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Safety in Flying

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, saved his life with a parachute after the mid-air collision of Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  This feat granted him admittance to the Caterpillar Club, whose sole requirement of members was that they had to bail out of a disabled aircraft and were able to save their lives with a parachute.  Note the term “disabled.”  Parachuting from an aircraft for recreational purposes did not make one eligible for membership.

Four and a half years after his bail out, Ed Farrar was still thinking about the parachute that saved his life when he wrote this letter to H. B. Lyon of the Caterpillar Club with an idea.

April 16, 1949

Chicago, Ill.
Caterpillar Club
Attn: Mr. H. B. Lyon, Executive Secretary
Broad Street Bank Bldg.
Trenton, N.J.

Dear Sirs:

As a member of the Caterpillar Club, I naturally have an interest in the furthering of its program, safety in flying. The only way to accomplish this feat is to set up a definite program. That is, let the public hear our ideas. Of course this will take money, more than the club can afford at present I understand.

In the files of the club, I am sure are the largest collection of true, spectacular, and amazing escapes, that could ever be told. This in my opinion would make a wonderful radio program for a national hook-up of about 15 or 30 minutes a week, if presented right. There should be many prospective sponsors for such a program, that would pay well, for this information. The money the club received could be used to further the safety of flying. We could set up a safety school, so problems could be worked out, or at least determine some of the hazards in flying. There would be many details involved, but I will not try to elaborate on any at this time.

I must confess, I haven’t been a very good member. As a traveling salesman on the road most of the time, I haven’t had the opportunity to attend meetings. This idea may have been brought up before, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to mention it.

Will appreciate your reply, at your convenience, am looking forward to seeing all the fellows at a national convention one of these days.

Sincerely,
G. E. Farrar
c/o N.B.W.
224 W. Huron St.
Chicago 10, Ill.

My dad must have thought it important enough to save a copy of this letter he wrote, but to my knowledge, did not receive a reply.  If he did, he did not save it.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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Revisiting Ardmore

In 1946, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar was a traveling salesman in training with Neumann, Buslee & Wolfe.  He wrote to his mother from Oklahoma, the home state of his future wife, Bernice Jane (Bernie) Chase, in March 1946.  At this point, Ed and Bernie had not met and would not meet each other for another two years.

1946-03-29-FarrarEd-001 - Letterhead

March 29, 1946
Oklahoma Biltmore
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I like these large letter heads. I don’t have to write so much.

Dearest Mother:

Haven’t heard from you in several days, but know it isn’t your fault. We changed our route a bit. Mr. Buslee is going back to Chicago from here. Then J.B. and my-self are going back to Ark, and then back into Kan.

I feel at home in most of these towns as, I have visited the majority of them before. A couple days ago, was through Ardmore, and drove to the field. All the boys have gone, and is now a civilian field, with D.C.3’s.

Hope Gerry can arrange for your reservations to Susanville O.K. Am sure I can manage to get to Atlanta before you leave. I miss greatly being with the family, but I know some day I will be able to give you the things you want. I’ll be getting out of school soon, and then I’ll receive a certain percent of all business of the territory. Then I’ll be working out of Atlanta, and I’ll build you a brand new house. I just want to see all in the family happy, and they will be some day.

Write when you can and give my love to all. Tell Millie her home state looks very good.

Love,

Ed

Notes:

  • Gerry was Ed’s oldest sister, Geraldine.  She was married to Wally Mass and they lived in Susanville, California.  Ed’s mother planned to visit Gerry with daughter Beverly and son Gene as soon as school ended for the summer break.
  • Millie was Ed’s oldest brother, Carroll Jr.’s, wife.  She was also from Oklahoma and a friend of Bernice Chase.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

The New Year

George Edwin Farrar had lost his father five days before Christmas 1945.  He wanted to remain in Atlanta with family, but his job at Neumann, Buslee, and Wolfe meant that he must return to Chicago.  He wrote a letter to his mother shortly after his return.

January 6, 1946

Neumann – Buslee & Wolfe, Inc.
224 – 230 W. Huron St., Chicago, Ill.

Dearest Mother:

Have intended writing every day since my arrival, but some-thing is all-ways in the way when the opportunity is present. Had a very nice trip up, even though I did stay up all night. Will be staying around Chicago until the last of the month, when we will leave for Texas. I wanted to get a place close in town, but the Buslee’s just wouldn’t let me so guess I’ll stay here with them.

Guess by now Carroll is getting up bright and early in the morning, and going to work. I have been getting up around seven thirty in the mornings my-self. We all-ways take about one and a half hours for lunch, and leave the office at four. Tell Carroll not to work too hard.

Mr. Henson is in Chicago, but he didn’t bring Jeanne with him. She is coming this summer. Mrs. Henson has been sick for a little over a week.

Hope Gene is taking full advantage of his Y.M.C.A. card. It will do him more good than any-thing in the world. Am sure Carroll and Millie will take him down and show him where the place is.

Can’t think of more to write about, except I want to hear in my next letter from you, that you have seen the doctor, and I don’t mean for you to stop writing.

Love to all,
Ed

Notes:

  • Carroll was Ed’s older brother by five years.  Millie was Carroll’s wife.  They married February 26, 1944.
  • Mr. Henson was the father of William Alvin Henson II, the navigator of the Buslee crew.  Jeanne was William’s sister.
  • Gene was Ed’s youngest brother.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Christmas Plans

Again, I don’t know the date my dad, George Edwin Farrar, moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with the Buslee family.  This letter from my dad to his mother does show he was living in Chicago in December of 1945 and records a planned trip home to Atlanta, Georgia for Christmas.

December 10, 1945
Neumann – Buslee & Wolfe, Inc.
Chicago, Ill.

Dearest Mother:

Received your very welcomed letter this noon, and also the package. While I am thinking of it, if you receive another check from the Government, do not send it here. Just keep it there for me until I get there, as I am leaving here the 15th. And if it comes after you receive this, it would not reach me in time, and they would just have to send it back to Atlanta, and I don’t need the money at the present any-way.

Was really wonderful news to hear Carroll was back in the states, and I know he is as glad as all of us put together, in fact that is the way it was for me. Hope he will be home by next Sunday, so we can all have Dinner together. I think that is the grandest bit of news I have had in some time.

In your last letter you asked if I had heard from Mr. Henson. As yet I haven’t heard from him, but received a letter from Jeanne, but she didn’t say anything about her Mother or Father. He must be O.K. or she would have mentioned it, I am sure.

About the turkey you spoke of. If twenty-two pounds is the largest Mr. Cobb can let you have, get it by all means, but if he should have another larger, get that one. I am going to pay for it. So just get the largest you can. I have had turkey about ten times, at dinners since Thanksgiving, and they are better each time. As you know Carroll and my-self will both be there at least a week after Christmas, and the bird will come in handy.

The formal Saturday night turned out grand. I didn’t tell you all about it, or I can’t now, but here is a little. If you remember when I came from Chicago last I rode with Bill Olson, the buyer for Curtis Candy Co. Well Bill lives in Park Ridge, and is about 47 years old. Mr. Buslee and me made a call on him, about a week ago and invited him to the party, but as he was going to be out of town he was very sorry as his wife would just love to go. Well, we talked a bit, and after a call to his wife, the conclusion was that I take Mrs. Olson. Well I did and we had a grand time. I drove Mr. Buslee’s car, and Mr. and Mrs. Buslee went with me, while Jan and Gene went in their car. We had a gay time, and did not come home until having breakfast at four thirty in the morning.

I sincerely hope Dad is feeling better by now. Hate so bad to hear he isn’t getting along well. He had better get better by Christmas, because he has just got to cut that turkey. He cut the last one when I was home for Christmas.

Went over to Bill Farrar’s yesterday for dinner. He has a nice little place, and isn’t a bad cook at all. He had a couple other fellows up, and his table is just right for four.

Don’t know if you will hear from me again, before I get to Atlanta, or not as I will be there a few days after you receive this. I would come there any-way now that Carroll is there. As it has been some time since I have seen him, and he never did answer my letters(S). I hope he reads this.

Well I had better cut here so take it easy, and don’t work to hard so you will feel good for Christmas. I have been looking for a call from Hugh all day as he was to come here for the Soft Drink Convention, to which I am going. He may be in tomorrow, I hope nothing has happened.

Love to all,
Ed

Please pardon my mistakes, as you know I don’t have a chance to type often.

Notes:

  • Carroll was George Edwin Farrar’s oldest brother who served in the Pacific theatre during WWII.
  • Mr. Henson was the father of William A. Henson, the navigator aboard Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  Jeanne was William’s sister.  The Hensons lived near the Farrars in Atlanta.
  • Jan and Gene were Jan (Buslee) and Gene Kiefhofer.  Jan was John Oliver Buslee’s sister and she was married to Gene.
  • Bill Farrar was likely a Farrar relative, but there are many and I don’t know which one specifically.
  • Not mentioned in the letter, but Ed’s younger brother, Bob, was also supposed to be home for Christmas that year.  Bob was the third Farrar son who served in WWII, in the Navy.
  • According to my Aunt Beverly, Carroll and Bob both made it home to Atlanta for Christmas before my dad arrived from Chicago.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

A Year in a Day

It is now the end of June in 1945.  George Edwin Farrar had been liberated almost two months before on May 2.  Since liberation, he had been for a time in a hospital in France and was now in England.  He expected to leave for the states in the immediate future, leaving England that night.

June 29, 1945
American Red Cross
England

Dearest Mother:

This will be my last letter from England, as we are leaving to-night. I will call you the first chance I get, after we reach the States. It will take a good while to cross, as we are going to be on a very small ship. It will be nice to cross on a ship, as you know I have never been on one before. I can’t hardly wait to get home. There is so much I want to hear from you. I guess it will be like living a whole year in one day. It has been one year today that I left the States.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Gene hasn’t a nice girl by now. He should be about old enough, and I know with his looks, he is getting along O.K. I guess you are still about the only girl I have, and I love it. I can just thank God that I didn’t have a girl to worry about while in Germany, on top of all things else. Well there isn’t anything else to write about, so will close here.

Love to all,
Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

A Very Nice Ride

George Edwin Farrar had been liberated on May 2, 1945.  Almost three weeks later he was in France, probably in a hospital receiving medical treatment following his eighty-six day march across Germany, where he and the other prisoners of Stalag Luft IV had come close to starving to death.

May 22, 1945
France

Dearest Mother:

Thought I had better drop you a line, as it is taking a little longer to get away from here than I thought, but it won’t be much longer. I feel fine, and will sure be nice to see every-one again. I guess I can tell you a little about my missions now that the war here is over.

I was knocked down on my 16th mission by another plane that ran into the side of us at 30,000 ft. I fell 25,000 ft. before I came to, and pulled my chute; it was a very nice ride. I didn’t think when Bob and I were kids and I told him he would never be a flyer, that some-day I would save my life with a parachute. I guess it was just meant to be that way. I was the only man to live from my crew and we were flying lead ship of that Gp. [group].

Our bombardier was killed on our first mission when we brought a ship back from Hanover with 106 holes, and only one engine going. We crashed landed on the English coast. We had several other rough mission, but those were the worse.

By the way my last mission was at Magdeburg. When I hit the ground I received a little rough treatment from the Germans, but I expected it. I was in three German Hospitals for about two and a half months, but am in perfect shape now, that is as perfect as I ever was.

We have been on the road marching since Feb. 6 and a lot of nights had to sleep in the open. Well I guess that will be enough of my history until I get home on furlough.

I just hope now that I will find every-one at home feeling fine, as I pray you will be every night. Even on the march, at night when we reached a barn at night I didn’t care how rough it had been that day or how rough it would be without food the next. The main thing that kept me going was the thought that some day I may have the chance to make you just a bit more happy, and that has been my thought ever since the day I was knocked down, and had hours to do nothing but think and look at fence.

I had better cut this as it is getting late and the lights here are very poor. And if I expect to do any more flying I had better take good care of them (my eyes). Tell every-one hello, and I will see you soon. I guess my boy will be on vacation when I get there. We should have a pretty good time in 60 days – and I have $1,000.00 back pay coming.

Love to all,
Ed

(over)

Farrar did not have a chance to mail his letter for a week and wrote a few more words before sending it.

May 29, 1945

I had this letter with me for seven days, and am just getting a chance to mail it. I have been in France for little over a week, and am going to England before I come to the States. I may get a chance to fly home from there. But I do know that I will see you soon, and that is the main thing that counts. Tell Dad to stay in good shape so we can make the rounds, as we did last time. One thing I’m going to stay at home more this time.

Love,
Ed

Notes:

  • Bob was Ed’s younger brother who served in the Navy during WWII.  Ed did not know that Bob had been injured in a kamikaze attack on the Intrepid in November 1944.
  • “My boy” was Ed’s youngest brother, Gene.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Life Was a Bit Hard

Four days after he was liberated, but still in Germany, George Edwin Farrar wrote a longer letter to his mother.

May 6, 1945
Germany
Active Service Army Privilege Envelope

Dearest Mother:

I guess you have heard through the government that I was liberated. I was liberated by the English May 2nd and have been treated very nice since. I should be home soon, and having some of the nice meals you fix. That I have dreamed of for all-most a year. Life was a bit hard here, but it is all over now. I have been on the road marching since Feb. 6th with very little food, but am not in bad condition. I hope that every-one at home are o.k. as I have been thinking of every-one each day. Tell Gene I hope he had a nice birthday, and I was thinking of him on that day.

I’ll sure have a lot of things to tell you when I get home, and I am really going to stay around home. I guess I’ll have to get a new watch when I return as I had to sell mine for bread when I was on the march.

I hope you can read this, as I am writing on an old German gas mask case, and it is a bit rough, so will close until I have a better chance to write.

Love to all,
Ed

Gene was Ed’s youngest brother who had just turned fourteen on March 4.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Liberated

George Edwin Farrar , my dad, was liberated on May 2, 1945. He was sent to Brussels, Belgium and on to a hospital in France where he spent several weeks.

He was allowed to pen a short note home to inform his family he had been freed.

1945-05-02-FarrarEd-001

He wrote:

Dear Mother, was liberated May Second.  Am in good health.  Will be home soon.  Love, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

Merry Christmas…

On Christmas day, George Edwin Farrar was allowed to write home again to his family.  He was a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft IV, and now out of the hospital and in a regular barracks in the prison camp.  His family still did not know if he were dead or alive following the mid-air collision of September 28, 1944.  He had previously written two letters home from prison camp – on October 24 and November 9 – but neither one had been received by his parents at the time he wrote this third letter.

He wrote:

December 25, 1944

Kriegsgefangenenlager

Dearest Mother:  Hope everyone had a nice Christmas.  We had as good as can be expected here.  I am sorry I can’t send you a birthday card but do hope that you have a nice one.  If you get a chance I wish you would send me some cigars, as I still don’t smoke cigarettes.  Love to all, George.

His mother, Raleigh Mae Farrar’s, fifty-fifth birthday was a month away on January 25, 1945.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Second Letter Home from Prison Camp

On November 7, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, an unprecedented fourth term in office.

Two days later, on November 9, and far away from home and family in the states, George Edwin Farrar was still a patient in the hospital of Stalag Luft IV,  a subsidiary camp of Stalag Luft III.  It was now forty-two days after the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  This day, Farrar wrote his second letter home.  This letter was postmarked January 17, 1945, and was marked with the date when the Farrar family in Atlanta, Georgia received it – March 23, 1945.

From the time of its writing, this letter took 134 days to reach its destination.  Farrar’s situation by that time was much different from the day he penned that letter.  In late November 1944, he had been moved from the hospital into a barracks in the prison camp.  In his own words, Farrar described his condition at the time of his placement in the barracks as “I could only walk by shuffling my feet as I could not lift either leg to walk.”

Farrar must have worked very hard to regain his ability to walk.  He could not have known at the time that in a few months he and all the other prisoners at Stalag Luft IV would be forced to march out of the camp and begin an 86-day journey across Germany to their final liberation on May 2, 1945.  By the time of the Farrar family’s receipt of this letter on March 23, George Edwin Farrar had been marching for forty-five days.  He was not, as it seemed from his letter, sitting in a German prison camp and “feeling fine.”  He was tired and hungry to the point of starving.

This letter also indicates that by November 9, he had been told that he was the only survivor on the Lead Banana.

November 9, 1944

Kriegsgefangenenpost

Gefangenennummer 3885

Lager-Bezeichnung:  Stalag Luft 3

Postmarked January 17, 1945

Marked Received March 23, 1945

Dearest Mother:

In a few more months I should be hearing from you and it will sure be nice.  I think this is the longest I have ever gone without hearing from you.  I hope you and Dad, and the rest of the family are getting along fine.  As for myself, I am feeling fine, but miss that good cooking of yours.  I’ll really keep you busy when I get home.  I guess I have more luck than anyone to still be here, and not a thing wrong with me.  Your prayers came in good.  I still can’t believe I am alive.  They said I was the only one out of my ship that is alive.  Write often.  Love, George

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014