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Category Archives: Henson II, William A

A Family Reunion

Oh, what a month August was! The first half of the month found me planning a Farrar family reunion. For many of us, the reunion would be a time to remember our childhoods together.  It was also the first time many of us cousins, descendants of the nine children of Raleigh Mae and Carroll Farrar, would meet.

The weekend of August 14 – 16 we gathered at Red Top Mountain State Park on the shores of Lake Allatoona in Cartersville, Georgia. We rented cabins and a picnic pavilion and spent the weekend getting acquainted and reacquainted.

We reminisced about stories of our parents growing up in the Kirkwood section of Atlanta. We guessed which aunt or uncle was the subject of family trivia questions. We ate an abundance of homemade goodies, but filled ourselves up more with family love than food. We hugged and laughed and cried a little at the end when the weekend was over. We also vowed not to wait fifty years for the next reunion.

The reunion was also a time to share family pictures and this one was given to me by my cousin Phyllis, the baby in the photo. It was probably taken in 1941. The only Farrar child not in the picture was the oldest, Gerry.

Standing back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt, Janet, Unknown, Carroll, Jr. Standing middle row, L to R: Martha, Dot holding Phyllis, Raleigh, and Carroll, Sr. Kneeling, L to R: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb, and Denney

Standing back row, L to R: Ed, Bob Hunt (Janet’s husband), Janet, Unknown, Carroll, Jr.
Standing middle row, L to R: Martha, Dot holding baby Phyllis, Raleigh, and Carroll, Sr.
Kneeling, L to R: Bob, Gene, Beverly, Hugh Cobb (Dot’s husband), and Denney Cobb.

A later Farrar photo that still doesn’t picture all of the Farrar children together does include Gerry.

Standing L to R: Janet, Gene, Carroll Jr, Raleigh Mae, Beverly, Bob, and Ed Kneeling: Gerry

Standing L to R: Janet, Gene, Carroll Jr, Raleigh Mae, Beverly, Bob, and Ed
Kneeling: Gerry

After leaving Red Top Mountain State Park and my Farrar family, my trip back home to Atlanta continued for another week. Lunches and dinners with old friends and co-workers, Reunion Part 2 with my sister Nancy and cousin Terry in Terry’s cabin on the Tennessee River, and an important meeting rounded out the visit.

The meeting? A piece of my father’s history turned into my reality when I met the widow and daughter of Bill Henson, the navigator who lost his life in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana. My father was the waist gunner on Lead Banana that day and the only one of the crew who survived.

William Alvin Henson II

William Alvin Henson II

I learned from Bill’s daughter that my dad visited with her mother after the war and kept in touch with her for some time. And incredibly, I learned that Henson’s widow’s family, the Whisnant family of Summerville, Georgia, lived next door to my grandfather Carroll’s brother, Baker William Farrar, and his family when she was growing up. Even though Bill Henson’s daughter and I are not related by blood, we are related by our common histories and the brotherhood of the boys of the 384th Bomb Group of WWII.

Oh, what a month!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

 

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Lt. William Henson Killed in Action

William Alvin Henson II

William Alvin Henson II

My grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, communicated regularly with most of the families on the Next-of-Kin list she received from the War Department.  I believe she wrote to every single family, and she saved letters from all of the families except for the McMann family and the Henson family.  As a future post will discuss George McMann, I’ll concentrate on William Alvin Henson II, the navigator serving with the Buslee crew on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944, in this one.

William Alvin Henson II was the original bombardier on the Gerald B. Sammons crew.

Left to right:  Gerald B. Sammons, William Alvin Henson, and unidentified

England, Summer 1944.  Left to right: Gerald B. Sammons, William Alvin Henson, and unidentified

Henson’s first mission was mission 109 on May 19, 1944 to Berlin, Germany.  Henson flew his first four missions with the Sammons crew.  On their second mission, Group B, including the Sammons crew, did not locate the formation and had to return to base with their bomb load, resulting in no credit for this mission.  Henson flew eleven total missions as a bombardier, earning ten mission credits.  His last mission as a bombardier was mission 142 on June 21, 1944, again to Berlin, Germany.

At this point, Henson retrained as a navigator and flew his first mission as navigator on the Alfred H. Cole crew on mission 162, July 20, 1944 to an aircraft industry target in Dessau, Germany.  Just like his second mission as a bombardier, his second mission serving as navigator on the Cole crew on mission 163, July 21, 1944 to Schwabisch Hall, Germany, the crew could not locate the formation after taking off late and turned back while still over England.  Again, no mission credit for this one.  Henson flew seventeen total missions as a navigator, earning sixteen mission credits.

On his twenty-sixth credited mission, William Alvin Henson was flying as navigator aboard the Lead Banana with the John Oliver Buslee crew on September 28, 1944.  It was the third time he had flown with the Buslee crew.  He had replaced Chester Rybarczyk as navigator just the day before on September 27 and a few weeks earlier on September 3.  He had most recently been flying with the Harold M. Toler crew.  The Toler crew didn’t fly on September 3 or 27, and then Toler flew as pilot under Commander William T. Johnson as the high group lead on September 28.

Henson spent his last hours in the nose of Lead Banana with bombardier Robert Sumner Stearns, who was serving with the Buslee crew for only the second time.  Henson and Stearns both flew the prior day, September 27, with the Buslee crew.  They had released their bombs on Magdeburg and had turned for home when their wing found themselves on a crossing course with another group.  Their group had to move quickly and in the confusion Lazy Daisy veered out of formation, just narrowly missing Wallace Storey and the Kenneth Gross crew, due to Storey’s quick reaction and move to get out of the Daisy’s way, and collided with Lead Banana.  A handful of men were able to exit the two planes, but most were trapped inside, including William Alvin Henson II, without a chance to escape as the planes plummeted to earth.

William Henson was married to the former Harriet Whisnant of Summerville, Georgia.  Harriet was listed as next-of-kin on the War Department’s Next-of-Kin document.  Henson’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Henson lived in Atlanta, Georgia at 2398 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E. back in 1944.  My grandparents, Raleigh Mae and Carroll J. Farrar, lived fairly close to the Hensons, only about seven miles away at 79 East Lake Terrace in the Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta.  I can only assume that my grandmother gleaned this information from Henson’s obituary in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, which listed their address.  I also believe that my grandmother and the Hensons communicated by telephone as they lived only seven miles apart and would not have to pay the very high long distance telephone rates that they would have incurred had they been in different parts of the country.  Perhaps they even visited with each other, although I don’t have any record of it.  I believe this explains the lack of letters from the Hensons.

My grandmother saved three newspaper clippings of the announcement of William Henson’s death and funeral service.  The first clipping announced:

First Lieutenant William A. Henson II, 21, of the Air Corps, reported missing in action over Germany since September 28, was killed in action on that date, the War Department has informed his family here.

None of the clippings were dated, but a compilation of information from the clippings, probably published in late December 1944, includes:

  • Henson graduated from Conyers High School in 1940.
  • He completed two years at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina before he enlisted in the Air Corps in October 1942.
  • He received his wings at Vitorville, California, December 4, 1943.
  • He went overseas with the Eighth Air Force in April of 1944 and had completed 26 missions.
  • He won the Air Medal with three (another clipping states four) oak leaf clusters for “meritorious achievement.”  He also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.
  • He was flying as lead navigator on a B-17 when his plane was shot down.

The clippings also note:

He is survived by his wife, the former Miss Harriett Whisnant, of Summerville, and a two-week-old daughter; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Henson, of 2398 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E., and Conyers, Ga.; two sisters, Miss Jeanne Henson, of Shorter College, and Mrs. C.R. Vaughn, Jr., of Conyers; an uncle, C.W. Hall, of Valdosta; two aunts, Miss Lillian Henson, of Valdosta, and Mrs. L.E. Harold, of Crystal Springs, Miss.

Assuming the clippings were printed shortly after notification of his death, his daughter was probably born around December 10, 1944, just a couple of days after Lead Banana co-pilot David Albrecht’s daughter was born on December 8 in California.  Neither Henson nor Albrecht would ever have the chance to meet their daughters, and their daughters would never have the chance to know their fathers.

William Alvin Henson II was born June 8, 1923.  He was 21 years old when he lost his life on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision of Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  He is buried in the East View Cemetery in Conyers, Georgia.  A memorial to Henson and others who lost their lives in WWII is located near the flag pole at American Legion Post 77 on Legion Rd. in Conyers, Georgia.

William Alvin Henson II Memorial, Conyers, Georgia

William Alvin Henson II Memorial, Conyers, Georgia

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Our Bomber Crew

The parents of Buslee crew bombardier, Robert Sumner Stearns, wrote to George Edwin Farrar’s mother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, on January 1, 1945.  The Stearns sent the same information to all of the families of the Buslee crew included on the Next-of-Kin list they had just received.  The Stearns had learned on December 23, 1944 that their son had been killed on September 28.

Had other families also learned on December 23, 1944 that their sons had been killed that day?  The September 30, 1944 Telegram Form that became a part of MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) 9753 identified four men that had been killed in the mid-air collision of Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  It would make sense that all four families were notified on the same date.  Eight men had been reported dead, but only these four were identified:

  • William A. Henson II, navigator on Lead Banana
  • Robert S. Stearns, bombardier on Lead Banana
  • Gordon Hetu, ball turret gunner on Lazy Daisy
  • Robert D. Crumpton, engineer/top turret gunner on Lazy Daisy

I believe William Henson’s next-of-kin had been notified at the same time as the Stearns, which indicates that Hetu and Crumpton’s relatives also received the bad news around December 23.  All had been buried on September 30 at the Ostingersleben Cemetery near the crash site.

January 1, 1945
LaPine, Oregon

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

In today’s mail we received a letter from the War Department giving the names of the crew members of the bomber in which our son lost his life on September 28.  We are writing this letter to each of you who were listed as next of kin to give you all of the information we have received to date about our son.  Will you compare this information with what you have received and if there is anything you have which would add to the very meager reports which we have so far received we would greatly appreciated it if you would send it to us.  We hope to keep in close touch with all of you until every possible bit of information that would, in any way, help answer the many questions as to the fate of “Our Bomber Crew” which are in our minds today.  We all, definitely, have a lot in common; you may rest assured that Mrs. Stearns and I will forward any information we may receive that we think will be of interest to any of you.

Following is the information we have received to date:  The first word, of course, was the telegram stating that our son was listed as missing in action over Germany on Sept. 28th.

Following this wire was the letter from Headquarters of the Army Air Forces, Washington, which stated:  “Further information has been received indicating that Lieut. Stearns was a crew member of a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber which departed from England on a combat mission to Magdeburg, Germany, on Sept. 28th.  The report indicates that during this mission at 12:10 P.M., in the vicinity of the target your sons bomber sustained damage from enemy anti-aircraft fire.  Shortly afterwards the disabled craft was observed to fall to earth, and, inasmuch as the crew members of the accompanying planes were unable to obtain any further details regarding its loss, the above facts constitute all the information presently available.”

Our next word was a short note from a close friend of our son, who was a pilot on another bomber, which stated:  although I wasn’t on the same mission I have talked with others who were on the same mission with Bob and we have reasons to believe he is safe.”  None of the reasons were stated but naturally this short note boosted our morale to the skies.

We then, on Dec. 23rd., received the telegram which stated:  “The German Government reporting through the International Red Cross states that your son, 1st. Lieut. Robert S. Stearns, previously reported as missing in action was killed on Sept. 28th.  Letter follows.”

This letter was the one giving the names of the crew members and the next of kin.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If any of you have not received a wire similar to the one we got on Dec. 23rd, you should be encouraged for it could mean that you could hear shortly that he is still living.  We have only the dim hope that the German Government is wrong, as it has been wrong in every thing it ever did do, and that we too may have good news of our son.

Our deepest sympathy is with you.  We would be very happy to have a letter from you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Carey & Betty Stearns,
LaPine, Oregon.

The friend of Bob Stearns to which his parents referred in the letter was Lt. Larkin C. Durdin, the pilot of the crew with which Stearns normally flew.  More information is provided in a second letter from Durdin to the Stearns, information which the Stearns passed along to the Farrars in a letter dated January 10, 1945.  The January 10th letter will be published in a future post.

The Stearns, who had been in a state of not knowing the fate of their son since September 28, 1944, were now in a state of not believing it.  On the day they received the telegram with the bad news, December 23, 1944, their son Bob had been missing for eighty-seven days.  They couldn’t yet let themselves believe that their son wouldn’t be coming back.  At this point they weren’t even aware that the War Department’s news of how Bob’s plane had gone down was not correct.  They would soon learn the truth.

© 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

Newspapers Report the Missing in Action

In October 1944, the Atlanta Constitution reported two local boys missing in action in Germany.  They were both on the Lead Banana on September 28 and were involved in the mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.

Farrar was a regular member of the Buslee crew.  Septemer 28 was his 16th mission.

Sgt. George Farrar Missing Over Reich

Staff Sergeant George Edwin Farrar, 22, of the Air Corps, has been missing in action over Germany since September 28, the War Department has advised his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carroll J. Farrar, 79 East Lake Terrace.

Sergeant Farrar joined the Air Corps in 1942, and won his wings at Kingman, Ariz.  He was a gunnery instructor at Kingman until going overseas this June.

He has two brothers in the armed forces, Robert B. Farrar, in the Pacific, and Sergeant Carroll J. Farrar, of Greensboro, N.C.

It was only the third time Henson had flown with the Buslee crew and he was getting close to the end of his service.  September 28 was his 26th mission.

Lt. Willliam Henson Missing Over Reich

First Lieutenant William A. Henson II, 21-year-old Conyers navigator, is missing in action over Germany, according to a War Department telegram received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Henson, of Conyers, and his wife, the former Miss Harriett Whisnant, of Summerville.

Winner of the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters for “meritorious achievement” while serving as bombardier on an Eighth Air Force B-17 Fortress, he was flying as lead navigator when his plane was shot down September 28.  He has flown 26 combat missions over enemy territory.

A graduate of Conyers High School, Lieutenant Henson had completed two years at the Citadel when he enlisted in the Air Corps.  He had served overseas since April, 1944.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

September 30, 1944 Telegram Form

Two days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated September 30, 1944 reported the fate of eight of the crew from the two planes.  It reported eight men dead, all buried on September 30, 1944 at the Ostingersleben Cemetery (the report identified it as the Osteringersleben Cemetery).  Only four of the eight men were identified:

  • William A. Henson II (listed incorrectly on the report as William A. Hedson II)
  • Robert S. Stearns
  • Gordon Hetu (listed incorrectly on the report as Gorden Heu)
  • Robert D. Crumpton

Henson and Stearns were from the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana.  Hetu and Crumpton were from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.  The other four were unidentified because, as the report states, they were “completely burned” and the “crews were mixed together.”

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report starts the count at eight (8) recovered dead, with only four (4) identified.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • 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
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

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    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
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger

An October 7, 1944 Captured Aircraft Report conveys the same information.

The September 30 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  1215
  • From:  L S E B
  • Through:  F R P
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 322     29 Sept.44   -2130-
  • The aircraft could not be identified as the fire destroyed all markings, but it must have been Lead Banana as Lazy Daisy was identified through the tail number on the October 1, 1944 Telegram Form.

Questions:

  • What does the date of September 30, 1944 signify?
  • Was this information received by the US Army Air Forces on this date?  From who?
  • What do the abbreviations in the “From,” “Through,” and “Remarks” sections stand for?

This information can be found on pages 12 and 13 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