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WWII Combat Chronology – 12 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 12 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Saturday, 12 August 1944

384th BG Mission 178/8th AF Mission 545 to La Perthe, France.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe) “Landing Ground.”

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

Shuttle-bombing mission UK-USSR-Italy-UK is completed. Of 72 B-17’s taking off from Fifteenth AF bases in Italy, 3 have various problems. The others bomb Toulouse/Francazal A/F and then proceed to UK. 62 P-51’s (part of the shuttle-mission force) and 43 from UK provide escort. No aircraft are lost. 70 HBs and 58 P-51’s land in UK. 5 HBs and 6 P-51’s, either left in Italy or returning there during mission, subsequently return to UK. Over 500 other HBs attack 7 A/Fs and M/Ys in the Paris area. 6 ftr gps provide escort, 1 escorts Ninth AF MBs. 2 of the gps afterwards strafe transportation tgts. In 2 operations nearly 900 FBs attack transportation tgts in NE France, a large number of which are bombed with good results by over 700, at a loss of 13 ftrs.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

  1. Mission 545, visual attacks on the Metz marshalling yard and airfield in C and E France.
  2. Mission 546, leaflet drop in France during the night.

Also,

  • 220 P-47s and P-51s attack transportation targets in NE France; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 3 are damaged beyond repair.
  • 1 fighter group escorts Ninth Air Force B-26s.
  • The 850th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 490th Bombardment Group (Heavy), moves from Harrington to Eye, England with B-24s.

The shuttle-bombing mission UK-USSR-Italy-UK is completed; of the 72 B-17s taking off from Fifteenth AF bases in Italy, 3 have various problems; the others bomb Toulouse/Francazal Airfield, France and then proceed to the UK; 62 P-51s (part of the shuttle-mission force) and 43 from the UK provide escort; no aircraft are lost; 70 B-17s and 58 P-51s land in the UK; 5 B-17s and 6 P-51s, either left in Italy or returning there during this mission, subsequently return to the UK.

Mission 545: 577 bombers and 436 fighters are dispatched to make visual attacks on the Metz marshalling yard and airfield in C and E France; 3 bombers and 3 fighters are lost (number in parenthesis are the number of bombers attacking the target):

  1. 276 B-24s are dispatched to hit airfields at Mourmelon (75), Laon/Athies (63), Laon/Couvron (61) and Juvincourt (52); 3 B-24s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 46 damaged; 10 airmen are KIA, 7 WIA and 32 MIA.
  2. 301 B-17s are dispatched to hit airfields at Chaumont (72), Buc (67), La Perthe (58) and Etampes/Mondesir (12); 69 hit the Metz marshalling yard; 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 28 damaged; 9 airmen are KIA and 1 WIA. The 2 groups above are escorted by 386 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA).

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

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

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

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

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

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

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

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

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

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

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

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

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

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

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

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

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

  • Born 26 July 1920
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 24
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

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

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

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

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

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

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

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

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

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

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 11 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 11 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Friday, 11 August 1944

384th BG Mission 177/8th AF Mission 541 to Brest, France.

Target: Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

More than 850 HBs attack 13 M/Ys, fuel dumps, A/Fs, and T/Os, in NE France and Paris area, and 23 arsenal areas, barracks, concrete emplacements and heavy arty posts in and around Brest, escorted by 8 ftr gps and a sq. 5 gps later strafe ground tgts.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 4 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 541, to attack marshalling yards, fuel dumps, airfields, and targets of opportunity in northeast France and the Paris area. The Buslee and Brodie crews participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 542, to attack arsenal areas, barracks, concrete emplacements and heavy artillery posts in and around Brest, France.
  3. Mission 543, a Micro H test against Le Chenaie rail bridge.
  4. Mission 544, to drop leaflets in France during the night.

Also, 28 of 31 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions in France.

Mission 541: 660 bombers and 300+ fighters are dispatched to attack 13 marshalling yards, fuel dumps, airfields, and targets of opportunity, in NE France and the Paris area; 4 bombers are lost (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of bombers attacking the target):

  1. 157 B-17s are dispatched to attack Belfort (76) and Mulhouse (76) marshalling yards and 1 B-17 hit a target of opportunity; 16 B-17s are damaged.
  2. Of 141 B-24s, 47 hit Coulommiers Airfield, 36 hit Pacy-sur-Armancon and 34 hit St Florentin; 5 B-24s are damaged.
  3. 76 of 77 B-17s hit Villacoublay aircraft depot; 1 B-17 is lost and 17 damaged; 1 airman is WIA and 9 MIA.
  4. 45 of 65 B-24s dispatched hit Toussus le Noble Airfield; 9 others hit Orleans/Saran Airfield; 1 B-24 is damaged.
  5. Of 220 B-24s, 66 hit Strasbourg fuel dump; marshalling yards at Strasbourg (65) and Saarbrucken (60); Nivelles Airfield (10) and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 3 B-24s are lost and 112 damaged; 7 airman are KIA, 7 WIA and 19 MIA.

Missions 541 and 542 are escorted by 356 P-38s and P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost and 1 damaged beyond repair; 1 pilot is WIA and 1 MIA.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 9 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 9 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Wednesday, 9 August 1944

384th BG Mission 176/8th AF Mission 533 to Erding, Germany.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe), the Erding Airdrome & Airfield.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

More than 500 HBs attack aircraft engine plant at Sindelfingen and several T/Os, including M/Ys at Saarbrucken, Luxembourg, and Saint-Vith. 18 HBs are lost, mostly to AA fire. 15 ftr gps fly 570 sorties in spt, claiming 33 aircraft destroyed in air and 30 on ground, plus numerous ground tgts in strafing attacks. 15 FB gps bomb and strafe rail tgts, including 12 M/Ys, in France. 325th Photographic Wg (Rcn) is activated to replace 8th Rcn Wg (Prov).

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force):  3 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 533 to strategic targets in southeast Germany, in which the Buslee and Brodie crews participated
  2. Mission 535, a Micro H test mission against an airstrip in France
  3. Mission 536 to drop leaflets in France and the Netherlands during the night.

Also:

  • 116 P-47s, escorted by 40 P-51s, are dispatched on fighter-bomber missions against communications in France without loss.
  • In England, HQ 325th Photographic Wing (Reconnaissance) is activated at High Wycombe; and HQ 25th Bombardment Group (Reconnaissance) and 652d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy, Weather Reconnaissance) with B-24s, the 653d Bombardment Squadron (Light, Weather Reconnaissance) with B-24s and Mosquito XVIs and 654th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy, Reconnaissance, Special) with B-24s, B-26s and Mosquito XVIs are activated at Watton.

Mission 533: 824 bombers and 675 fighters are dispatched to strategic targets (aircraft and tank factories, airfields and fuel depots) in SE Germany; weather deteriorated enroute and many bombers were recalled when confronted with a front rising to 28,000-feet (8,534 m) and most units attacked targets of opportunity; only 25 bombers hit their primary (Sindelfingen); 18 bombers and 3 fighters are lost; targets were (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of bombers bombing):

  1. Of 359 B-17s, 103 hit Pirmasens; 56 hit Elsenborn, 41 hit Karlsruhe, 30 hit Ulm, 8 hit Spreicher and marshalling yards at Saarbrucken (34) and Luxembourg (29); they claim 1-1-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; 11 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 157 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 5 WIA and 96 MIA. Escort is provided by 243 P-47s and P-52s; they claim 33-0-10 aircraft in the air and 24-0-15 on the ground; 1 P-47 and 1 P-51 are lost (pilots are MIA); 2 P-47s and 5 P-51s are damaged beyond repair.

  2. Of 218 B-17s, 16 hit Aacen, 12 hit Eindhoven, 12 hit St Vith marshalling yard and 7 hit targets of opportunity; 3 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 94 are damaged; 5 airman are WIA and 18 MIA. Escort is provided by 162 P-47s and P-51s without loss.

  3. Of 247 B-24s, 147 hit Saarbrucken marshalling yard and 25 hit an aircraft engine plant at Sindelfingen; 4 B-24s are lost, 2 are damaged beyond repair and 126 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 10 WIA and 39 MIA. Escort is provided by 165 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 6-0-4 aircraft; 1 P-38 is lost (pilot is MIA).

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John DeFrancesco, Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor

384th Bomb Group WWII pilot John DeFrancesco with his French Legion on Honour medal

John DeFrancesco was awarded the French Legion of Honour medal this week. John, a WWII B-17 pilot of the 384th Bomb Group of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, was appointed Chevalier (Knight) of the French Legion of Honour, having served during the 1944 campaigns to liberate France. The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit, both military and civil. Congratulations, John!

Previous posts with John

John DeFrancesco

Missing in Action, 1945 (See the January 8, 1945 entry)

Paul Bureau and the Marion County Florida Veterans Memorial Park

A Wing Panel Signing

Rendezvous in Savannah

2017 8th Air Force Reunion in New Orleans

An Italian-American Airman in WWII

An Italian-American Airman on Television

2017 Collings Foundation Tour Stop in Leesburg, Florida

2018 384th Bomb Group Reunion in Dayton

For more information about the French Legion of Honour Award

French Consulate in Miami website, Legion of Honor for US Veterans

French Consulate in Miami Facebook page

Wikipedia: Legion of Honour

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 8 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 8 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Tuesday, 8 August 1944

384th BG Mission 175/8th AF Mission 530 to Bretteville-sur-Laize, France.

Target: Military and Tactical, Enemy Strong Points.

The James Joseph Brodie of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron did not participate.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

Shuttle mission continues as B-17’s with P-51 escort, leave bases in USSR. While 36 hit Buzau A/F others hit A/F at Zilistea. No ftrs are encountered during mission. 359 B-24’s from UK bomb 10 Vweapon sites and 4 A/Fs in NE France. 6 P-51 gps provide escort. 2 gps bomb and 3 gps strafe rail facilities and rail and motor transportation with good results. 497 B-17’s bomb troop concentrations and strongpoints and T/Os S of Caen. 2 P-51 gps give spt, 1 later strafing traffic in Rouen area. 10 HBs and 4 P-51’s are lost, mostly to AA fire. 4 gps of FBs (163 planes) strafe and bomb M/Ys, a bridge, and T/Os N and W of Dijon and in Paris-miens-Saint-Quentin area. Eighth AF during the day and RAF during 7/8 Aug drop over 5,200 tons of bombs, mainly in spt of Canadian First Army (accompanied by a Polish armd div) offensive toward Falaise.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): Shuttle missions continue as 78 B-17s with 55 P-51s escort, leave bases in the USSR to hit airfields in Rumania; 38 hit Bizau and 35 hit Zlistea; no Luftwaffe fighters are encountered during the mission and the force flies to Italy.

Three missions are flown:

  1. Mission 530 to airfields and V-weapons sites in France
  2. Mission 531 to bomb enemy troop concentrations and strongpoints south of Caen
  3. Mission 532 to drop leaflets in France during the night

Mission 531: 681 B-17s and 100 P-51s are dispatched to bomb enemy troop concentrations and strongpoints south of Caen.

  • 25 Canadian soldiers are killed and 131 wounded by short bombing
  • 231 B-17s hit Cauvincourt, 99 hit Bretteville-sur-Laise strongpoint, 99 hit St Sylvain strong point, 67 hit targets of opportunity and 1 hits Gouvix strongpoint
  • The B-17s claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft
  • 7 B-17s are lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 294 damaged
  • 8 airmen are KIA, 15 WIA and 35 MIA
  • Escort is provided by 91 of 100 P-51s
  • The P-51s claim 4-1-6 aircraft
  • 3 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA)
  • 41 of 50 P-51s escort RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters on a convoy strike in Norway
  • 3 P-51s are lost and 3 damaged
  • 1 P-51 pilot is WIA and 3 MIA
  • 175 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s fly a fighter-bomber mission against the railroad N and W of Dijon
  • 2 P-47s and 2 P-51s are lost
  • 1 P-38, 1 P-47 and 1 P-51 are lost
  • 5 (fighter) airmen are MIA

Note

384th Bomb Group records state that their Mission 175 was 8th Air Force Mission 530, however, Jack McKillop’s volume records 8th Air Force Mission 531 as the mission of the day flown by the B-17 heavy bombers, not Mission 530. Therefore, I have included McKillop’s information for Mission 531 here rather than 530.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

USAAF – US Army Air Forces of WWII

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to write more about the multiple air force divisions of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during WWII, and I’m doing so today.

A very good source of information is available in PDF format on the internet, a 520-page volume called Air Force Combat Units of World War II, edited by Maurer Maurer and published by the Office of Air Force History in Washington, D.C., in 1983.

This work describes US air force combat units, divided by and described by Groups, Wings, Divisions, Commands, and Air Forces. I have included a link at the bottom of this article in the Sources section to this volume for those interested in learning more, but today I’m noting only information at the highest level, the different air forces themselves.

All descriptive information below is taken directly from and is credited to this volume.

The various numbered air forces which operated during World War II by theater of operation were:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

Eighth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as VIII Bomber Command on 19 Jan 1942. Activated in the US on 1 Feb 1942. An advanced detachment was established in England on 23 Feb and units began arriving from the US during the spring of 1942. The command conducted the heavy bombardment operations of Eighth AF (see US Strategic Air Forces in Europe) from 17 Aug 1942 until early in 1944. Redesignated Eighth AF on 22 Feb 1944. Afterward, engaged primarily in bombardment of strategic targets in Europe. Transferred, without personnel, equipment, and combat elements, to Okinawa on 16 Jul 1945. Although some personnel and combat units were assigned before V-J Day, the Eighth did not participate in combat against Japan. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US on 7 Jun 1946. Remanned and re-equipped as part of Strategic Air Command.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, served in the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.

Ninth Air Force (Tactical Operations)

Constituted as V Air Support Command on 21 Aug 1941. Activated on 1 Sep 1941. Redesignated Ninth AF in Apr 1942. Moved to Egypt and began operations on 12 Nov 1942, participating in the Allied drive across Egypt and Libya, the campaign in Tunisia, and the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Moved to England in Oct 1943 to become the tactical air force for the invasion of the Continent. Helped prepare for the assault on Normandy, supported operations on the beach in Jun 1944, and took part in the drive that carried the Allies across France and culminated in victory over Germany in May 1945. Inactivated in Germany on 2 Dec 1945.

US Strategic Air Forces in Europe (originally Eighth Air Force)

Constituted as Eighth AF on 19 Jan 1942 and activated on 28 Jan. Moved to England, May – Jun 1942, and engaged primarily in bombardment of targets in Europe. Redesignated US Strategic Air Forces in Europe on 22 Feb 1944. Afterward, coordinated AAF activities in the EAME Theater, exercising some operational control over both Eighth AF (originally VIII Bomber Command) and Fifteenth, and some administrative control over Eighth AF and Ninth. Served with the occupation forces in Europe after World War II. Redesignated United States Air Forces in Europe in Aug 1945. Directed USAF operations in the Berlin airlift, Jun 1948 – Sep 1949.

MEDITERRANEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (MTO)

Twelfth Air Force (Tactical Operations)

Constituted as Twelfth AF on 20 Aug 1942 and activated the same day. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and then on to North Africa for the invasion of Algeria and French Morocco in Nov 1942. Operated in the Mediterranean theater until the end of the war, serving with Northwest African Air Forces from Feb to Dec 1943, and afterward with Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. Inactivated in Italy on 31 Aug 1945.

Fifteenth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as Fifteenth AF on 30 Oct 1943. Activated in the Mediterranean theater on 1 Nov 1943. Began operations on 2 Nov and engaged primarily in strategic bombardment of targets in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans until the end of the war. Inactivated in Italy on 15 Sep 1945.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (CBI) THEATER OF OPERATIONS

Tenth Air Force (Burma-India)

Constituted as Tenth AF on 4 Feb 1942 and activated on 12 Feb. Moved to India, Mar-May 1942. Served in India, Burma, and China until Mar 1943 when Fourteenth AF was activated in China. Then the Tenth operated in India and Burma until it moved to China late in Jul 1945. Returned to the US, Dec 1945 – Jan 1946. Inactivated on 6 Jan 1946.

My father’s brother, my uncle Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr., served in the 315th Service Squadron of the 10th Air Force.

Fourteenth Air Force (China)

Constituted as Fourteenth AF on 5 Mar 1943 and activated in China on 10 Mar. Served in combat against the Japanese, operating primarily in China, until the end of the war. Moved to the US, Dec 1945 – Jan 1946. Inactivated on 6 Jan 1946.

Twentieth Air Force (Strategic Operations)

Constituted as Twentieth AF on 4 Apr 1944 and activated the same day. Some combat elements moved in the summer of 1944 from the US to India where they carried out very heavy bombardment operations against targets in Japan, Formosa, Thailand, and Burma. Other combat elements began moving late in 1944 from the US to the Marianas, being joined there early in 1945 by the elements that had been in India. Headquarters, which had remained in the US, was transferred to Guam in Jul 1945. From the Marianas the Twentieth conducted a strategic air offensive that was climaxed by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan. After the war the Twentieth remained in the theater and eventually became part of Far East Air Forces. Served in combat for a short time at the beginning of the Korean War but later was concerned primarily with logistic support for the operations of other organizations and with air defense for the Ryukyus. Inaczivated on Okinawa on 1 Mar 1955.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA)

Fifth Air Force (Southwest Pacific Area – SWPA, Far East Air Force – FEAF)

Constituted as Philippine Department AF on 16 Aug 1941. Activated in the Philippines on 20 Sep 1941. Redesignated Far East AF in Oct 1941, and Fifth AF in Feb 1942. This air force lost most of its men and equipment in the defense of the Philippines after 7 Dec 1941. Later in Dec 1941 headquarters and some crews and planes moved to Australia, and in Jan 1942 they were sent to Java to help delay Japanese advances in the Netherlands Indies. The Fifth did not function as an air force for some time after Feb 1942 (the AAF organizations in the Southwest Pacific being under the control of American-British-Dutch-Australian Command and later Allied Air Forces). Headquarters was remanned in Sep 1942 and assumed control of AAF organizations in Australia and New Guinea. The Fifth participated in operations that stopped the Japanese drive in Papua, recovered New Guinea, neutralized islands in the Bismarck Archipelago and the Netherlands East Indies, and liberated the Philippines. When the war ended in Aug 1945 elements of the Fifth were moving to the Ryukyus for the invasion of Japan. After the war the Fifth, a component of Far East Air Forces, remained in the theater, and from Jun 1950 to Jul 1953 it was engaged in the Korean War.

Seventh Air Force (AAFPOA)

Constituted as Hawaiian AF on 19 Oct 1940. Activated in Hawaii on 1 Nov 1940. Redesignated Seventh AF in Feb 1942. Provided air defense for the Hawaiian Islands and, after mid-1943, served in combat in the central and western Pacific areas. Transferred back to Hawaii in Jan 1946. Redesignated Pacific Air Command in Dec 1947. Discontinued on 1 Jun 1949.

Thirteenth Air Force (Air Forces Pacific)

Constituted as Thirteenth AF on 14 Dec 1942. Activated in New Caledonia on 13 Jan 1943. Served in the South Pacific and, later, Southwest Pacific, participating in the Allied drive north and west from the Solomons to the Philippines. Remained in the Philippines, as part of Far East Air Forces, after the war. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to Okinawa in Dec 1948 and back to the Philippines in May 1949.

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

First Air Force

Constituted as Northeast Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated First AF early in 1941. Trained new organizations and, later, replacements for combat units. Also provided air defense for the eastern US until 1943. Assigned to Air Defense Command in Mar 1946 and to Continental Air Command in Dec 1948, being concerned primarily with air defense until 1949 and with reserve and national guard activities thereafter.

Second Air Force

Constituted as Northwest Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Second AF early in 1941. Served as both an air defense and a training organization in 1941. Afterward, was engaged chiefly in training units and replacements for heavy and, later, very heavy bombardment operations. Inactivated on 30 Mar 1946.

Third Air Force (Antisubmarine)

Constituted as Southeast Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Third AF early in 1941. Trained units, crews, and individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. Also had some air defense responsibilities during 1940 – 1941 and engaged in antisubmarine activities from Dec 1941 to Oct 1942. Assigned in Mar 1946 to Tactical Air Command to serve as a troop carrier organization. Inactivated on 1 Nov 1946.

Fourth Air Force

Constituted as Southwest Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated Fourth AF early in 1941. Provided air defense for the western US until 1943, and at the same time trained new organizations. Later, was engaged primarily in training replacements for combat units. Assigned to Air Defense Command in Mar 1946 and to Continental Air Command in Dec 1948, being concerned chiefly with air defense until 1949 and with reserve and national guard activities thereafter.

Sixth Air Force (Antisubmarine)

Constituted as Panama Canal AF on 19 Oct 1940. Activated in the Canal Zone on 20 Nov 1940. Redesignated Caribbean AF in Aug 1941, and Sixth AF in Feb 1942. Served primarily in defense of the Panama Canal; also engaged in antisubmarine operations. Redesignated Caribbean Air Command on 31 Jul 1946.

Eleventh Air Force (Alaska)

Constituted as Alaskan AF on 28 Dec 1941. Activated in Alaska on 15 Jan 1942. Redesignated Eleventh AF in Feb 1942. Participated in the offensive that drove the Japanese from the Aleutians, attacked the enemy in the Kuril Islands, and, both during and after the war, served as part of the defense force for Alaska. Redesignated Alaskan Air Command in Dec 1945.


Sources

The Office of Air Force History’s Air Force Combat Units of World War II

To review combat missions of the various air forces of the USAAF, please refer to:

Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945

or

Jack McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces

Except for entries from Air Force Combat Units of World War II, edited by Maurer Maurer and published by the Office of Air Force History in Washington, D.C., 1983, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 7 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 7 August 1944 mission in which the Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Monday, 7 August 1944

384th BG Mission 174/8th AF Mission 527 to Dugny (Paris), France.

Target: German Air Force (Luftwaffe), an Aircraft Fuel Depot.

The James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission. The Buslee crew did not participate.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

Shuttle mission continues from USSR. In accordance with Soviet request, tgt is oil refinery in Poland. 57 B-17’s and 37 P-51’s are dispatched. 55 HBs (2 return to base early) bomb refinery at Trzebinia. P-51’s engage 6 to 8 enemy ftrs over tgt and claim destruction of 3 of them. The airplanes return to FRANTIC bases in USSR. In UK 902 HBs, supported by 10 ftr gps, are dispatched to bomb oil dumps and bridges in France. Cloud conditions cause multiple aborts, but 483 HBs bomb 11 oil dumps, 5 bridges, 3 A/Fs, and an M/Y. 3 HBs are lost. 8 gps of FBs attack M/Ys and rail transportation N and E of Paris.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 4 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 527 to fuel dumps and bridges in France, in which the Brodie crew participated
  2. Mission 528, a Micro H (radar system which combined the Gee-H and H2X radar functionality for use by pathfinders ) test mission
  3. Mission 529 to marshalling yards and railroads north and east of Paris
  4. Unnumbered leaflet mission over France during the night

Also, in the USSR, a shuttle mission is flown in accordance with a Soviet request; 55 B-17s and 29 P-51s attack an oil refinery at Trzebina, Poland without loss; the aircraft return to Operation FRANTIC bases in the USSR.

Mission 527: 905 bombers and 471 fighters are dispatched to hit fuel dumps and bridges in France but heavy cloud cover forces many aircraft to return with bombs and other formations to be recalled; 1 bomber and 5 fighters are lost; targets hit (number in parenthesis indicates bombers bombing) are:

  • Of 112 B-17s, 71 hit Montbartier and 34 hit St Loubes; 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 26 are damaged; 2 airmen are WIA. Escort is provided by 123 of 139 P-51s; they claim 1-0-3 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 0-0-1 on the ground.

  • The primary targets of 224 B-17s are Nanteuil Bridge (36), Sens (26), St Florentin (25), Dueny (24), Bourron Marlotte (23) and Paris-St Quen (12); other targets hit are Chartres Airfield (23), Maintenon Bridge (23), Houden marshalling yard (14), Chateaudun Airfield (11) and Rouglaf (1); 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 80 damaged. Escort is provided by 96 of 97 P-51s.

  • 1 of 182 B-17s hits Montdidier Airfield; 35 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is WIA. Escort is provided by 90 P-38s and P-51s.

  • Of 51 B-24s, 10 hit Andenne Bridge, 8 hit Semuse and 8 hit targets of opportunity; 1 B-24 is lost and 19 damaged; 11 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 34 of 35 P-47s.

  • The primary targets of 333 B-24s are Doullens Bridge (37), Saleux (24), Recques-sur-Course (23), Frevent Bridge (15), Rieme/Ertveld (11) and Langerbrugge (9); 12 also hit a factory near Wendelghem and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair and 45 damaged; 8 airmen are KIA and 1 WIA. Escort is provided by 94 of 100 P-51s.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

“Sparks” Artist John Graham Forster

Last week, in a post about 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, I included a drawing of Harry titled “Sparks Liniger” that was drawn by J. G. Forster. I believe Forster was John Graham Forster, a fellow radio student of Harry’s at radio school at Scott Field, Illinois.

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

I believe “Sparks” was derived at radio school as a nickname for Liniger from the obsolete (today) type of radio equipment called a “spark-gap” transmitter which generated radio waves by means of an electric spark.

Liniger’s fellow radio student, John Graham Forster, did not serve in combat in the same bombardment group as Harry. While in training in the states, servicemen (and servicewomen) were transferred to various stations around the country for different phases of their training and most likely lost track of others they trained with over time.

Regardless of whether they stayed in touch or lost track of each other, Liniger thought enough of the drawing to save it and his son still has it almost eighty years after it was drawn.

It is easier to learn more about men who served in combat together if those historical records have been gathered and presented for future generations by a historical association. But finding someone who served with a relative in a training setting can be quite difficult. Generally, those types of records or lists don’t exist.

So since I have been able to identify the artist who drew Liniger as “Sparks,” I’m going to take the opportunity to look into where Forster came from and a little of his WWII history as it serves to illustrate the differences in the backgrounds of those who were brought together to fight a world war and the enormous movement of those personnel as part of the American war machine to various points across the globe.

I usually research and write about those who served in the Eighth Air Force in WWII, and mostly about the specific B-17 heavy bombardment group in which my father served, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). But there were many other divisions of the United States Air Forces serving in different parts of the world during WWII, and this is a good opportunity to introduce the subject, which I will write more about at a later date.

John Forster was a third generation American. He was named after his grandfather, John Graham Forster of St. Louis Parish, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather John immigrated to America at eighteen years old, settled in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and married and raised a family there. Grandson John was born there in 1922.

John Graham Forster, Senior Year photo from Waltham High School Yearbook

In the 1940 Waltham High School Yearbook, John’s Senior year, he noted his first ambition was to,

Go round the world and see our 48 states

He liked nice girls and baseball, planned to enter an art career, and was Art Manager of the Senior Play.

In 1942, John enlisted in the United States Air Corps. After his training, including his and Harry’s time at radio school, John was assigned to the 764th Bomb Squadron of the 461st Bomb Group.

But the 461st was stationed nowhere near Harry’s 8th Air Force base with the 384th in Grafton Underwood, England. In fact, the 461st was not even part of the 8th Air Force, but was instead part of the 49th Bombardment Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force. The 461st flew B-24 Liberators and the group was known as the “Liberaiders.”

The Fifteenth Air Force operated in the WWII Mediterranean Theater of Operations and mainly operated out of bases in southern Italy. The 461st was based at Torretto Field, about 12 km (about 7 1/2 miles) south of the town of Cerignola, Italy.

John Forster was assigned to the Carl J. Schultz crew as radio operator/gunner. The Schultz (#3-1) crew consisted of:

  • Carl J. Schultz, Pilot
  • William R. Baird, Co-Pilot
  • James R. Merkel, Navigator
  • Joshua Loring, Jr., Bombardier
  • John G. Forster, Radio Operator/Gunner
  • John W. Rice, Engineer/Gunner
  • William F. Sanders, Gunner
  • Glenn A. Sligar, Engineer/Gunner
  • Don R. Trail, Gunner
  • William R. Vaitkunas, Gunner

On 23 March 1945, John Forster participated in the 461st’s Mission 200 to bomb a high priority target, the Kagran Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. Thirteen of the 461st’s thirty aircraft were hit by flak over the target and the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

On this mission, William Baird was pilot of the unnamed B-24J 44-41091 with Dwight B. Olson serving as his co-pilot. Other original crew members included John Rice, Glenn Sligar, William Sanders, William Vaitkunas, and of course, John Forster. Substitutes, besides Olson, included Edward T. Wenslik as Bombardier, Richard C. Davis as Navigator, and Marlin R. Smith as Gunner.

At about the time of bombs away, the Number 2 engine of 44-41091 was hit by flak and knocked completely off the ship. They dropped back in the formation with a fire in the wing. Following an unsuccessful attempt to put out the fire, they lost altitude and dropped about 5,000 feet. Five chutes were seen to emerge before the plane went into a dive and exploded.

Davis, the Navigator of the crew, reported that he was reunited in the next few days with all of the crew except for Lt. Baird, the pilot. A German guard reported that Baird was found dead with an unopened chute some distance from the wreckage of the aircraft.

One of the crew wrote in his Individual Casualty Questionaire that,

Lt. Baird … went beyond the “call of duty” that day in fighting the ship to keep it from going into a spin, and then momentarily leveling it out with the trim tabs giving us all, the nine of us, time to jump.

With the exception of Baird, the entire crew was held prisoner of war at Moosburg, Stalag VIIA. All were liberated from Moosburg on 29 April 1945 and were taken to Camp Lucky Strike in La Harve, France to begin their journey back to America.

Forster did become an artist after the war. In the 1952 Waltham Massachusetts City Directory, he listed his occupation as artist. He married a nice girl and had seven children.

John Graham Forster died on 24 June 1982 at the age of 59 in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in Section 23-N, Lot 48-A.

I don’t know if he ever saw all of our “48 states” (or additionally Alaska and Hawaii), but he did see quite a bit of the world, including Italy, France, Austria, and Germany, and saw things he couldn’t imagine during high school from the radio room of a B-24.

Thank you to Chuck Parsonon, Admin of the 461st Bombardment Group’s Facebook group for providing me with information for this post.

Thank you to the folks running the 461st Bombardment Group website for the excellent information on the group and its service members you provide.

Sources

Last week’s post, Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

461st Bombardment Group on Facebook

461st Bombardment Group

15th Air Force

March 1945 Missions

23 March 1945 Mission

Missing Air Crew Report, MACR13190

Wikipedia: Spark-gap Transmitter

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

Harry Allen Liniger

Harry Allen Liniger was a waist gunner with the 384th Bomb Group in WWII and was on the B-17 42-31222 Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944 when it, carrying Harry and the James Brodie crew, suffered a mid-air collision over Magdeburg, Germany with my father’s unnamed B-17 43-37822. Both Harry and my dad, along with two other crew members on the Lazy Daisy, survived. The other fourteen airmen aboard the two fortresses were killed.

Recently, I have been looking into the pre-combat/training phase of the men who transferred into combat at the same time as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. I have traced their path to the European Theatre of Operations (the ETO) through my dad’s letters home and through fellow 384th Bomb Group service member Frank Furiga’s diary. And recently Harry Liniger’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., shared a few letters with me that his father wrote to his future bride during his pre-combat military training in the United States.

The postmarks of some of those letters put Harry Liniger in Ardmore, Oklahoma for combat crew training at the same time as my dad and Frank Furiga were there, and in Kearney, Nebraska picking up a brand new B-17 to ferry across to the ETO, also at the same time as Dad and Frank.

But Harry’s letters start earlier than combat crew training, at the time he was in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, and during Gunnery School in Harlingen, Texas. I’m sharing, with Harry’s son’s permission, excerpts from those letters to illustrate the intensity of military training before the airmen of WWII were ready to go into combat, and to show the emotional toll inflicted from being away from home and family and other loved ones while these young men were preparing for a war from which they were unsure of their return.

Radio School

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

On 29 August 1943, future 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Liniger was a PFC in Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois. I know this because a letter he wrote to his future wife, Miss Carrie Belle Carter of Hilton Village, Virginia, was mailed on this day from Belleville, Illinois with his return address of Barracks 797 of the Army Air Forces 30th Technical School Squadron at Scott Field.

Scott Field is now known as Scott Air Force Base and is about seventeen miles east-southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. During WWII, training skilled radio operators and maintainers was the primary wartime mission of Scott Field.

In his letter, Harry described the area around the base as “Nothing but Cocktail Lounges and Bars. Ever other building.” But, he said, “I never frequent those disreputable haunts. I try to be a model soldier which at times seems to be rather foolish, but just the same, I keep my head high and go on.”

Like most of the boys in the service, Harry was homesick for familiar places and faces and said, “I like this place swell. The only thing I dislike about it is it’s so damn far from home and I won’t get a chance to get there.”

Radio school was pretty tough and required a lot of work from serious students and not much time for anything else. Fellow 384th Bomb Group airman Lenard Bryant, a waist gunner (and later top turret gunner) and crewmate of my dad, also had a tough time at radio school and wrote home once that “I don’t think me and radio is getting along too well together.” He later wrote, “I washed out today.  I will go to gunnery school when I ship out of here…”

On 18 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie again from radio school at the same station.

In the letter, Harry related that he had been on a B-24 mission over the Gulf. I assume Harry meant that he was doing some airborne training over the Gulf of Mexico as by late 1943, students of the Radio School at Scott Field were in the air practicing code transmission under actual flight conditions.

On 25 September 1943, Harry wrote to Carrie, again from Radio School at Scott Field.

In this letter he didn’t talk much about his training. He was more concerned about trying to keep his relationship with Carrie going through the mail as I’m sure was the concern of many servicemen far from home in wartime.

Gunnery School

On 5 February 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie, this time from the Student Reception Pool at H.A.A.F. (Harlingen Army Air Field), Harlingen, Texas. Harry was at Army Gunnery School. I suppose, like Lenard Bryant, Harry and Radio School hadn’t gotten along too well together.

Harry wrote,

Believe me, my life has changed, I am working harder than I ever thought I would. Right now I am taking advanced Gunnery. I will go to P.O.E. from here. I am getting a ten day furlough before I go over. I will be home in about 2 months. I am looking forward to seeing you. There are some things I would like to tell you someday.

Combat Crew Training

On 16 May 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Combat Crew Detachment at Ardmore Army Air Field in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

While I haven’t included many of the more personal aspects of Harry’s letters to Carrie up to this point, it is clear to me that his love for her had been growing over his period of stateside training, while he was preparing to go to war. Although he was able to enjoy a few in-person visits during furloughs, Harry and Carrie were able to continue their relationship mainly through their letters to each other.

In this letter, now that his transfer into combat was fast approaching, Harry shared with Carrie the rigors of the training involved, the reality of entering combat, and thoughts of his own mortality.

Harry wrote,

Your sweet and most welcome letters have been coming daily; or almost daily. I sure do appreciate you writing so often. It seems to give me a “lift.” I try to answer as many of them as I possibly can. I hope you will try to understand when my letters are few and far between. I fly all day and go to school all night and I am so damn tired when I get back to the barracks I can’t seem to do anything but flop on my “sack” (bed).

In regards to my meeting you someplace I don’t think it will be possible for me to get any days off. I can get out almost every night if I pass all my subjects. And I think if seeing you were my reward I could pass anything. If you could only come out here. But that would be asking too much. I love you even though I may never see you again.

I will have to close for now darling. “I love you.”

A week later, on 22 May, 1944, again writing from Ardmore, Harry expressed his deep appreciation for all of the letters Carrie had written him, telling her,

You will never know how important mail is to a guy who is away from home, and being in the army makes him appreciate it even more. But the main thing is when you hear from someone you care for as much as I care for you. I really love you. I love you more than anyone or anything else in the world.

On the way to the ETO

On 28 June 1944, Harry wrote to Carrie from Kearney Army Air Field in Kearney, Nebraska.

The date of Harry’s letter coincides with a letter written by my dad to his mother, and a diary entry of fellow 384th service member Frank Furiga, putting them all in Kearney at the same time, picking up the B-17’s they would ferry to the European Theater of Operations.

According to Frank Furiga’s diary entries, they left Kearney the next day, on 29 June 1944. (Use the link below in the Sources section to follow the trail to the ETO of Liniger, Farrar, Furiga, and the rest of the servicemen in their crossing group).

On this date, Harry wrote,

My last letter in the States. I don’t know where the next one will be from but I will write to you as soon as I reach my destination. Your letters will be cherished more now than they ever were, and they were always more important than anything else.

I sure would like to open one and find you there. I am afraid my love for you is growing day by day now that I know I am not going to be able to see you.

I don’t have a date for the last of Harry’s letters that his son shared with me, but in it he gave Carrie an A.P.O. address care of the Postmaster in New York City. He may still have been in combat crew training in the States or he may have been overseas at this point.

In addition to Harry professing his deep love for Carrie with,

I love you more and more each day.

and

I don’t think I could possibly love you more than I already do.

Harry wrote about a landing accident, but also spoke as though he had not reached combat duty yet.

Nothing new except we had a plane make a belly landing the other day. No one was hurt. One of the guys had a nervous breakdown after the crash.

You would be surprised at the number of guys in a crew like this who go to pieces before they reach combat.

Combat

Training missions had their risks, but they were nothing like what the airmen would face in combat. Those men who could summon the courage to fly combat missions against their enemies faced brutal cold and lack of oxygen in the high altitude flying of unpressurized bombers, necessitating heated flying suits and an oxygen system to survive. Over enemy territory, they faced German fighters and flak from the ground guns.

Harry endured all of these challenges and horrors, a true assault on the senses, mission after mission, climbing right back in the B-17 day after day sixteen times. He didn’t break down. He didn’t go to pieces.

During the time Harry Liniger served his combat duty in the Army Air Forces, a combat tour with the 8th Air Force consisted of thirty-five missions. He had made it almost halfway through earning his ticket home, until the mid-air collision of 28 September 1944 ended Harry’s duty as an airman in combat.

Prisoner of War

What Harry had seen up to this point serving as a waist gunner on a B-17, with flak bursting around him, attacks from German fighters, watching nearby fortresses exploding and plummeting to the ground, counting parachutes coming out of those planes as they went down, was only the beginning of the horrors of war for Harry.

Nothing could prepare one captured by the Nazis physically or mentally for what came next. Harry needed to survive over four months starving in a prison camp and another eighty-six days with little food and water on a march of over five hundred miles across Germany before he would gain his liberation and freedom.

Home and Marriage

Harry’s son also shared with me a photo of his dad’s Guardian Angel, who apparently did a fine job protecting Harry while he served his country – in his training in the States, in his overseas combat, and during his POW experience. Harry Liniger was one of the lucky ones to return home.

Harry Liniger’s Figurine, “His Guardian Angel”

Harry survived it all and returned home during the summer of 1945 to marry the girl he exchanged letters with, the girl he fell in love with and who fell in love with him during such a dark time in our American history. Harry arrived back in the States on 9 June 1945 and he and Carrie Belle Carter married a little over a month later on 26 July.

Harry Allen and Carrie Belle Carter Liniger on the far right, in Miami Beach just after their marriage

Thank you, Harry Liniger, Jr., for sharing photos, letters, and stories of your dad from WWII.

Sources

Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Wikipedia: Scott Air Force Base

Lenard Bryant in Radio School

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021