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We Can’t Give Up

The Stearns, parents of Lead Banana bombardier Robert Sumner (Bobby) Stearns, had been notified by the War Department on December 23, 1944, that their son had been killed in action on September 28.  They chose not to believe the news and held out hope that their son would be coming home one day.  On January 24, 1945, Mrs. Stearns wrote to Mrs. Farrar.

January 24, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

How happy we all were to get your letter yesterday saying you had heard direct from your son. I can imagine nothing ever looked any more wonderful than his own writing after all the Government reports. That let you know it was really true that he was alive and well treated.  How happy we would be to get this same word – nothing could be more wonderful to us but we’ve had no further word about Bobby, and I don’t believe any of the others have, either.

We had a letter from Mrs. Peluso today and they had been told practically the same story about the accident by some friend of theirs. Coming from so many different ones that it was a collision and not anti-aircraft that put their plane down surely some more of them got down unhurt.

The way the war is going surely it can’t be too long until we will all know more than we do now. I hope your son is soon home safe and well and bringing good news of the others. We just can’t give up but that our Bobby is safe somewhere even tho we have nothing more than our faith to go on.

Our oldest son was given the emergency furlough he should have had at Xmas time and got home Tuesday. He is at the Sheppard Field, Texas being classified for some Air Force work besides piloting after having been a flight instructor for a year for the Army.

I am glad your son is home from the So. Pacific – how nice for all of you just at this time. So many boys from our home town are in the Navy and some have been very close to serious hurt. One boy had his shirt blown from his back and several killed beside him. One of my son’s schoolmates is in India with the Airborne Engineers. I hope you hear from your son there often. Kenneth’s folks have heard from him quite regularily.

Thank you so very much for your very kind letter. We are so interested in hearing everything you hear from your son. When you write tell him “Bob’s mother sends him her best wishes.”

Sincerely,
Mrs. Stearns

Notes:

  • Mrs. Peluso’s son, Sebastiano, was also on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  Word was getting around that the War Department had not told the next-of-kin the truth about their sons’ plane.  If they couldn’t believe the War Department’s version of the crash, should they believe the deparment’s news about their son’s death?
  • The son home from the South Pacific was Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar, who had been injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid.
  • The son in India was Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr.  Farrar family stories indicate he served in Asia, but I don’t have record of exactly where.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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Still Waiting For News

On January 20, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office for his fourth term as President and Harry Truman was sworn in as Vice President.  Across the globe, the Soviet Red Army was advancing into East Prussia, putting more and more pressure on the Germans.

Four days later, Mr. Buslee, the father of the pilot of Lead Banana, again wrote to Raleigh Mae Farrar, the mother of the Banana’s waist gunner.  The families of the missing boys were communicating with each other often, quickly passing along any news good or bad.

January 24, 1945
411 Wisner Avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

Through Mr. Henson we learned that you have received a card from your son, George. This is indeed wonderful news.

Would like to hear from you as to what kind of a message he sent to you and we sincerely hope that as developments in Europe show such rapid advances by the Russians that it will mean the early closing of the battle over there and so release the prisoners of war so that they may return to their families at a very early date.

We have had no word pertaining to our son, Jay, nor any word from any of the next of kin outside of Mr. Henson and Mr. Stearns who unfortunately did not have very good news. We also have had a very recent letter from Mrs. Bryant and she is trying to keep up her spirits in the hope that her husband is safe and sound.

With every good wish for your continued good health and the hope that all of your boys write you often, I am,

Sincerely yours,
John Buslee

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014