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Category Archives: Seeley, Clarence B

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

Clarence B. Seeley

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley was born on February 26, 1921 to Clarence A. and Marie A. Seeley. Ben’s father was originally from Nebraska and his mother was originally from Missouri.

In 1920, the family lived at 1006 N. Cherry Street in Jefferson (Ward 1), Greene County, Iowa. Son Ben was yet to be born, but Clarence Sr. and Marie already had three children:  Ida A. (age 8), Nora L. (age 5), and Gordon L. (age 3). Ida and Nora had been born in Nebraska, and Gordon was born in Iowa. Clarence Sr. worked as a laborer and Marie was a nurse for a private family.

By 1930, the Seeley family had moved to 600 F Street, North Platte, Lincoln County, Nebraska. The family had grown to five children with the addition of son Ben on February 26, 1921 and daughter Ruth in 1927. Ben was born in Iowa, and Ruth was born in Nebraska. At the time, Clarence Benjamin went by the nickname Bennie. Clarence Sr. was a laborer in the railroad industry and Marie was not employed. At the time of the 1930 census, Ida was 19, Nora was 18, Gordon was 14, Ben was 9, and Ruth was 3.

In 1940, the Seeley’s were living at 1021 East 8 Street, East Hinman, Lincoln County, Nebraska. Clarence Sr. was a carpenter and Marie was a dressmaker. According to the 1940 census, Ida and Nora were not living at home with their parents, but Gordon and Ben were. Ben was now 19 years old and was employed as a deliveryman. Also living with the Seeley’s were granddaughter Myrtle L. Seeley, who was 10, and grandson C. Robert Rodman, who was 8. Ruth, who would have been 13 years old, was also not listed as living in the Seeley home.

During WWII, Ben enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He became the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  After final crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated July 22, 1944. On the back of the crew photo, Seeley was identified as hailing from Halsey, Blaine County, Nebraska. The crew flew heavy bomber missions in B-17s over Germany.  The ten-man crew included:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Once the Buslee crew of ten reached Grafton Underwood, flight crews had been reduced to only nine men per aircraft and included only one waist gunner rather than two. On the crew’s first mission on August 4, 1944 to Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany, Jay Buslee co-piloted alongside pilot Arthur Shwery, giving Buslee some combat training. This resulted in co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht flying with the Paul E. Norton crew, and George Edwin Farrar sitting out the mission as Lenard Leroy Bryant had been selected to fly as sole waist gunner on the Buslee crew’s first mission. Ben Seeley completed his first mission as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner.

On the crew’s next mission, Shwery again provided combat training for Buslee, and Albrecht flew with the Norton crew. Farrar was rotated in as waist gunner and Bryant sat out this mission. This August 5 mission was to a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany with the Buslee crew aboard aircraft 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the beginning of the bomb run over the target, they were met with anti-aircraft fire. A shell exploded to the side of the Tremblin’ Gremlin’s nose and a shell fragment pierced the flying fortress and struck bombardier Marvin Fryden in the chest. Fryden managed to maintain his position and released Tremblin’ Gremlin’s bombs on the target before collapsing.

The engineer and top turret gunner, Ben Seeley, sustained the second most serious injury. A piece of flak tore through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. Also incurring minor injuries on the mission were navigator Chester A. Rybarczyk, pilot Arthur J. Shwery, co-pilot John Oliver Buslee, and waist gunner George E. Farrar.

The fort had sustained heavy battle damage. The right inboard engine was out. The radio compartment was riddled with flak holes and the radio equipment was destroyed. The trim tabs that control the plane’s balance were shredded. The hydraulic brake system was shot out. Part of the oxygen system was also out, causing the men up forward to use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Only Fryden and Seeley needed immediate first aid treatment during the return trip. Navigator Chester Rybarczyk assisted Fryden, who remained conscious during the entire mission. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as they reached the English coast and Buslee headed for the nearest airfield. Even with his brakes gone, Buslee managed to bring the plane in on the concrete landing strip and slide it off onto the grass to reduce the speed before finally coming to a halt.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden died later in an Army hospital with his friend Chester Rybarczyk at his side.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Clarence Benjamin Seeley was seriously wounded and was not able to fly again for almost two months.  As a result, he was grounded until October.

With Seeley out as the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner, and the fact that flight crews had been reduced to only one waist gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant was moved into the engineer/top turret gunner position. This left George Edwin Farrar as the sole waist gunner for the Buslee crew.

On September 28, just days before Seeley would return to flight duty, Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew collided with Lead Banana carrying the Buslee crew after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Of the Buslee crew, only waist gunner George Edwin Farrar survived.  The other eight members of the crew (see note below) were killed in the mid-air collision.

Ben Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203 on October 2, 1944.  He safely completed his tour with 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945, and was able to return home.

Clarence B. Seeley died August 17, 2007 in Portland, Clackamas County, Oregon at the age of 86. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon, Plot: Section L,Block 3,Lot 21,Grave A.

Note – On the September 28, 1944 mission the Buslee crew was made up of:

  • 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)

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

 

 

 

 

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Scanned Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

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

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

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

Crew List:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Buslee Crew on September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201

Buslee Crew on 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, named “The Lead Banana.”

The primary target was the Steelworks Industry in Magdeburg, Germany.

Coming off the target, aircraft 42-31222, “Lazy Daisy,” collided with “The Lead Banana.”

Lead Banana 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

Buslee, Albrecht, Peluso, Bryant, and Farrar were the only original Buslee crew members on the aircraft.

William Alvin Henson II replaced Chester Rybarczyk three times on the Buslee crew.  It was Rybarczyk’s lucky day to be flying with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew on aircraft 42-39888, “Hotnuts” on this mission.  Comments were entered on the “Hotnuts” Sortie Report that the ship “Left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base.”  Rybarczyk did witness the crash, as he stated in a letter to Farrar’s mother dated October 13, 1944.  The “unknown reason” was most likely a search for parachutes and survivors after the collision.

Original Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden was killed on the crew’s second mission on August 5, 1944.  James B. Davis replaced Fryden on the Buslee crew, but for the second time, Robert Sumner Stearns replaced Davis on this mission.  Davis flew as Bombardier on the Raymond J. Gabel crew on aircraft 43-38062, “Pleasure Bent.”

Original Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence B. Seeley was wounded on the August 5, 1944 mission, and did not fly again until October 2, 1944.  Lenard Leroy Bryant, an original member of the Buslee crew, moved to the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner position from his original waist gunner position.

Original Ball Turret Gunner Erwin V. Foster’s last flight with the Buslee crew was on September 9, 1944.  Foster did not fly again until September 30, 1944.  George Francis McMann served with the Buslee crew as Ball Turret Gunner on the September 28 flight, his one and only flight with this crew.

Source:  Sortie Reports for Lead Banana, Hotnuts, and Pleasure Bent.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 171 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 514.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102620, named “De Rumble Izer.”

The primary target was Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany.

Crew List:

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

Buslee flew his first mission as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  A training opportunity for Buslee, no doubt.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102959, name unknown.

The tenth member of the crew, George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the Buslee crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Buslee Crew When Assigned to the 384th Bomb Group

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Source

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew, Eighth Air Force, 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)

Crew photo, back row, left to right:

  • Lt. John Oliver Buslee, Pilot, from Park Ridge, Illinois
  • Lt. David Franklin Albrecht, Co-Pilot, from Chico, California
  • Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, Navigator, from Toledo, Ohio
  • Lt. James B. Davis, Bombardier, from New Castle, Indiana

Crew photo, front row, left to right:

  • Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, from Elmira, New York
  • Sgt. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner, from Brooklyn, New York
  • Sgt. Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner, from Lubbock, Texas
  • Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, from Halsey, Nebraska
  • Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, Tail Gunner, from Detroit, Michigan
  • Sgt. George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner, from Atlanta, Georgia, (my dad)

Notes:

  1. The Buslee crew departed the US on July 1, 1944.  They were stationed with the 544th Bombardment Squadron of the 8th Air Force at the Grafton Underwood airfield.
  2. Original crew members were Pilot – John Oliver Buslee, Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht, Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk, Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden, Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley, Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster, Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski, Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar.
  3. The original Buslee crew’s bombardier, Lt. Marvin B. Fryden, was killed on the crew’s second mission on August 5, 1944.  The photo must have been taken after Lt. James B. Davis replaced Fryden on the crew.
  4. The crew must have trained together in the US as a crew of ten, but by the time they saw action, the B-17 crews were made up of only nine men.  One Waist Gunner manned both waist gunner stations and was called a Flexible Gunner.  As a result, this crew of ten never all served on the same mission together.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013