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Category Archives: Bryant, Lenard Leroy

Buslee Crew Photo – A Deeper Look

Standing, left to right: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), and Marvin Fryden or James Davis (bombardier) Kneeling, left to right: Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso ( radioman), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner), and George Farrar (waist gunner)

Standing, left to right: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), and Marvin Fryden or James Davis (bombardier)
Kneeling, left to right: Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso (radioman), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner), and George Farrar (waist gunner)

This photo of my dad’s (George Edwin Farrar) crew in WWII still confuses me.  Is the navigator in the photo really James Davis, or is it Marvin Fryden? If it is Fryden, does the photo look like it was taken in the states before the crew shipped overseas? If it is Davis, it must be Grafton Underwood.

I sent the photo to Keith Ellefson, a researcher and combat data specialist with the 384th Bomb Group. Keith pointed out several things in the photo to me that I did not see.

Look at the far background on the right side of the picture. It looks like a tree line to me.  Than would be consistent with GU.  Most of the stateside crew training bases were on large airfields with nary a tree or fence in sight.   Looking at the background over Foster’s head, it looks to me like a fence line with some sort of grass or vines on it.  Again, GU and probably not stateside.  Also, on the far left side over the tire I think I see the slope of a squad tent roof.  If it is a tent, it is probably the crew chief’s lair next to the hardstand. I understand nearly every crew had some sort of shelter near the hardstand for warming, storage, naps, etc.

Keith annotated the photo pointing out a couple of items.

Left to right: Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso ( radioman), and Lenard Bryant (waist gunner)

Left to right: Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso ( radioman), and Lenard Bryant (waist gunner)

  • Looks like SGT Foster must have had a combat tour previous to this photo being taken.
  • Those are training qualification badges on the sleeves of two of the enlisted men.
  • All of the men in the photo are wearing wings but only Foster has any kind of awards being displayed.
  • I see two different unit patches.  Davis (or Fryden) and Lucynski are wearing the 8th AF patch.  Your dad (Farrar) and Seeley have the generic AF patch.
  • Two of the officers, Buslee and Rybarczyk also seem to have the generic AF patch.
  • Three of the enlisted guys appear to have no unit patch.
  • Then we get to the enlisted ranks, or lack of rank, on their uniforms. On the assignment orders, Lucynski  was a SSG. Your dad, Seeley and Peluso were SGTs.  Foster and Bryant were Corporals.
  • Peluso, Foster and Seeley are ’slicksleeves’  (Old army slang for no rank displayed).  I don’t know what to make of this.  Usually the guys would be immensely proud of their ranks and wouldn’t be caught without them.  If it was just one of them, I could think that the guy had been reduced in rank.  That was not uncommon back in the day.  I don’t recall seeing any of these names being reduced in rank on any special orders.
  • [I commented that perhaps some of the jackets were borrowed. Keith replied that it was a possibility.] Every soldier was issued a ‘Class A’ uniform but ….   Five of them (Bryant, Foster, Seeley, Farrar, and Peluso) were promoted to Staff Sergeant on 9 September 1944, SO #180, 9 SEP 44.  Maybe the three ‘slicksleeves’ had their jackets out for rank change and borrowed the jackets for the picture.
  • Also, talking about ranks, Foster, who had a previous tour, would normally be at least a Sergeant and more likely a Staff Sergeant.  I suspect he had been reduced to Corporal prior to being assigned to this crew.
  • Fryden is a 1st LT in the assignment orders.  The other three officers are 2nd LTs.  Fryden may have had several months or more service in the states, maybe as an instructor, prior to being assigned to this crew. I think there was something like a 6 month to one year time between 2nd LT and 1st LT. He wouldn’t have been promoted before the pilot would be promoted if they both had the same length of time in service.
  • Foster and Bryant were promoted to SGT on SO #158, 6 August 1944.  Since Bryant is wearing SGT stripes in the photo, I think this dates the photo to sometime after 6 August 1944, putting Davis in the picture.

Marilyn Fryden, Marvin’s wife, wrote about Marvin in a post to the 384th Bomb Group’s web site in 2007. Her comments support that he had been an instructor in the states for some time before being assigned to the Buslee crew. Marilyn wrote:

He had been commissioned and assigned as an instructor in the states. We had almost 2 years together. As he constantly said he was not doing his part, he finally requested combat duty and was assigned to the Gremlin with John Buslee, Dick Albrecht and other crew members.

Marvin and Marilyn had married October 8, 1942 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In a wedding announcement, her parents noted that:

Lieutenant Fryden was appointed instructor at the Albuquerque Air Base and will continue to re-side there with his bride.

After Keith’s analysis, I still question whether the photo includes Davis or Fryden. The back of the photo identifies the navigator as Davis and I believe the identification was provided by the pilot’s father. In a letter to my grandmother dated November 27, 1944, Mr. Buslee wrote:

Early in September we received a snapshot showing the crew members and the plane.  The boys all looked fine and seemed to be in the same high spirit that they enjoyed when we met them in Ardmore.

This comment indicates that Mr. Buslee would have been able to recognize the bombardier since he had met the entire crew. Mr. Buslee offered to send a copy of the photo to my grandmother if she did not have one. My grandmother, Raleigh May Farrar, must have responded to Mr. Buslee that she did indeed have a copy of the picture. He wrote back on December 16, 1944.

I note that you have a crew picture and thinking that you may not know who they are I am sending a list of names in the event that this will interest you.  To look at that group one can well understand what I mean when I say the youth are wonderful.  To my mind that is as fine an assortment of manhood as one could find anywhere and I count it a privilege that my son is among so fine a crew.  Yes I had the good fortune to meet all of them in Ardmore last June and I trust it will be my pleasure to again meet all of them and more that this may be real soon.

Mr. Buslee’s list of names:

WWII-106

Mr. Buslee would not have met James Davis in Ardmore, Oklahoma. At that time, he was not part of the Buslee crew. Marvin Fryden trained with the crew in Ardmore.

Mr. Buslee would also have already known of Marvin Fryden’s death on August 5, 1944. The Buslees and the Frydens both lived in the Chicago area, the Buslees in the Park Ridge area. The Park Ridge Advocate published an article on September 1, 1944 about the crew’s August 5 mission in which Fryden died. Mr. Buslee must have read the article by the time he wrote my grandmother.

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.

If the photo includes Fryden, it must have been taken before the August 5, 1944 mission on which Fryden was killed. On that same mission, Seeley was seriously wounded. Davis started flying with the crew on August 9, 1944. Since Seeley was seriously wounded on the August 5 mission, would he have been able to appear in a crew photo after that mission? He wasn’t able to fly again until October 2, 1944, four days after the Buslee crew was lost on the mission to Magdeburg on September 28.

I have not been able to locate any other photos of Marvin Fryden, but I did find a school yearbook photo of James Davis. Putting the photo in question and the photo of Davis side by side, I’m still not certain of the identification. What do you think? Is the man on the left Fryden or Davis?

Photo on left: Marvin Fryden or James Davis? Photo on right: School yearbook photo of James Davis.

Photo on left: Marvin Fryden or James Davis?
Photo on right: School yearbook photo of James Davis.

Enough for today. I have a little more info to add on a couple of the other Buslee crew members, but will hold off for next week. I think this is enough to digest today.

If anyone has a photo of Marvin Fryden (the family spelled the name Frydyn, but Marvin enlisted as Fryden), please contact me. Either comment on this post or e-mail me. Also, if anyone is good at photo analysis, please help me decide – Fryden or Davis?

Thank you, Keith Ellefson, for taking an in-depth look at this photo and providing me with so much information.

Photos courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Letter from Mrs. Bryant

Maudene and Lenard Bryant, March 1944

Maudene and Lenard Bryant, March 1944

On January 5, 1945, Lenard Leroy Bryant’s wife, Maudene, wrote to George Edwin Farrar’s mother, Raleigh Mae.  Maudene was writing in response to a letter she had just received from Mrs. Farrar.  Lenard and George (Ed) had both been on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 when it collided with Lazy Daisy over Magdeburg, Germany.  Raleigh Mae Farrar had received news just six days earlier that her son was a prisoner of war.  Maudene Bryant had still not heard any news about her husband except that he was missing in action.

WWII-001

Photo:  Lenard Bryant on the left, location may be Grafton Underwood

January 5, 1945
Littlefield, Texas

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

Received your letter this noon.  Am so glad for you that George is a prisoner.

I had the pleasure of meeting your son in Ardmore, Okla. and it seems as tho they were all brothers, the boys were so close to one another.

Only five of our old crew went down, the others are in England.

I haven’t as yet heard from the War Dept. – but when I do I pray for the best – and I for one hold out for the best.  I think I would have known if Lenard (my husband) was dead.

I just wonder now how close to Magdeburg the boys will be kept.  Mrs. Henson has my deepest sympathy.

I am in hopes of hearing from you again.

As Ever
Maudene Bryant
Littlefield, Texas
Rt. 2

Maudene had apparently heard that William Alvin Henson II, the crew’s navigator, had been declared killed in action.  Not hearing anything about her husband, Lenard, gave her hope that he was still alive.  She must have known the names of all of the boys on the original Buslee crew and realized, after reviewing the next-of-kin list, that only five of them were on the Lead Banana when it went down.

The five original members were:

  • John Oliver Buslee, pilot
  • David Franklin Albrecht, co-pilot
  • Sebastian Joseph Peluso, radio operator/gunner
  • Lenard Leroy Bryant, engineer/top turret gunner (Maudene’s husband)
  • George Edwin Farrar, waist/flexible gunner (my dad)

As she states that the other members of the crew were in England, Maudene may not have been aware that original bombardier, Marvin B. Fryden, had lost his life on August 5, 1944 on the Buslee crew’s second mission.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Next of Kin List Released

The day after Christmas 1944, at ninety days missing in action, the US Army Air Forces wrote to the Buslee crew’s next of kin and enclosed a list of the names of the crew members on the Lead Banana on September 28 and also included the names and addresses of next of kin in case the families wanted to communicate with each other.

December 26, 1944
Headquarters, Army Air Forces
Washington

Attention:  AFPPA-8
(9753) Farrar, George E.
14119873

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar,
79 EastLake Terrace Northeast,
Atlanta, Georgia.

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

For reasons of military security it has been necessary to withhold the names of the air crew members who were serving with your son at the time he was reported missing.

Since it is now permissible to release this information, we are inclosing a complete list of names of the crew members.

The names and addresses of the next of kin of the men are also given in the belief that you may desire to correspond with them.

Sincerely,

Clyde V. Finter
Colonel, Air Corps
Chief, Personal Affairs Division
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Personnel

1 Incl
List of crew members & names
& addresses of next of kin
5-2032, AF

1st. Lt. John O. Buslee
Mr. John Buslee, (Father)
411 North Wisner Avenue,
Park Ridge, Illinois.

1st. Lt. William A. Henson, II
Mrs. Harriet W. Henson, (Wife)
Summerville, Georgia.

1st. Lt. Robert S. Stearns
Mr. Carey S. Stearns, (Father)
Post Office Box 113,
Lapine, Oregon.

2nd. Lt. David F. Albrecht
Reverand Louis M. Albrecht, (Father)
Scribner, Nebraska.

S/Sgt. Sebastiano J. Peluso
Mrs. Antonetta Peluso, (Mother)
2963 West 24th Street,
Brooklyn, New York.

S/Sgt. Lenard L. Bryant
Mrs. Ruby M. Bryant, (Wife)
Route Number Two,
Littlefield, Texas.

S/Sgt. Gerald L. Andersen
Mrs. Esther E. Coolen Andersen, (Wife)
Box Number 282,
Stromburg, Nebraska.

S/Sgt. George E. Farrar
Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar, (Mother)
79 East Lake Terrace Northeast,
Atlanta, Georgia.

Sgt. George F. McMann
Mr. George F. McMann, (Father)
354 West Avenue,
Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The above list is also a part of MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) 9753.  For a diagram and list of each man’s position on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944, click here.

The Brodie crew’s next of kin must have gotten the same letter and a list of those on the Lazy Daisy.  The following list is attached to MACR9366.  For a diagram and list of each man’s position on the Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944, click here.

1st Lt. James J. Brodie
Mrs. Mary E. Brodie, (Wife)
4436 North Kostner Avenue
Chicago, Illinois.

2nd Lt. Lloyd O. Vevle
Mr. Oliver E. Vevle, (Father)
240 Sixth Avenue, North
Fort Dodge, Iowa.

2nd Lt. George M. Hawkins, Jr.
Mr. George M. Hawkins, Sr., (Father)
52 Marchard Street
Fords, New Jersey

T/Sgt. Donald W. Dooley
Mr. Guy T. Dooley, (Father)
711 South Rogers Street
Bloomington, Indiana.

S/Sgt. Byron L. Atkins
Mr. Verne Atkins, (Father)
Route Number Two
Lebanon, Indiana.

Sgt. Robert D. Crumpton
Mrs. Stella M. Parks, (Mother)
Route Number One
Ennis, Texas

Sgt. Gordon E. Hetu
Mr. Raymond J. Hetu, (Father)
3821 Webb Street
Detroit, Michigan.

S/Sgt. Wilfred F. Miller
Mrs. Mary Miller, (Mother)
Rural Free Delivery Number One
Newton, Wisconsin.

S/Sgt. Harry A. Liniger
Mrs. Estelle P. Liniger, (Mother)
Box Number 251
Gatesville, North Carolina

If the US Army Air Forces had told the families of the two crews what actually happened to their sons’ aircraft and provided the lists of both crews to the families, the families of the two pilots, Buslee and Brodie, would have discovered that they lived only seven and a half miles apart in Chicago, Illinois.  These families would most likely have been very interested in communicating if they had been made aware of each other.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Lenard Leroy Bryant, Top Turret Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Lenard Leroy Bryant, the top turret gunner on the Buslee crew, was born March 17, 1919 in Alex, Oklahoma.  Lenard was the youngest of the ten children of Fannie and John Gilbert Bryant.  Lenard’s family moved to a farm in Whitharral, Texas when he was only five.

John and Fannie Bryant, 1927

John and Fannie Bryant, 1927

Lenard’s father died on January 7, 1938, only one day after contracting influenza, and two months before Lenard’s 19th birthday.  The Bryant family on January 8, 1938, the day of John Gilbert Bryant’s funeral:

Lenard Bryant's family after Lenard's father's funeral on January 13, 1938 Back row, left to right: Lenard, Chief, Booster, Coot, Dick, Red, Jack & Buck Front row, left to right: Lettie, Fannie (Lenard's Mother) & Letha

Lenard Bryant’s family after Lenard’s father’s funeral on January 8, 1938
Back row, left to right: Lenard, Chief, Booster, Coot, Dick, Red, Jack & Buck
Front row, left to right: Lettie, Fannie (Lenard’s Mother) & Letha

Most of the boys in the Bryant family went by nicknames.  Lenard Bryant and his brothers and brothers-in-law…

Lenard Bryant's brothers, left to right: Lenard, Booster, Coot, Chief, Red, Dick, Monroe (Letha's husband), Buck, Jack, Raymond (Lettie's husband) Taken after Lenard's father's funeral January 13, 1938

Lenard Bryant’s brothers and brothers-in-law, left to right: Lenard, Booster, Coot, Chief, Red, Dick, Buck, Jack, Monroe Whittington (Letha’s husband), and Raymond Burch (Lettie’s husband)

The next year, Lenard married Maudene on October 21, 1939.  They lived in Littlefield, Texas after their marriage, perhaps on Maudene’s parents’ farm.

Lenard and Maudene Bryant 1939

Lenard and Maudene Bryant 1939

A little over two years later, on February 28, 1942, Lenard enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Dallas, Texas.

In the letters that follow, Lenard wrote to his brother Buck and family, which included Buck’s wife Edith (the former Edith Orringderff), their son Ralph, Jr., and sons Calvin Louis (Stump) and Gilbert from Buck’s first marriage to Lula Strain.  Lula was five months pregnant at the time of her death in 1934.

On July 3, 1943, Lenard wrote home from Amarillo Air Field in Amarillo, Texas.  In WWII, Amarillo Air Field was a site for basic training, and training of air crew and ground mechanics to service the B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.  Lenard was apparently laid up in the hospital, reason unknown, but later letters indicate he might have had an injury to his left leg or foot.

Hi Folks,

How is everything down there by now.  Is it as wet down there as it is up here.  It rained all night last night, but it is clear this morning.  I am feeling fine, would like to get up, but they won’t let me yet, although it won’t be long, I hope.  Sure wish I was down there now.  Maudene wrote and said the crops was looking good.

Tell Buck he ought to come up here and get sick.  The nurses sure take good care of you.  Ha.  I guess I will have to come home and have to make some money.  No, I have a good excuse, I am not supposed to do anything, Goody.

I can eat twice as much as Buck now.  I am about to starve to death.  Ha.  All I have got to do is lay here and think of something mean to do.  How is Mom.  Tell her to take care of herself.  Well dam this mess.  Anyhow, I write so answer soon.

As ever, Lenard

Lenard apparently had a good sense of humor as he included this drawing with his signature on the letter…

Lenards Devil Drawing

A week later, on July 10, 1943, Lenard, still in the hospital, wrote home again…

How is everything down there.  I got that $15.00.  Sure was proud of it, but you shouldn’t have sent it.  Maybe I can repay you someday though.

Well Buck they stopped my furlough so if you come to Amarillo after a load of oil stop by and get Maudene and come see me.  Wish you could make it some Sunday.  You could visit all day then.  Sure made me mad when they stopped furloughs but I guess I will get over it.

How is that “big Boy.”  Has he ever give you a whipping yet.  Ha.  They say I will have to spend my furlough and about a month more here at the hospital.  If I do I will go crazy.  Well better close and get this mailed so answer soon.

Lenard’s injury must have been pretty serious as he was still in the hospital four weeks later as he writes home again on August 5, 1943…

How is everybody down there.  I guess you think I died by not writing, but I haven’t wrote anybody in two weeks but Mom and Maudene’s folks.  I have got the blues again but have got 13 more days in the horse-pistol.  Haven’t had a letter in a week and half so thought I had better write one or two.  How is the watermelons down there sure would like to have one.  Well can’t think of anything to write so answer soon and tell ‘Stump’ hello.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, often used the same term, “horse-pistol” for “hospital.”  I supposed he might have picked up that particular terminology from his crewmate, Lenard Bryant.

By September 2, 1943, Lenard was finally out of the hospital but his military future was uncertain.  He wrote home…

…all I do is sit or run around.  I don’t know what they are going to do with me.  I was released the other day, I am a truck driver now, that is if I ever get out of here to go to school.

I am supposed to go before the medical board pretty soon, to either be discharged or get back in full duty, but I never will be able to take full duty.  I was down at the hospital the other day and the doc said they wouldn’t do anything to my foot here, but when I get back home I could have it done, but I don’t know when that will be.

On September 13, 1943, Lenard wrote that…

I am going to try to get a three day pass next week.  I think I can get it.  Some of the boys are getting theirs.  I would try this week but there is too many put in already.

Two days later, on September 15, 1943, Lenard wrote that he was unable to get his three-day pass because…

I am on shipping orders now.  I will ship out in a day or so, to where I don’t know.  Today is my day off but I can’t go to see Maudene because I am on shipping.  I was glad Mom didn’t come up here to catch the train because she might not of got one there is so many troop trains.  If I had got my weekend pass last night I was coming home anyway but I didn’t get nothing but a pass until 11:30 o’clock.  Had to tell a lie to get that.  I told them I had to get my laundry up at town.

One month later, on October 15, 1943, Lenard wrote home from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Sioux Falls was the site of a WWII Army Air Corps Radio and Communications School.  Apparently Lenard, a farm boy from Texas, and radio, didn’t get along too well.

How’s everything, is it cold there yet, it sure is here.  There was ice this morning and the frost was a half inch thick.  It’s sure hard on my bad leg.  I guess I’ve got rheumatic the way my joints ache in my left leg…

…Looks like I won’t get to see Maudene for a long time, sure wish she was here, or I was there.  Ha.  How is cotton pulling this year.  If I was there I bet I could beat Buck pulling bolls.  I don’t think me and radio is getting along too well together.  I wish they would stick a radio up their rear for a change…

…If it gets much colder here I guess I will just about freeze out.  Well I can’t think of any more to say, except I wish I was further south for the winter.  If you are ever in a mile of So. Dakota drop in to see me.  Ha.  Answer soon.

By December 2, Christmas was not too far away and Lenard was struggling with radio school in Sioux Falls.  It must have been a bad year for the flu, but Lenard was avoiding it.  He wrote home…

How’s everything, a lot of colds I suppose, just think yourselves lucky to be there instead of here.  This whole country is down with flu.  I’m afraid they will quarantine this camp in a few days it’s getting so bad.  The hosp. is full and are sending some to the town hospitals.  I almost had the flu but I took about a box of aspirins and half tube of “Ben Gay” balm and got over it.  The most of the boys don’t try to doctor themselves.  I wouldn’t trust these doctors here at all.  Well I’m going to town today for the first time in nine weeks.  I’m going to get Maudene a good wrist watch if I can find one.  It’s time for P.T.  I will finish this after I get back.

Here I am back from P.T.  Had to walk all the way around the post and it sure was cold too.  I sure wish I could be there Xmas but guess I can’t.  About this school here I don’t like it worth a dam.

And think I will wash out, maybe I will get sent somewhere so I can do some good.  This is just a boy scout outfit here.  If I do wash out I may get to come home for a few days.

I would like to get in a.m. if I can.  I would get to go back to Amarillo then.  The doctors, nurses and all here are falling out with colds and flu.  It’s getting pretty serious here, but I think I can dodge the flu, I hope.  Well I can’t think of any more to say, so answer soon.  I hope you all have a good Xmas, if I don’t hear from you before Xmas.

Lenard’s reference to “a.m.” probably stood for aircraft maintenance or aircraft mechanics school.

The day after Christmas, December 26, 1943, Lenard learned he had washed out of radio school.  He was homesick and wrote this letter home…

Well I’m out of school now.  I washed out today.  I will go to gunnery school when I ship out of here and I guess it will be at Yuma Arizona.

I just hope I get to come home before I start that school.  Did you all have a good Xmas dinner.  I sure did.  It was better than the one we had at Thanksgiving.  And all the boys that was lucky enough to have their wives here brought them out to the mess halls to have Xmas dinner with them.  It sure made me homesick too.  Maybe I will get to fly some at gunnery school.  I’ll be “Tail Gun Tommy.”  Ha.  …  I don’t know when I will ship.  I may be on K.P. here for a month.  Ha.  I will close.  Hoping you all had a good Xmas, and hope the next one will be different.

The last letter I have from Lenard Bryant is dated January 17, 1944.  He wasn’t sent to Yuma, Arizona as he had thought.  He wrote home from his new location in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He wrote…

…Thought I would write a line or two to let you know where I’m at.  I haven’t got too much time to write much.  I got here last Thurs. night the 13th but won’t get to start to school until next Monday a week from today.  This is a pretty place here and the weather is perfect, but I don’t like the idea of being a gunner, but there’s not much I have to say about.  I will get a fifteen day furlough when I finish this school, then it’s good-bye to the good old U.S.A. if I don’t get to go to another school.  They have a lot of B-17 here, that’s all they use, and I’m glad of that.  I’d rather go up in one of those than any other kind.

Lenard mentioned in his letter written the day after Christmas 1943 that he hoped the next Christmas would be different.  The next Christmas was different for the Bryant family.

Lenard had been sent to the air station at Grafton Underwood, England.  Here he was part of the Eighth Air Force, 384th bomb group, 544th bomber squadron, a gunner on the John Oliver Buslee crew.  He started out as a waist gunner.  My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was the other waist gunner on the ten-man crew.  By the time they got to England, the crews of ten, with two waist gunners – one for each waist window – had been downsized to nine, with only one waist gunner manning both waist windows, and now called a flexible gunner.  Lenard flew his first mission on August 4, 1944 as waist/flexible gunner, but on his second mission on August 9, and all his subsequent missions, he flew as the engineer/top turret gunner.

On his 16th mission on September 28, 1944, Lenard Leroy Bryant was on the Lead Banana and was involved in a mid-air collision with the Lazy Daisy coming off the target in Magdeburg, Germany.  Bryant was killed in the collision.  In mid-October, his family was notified that he was missing, but they spent Christmas not knowing if he was dead, or alive and a prisoner of war, as did all the other families of the boys on the two planes.

By February 1945, the Bryant family had learned the sad news that Lenard had died in the mid-air collision.  He was originally buried in the Ostingersleben Cemetery near the crash site.  Bryant was later interred in the Netherlands American Cemetery in the village of Margraten, where he remains today in Plot G, Row 7, Grave 22.

Heartbroken over the loss of her husband, Lenard’s wife, Maudene, never remarried.  She remained in Littlefield, Texas until she passed away at the age of 80 on February 16, 2004.

Thank you to Lenard Leroy Bryant’s great-nephew, Derral Bryant, for providing the photos, identifications, and other information in this post. Derral is the grandson of Lenard’s brother, Earl (Red) Bryant.  Derral obtained this material from Lenard’s brother, Ralph Hubert (Buck) Bryant’s widow, Edith.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 21, 1944 Telegram Form

Twenty-three days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated October 21, 1944 reported the fate of one more of the crew from the two planes, and provided the identification of four of the previously unidentified.   It reported “one more dead has been found:  Byron L. Atkins.”  The newly identified men were identified as:

  • John Buslee (identified on the form as Jon Busslee)
  • David F. Albrecht
  • Lloyd Vevle (identified on the form as LLoyd Ovevle)
  • Lenard Bryant (identified on the form as Lenhard J. Eyret)

Atkins and Vevle were from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.  Buslee, Albrecht, and Bryant were from the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana.  Atkins was probably located away from both crash sites as he was carried away with the nose of the Lazy Daisy during the initial impact of the collision.

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report updates the count to fourteen (14) recovered dead, with twelve (12) identified, and four (4) P.O.W.s.

MACR9753 does not include any more Telegram Forms or Reports of Captured Aircraft and does not provide any information on the identifications of Sebastiano Joseph Peluso aboard Lead Banana or James Joseph Brodie aboard Lazy Daisy.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle     Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.    Reported P.O.W. on October 6, 1944 Report on Captured Aircraft
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins     Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

The October 21 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  0925
  • From:  L L E N
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 157     19 Oct.44   -1740-

This information can be found on pages 18 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

The diagram shows the combat position of each Buslee crewmember on Mission 201 on September 28, 1944.  Only one crewmember manned both waist gunner positions on this mission.  If they were all still in position after coming off the target at Magdeburg, the diagram shows where each man would have been at the time of the mid-air collision with the Lazy Daisy.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The only survivor of the mid-air collision this day with the Lazy Daisy was the waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar.

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Map of September 28, 1944 Collision and Crash Sites

Maps of the area show the location of the mid-air collision and subsequent crash sites of the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  Two maps are included below.

The first map shows the collision site and crash sites of the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana.  The mid-air collision occurred after coming off the target at Magdeburg, at 12:11 pm on September 28, 1944 at 52°06’N 11°39’E (X on the first map, just past the second “g” in “Magdeburg”). Both planes crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of the mid-air collision.  Lazy Daisy crashed near Erxleben (E on the first map) and Lead Banana crashed approximately one and one-quarter miles north of Ostingersleben (O on the first map).

X = Collision Site, 52°06'N 11°39'E O = Ostingersleben E = Erxleben

X = Collision Site, 52°06’N 11°39’E
O = Ostingersleben
E = Erxleben

The second map is a map of Germany with the area of detail outlined.

Germany Map

Royalty free map of Germany obtained from http://www.tourvideos.com/maps-Germany.html.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201

Lazy Daisy, Aircraft 42-31222

Lazy Daisy, Aircraft 42-31222

Lead Banana, 43-37822

Lead Banana, Aircraft 43-37822

September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 201 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 652.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-37822, Lead Banana.  The Brodie crew was aboard 42-31222, Lazy Daisy.

The primary target was the steelworks industry in Magdeburg, Germany.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Chester A. Rybarczyk flew this mission with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew.  William Alvin Henson II replaced Rybarczyk as Navigator on the Buslee crew.  This was Henson’s third flight with the Buslee crew.

James B. Davis flew this mission with the Raymond J. Gabel crew.  Robert Sumner Stearns replaced Davis as Bombardier on the Buslee crew.  This was Stearns second flight with the Buslee crew.

George Francis McMann, Jr. flew this mission as Ball Turret Gunner on the Buslee crew.  This was McMann’s first flight with the Buslee crew.  Irving L. Miller, who had replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner five times on the Buslee crew, also flew with Davis on the Gabel crew this mission.

Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene D. Lucynski for the third time as Tail Gunner on the Buslee crew.

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger

James Joseph Brodie (Pilot), Lloyd Oliver Vevle (Co-Pilot), George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. (Navigator), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Gordon Eugene Hetu (Ball Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), and Harry Allen Liniger (Waist Gunner) were all original Brodie crew members aboard the Lazy Daisy.  The only non-original crew members were Byron Laverne Atkins (Bombardier/Togglier) and Donald William Dooley (Radio Operator/Gunner).

Original Brodie crew Bombardier, William D. Barnes, Jr., last flew with the Brodie crew on September 13, 1944.  Barnes did not fly again until October 17, 1944.  He returned to flight as a Navigator, completed his tour after 35 missions, and returned to the US.

Byron Laverne Atkins flew only six missions, three of them as a Ball Turret Gunner, and one as a Flexible Gunner.  He served as Togglier for the Brodie crew on two occasions – once on September 21 and again on September 28, 1944.

William Edson Taylor, the original Radio Operator/Gunner for the Brodie crew did not fly on the September 28 mission.  On October 5, he flew as Radio Operator/Gunner with the Robert Bruce Birckhead crew.  His aircraft was damaged by flak and crashed near Munchen-Gladbach, Germany (MACR 9754).  Of the crew, four were killed, and five were taken prisoner of war, including Taylor.

Donald William Dooley’s first mission would be his last.  He flew as Radio Operator/Gunner for the Brodie crew on this mission.

Sortie Report Description:

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

Lazy Daisy Sortie Report Status and Comments:

Failed to Return
MIA; collided with 43-37822 over target; both ships went down on fire and out of control; no chutes observed; crashed near Erxleben, Germany; MACR 9366.

Lead Banana Sortie Report Status and Comments:

Failed to Return
MIA; collided with 42-31222 over target; both ships went down on fire and out of control; no chutes; crashed near Osteringersleben, Germany; MACR 9753.

Source:  Sortie Report – Buslee Crew, Sortie Report – Brodie Crew

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 27, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 200

Hale's Angels, Aircraft 42-102449

Hale’s Angels, Aircraft 42-102449

September 27, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 200.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 200 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 650.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102449, Hale’s Angels.

The primary target was the railroad marshaling yards in Cologne, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Robert M. Mitchell
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

On this mission, the Buslee crew was the High Group Deputy and Hot Camera Ship.

Chester A. Rybarczyk did not fly this mission.  William Alvin Henson II replaced him as Navigator on this flight.

James B. Davis also did not fly this mission.  Robert Sumner Stearns replaced him as Bombardier.

Henson had flown with the Buslee crew once before, on September 3, 1944.  This was the first flight with the Buslee crew for Stearns.

Robert M. Mitchell replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner on this mission.  This was the first time Mitchell flew with the Buslee crew, although he had flown with Farrar on September 19 as part of the William M. Reed crew.

Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene D. Lucynski for the second time as Tail Gunner.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 25, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 198

Hot Nuts, Aircraft 42-39888

Hot Nuts, Aircraft 42-39888

September 25, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 198.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 198 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 644.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-39888, Hot Nuts.

The primary target was the railroad marshaling yards in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

Crew List:

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

Irving L. Miller replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner for the fifth time.  This was the last time Miller would fly with the Buslee crew.  On March 19, 1945, Miller completed his tour and returned to the US.

Eugene D. Lucynski had bailed out of The Tremblin’ Gremlin on September 19 when it was struck by flak and had not returned to the Buslee crew.  Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Lucynski on this and the next two missions as Tail Gunner.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013