The Arrowhead Club

Home » Uncategorized

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Advertisements

What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.)

The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy.

Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

Many years later, I met Wallace Storey, a 384th Bomb Group pilot who witnessed the mid-air collision. I was surprised to hear Wallace say that Lazy Daisy could not have been hit by ground fire from flak guns as there wasn’t any flak over the target that day. As a result, I have been searching for the reason why Lazy Daisy veered off course ever since.

Two 384th Bomb Group researchers, Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson, have a special life mission – to obtain as many of the group’s mission documents as possible to share on the group’s website. On one of their trips to the National Archives, they copied the mission documents of Mission 201 and shared them with me. After reviewing the available information, I’m still not positive what caused Lazy Daisy to veer off course, but because of various post-mission statements and one pilot’s post-mission Tactical Interrogation report, I do see the possibility that my dad may have been right about the flak after all.

I’ll get to the pilot Tactical Interrogation reports in Part 2, coming two weeks from now, but first I want to share a few facts about the mission itself and a few things that may have contributed to the mid-air collision.

The mission map shared with the officers in the morning briefing showed the flight plan for the mission in red. The route actually followed was added in blue, post mission.

September 28, 1944 Mission Map, Mission 201
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The Briefing Notes prior to the mission describe the primary and secondary targets.

P.T. [Primary Target] is the most important Krupp Steel Works in Germany. Located Magdeburg. It’s the main producer of the 25 ton Mark IV tank and also makes flak guns, armor plating and heavy sheels [shells?], it is a one plus priority. And employs 35,000 workers, there is a smoke screen N. of the city.

P.F.F. [Pathfinder Force] target is the Mar. [Marshalling] Yards, in the city of Magdeburg, and adjacent to your P.T.

Other Efforts.  You are the last of 12 36 A/C Wing of First Div. The 1st 6 groups of the 1st A.B.C. and 40th A.B.C. attack oil plant 4 miles No. of your target. The 94th A.B.C. bomb A/C fact. [Aircraft Factory] 3 miles No. of your target, 94th C, 41st A.B.C. bomb your target. Should PFF be used all groups will attack your PFF RR M/Y [Railroad Marshalling Yards] at Magdeburg.

The Lead Bombardier’s post-mission narrative explains the first problem with the mission. George K. Smith, 2nd Lt., Air Corps, Deputy Bombardier, Combat Wing 41st C described how the bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point.

Turned short of I.P. because of cloud coverage. Opened bomb bay doors at I.P. to encounter complete coverage on the bomb run. Ships flew under us so we couldn’t release our bombs. We flew out and made a 180 degrees turn to put us on a heading of 260 degrees heading back over the target. There was a little opening in the clouds over a part in a river, which I believe the Lead Bombardier killed his course. We dropped the bombs PFF and shortly after the Lead aircraft was hit by flak. Then we took over from our deputy Lead position to reform the Wing and start home. No flak was encountered on the way home.

The Navigator’s post-mission narrative indicated that the 384th was not on schedule and also noted flak at the target. Lt. Clarendon George Richert wrote,

Route flown as briefed to target. Behind schedule 20 minutes. Two runs on target due to deputy taking over.

Flak concentrations encountered (not scattered bursts).

  • Place: Target
  • Time: 1208 – 1211
  • Accuracy: Accurate
  • Intensity: Moderate

In his Operational Narrative, Major W. E. “Pop” Dolan, Station S-2 Officer, wrote,

Flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate. CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type fire employed. Black, gray bursts being notes.

Two of our A/C is missing. These two ships collided at the target to reasons unknown. Both ships were seen to break up and go down in flames. No chutes were observed.

In these selections from his Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, “Pop” Dolan offered more detail.

Two (2) of our aircraft are known missing.

Two (2) aircraft of the High Section, A/C 337-822 (Lt. Buslee, pilot) and A/C 1222 (Lt. Brodie, pilot) collided over the target and both ships were observed going down on fire and out of control. No chutes were observed.

Assembly of the Group and Wing was accomplished fifteen (15) minutes before departure time from our Base at 0823 hours, 7,000 feet without difficulty. We were ahead of “Cowboy-Baker” but we swung wide on the first Control Point and got in our correct slot in the Division at 0920 hours over Cambridge, 7,000 feet. We left the coast of England on course and on time at 0937 hours, Clacton, 9,000 feet. Speeds were S.O.P.

The route to the Belgian Coast was without incident and we crossed it at 1001 ½ hours, 51°10’N.-02°44’E., 15,000 feet. From this point into the I.P. [Initial Point of the final bomb run to the target] the mission was flown as briefed and without difficulty. No flak was encountered prior to the target and no enemy fighter attacks were made on our Wing for the entire mission.

At the I.P., we were notified by Buckeye-Red that target weather would be approximately 8/10ths which was accurate. We made our run from the I.P. to the target in Wing formation on PFF. When we approached the target, there was another Section making a run 90° to us on the same target. They passed over the target at the same time we did directly underneath us and we were unable to drop because we would have dropped on them. We therefore made a turn and started a second run in Wing formation. Bombs were away on PFF at 1211 hours from 26,000 feet. However, in the opinion of Capt. Booska, Low Section Leader, it is possible that today’s bombing may have been visual as there was a break in the clouds directly over the target one (1) minute before bombs were away. As it is presumed that the Lead Wing Bombardier landed in Belgium, our reports will state that PFF bombing was accomplished. Magnetic heading of bombs away was 265 degrees. Some crews observed the results through breaks in the clouds and they state that the bombs hit in the target area. Flak at the target was moderate and accurate.

After we dropped our bombs, and swung off the target, the Wing Leader informed the Deputy to take over as the former had been hit by flak. At this point, the entire Lead Section started to break up. We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing and the Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section. The High and Low reassembled and flew alone until we finally picked up the Lead Section ten (10) miles ahead of us. I called the Deputy Leader to slow down, which he did, and we assembled back into Combat Wing formation. After this, we had no other difficulties and the rest of the mission was flown as briefed and without incident. We departed the Belgian Coast at 1437 hours, 10,500 feet and recrossed the English Coast at 1508 hours, 1,000 feet.

And finally, the 384th Bomb Group’s S-2 Summary of Eye-witness Accounts summarized what happened to the two aircraft in the mid-air collision.

Brodie:  Aircraft broke up near tail assembly and went down in flames. Aircraft was burning and slowly spiraling down until it disappeared in the clouds.

Buslee:  Pieces of tail and wings falling off. Plane in flames from engines. Going down in flames spinning into the clouds.

As for the statement, “We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing,” in “Pop” Dolan’s Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, one of the pilots’ Tactical Interrogation reports described the tail symbol of the 351st Bomb Group. The 351st’s Intelligence S-2 Report for what was their group’s Mission 211 noted,

Two Triangle “P” ships were observed to collide just after the target. One chute was seen.

And a 351st combat crew comment from their aircraft 956-L remarked,

Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash.

Summary of information from the September 28, 1944 Mission 201 documents:

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (Continuous Predictive Flak) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of formation, creating much prop wash

To be continued with the mission’s individual pilot Tactical Interrogation Form visual observations and combat crew comments…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Advertisements

WWII Timeline – Summer 1937

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1937 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1937

July 2, 1937

On aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe, she and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on a leg of the flight from Papua, New Guinea to Howland Island.

July 7, 1937

A conflict between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army near the Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing, China (known as the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident”) led to warfare between China and Japan. This Japanese invasion of China was a prelude into World War II in the Pacific.

July 31, 1937

Japanese troops occupied Peking, China.

August 22, 1937

A U.S. Gallup poll showed that 43% of Americans supported China, 2% supported Japan, and 55% supported neither.

September 19, 1937

The Japanese launched air raids against Nanking and Canton, China.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The New Year

My father, George Edwin Farrar, spent New Year’s Eve seventy-four years ago as a prisoner of war in Germany’s Stalag Luft IV prison camp. He had been a POW since the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between his B-17 and that of another flying fortress in his own group. If he believed his captors, he knew that he was the only survivor of his crew.

On that New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1944, Daddy’s family back home in Atlanta, Georgia received a telegram with joyous news as the year drew to a close. Their son was a prisoner of war, but he was alive.

The next day, the first day of a bright new year, Daddy’s mother sent her own telegram to the family of the pilot of his crew, John Oliver Buslee, announcing the good news. Mr. Buslee responded with a January 1, 1945 letter.

The telegram that we received from you this morning was indeed a piece of good news for the New Year.  To learn of your son’s safety is indeed wonderful and I hope means such good news may come regarding all of the other boys and more that this terrible struggle will soon end and that all may return and lets hope that the peoples of the World will realize that there is but one way to get along and that is in a peaceful harmonious manner forgetting all greed and selfishness and faith in the Lord.

My wife and my daughter and myself are overjoyed in learning that your son has been reported.

In the midst of despair, one telegram provided hope and joy for the new year.

Seventy-four years later, we are reminded that lessons are learned and then forgotten. Greed and selfishness live on and peaceful harmony will forever be fleeting. Faith in something higher than oneself comes all too seldom, mostly in moments of joy or despair.

The world is not going to change overnight, or even this year, but good intentions on our own part and kindness towards others would be a good place to start. Have faith in a happy new year.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Ardmore Army Air Field

My dad’s (George Edwin “Ed” Farrar’s) WWII Separation Qualification record indicates that he was an Army Air Forces (AAF) Gunnery instructor for thirteen months. For seven months he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman, Arizona, conducting and administering training classes and gunnery tests. For six months he administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunnery at Ardmore OTU, Oklahoma.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar pointing to Ardmore, Oklahoma on the map

He spent six weeks at an Aircraft Instructor’s School in Ft. Myers, Florida. The course included instruction and practical training in teaching methods and student psychology as well as fundamentals of advanced aerial gunnery. I’m not sure whether he attended the AC Instructor’s School before he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman or if the Instructor’s School came later, before his stint as an instructor in Ardmore.

Ardmore Army Air Field opened in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1942 as a glider training facility. By July 12, 1943, it became a Martin Marauder B-26 crew training base of the 394th Bombardment Group, but the 394th transferred out five weeks later on August 19, 1943.

On August 20, 1943, Ardmore Army Air Field passed from the Third Air Force to the Second Air Force and on September 16, the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing of the 20th Bomber Command moved to Ardmore. Soon after, the 395th Bombardment Group arrived with their B-17’s.

On November 24, 1943, the 395th Bombardment Group was transformed into the 395th Combat Crew Training School, which provided instructional personnel for the training of new combat crews for the B-17s. Perhaps it was at this time that my dad was assigned to Ardmore as an instructor.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar in Ardmore, Oklahoma

According to their web site, during this time period in WWII, Ardmore Army Air Field was a receiving facility for new pilots, navigators, gunners, bombardiers, radio operators and flight engineers after they had completed their individual specialty training at other bases around the country.

While at Ardmore, the individuals were brought together for their final combat training to become B-17 combat crews ready to ship overseas and into the action. The training program included both classroom and flying instruction. As a combat crew in training, the men would be at the Ardmore base from three to five months before shipping overseas.

On March 25, 1944, the 395th Combat Crew Training School was changed to the 222nd Combat Crew Training School by Second Air Force General Order Number 35.

My dad transitioned from instructor at Ardmore to a gunner on one of the B-17 crews, where he completed his combat crew training as a flexible gunner (waist gunner) on the the John Oliver Buslee crew.

The Buslee Crew.  My dad is on the far right in the front row.

On June 8, 1944, he received his written orders “as a combat crew member requiring regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.” The order was issued by Major Milton S. Angier, Air Corps Commandant of the Combat Crew Detachment, 222nd Combat Crew Training School, AAF, Ardmore, Oklahoma.

My dad wrote his mother on June 22, 1944 on his way out of Ardmore and the beginning of his journey to Grafton Underwood with the Buslee crew. At the time, most of the B-17 crews traveled by train from the Ardmore base to Grand Island, Nebraska, where they were assigned the B-17’s that they flew to England, and I can only assume that Grand Island was his next destination.

He wrote, “We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.” He also said that he wanted his mother to know that “I haven’t waited this long to start asking God to help me.”

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The White Cliffs of Dover

White-Cliffs-of-Dover1-470x260

I have never seen the White Cliffs of Dover, but my dad, George Edwin Farrar, saw them fifteen times. They were the landmark he and his crew mates would look for as their B-17 crossed the English channel back to the base at Grafton Underwood in England from their WWII bombing missions. It meant that they had survived another one with the 384th Bomb Group and were safe once again. As he told me about it when I was a child, I could see that the beauty was not all in the vision of it, but in the deep emotion of it as well.

The White Cliffs of Dover stand 300 feet high and stretch for almost ten miles along the English coastline at the Strait of Dover, facing France and the rest of continental Europe at the narrowest part of the English Channel. They are composed mainly of soft white chalk with streaks of black flint.

Interestingly, there are secret tunnels behind the face of Dover’s cliffs that served as Winston Churchill’s military headquarters during WWII. They were originally carved by prisoners held in the Dover Castle during the Napoleonic Wars and later enlarged.

The White Cliffs of Dover are a sentimental symbol of England, which was put into words as song lyrics to the WWII-era song “The White Cliffs of Dover.” It was composed by Walter Kent and Nat Burton in 1941, and recorded by Vera Lynn in 1942. It was written about a year after British and German aircraft had been fighting over the cliffs of Dover in the Battle of Britain, and before America had joined in the war. The lyrics look forward to a time when the war would end and peace would return.

While bluebirds, as we in America know them, don’t inhabit England, the bluebirds may have been another bird with a blue sheen. Swallows and house martins migrate to and from the continent in spring and fall, crossing the English Channel over the white cliffs. Many spend the summer in the vicinity of Dover. Traditionally, swallows and martins are believed to bring good fortune.

For a nice video with photos of the cliffs accompanied by the song, visit YouTube.

 

“The White Cliffs of Dover” song lyrics

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.
I’ll never forget the people I met
Braving those angry skies
I remember well as the shadows fell
The light of hope in their eyes
And though I’m far away I still can hear them say
Thumb’s up
For when the dawn comes up
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.
There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after.
Tomorrow, when the world is free
The shepherd will tend his sheep.
The valley will bloom again.
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again.
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.

George Edwin Farrar and the Buslee crew’s last view of the White Cliffs of Dover from a B-17 was on September 27, 1944 – the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th mission. The next day, September 28, they did not return.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

A Brief Break

The Arrowhead Club and The Arrowhead Club Kitchen will be on hiatus until September. New posts will return on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Slowing Down

The posts here on The Arrowhead Club are going to start coming less frequently.  I have been posting three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I am now at a point where I need to do some more research and need to do some work for the 384th Bomb Group’s website (www.384thbombgroup.com).  Therefore, I will most likely only be posting new content on Wednesdays.

So stay tuned for new information, but now just once a week.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

My Dad’s (George Edwin Farrar) Story – Organization

I find that I am not posting anything because I feel the need for my posts to flow in a certain order.  However, as my first project here is researching and writing my father’s history, I am stumbling across different bits of information that don’t necessarily all fit together in one nice neat little package.  I am going to start posting the information as I come across it, and hopefully, like a jigsaw puzzle, it will all fit together nicely at the end.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013