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Answers

George Edwin Farrar had completed a casualty questionnaire when he returned to the states after his liberation.  As the only survivor on the Lead Banana in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy, he was asked to provide information on the other members of the crew and write a description of the event as he knew it.  As he was knocked unconscious in the collision, he had more questions than answers.  On the back of the questionnaire, he apparently asked for information on the fate of his crewmates.

On June 14, 1946, Lt. Colonel William H. Brandon had written to tell him that his casualty questionnaire had been received, but that because of a backlog of inquiries, his questions couldn’t be answered at that time.  Now, three months later, 1st Lt. John W. Bertschi was trying to answer Farrar’s questions.

September 11, 1946
Headquarters, Army Air Forces
Washington

Dear Sir:

The casualty questionnaire you completed for Air Forces Headquarters came to my attention today. I noticed your own question in the back of the sheet, and knowing how anxious any crewmember is to know what happened to the rest of the fellows, I want to tell you what we have found.

German casualty records which we recently translated state that all your crewmembers were recovered dead. The only one not identified by name was S. J. Peluso. All the boys were buried in a cemetery at Ost Ingersleben where the plane crashed. This town is twenty miles northwest of Magdeburg. We do not have reburial on all of the fellows yet so this would indicate that the Quartermaster General is having trouble identifying the bodies.

That is really all there is to tell you. You might be interested to know that the German records also include your name and state that you were taken to Dulag Luft West.

You really lived through a close one. I hope you suffer no permanent ill effects, and are enjoying a normal life once again.

This personal letter is easier to get out than an official one.

Very sincerely,
John W. Bertschi
1st LT. AC

In a handwritten note at the bottom of the typed letter, John Bertschi described himself as “Just one of the boys now working in AAF Hdqts personnel division.”

He also added:

P. S. When I checked your 201 file for your address, I found our “very sorry” letter to you.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Laurie Newbold

More than a year had passed since George Edwin Farrar spent his last day marching across Germany and his ultimate liberation on May 2, 1945.  We Americans that know of the Black March probably picture the marching prisoners in our minds as American, but my father’s companion on the march was a British soldier, not American.  From this letter my father kept since 1946, I must assume that he was housed in a Stalag Luft IV barracks that was a mixture of American and British prisoners.

July 15, 1946
6 Forest View Cottages
Belton
NR Loughborough
Leicestershire
England

Dear George,

It seems a long time since those unhappy days at Luft 4 & the three months marching but I haven’t forgotten the many Yank friends that I made & thought that I would give you time to settle down before I dropped you a line. I hope this finds you in the best of health old-timer & settled down to your home life again, enjoying all those good things that we used to dream about, steaks, chocolate, ices, etc. I’m sure you deserve them all.

I hope that this letter also brings back a few pleasant memories of England with its small hawthorn hedged fields & narrow country lanes. It looks very lovely at the moment as the crops are just about ripe & everywhere is so green. I am writing just after my Sunday tea & it is one of those rare sunny days that we get so few of over here.

I have been demobbed 12 months now & am back at work with promotion to shop foreman. My family has also risen to two boys since I got back. I expect you are also out of the Army Air Force.

Have you ever come across any more of Room 12. Old Mac Whorter lives down south at East Bernstadt, N London, Kentucky but I forgot that your states are as big as England. If you do write any of them please give them my regards.

I have been keeping my eyes open for some card-views of England, but I am sorry to say George that they are not yet back on the market but I shall remember. Try & get me some of those railway view that you told me about.

I’m afraid there’s not too much of anything yet over here & rations are as strict if not stricter than they were during war-time. Now bread as gone on rations due to the state of the continent, the capitalist clique over here are making a lot of party capital out of it but we shall pull through this the same as everything else.

Now that the American loan as gone through we expect to get more petrol, newspapers & a bit more variety in our very dull meals. I’m sure that you won’t regret it when you know what good it will do. It’s no good to anyone as money alone & a thriving Britain means more trade for the U.S.A. as I see it. Anyway our two countries must stick together.

I never saw you again after the day we were liberated. I understand that nearly all your boys stopped the first night at Boizenburg but most of the RAF went straight on to Luneburg & I got there that night. From there I went to Emsdetten near Holland & then flew to England in a Lanc [possible abbreviation for Lancaster bomber].

Well George I expect I could write all night about the past but most of that’s best forgotten, don’t you think. I hope this letter finds you, & I shall be looking forward to your reply. By-the way are you married yet. Write & give me all the news. Please give your family my regards.

Well I must draw to a close as I’m going up to the local pub which my father-in-law runs. I should like to have you here & treat you to a pint of good old mild which I know you used to like.

Cheerio for now old pal & all the very best.

Your Limey Pal,
Laurie Newbold

1946-07-15-Newbold-006-Signature

Notes:

“Old Mac Whorter” was Cecil C. McWhorter of Kentucky.  He was a Staff Sergeant with the 351st bomb group.  McWhorter was a left waist gunner on the Charles E. Cregar, Jr. crew on the 351st’s October 3, 1944 mission 213 to the Nuremburg railroad marshaling yards.  All on board became POW’s with the exception of bombardier John F. Dwyer, who lost his life on that mission.  MACR9358 contains details, but I have not yet been able to locate a copy.  McWhorter died February 10, 1965 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Questions without answers

Still searching for answers regarding the mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana more than a year after his liberation, Ed Farrar received a reply to his inquiry from the Army Air Forces.  He did receive a reply, but he did not get any answers.

June 14, 1946
Headquarters, Army Air Forces
Washington

Mr. George E. Farrar,
79 East Lake Terrace, Northeast
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Mr. Farrar:

Your completed casualty questionnaire has been received in this Headquarters, and we are appreciative of the information you furnished us relative to the fate of your fellow crew members.

At present we have on hand a large back-log of inquiries from the next of kin of our personnel who were killed in action or who are otherwise unaccounted for. In accordance with the Air Force post war reduction in manpower, the staff of this office has been reduced to a point where all inquiries cannot be answered as promptly as we would desire. In view of this, I am certain you will agree with our policy of giving preference to the next of kin. It is not known when we will be able to answer your questions concerning the members of your crew; however, an attempt will be made to furnish you this information as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,
WILLIAM H. BRANDON
Lt. Colonel, Air Corps
Chief, Notification Section
Personal Affairs Branch
Personnel Services Division, AC/AS-1

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Caterpillar Club II

The Irvin Parachute Company also operated a “Caterpillar Club” for those who had saved their lives with a parachute.

1946-05-30-Irvin-001

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

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

The Stearns Family Looks for Answers

Just five days before a very sad Christmas without their son, Bobby Stearns’ mother wrote to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.  Their son was the bombardier aboard Lead Banana who was killed in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.  They hoped Farrar, the only survivor aboard Lead Banana, could furnish some details of the loss of their son that the Army Air Forces had apparently not provided them.

December 20, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

My dear Mrs. Farrar:

Last evening we had a letter from the Quarter Master General stating that Bobby is buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Margraten, Holland in Plot “L” Row 12, Grave 299 – this is the same location as Lt. Henson’s grave – his is 297. While we hoped for a far different ending to this final chapter, it’s a relief to know he had a decent burial by his own people.

We hope your son is recovered from his ordeal in the prison camp. I know he wants to forget it all as quickly as he can but there are just a few questions I’d like to ask and maybe some time when he feels like it he could write. 1 – Just how did the accident happen? We’ve heard several different versions but would like to know which is true. 2 – Were any of the boys killed by the collision or did they all get out? 3 – Did they go down over the city or country? 4 – Anything else that would help us have it straight in our minds.

Like all the rest of the country we are having a severe winter which began in early November. We have been feeding the cattle since then so this will be a long winter for us. Had 16 in. of snow at the deepest and 17° below the coldest. Today’s paper says it has even reached as far south as Georgia.

Our son Jim is discharged now and he and his wife June are home with us now. We are so glad to have them home.

I hope your family is all together and that you are all well. That’s the best thing I can think of to wish you for the new year.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,
Mrs. Carey Stearns

As for answers, I don’t know if the Army Air Forces divulged any of the details during my dad’s lifetime.  He died in 1982.  The reports are no longer confidential and reflect that:

  1. Lazy Daisy collided with Lead Banana due to confusing and quick maneuvering to avoid colliding with another group head on.  There was no flak and no ground fire that hit either fort.
  2. None of the boys on Lead Banana except my dad made it out of the aircraft before it crashed.  They all died either from the collision itself or the ensuing fire and crash.
  3. I don’t know the exact location of where each fort went down, but I do know that the collision was said to happen near Magdeburg, Germany at 52°06′N 11°39′E.  Both planes crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of this location.  Lazy Daisy crashed near Erxleben and Lead Banana crashed approximately one and one-quarter miles north of Ostingersleben.  Today, Google Earth shows this to be mostly farm land, or countryside, rather than a large city.  (Note:  Google maps do not show Erxleben in the correct location.  If you want to locate Erxleben on the map, search on Ostingersleben and you will see Erxleben nearby, about 5km to the northeast).

Robert Sumner Stearns has since been reburied at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno (San Mateo County), California, Section B, plot 302.  He also has a memorial marker at the Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville (Crook County), Oregon.

© 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

Caterpillar Club

On November 20, 1945, George Edwin Farrar became a member of the Caterpillar Club.  He was granted entry into the club due to the fact that a parachute saved his life on September 28, 1944.  Stanley Switlik, owner of the Switlik Parachute Company sent him this nice letter, certificate, and pin.  I have the certificate hanging in my home.

1945-11-20-Switlik-001

CaterpillarClub-002

Caterpillar Pin

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Dear Friend

By now with everything the families of the Buslee crew had all been through together, they considered each other friends.  Not a happy friendship, but one brought together by sadness and loss.  More of a family, really, as their loved ones were as close as brothers as they served their country in WWII.

Raleigh Mae Farrar hadn’t received a letter from one of the crews’ families in many months, but in November 1945, Gerald Andersen’s wife took the time to write.

Gerald Lee Andersen

Gerald Lee Andersen

November 19, 1945
Stromsburg, Nebraska

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar,
Atlanta, Ga.

Dear Friend:

I have wondered so many times if your son S/Sgt. Geo. Farrar has gotten home after I received word from you that he had been released from prison Camp. I have been so in hopes that he could give us some information.

I received the following information from Quartermaster General, Washington, D. C. concerning my husband’s burial.

“The remains of your husband were interred in the United States Military Cemetery at Margraten Holland, Plot R, Row 3 Grave 51. This cemetery is located twelve miles Northwest of Achen, Germany and eight miles Southeast of Maastricht, Holland.”

I do hope your son is in good health. Was he near this Cemetery?

I am trying to contact someone in the Occupational Forces, to visit the cemetery and get pictures of a same.

I am teaching again this year. The time passes and when you are busy you don’t have time to think.

I would appreciate very much to hear from you and to know if your son has come home.

Sincerely,
Your friend,
Mrs. Esther E. Andersen

Gerald Andersen has since been reinterred in the Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell (Lincoln County), Nebraska, Section F, Site 1229.

Andersen Grave

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014