wonderful work … even as those of us who remember are passing into the other world.

Notes/Discrepancies Explained

[1] Pilot John Buslee was from Park Ridge, Illinois

[2] Co-pilot was David Albrecht. His and his wife Patricia (Patty’s) daughter was not born until December 1944, after he was declared MIA. He did not have an infant daughter before leaving the States.

[3] Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk was from Toledo, Ohio. The navigator on Frank Furiga’s crew was named Raymond Scherer and was from Pittsburgh, PA.

[4] The officers of the Buslee crew may have flown to Kearney on June 26, 1944, but the enlisted men were already in Kearney as of this date, likely having traveled by train. I know this because my father wrote a letter home from Kearney on June 25.

[5] The name of the B-17 that the Buslee crew ferried to the ETO is unknown. The B-17 in which Marvin Fryden received a fatal flak injury on August 5 was named the Tremblin’ Gremlin. Marilyn may have assumed that the B-17 the Buslee crew ferried across the Atlantic was the same B-17 in which her husband was killed, but it was not the same ship.

[6] The Buslee crew’s aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944. Of the nine crew members aboard, only five of them were original Buslee crew members: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner turned engineer/top turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso (radio operator), and George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner, my dad). My dad was the only survivor on the plane. Other original Buslee crew members who survived the war because they were not on Buslee’s plane on September 28, 1944 were Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), James Davis (permanent replacement bombardier), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), and Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner).

There were also a few discrepancies in the included crew photo identifications and I have noted those in the photo caption,

Standing L to R: John Buslee, David Albrecht, Chester Rybarczyk (from Toledo, Ohio), and Marvin Fryden
Kneeling L to R: Sebastiano Peluso, Erwin Foster, Clarence Seeley, and Unidentified (possibly Lenard Bryant)

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is not in the crew photo and neither was Eugene Lucynski, and possibly Lenard Bryant.

Thank you again, Paul Furiga, for sharing these pieces of history with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021