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Category Archives: Buslee, John Oliver

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

The Ring – December 26, 1948

To review:  The Buslee’s had finally received their son’s ring after a very long wait.  A quest that had begun at the beginning of that year was finally complete.

Mr. B, who had done a great service for the Buslee’s, must not have realized how much the return of their son’s ring must have meant to the them.

December 26, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

First of all, the best wishes and regards. I just don’t know, how to start this letter and how to express our thanks and appreciation for your nice Xmas presents-!!! And I wish, too, if you just know how ashamed we are, because we did not send you the smallest present-!!! Please, dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, if you may, forgive us-! Once again thank you so much for me and my wife and PLEASE, Mrs. Buslee, don’t think a minute, you owe me anything-! If you would do that, I would be more ashamed, than I feel now-!!!

We hope, you have had a nice Xmas-of course, we know your sorrow-and we have been talking about you plenty, last two days. When I listen to the radio, to the nice Carrols and to the nice preaching last two days, I just think, how the world would be happy, if all the peoples in all the countries would be like you or Z’s family, families who are thousands of miles away from each other, but those thousands of miles don’t stop the nice feeling for each family. I don’t know, if you will understand that I try to tell you, but the way I mean it is, that over the radio, in the churches, they tell us, to love each other, but how many peoples, how many nations, put this in reality?-!

Once again, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, PLEASE never thank me again, because, it really was nothing what I did for you, and everybody would do that-! I stop all my mail to Czechoslovakia, because I hate to make somebody unhappy. Everybody in Czechoslovakia, who is writing letters to USA, is considered as a spy and reactionary. One of my friend, who came with Dr. Beneš from England and used to be his bodyguard commander in the Hradcany castle, -he was a Colonel-is now working in mines. He send me a letter through his friend, who is in Austria, that after the Communist took over, they came to his apartment, search everything and found some mail from me, in which I wrote the truth about the new red master. And now they are after my letters and open all my letters. Besides, I am writing anti-communist articles in Czech papers in USA, and they have me marked, and I would not dare, to go and see my dear mother in Czechoslovakia. I know, I never would return-! It is a terrible life in that unhappy country under the red masters. Brother don’t trust his own brother-! It’s an awful life-! God bless our good USA and all the good peoples, because this still is one spot on the earth, where, if we wish, can say, that we don’t like Mr. Truman, or any of his cabinet members. If somebody would say so in my old country, it would mean 10 Years in mines-!

Once again, we thank you so much for your nice presents, and believe me please, how ashamed I am, that I did not remember you-!

Sincerely yours:
Mr. and Mrs. B

Along with the ring, came the knowledge of details of the death of the Buslee’s son, John Oliver (Jay).  That year, 1948, must have been nearly as painful as 1944 and 1945, when Jay’s plane went down and the Buslee’s endured waiting for word and then finally learning of his death.  They could no longer hold their son, but now they could hold his ring.

ring-cropped

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – December 4, 1948

To review:  The American Embassy located the ring by September 23 and promised to send it to the Buslee’s.

The Buslee’s must have received the ring around November 17 or 18.  They were very prompt in reporting news about the ring and assuming they didn’t wait long to write to Mr. B and Z’s family, their letter of November 18 to Mr. B – as referenced in this letter – must have reported their receipt of the ring.  On November 23, Z’s family received their letter with the good news.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee,

Thank you for your letters, -one from Nov. 18, and one from Dec. 1., -and I am sorry, I did not answer your first at once. We thank you for your regards, dear Mrs. Buslee, which we cordially repeat for you and all your family.

I am happy, Mrs. Buslee, that you finally got that ring. Of course, it is damaged and even Z’s father in his letter try to explain why, as he write in his letter of Nov. 24, which I will try to translate for you. You must excuse all the errors I will make in the spelling, but the meaning will be the same. I mean the meaning of Z’s father’s letter. Well here it is:

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, Nov. 23, I have received your letter with its pleasant content, where you are informing us that you finally got the ring, which belonged to your son and for which you waited so long.

I can’t understand, why your military authorities waited so long and why they promised to me, they will deliver the ring in 21 days. But thanks God, that after 8 months you finally got the ring.

Dear Mrs. Buslee, war is a terrible thing, and it destroy everything and everybody without mercy. The damages of the stone in the ring is a witness, how terrible it is. The ring, as I do believe, is a witness, how terrible it was for the owner of the ring, who in the flames found his heroic death with the rest of the crew.

On the day of All Saints /this is a holiday in Czechoslovakia, when everybody goes to the cemetery to visit the graves of the dead, /I and my wife, we were in our thoughts with you and have thinking about you, how much sorrow you must have.

Now you have a chance, and hope, that your son will be returned to his fatherland and it will a bit relieve your sorrow, if you will be able to visit his grave. Please, excuse us, we did not answer your letter from Oct. 11, 1948. After the informations you gave us, we were looking for another letter, where you will tell us that finally you got the ring and it is so now.

My son Z finally got home from the army and now is working in Prague, where he is a baker. He was very surprised and it took such a long time for your Embassy to deliver the ring. But, after he remembered, how already in 1945 he tried to deliver the ring to the right family and failed and how finally with the help of Mr. B, this was made possible, he was pleased too.

Yours letters are full of thanks, faithfulness and we are happy, it was possible for us to do this little service for faraway family, which done so much for even us.

The package, which you mentioned in your letter, did not yet arrive, but we are sure it will bring plenty of joy to us-! Soon, as we will get it, we will let you know.

About my health; it’s not much good, but when better time will come, I hope to feel better. We have too much worry now, but we do hope, they will be gone with better times too.

We are very satisfied that the matter is finally closed and we are thanking you for all the regards and thanks which we repeat and remain with friendship, yours

Z’s Family

Well, Mrs. Buslee, I hope you will understand that translation and I just can’t think of all those high words in Czech, to put the exact words in the English words, but the meaning is the same.

They have a terrible time in Czechoslovakia now, the same like in 1939-44, when the Nazis were he masters of that country. But now it is still worse, because now their own peoples-the Czech Communists-trained in Russia, are the bloody masters-! Please, if you will write to Z, PLEASE, do NOT mention anything about the situation in that poor country, because, that could mean-and I am sure it would mean-very hard time for Z and his family. About three month ago, Z’s father send me a letter, but more than half of his letter was complete mess; the censor just used his pen so much, I didn’t now, what Z’s father is writing about.

Please, Mrs. Buslee, DON’T thank me for anything-! I am just happy you finally have the ring and it’s a shame, it took so long to get it from our own Embassy–!

Our daughter got married, but Mrs. Buslee, I am sorry to tell you, that we have No daughter-! She done something I NEVER expect she would do and we just have so much sorrow in our hearths-!! I hate New York-!!!!!

To you and all your family, our best wishes and we remain sincerely yours:

Mr. & Mrs. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – September 23, 1948

To review:  Z’s family in Czechoslovakia sent the ring on April 8, 1948 to the Buslee’s in Park Ridge, Illinois.  Expected arrival was April 29, but the ring had still not surfaced by September.

In an effort to locate the ring, Mr. B had written to the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia on September 9 and had received a reply that the embassy was in possession of the ring.

The Foreign Service
Of the
United States of America
Office of the Military Attaché
American Embassy
Prama, Czechoslovakia

23 September 1948

Mr. B
Richmond, Texas

Dear Sir:

Your letter of 9 September 1948 has been referred to this office for reply. We are indeed happy to inform you that we now have the ring in question in our possession and that the ring will be sent to “Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee, 411 Wisner Avenue, Park Ridge, Illinois, U.S.A.” immediately by registered APO mail.

Trusting this information will be of interest to you, I remain

Sincerely,
Charles J. Knapp
Administrative Officer

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – Undated

To review:  The ring, which should have arrived at the Buslee’s home by April 29, 1948, had vanished.

This letter from Z’s mother is undated and I have no way of knowing when it was written other than it must have been written between July and September based on references in the letter.

Dear Mrs. Buslee:

Before I go further with my letter, I am sending the best wishes to you and your family. Thanks once more for the lovely letter and the photos. Please excuse me that I have not written any sooner.

We were expecting a message from you folks that you received the ring, but so far we did not hear from you. I am sending also a few pictures. Out here in the country we are not very well prepared to take pictures as good as the folks in the city. When we are altogether again we will take a family group and send it to you.

We were hoping that our son would be home in June, but new developments made it impossible, and he will not be home before, if then, October. We will be very happy when the occasion comes that you folks could visit us, and also Mr. B. We would be very happy to have you in our home. We are sorry we do not speak English. My husband talks a little German, but not very much. We are thinking of you every day and every time the mailman appears we are looking for a letter from America.

We were thinking we were doing the right thing and sending it the safest way, but as it turned out, it was not safe at all. We realize that you folks are anxious to get the ring, but there is nothing in our power for us to do so you can get it sooner. When my husband came back from Prague we were very happy because they promised you folks would get the ring in 21 days.

Mrs. Buslee, you are asking me how many children we have. The oldest 24 and the youngest 21. [Two other sons besides Z.] Both are healthy and good boys and the oldest one has learned pastry making. The youngest one goes to electrical engineering school. I am plenty busy to get the washing, etc. ready when they are home. We also have with us my oldest sister and my husband being sick needs good food, so we are raising quite a bit of poultry on our little farm and we are enjoying the living in the country. It is very nice and all we hope for is final settlement and peace. I have written you about our family and do not want to bother you any more with a longer letter. We all are happy to get letters from you any time you find a little time. Write to us.

With best regards, Z’s Mother and Family

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – August 25, 1948

To review:  In his last letter, Z’s father reported that he had sent the ring on April 8, 1948 and that the Buslee’s should receive it within three weeks – by April 29.

Almost four months later, the ring had still not arrived.  While the Buslee’s were wondering what had happened to the ring, Z’s family and Mr. B were confused as to why the Buslee’s had not given them any good news and thanks for sending the ring.

Richmond, Texas, Aug. 25, -48

Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee,
Park Ridge, ILL.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

Please, forgive me, that I am writing to you, but I have just received a letter from Z’s father and it is a very sad letter. Well, Z’s father would like to know, if you have received the ring, which belonged to you beloved son John.

Enclosed you will find a Confirmation, which Z’s father, after he gave the ring to the American Military Attaché, received from the American Embassy in Prague, dated April 8, 1948.

It read, that The Office of the Military Attaché received the ring from Z’s father, to be delivered to the family of Lt. John O. Buslee. That prove, Z’s father delivered the ring to the Attaché.

I wonder, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, why didn’t you write to Z’s father, that you have the ring, so he would be sure, that his service and his trouble, was not useless-!!!

I send to Z’s family two CARE packages, because I know, how happy they were, to do this service for us and because I know, it was a very expensive trip for him, going to Prague with the ring. But, all he would like to know, is, if you received the ring which belonged to you beloved son. If not, please return enclosed letter from the Military Attaché, and I will send it to Z’s father at once, so he can investigate, why the ring was not send to you.

I do hope, you will understand, why I am writing to you, because I just feel sorry for Z’s family.

With best wishes I am yours:
Mr. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – April 17, 1948

To review:  After Z recounted his experience of witnessing the crash of Lead Banana, his father wrote a letter to the Buslee’s detailing the event.

Z’s father wrote again very soon with more news about the ring.

Richmond, Texas, April 17, -48

Dear Mr. Buslee-:

Here is the translation of Z’s father’s letter, but please kindly correct all the errors in spelling-!

* * *

Prague, 4-8-1948

Esteemed Mr. Buslee :

I am informing you, that to-day, that is 4-8-1948, I have send the ring, which belonged to your son. It will be send to you by the Military Attaché of the US Embassy in Prague. I gave the ring personally to him and he thank me very nicely. Now I have only one wish, that is, you get the ring, which belonged to your beloved son.

After the information from the Military Attaché, you will have the ring in 3 weeks and please, after you will receive it, let me know.

I wish to tell Mr. B about this too, but I forgot his address at the office of the Attaché and will write to him soon, as I get home.

Please be sure, how happy I am, that with the help of Mr. B I was able to do this for you.

With respect:

Z’s Father,

Czechoslovakia

* * *

Well, Mr. Buslee, I am sure you will have the ring in next 2 weeks, and I too, just like Z’s father, will be very—very happy-!

Yes, it is hot here in Texas, but you just get use of it, but I tell you, Mr. Buslee, if I would be in Chicago only one winter, I guess I would freeze to death-! For three years, our daughter – she try to get us to New York, but I am afraid the winter would kill me. She told me lately, “daddy, I will find a little home and Shoe Shop for sale, /I have a Shoe Shop here/ and you must move to New York-! But we still don’t like the idea-! You know, the winter here is very mild. July, August and September, well, this three months are “no good”,-too hot, but the nine months of the year, just fine-! The only trouble I have here, is my Arthritis, which tortures me for long time, and the climate is no good for this kind of trouble, because it is here very low. Next July we are planning going to Hot Springs, Ark., and I hope to cure that “so and so”-Arthritis-!

If we ever will travel to New York to see our daughter, we will go via Chicago and see you, Mr. Buslee. And if you ever will travel to the South, please, do not forget Richmond-!!!!

Sincerely yours:

Mr. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – April 12, 1948

To review:  On March 26, Mr. B sent a translated letter to the Buslee’s explaining that it would be possible for the finder of their son’s ring to send it to them from Czechoslovakia.

In a follow-up letter, Z’s father explains that his son was home on a short visit and told of the crash of the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  In a previous letter, Z identified the date of the crash as September 22, and in this letter as September 24.

Richmond, Texas, April 12, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

Thank you for your nice letter Mrs. Buslee and please, forgive me, it took me two days to answer your letter. First, here is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. Please kindly correct those words, they are written in “my” English, that mean, there is plenty of errors in spelling, but, I do hope, you will understand-!

Esteemed Mr. Buslee,

In addition to my first letter, I am informing you, that my son Z came home on very short visit and was unable to answer your letter and asked me, to do so for him and to tell you about the plane in which your dear son found his death.

First I have to state, that the ring really belong to your son, Mr. Lt. John O. Buslee and the No. 0-764209 is correct-! His name is engraved inside the ring and no doubt everything is correct-! /Here Z’s father means, that I found the right kins./

My son Z left the ring here with me and now I am waiting for your directions how to send the ring to you, or I will take care of this myself and send it. Mr. B, who helped us to find you has told us, that he suggested to you, to ask the Amer. Consul, who would take care of it. /I told Z’s father in last letter, if he is SURE, he can send the ring direct to you, Air Mail-Registered, it would be the best way, but, he MUST be SURE, that the Czechoslovak authorities would let him send the ring-!/

And now to the unfortunate death of your son, my son Z stated this:

On Sept. 24, /Sunday/ about 14 hours, /That is 2 P.M./ came a swarm of bombing US planes and the direction was Magdeburg in Germany. One plane was separated from the swarm and the way it looks, damaged. Finally after a while, the plane came down in flames near the village. My son, who have been in Germany on forced labor in lager close to village, went to the scene and came there sooner before the German authorities did. The plane was burned, motor deep in the ground and the way it looks, everybody in the plane was dead and burned, too, because there was no sign of any body of the dead flyers. Because the place, where the plane came down, is out of populated places, it is not possible, that the flyers, dead or injured, have been removed, before Z and his friends came to the wreckage of the burned plane. The very next day, Sept. 25, 1944, my son and his two friends, one Czech and One Frenchman, went to the place again and in the ruins they were looking for some souvenirs. My son found the ring, and at first he thought, he found some little part of the instruments of the plane. But after cleaning the little thing from all the sticky material on it, he find out it is a ring, which must belong to one of the dead flyers. Then he found the name, the serial number and the engraved Emblem of the USA. The stone – the color of the stone – is damaged by flames and it is not possible to tell the original color of the stone.

After Z came home from Germany, in Dec. 1944, he hide all the things he found in the burned plane, it was some papers and some money besides the ring, and after the liberation in 1945 he went to the Amer. Consul in Prague, /I will return to this point of Z’s father’s letter-!/where he told them all he know about the plane and asked them to find out the kins of the flyer, so he can send them the ring. They kept the half-burned papers and money, but asked Z to keep the ring till they find out the family of the flyer.

With the help and kindness of Mr. B it will be possible for my son, to return the ring to you, and it will be a great honor for me, to return this memory-ring-which belonged to your heroic son.

Please, forgive my son Z for not writing to you, but he is in service now, and is changing place very often. /Here Z’s father can’t say, where his son is stationed-! /I will be happy to answer all your questions and please, do not bother yourself about the expense with sending the ring-! It will be only a happiness for us to deliver to you the ring, which, we know, will be treasured by you.

My son have only one wish to you and that is, if you would be so kind and send him a picture of your son, which he would be happy to have as a memory for unknown hero and which would be the only reward he is asking for; that would be the best reward for the safekeeping of the ring-!

And now I have only one wish and that is, to deliver the ring to you soon as possible, because I know, how it would and will be treasured by you-!

I am looking forward to your instruction and your decision how to send the ring.

Yours: Z’s Father,

So that is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. And now, dear Mrs. Buslee, let me tell you, that you DO NOT bother me and please, do not mention this again-!!! You don’t know, how happy I will be, after you will send me a letter, that you have the ring-! And I do hope, it will be soon. Z’s father in his letter to me last week told me, he believes, you will have the ring in hand in the second half of April. A pray for this-!!! I made the suggestion to you and to Z’s father too, that it would be the best way to send the ring to the Amer. Consul General in Prague, but after the information, which Z’s father gave me about those things his son have to the Consul in 1945, I believe it would be the best send the ring direct to you. I told Z’s father to go to the Czech authorities and explain them what it is all about and I am sure, they would let him send it direct. I would not care, to write direct to President Beneš and I am sorry Jan Masaryk is dead-! If I would write to him, he sure would fix it up and the ring would be here in 10 days-!!

PLEASE, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, DO NOT send any money to Z’s family-! You know, they have plenty of money in Czechoslovakia, but—they can’t buy nothing for it, because, there is nothing to buy. The boy, Z, he is a Philatelist-stamp collector-and I already send him US stamps about 20 dollars worth and I send him about 40 beautiful “First Day of Issue” covers and he is very happy about them. All Z is asking you is a picture of your son John. And you, dear Mrs. Buslee, in letter to me, are promising the picture not only to Z’s family but to us too. Please, believe me, we sure will be happy to have one too.! So please, DO NOT send any money to Z’s family, but, if you really would like to send something to make those people happy, I will give you a suggestion, but after you will have the ring-!!! You know, piece of cloth or pair of stockings, that’s something, which they can’t buy for no money and how happy they would be- ! But—only after you will have the ring, then we will discuss it further-! Once again I am asking you PLEASE, do not mention any bothering, Mrs. Buslee and we too hope, we meet some time. In case you came to the South, please do not forget Richmond and the B’s-! Sincerely yours: Mr. B

The next day, Mr. B wrote a quick note to the Buslee’s with some information he forgot to include in the previous day’s letter.

Richmond, Tex., 4-13-48.

Dear Mrs. Buslee-:

By translating Z’s father’s letter, I forget to tell you that the time when the plane came down, is given in CET /Central European time/ that mean, if the plane came down 14 hours /2 P.M./CET, that would be 7 A.M, CST, or 8. A.M, EST.

Sincerely yours:
Mr. B

The time of day of the mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana noted on Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 9753 was 12:11 p.m. – just after noon.  I assume this would have been the time of day at the Grafton Underwood air base.  I believe there is an hour time difference between Grafton Underwood, England and Magdeburg, Germany.

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – March 26, 1948

To review:  On March 16, 1948, the Buslee’s wrote to the American Consul General in Czechoslovakia asking for assistance in the delivery of their son’s ring to them from the finder of the ring in Czechoslovakia.

Mr. B, the translator of the letters between America and Czechoslovakia, received a letter from the finder of the ring’s father.  Mr. B translated the letter and sent it to the Buslee’s, adding some information of his own.  In the translated letter from Z’s father, Mr. B occasionally also inserts commentary of his own by placing the information between slashes.

Richmond, Texas, March 26, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee:-

Thank you for your letter, dear Mrs. Buslee, and I am very happy to know, it will be possible for Z, to send the ring to you direct. That is the way, I understand his letter. But first, here is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. Please, you must understand, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, my English is no good, and to be true, I am ashamed for my bad English, but I came to this beautiful and FREE country, when I was 32 years old, and I am telling you, English is a very hard language to learn. We have a daughter, she was six years old, when she came here and her English is better than those born here. But she started from “ABC” in school and that is different. In 1943 she join the Cadet Nurse Corp and went to New York, and she is still there. So please, forgive my bad English, and here is the translation of that letter:

Esteemed Mr. Buslee !

I received your letter dated 3-8-1948, and I am informing you, that I am answering your letter for my son, who by now is in the service in certain town, which is located far from us. /You know, Mrs. Buslee, they cannot tell in which town, because there must be a censorship in Czechoslovakia and I am sure, it is forbidden to mention that/So I am not able to give you all information about the plane and Mr. Lt. Buslee, who found his heroic death. But soon, as my son will come home for furlough, he will tell you all he knows.

As far as I know, my son he has the ring, which belong to Mr. Lt. Buslee and the other things, which he did have, he send some time ago to the American Consul in Prague, where he asked for informations about the kins of Lt. Buslee./Here Z’s father means some things which his son found by the plane. And I just wonder, why the American Consul General in Prague, did not inquire in Washington, D.C., and did not try to find you-!!!/

It will be a great honor for us, to deliver the remembrance /he means the ring/ to the kins of a dead, who sacrificed his life for the restoration of human rights.

I do not believe /this is the part of Z’s father’s letter, which pleased me very much, because – as I told you Mrs. Buslee in my letter, – I was afraid it would not be possible to mail the ring directly to you by Z/ there will be any difficulty from the Czechoslovak authorities, to deliver the ring to you, and soon, as my son will come home, we will do so. /that mean, they will send the ring/

Please, forgive me, I am late with my answer, but there is nobody here, who would be able to read English and I send the letter of yours to the city to be translated in Czech. Forgive me again please, I am answering in Czech, because I hate to keep you waiting, by sending my letter in Czech, for the English translation and so I am writing in Czech and hope, you will find someone, who will read it for you. After my son will come home, he will tell you all, he know about the plane and the crew and I am terribly sorry, I am unable to ease your sorrow.

I am wishing you a very pleasant Easter and remain with a friendly respect yours:
Z’s Father
Czechoslovakia

Over-:

So, dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, that is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. He is the father of that boy Z and the letter shows, they are good peoples. I am very—very happy, it will be possible for him, to mail the ring directly to you. As you know I suggested in my last letter, to ask the Amer. Consul in Prague to ask for the ring and I told Z, in case, the Amer. Consul General will ask for the ring, just mail it to him. But, now, after Z’s father told you- and I am greatly disappointed about that kind of service from US Consul- that his son some time ago asked the US Consul for information and send him some things he found by the plane, and the Consul DID nothing to find you, it really will be better, if Z will be able to send the ring directly to you. I am writing this very moment to Z and tell him about that, and will ask him, if it is possible for him, to send the ring to you direct, just forget all about my idea, to send the ring to the Amer. Consul in Prague, and send the ring Air Mail and registered and I will pay all the expense, or send some my stamps from my collection.

I and my wife, dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, we will be so happy, after you will have the remembrance – the ring – from you beloved son-! We have only one child too, -daughter- and we know, how terrible it would be if she would be lost for us, because she is all we have lived for, just like your dear son was-! May God bless you and please, write to me again and after I will know, you did get the ring, we will be happy with you-!!

Please Mrs. Buslee, do not thank me-! It was not a bit of trouble for me, but pleasure to help such a wonderful people. We too, are wishing you a Happy Easter and please, believe me, how happy I would be, if I would be able to ease your sorrow.

Sincerely yours:
Mr. B and wife

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – March 16, 1948

To review:  On March 11, 1948, the Buslees received a letter from Mr. B with directions for them to send a letter to the  American Consul General, Prague, Czechoslovakia, requesting assistance in the return of the ring.

The Buslees wrote the following letter to the American Consul General.

411 Wisner Avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois

March 16, 1948

Mr. Lawrence Steinhardt
American Embassy
Prague, Czechoslovakia

Dear Honorable Mr. Steinhardt:

We have received a letter from Czechoslovakia, as enclosed.

The letter from Z was sent originally to Mr. B of Richmond, Texas. While these two men were not personally acquainted, it seems that through a mutual friend, Z secured the name of Mr. B. Z was so sincere in his efforts to return the ring to the next of kin that Mr. B turned to the Veterans’ Service Officer at Richmond, Texas in an effort to secure the home address of the next of kin of John O. Buslee.

The result is that we received a letter from Col. Carle, which we enclose. This you will observe makes possible Z in Czechoslovakia learning as to the address of the parents of John O. Buslee.

We are quite confident that you will appreciate the feelings of a mother and father who lost their only son, and thus far, due to the extenuating circumstances, have had little or no definite information as to what actually happened on the fatal day of September 1944.

We would greatly appreciate your lending your effort and assistance to dispatch this ring to our address as below. Our feeling is that with the disturbed conditions in Czechoslovakia it might be difficult for an individual, namely Z, to dispatch a piece of jewelry to this country, and that in your position it would facilitate and make possible sending the ring to us promptly.

We thank you most sincerely for your attention to this matter and assure that any effort you make will be greatly appreciated.

Believe us to be,
Sincerely yours,
Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee
411 Wisner Avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois, U.S.A.

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015