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First Letter Home from Prison Camp

Twenty-six days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana over Magdeburg, Germany, George Edwin Farrar (my dad) was allowed to write his first letter home.  At the time, he was in a prison camp hospital, unable to walk from injuries suffered in the collision.

Farrar was also treated for wounds possibly sustained from the collision and/or perhaps during his capture.  In a letter to his mother after he was liberated in May of 1945, he wrote, “When I hit the ground I received a little rough treatment from the Germans, but I expected it.”  The “rough treatment” could have been anything from my recollection of what he described as being beaten with a stick to my Aunt Beverly’s recollection of his telling of being attacked with farm implements, like pitchforks and hoes.  She also recalled his telling of the German soldiers saving him from being killed by the German peasants, and carrying him to a house where he was held until the next POW transport train took him to the interrogation center.

Aunt Beverly is my dad’s youngest sister, who was eight years old when my dad returned from the war.  She also recalls him telling her that his wounds were treated with what she remembered as “gen-gen violet”, a liquid medicine that turned his skin purple.  This must have been the antiseptic used by the Germans in WWII, gentian violet.  Beverly is the only one of my dad’s siblings still alive today, and whose memory of the events of 1944 and 1945 in the Farrar household are helping me put together this history.

Farrar was held at Stalag Luft IV in Gross-Tychow, Poland, which was a subsidiary camp of Stalag Luft III.  Even though this letter is dated October 24, 1944, it was not postmarked until December 15, 1944, and was not received by the Farrar family until January 18, 1945, exactly one week before his mother’s fifty-fifth birthday.

October 24, 1944

Kriegsgefangenenpost

Gefangenennummer 3885

Lager-Bezeichnung:  Stalag Luft 3

[Postmarked December 15, 1944]

Dearest Mother:  I find it rather hard to write even a letter as small as this.  Of course, we can’t say much, but are being treated O.K.  We have plenty books and I spend most of my time reading.  I hope you will have plenty chicken when I get there.  I think I could eat a couple all alone.  I guess Gene is doing good in school by now.  Tell him to study hard, and make good grades.  How is Martha getting along with her new job.  I hope she likes it.  I’ll bet by now she is having a hard time with her boyfriends.  I wish you would send me some candy.  Be sure it is something that will keep until it gets here, because it is a long trip.  I’ll make up for these letters when I get home.  Love to all, George

Was Farrar telling his mother that the small letter was “hard to write” a way to tell her that he was injured?  The reference to being able to “eat a couple [chickens] all alone” was probably a way to tell her he was not being fed much and was starving.  Martha and Gene were a younger sister and brother.  Martha would have been 16 and Gene would have been 13 years old at the time of the letter.

George Edwin Farrar's POW ID Tag

George Edwin Farrar’s POW ID Tag

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

August 14, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

At this point in his combat career, George Edwin Farrar has flown four missions, the roughest being his first on August 5, 1944.

August 14, 1944

England

Dearest Mother:

Haven’t heard from you in a couple days, so thought I would go ahead and write.  Hope everyone is doing all right.  I guess by the time you receive this, school will be started off again.  I hope everyone will do as good as they did last term.

It only takes nine days to receive your letters now, but I have never received a V-mail letter.  I don’t know what is wrong, as I think you told me several weeks ago you sent me one.  Maybe it will get here before I leave.

I still like England all right, and the food is getting better each day, that is on the base, because you just can’t get anything to eat in town.

I sure hope I can finish up and get home by Christmas, or the first of the year.

I got a letter from the little Bryant girl, and she was raising all kind of hell about a blonde.  I only know the girl, and she said in the letter she wasn’t playing second to anyone (what a laugh).  I guess she will learn.

Well I guess I had better cut this, as I will be up early in the morning, and the sleep will come in good.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 28, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

Ed Farrar’s last letter to his mother before leaving the states for combat duty.  The reference to “my boy” is his younger brother, Gene, who would have been 13 at the time.  Also at home would have been his younger sister, Beverly, only 7 in 1944.  Ed needed to be able to send money home to help support the family as his father was gravely ill and bedridden, unable to work.  Payday in the service during WWII must not have been consistent as you can read below.

June 28, 1944

Dear Mother:

In just a little while and we will be on our way.  I wish I could tell you where to, but it just isn’t being done this season.  I can tell you we will stay once more in the States, and I will try to drop you a line from there.  I am in the ship now.  We have everything packed, and we are taking time about watching it until take-off time.

This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.

I am sorry about sending you any money before I leave, but they didn’t pay us, and there was so much to do, that there was nothing we could do about it.

The card inside is the address of the jewelers where I left my watch.  If they don’t send it to you in a couple of weeks, please write them a letter and ask about it.

I guess that covers everything except how much I would have liked to see everyone before we leave.  I would have phoned, but I had such little money, I thought it best to hold onto it.  Take good care of everything and I’ll be back soon.  I hate to be running around so much, but I am used to it by now.  I never know where I will be from one day to the other, and that does make the time go by fast, but I’ll be glad when this is all over.

Tell everyone and especially my boy hello.  Will drop you a card later.

With all my love,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 26, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

Another letter to his mother before departing the states.  Janet and Dot are two of Ed’s sisters.  The reference to Forts must be an abbreviation for Flying Fortresses, another name for the B-17 aircraft.

June 26, 1944

Dear Mother:

One more day in this place, and we will be going.  You should receive my A.P.O. address in a couple of days.  And you can write me then.  I will be where I am going in a few days, or by the time you receive this letter.  I wish you would write me one letter air mail, and one V-mail letter at the same time, and see which one I receive first.  We are not being paid here, as we thought.  I’ll try and tell you when I fly my first mission, but am not sure they will let it through the mail.  Just keep up with the papers and you will see what the Forts are doing.

Tell Janet and Dot I really appreciated the letters, and will write them the first chance I get.  Maybe there will be a little more to write about next week.  I’ll write you every other day if we are at our base.  You know they are flying from one base to the other, and bomb each way.  You can also get the thirty missions in that way.  I’ll try to drop you a line again before we leave the states.  I am sure glad that we are flying over, as I don’t care to take the long ride it takes on a boat.  We can go over in a matter of hours.  So after all I won’t be so far away.  Will close here, until I get another chance to write.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 25, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

On the move and on the way to England, the Buslee crew has arrived at the location where they received the plane they would fly over.  The letter does not indicate where they were at the time.

June 25, 1944

Dear Mother,

Just a line to let you know that everything is fine.  There is no use in you writing me here, as we will only be here four days.  We have our own plane, and will fly over.  We should be there next week this time.  If I get my new address before I leave, I will send it to you.

I left my watch in Ardmore to be worked on.  They were going to send it to me, but there will not be time, so I am having them send it to you.  There will be a little charge on it.  I will send you the money before we leave here, as we will get paid.  I may have some things to send home so you can look for them.  I will write you where you can send my watch when I get over.  Be sure and save the letter so they will let you send it at the Post Office.  You have to show them the letter that I asked for it before you can send it.

You know I may be home for Christmas.  I hope so anyway.  Don’t count on it too much, but I am going to try.

Tell Gene he should see our plane.  It only has twelve hours on it and guns all over it.  They are giving each of us a cal. – 45 pistol and a large knife.  You would think we were going to look for a fight.

That is about all for now, but will write again when I have time.  Please don’t worry about me as I know what I am doing, and love it.  Tell every-one hello.

With love,

Ed

Farrar’s mother did get the watch to him in England, but the watch did not make it back to the states with him after the war.  More on that later.

Questions:

  1. Where would the crew have picked up the aircraft they flew to England?
  2. What serial number/name was the aircraft?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 22, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

On June 8, 1944, while at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School in Ardmore, Oklahoma, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar received combat duty orders requiring “regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.”  Two weeks later he wrote a letter to his mother.  He would leave the states in about a week, but still didn’t know where he would be permanently stationed.

June 22, 1944

Ardmore Army Air Base

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Dearest Mother,

Received your sweet letter this noon, and also the one from Gene [one of Ed’s younger brothers].  I enjoyed both very much.  I don’t guess I’ll hear from you any-more from this station, but will send you my new address as soon as I learn it.  There is a lot of talk that we are not going to England, as we thought, but will find out at our next station.  We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane.  It should take from three to seven days.  I’ll write you as often as I can, and I want you to know that I haven’t waited this long to start asking God to help me.  That is one thing I have never been too proud to do, and I think it helps a lot, too.

There is one thing nice about not going to England, and that is we won’t run into as much flak anywhere else.  All we will have to worry about is fighters, and we have damn good guns on our ships to take good care of them.  That is why we fly more missions everywhere else.  When we are not flying, we don’t have to turn our hands, and in less than a year I’ll be back with thirty days to spend at home.  We may even finish by Christmas, as I am going to fly every mission I can, and finish up soon.

Well, I had better cut this here as we have a long hop in front of us.  Will write again soon.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013