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Number of Missions to Complete a Tour

When can I go home? The answer to the most important question most WWII airmen wanted to know differed depending on when they began their service.

For the airmen of the 384th Bomb Group, those who began their service “early on,” starting with Mission 1 on June 22, 1943, a tour was twenty-five missions per John Edwards, the 384th Bomb Group’s historian. But that magic number of twenty-five only lasted until the end of March 1944.

The number of missions to mark a completed tour and a ticket stateside was upped to thirty on April 1, 1944, but this number lasted for only a couple of months.

By June 6, 1944, a 384th Bomb Group airman had to survive thirty-five missions to complete his tour.

But the magic number of 25, 30, or 35 wasn’t set in stone. The 384th’s webmaster, Fred Preller, adds,

For those affected by the change during their combat tour, some increase was inevitable. I know of some (my Dad, for instance) who were required to fly some more missions based on how many they had already completed – but not the full increased number.

For Fred’s dad, Robert Preller, a completed tour meant thirty-three missions. Flying his first mission on May 27, 1944, he probably expected to wrap up his tour at Number 30, as that was what was in effect on his first mission. But thirty was changed to thirty-five by his seventh mission, and though he didn’t have to fly the full thirty-five, he did fly three more for his total of thirty-three.

Michael Faley, historian of the 100th Bomb Group (the group famously known as the Bloody Hundredth), notes similar dates for the increase in missions for a completed tour,

From June 1943 to March 19, 1944 the tour of duty was 25 missions. From March 19, 1944 – July 1944 it was 30 missions and from July 1944 to the end of the war it was 35.

By the time my dad, George Edwin Farrar, got to Grafton Underwood, home of the 384th, he knew he would have to fly thirty-five missions before he went home.

When he wrote home on August 14, 1944, Dad had only flown four missions, but he wrote,

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

It is the only letter I have from his time at Grafton Underwood, but I know every letter must have mentioned his desire to come home, and he must have thought he could complete thirty-one more missions in the next four months.

But, of course, he didn’t come home by the end of the year. He spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and his mother’s birthday as a prisoner of war and didn’t make it home until the middle of 1945.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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WWII Timeline – Fall 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1938

October 1, 1938

Nazi troops began the occupation of the Sudetenland and the Czech government resigned. The Sudetenland was the portion of Czechoslovakia inhabited by over three million Sudeten Germans, many of which became Nazis and strongly supported Hitler’s acquisition.

October 3, 1938

The Nazi Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property regulated the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jews in Germany.

October 5, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German passports held by Jews. Jews were required to surrender their old passports, which only become valid again after a large red letter “J” had been stamped on them.

October 28, 1938

The Nazis arrested 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expelled them back to Poland, transporting them by rail in boxcars. Poland refused them entry, leaving them in a no-man’s land near the Polish border for several months.

November 4, 1938

Japan declared the Nine Powers Treaty of 1922 (which guaranteed China’s independence) obsolete.

November 7, 1938

Herschel Grynszpan, the seventeen year old son of one of the deported Jews (see October 28, 1938), shot and mortally wounded Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary in the German Embassy in Paris.

November 9/10, 1938

Ernst vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after Herschel Grynszpan shot and wounded him. In retaliation for vom Rath’s death, the Nazis coordinated a massive attack on Jews throughout the German Reich. It began on the night of November 9, 1938 and lasted into the next day. The attack is known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.

The shooting was the perfect excuse for Adolf Hitler and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to incite Germany to “rise in bloody vengeance against the Jews.” Nazi storm troopers, members of the SS, and the Hitler Youth vandalized Jewish homes, beat and murdered Jewish men, and brutalized Jewish women and children. Thousands of (estimated to be 25,000) male Jewish survivors were later sent to concentration camps.

The German police and crowds of spectators did not attempt to stop any of the violence. In Germany, Austria, and other areas controlled by the Nazis, Jewish businesses were destroyed. Synagogues were vandalized and sacred Torah scrolls were desecrated. Hundreds of synagogues were burned without any rescue effort from local fire departments.

November 12, 1938

At a Nazi meeting regarding the economic impact of the damage as a result of Kristallnacht, which included Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 Jewish businesses destroyed, 177 synagogues destroyed out of 267 burned, and 91 Jews killed.

Goebbels proclaimed the burned out synagogues would be turned into parking lots after he forced the Jews to clean up the debris.

Göring declared the Jews would be billed for the damage and that any insurance money they received would be taken by the State. He imposed a fine on the Jews of one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht, damages which the Nazis themselves had caused.

Heydrich requested new decrees barring Jews from any contact with Germans, excluding them from public transportation, schools, and hospitals. His aim was to force them into ghettos or out of the country.

The Nazi “Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life” closed all Jewish-owned businesses. It barred Jews from operating retail stores, sales agencies, from carrying on a trade, and from selling goods or services at an establishment of any kind. All Jewish property and enterprises would be transferred to ‘Aryans.’ Jews would receive minimal compensation in the form of bonds.

Göring threatened “a final reckoning with the Jews” if Germany should become involved in a war, and closed the meeting with, “Incidentally, I would like to say that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”

November 15, 1938

The Reich Ministry of Education expelled all Jewish children from German public schools. The were allowed to only attend special Jewish schools.

November 16, 1938

The United States recalled its ambassador to Germany, Hugh R. Wilson, permanently.

November 28, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior restricted the freedom of the movement of Jews.

November 29, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior forbid Jews to keep carrier pigeons.

December 3, 1938

The Nazis enacted a law for the compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses, a process involving the dismissal of Jewish workers and managers, as well as the transfer of companies and enterprises to non-Jewish Germans, who bought them at prices officially fixed well below market value.

December 14, 1938

Hermann Göring took the helm of resolving the “Jewish Question.”

The Executive Order on the Law on the Organization of National Work canceled all state contracts held with Jewish-owned firms.

December 21, 1938

The Nazi Law on Midwives banned all Jews from the profession.

December 1938 – September 1939

In a rescue effort known as the Children’s Transport, or Kindertransport, during the nine months before the beginning of WWII, the United Kingdom took in nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the free city of Danzig.

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

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany

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

Wikipedia:  Hugh R. Wilson

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

384th Bomb Group Airmen Confined to Stalag Luft IV

During WWII, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a prisoner of war held in the Stalag Luft IV prison camp for enlisted airmen. I have seen several lists of WWII airmen who were held as prisoners of war in Stalag Luft IV, but until recently I have never found my father’s name on any of the lists.

The only place I have seen Dad’s name associated with Stalag Luft IV is his record in the digital records of the National Archives.

Recently, Fred Preller, the webmaster of the 384th Bomb Group website, added several new reports to the site, among them a list of 384th Bomb Group airmen who were prisoners of war in all prison camps. In all, 880 airmen of the 384th Bomb Group became POWs during their WWII service, and 156 of those were held in Stalag Luft IV. Finally, I have a list of Stalag Luft IV POWs that includes my father’s name. This one’s for you, Dad.

384th Bomb Group Airmen Held POW in Stalag Luft IV

Adams, Benjamin Harold Marshall, Sylvester Joseph
Amspacher, Ray Richard May, Gayle Gustavus
Anderson, Frank J McAnear, Carlton S
Anderson, Jack R McClure, Charles Roesler
Andrews, Ralph Cash, Jr McCracken, Dwight Howard
Atkinson, Owen Glenn Miles, Harold Ruoff
Baird, Ralph Edwin, Jr Miller, Robert Lee
Barnes, Karl Francis Miller, Wilfred Frank
Bartholomew, Everett Laverne Misiewicz, Joseph R
Bedsted, Lee Roy Moore, John William
Benker, Patrick Denis Mosbey, James Millard
Bianca, Buddy Armand Nickles, Mercer Chartos, Jr
Bingaman, Jack William Norton, Richard Anthony
Boon, Howard Goodall, Jr O’Leary, Edward Joseph
Borgeson, Wesley Clifton Odom, Rufus Thurman, Jr
Brannigan, Allen Francis Oldham, Jesse Zera
Brown, Cecil William Oliva, Armando (NMI)
Brown, Jack M Onstad, William Walter
Brown, James Paul Osepchook, Arthur John
Cameron, Robert Allen Owens, Norris Reece
Castiglione, Vincent Joseph Page, William Marvin
Clary, Leonard Estus Palladino, Joseph Anthony
Clymer, Charles Richard Parsons, Roland Westley
Cook, Herbert Arno Peckerar, Irvin Milton
David, Alfred Alme Perry, Gilbert Franklin
Day, Huley Newton Petrillo, Joseph (NMI)
Ecker, John Eric Pierce, Lee Clifton
Edwards, Thomas Joseph, Jr Pire, Irwin Joseph, Jr
Egger, Richard Henry Plotz, John James
Egger, Robert Ross Rabe, William Arthur, Jr
Fallesen, Wayne Peter Raines, Louis Edward
Farrar, George Edwin Rardon, Edward Perish
Farrow, Thomas Chapell Reed, Clarence Eugene
Faust, Glenn Millard Robinson, Warren Ray
Felicetti, Frank Dominick Romano, Vincent Peter
Fiory, William John Joseph Rood, James Raymond
Flaherty, James DeValera Sack, Ralph William
Fooder, Elmer H Sager, Edwin M
Foretich, Gerald Fabian Santosuosso, John Peter
Franzo, Anthony Joseph Saunders, Paul Ralph
Frederickson, Ralph Louis Schepers, Bob Eugene
Friedman, Jack Kenyon Schick, Frank Joseph, Jr
Fulwider, Albert Clayton, Jr Sexton, William Hiram
Gabriel, Daniel (NMI) Simon, Edward (NMI)
Gerhold, Melvin Henry Smith, Joseph H
Gilroy, Robert Peter Snead, William Austin
Girard, Donald Robert Snyder, Charles Leslie
Golka, Larry John Stanley, James Farrell
Gregorich, Vincent (NMI) Stephenson, Hilton Hubert
Gribbons, Warren David Stevens, Howard Orville
Grimes, Robert Albert Stropek, George Vincent
Hale, Kenneth Oliver Sylvia, Joseph Herbert
Hallam, Harley Ross Taylor, Homer William
Hamilton, Harry Tobais Taylor, William Edson
Harbrecht, Robert Francis Thompson, Raymond Archie
Hardman, John Bethany Thornhill, John G
Harrison, Joseph Horatio Traynor, James Patrick
Haverlah, Alton Bernhard Treat, John Afton
Hickey, James Currie Van Beveren, John Edward
Holler, Edward Ralph Vennel, Alexander Joseph
Hopkins, James Russell Wallo, Andrew (NMI)
House, Horace Doster, Jr Walsh, James Francis
Hunt, Walter Francis Walton, Horace Murphy
Jellings, Charles Albert Wasilewski, Aleck Michael
Jones, Leroy Charles Watson, Paul Leland
Kane, Francis P Way, Arthur Harold
Kenedy, John Joseph Whipple, Charles Thomas
Kidwell, Hugh Thomas Whitney, Stanley Clifford
Klonowski, Francis Dominick Wick, Andrew Oliver
Kohl, John Gustave Wilson, Gerald Eugene
Kushner, Jack (NMI) Wolfe, Clark Benjamin, Jr
Larocca, Frank (NMI) Woodruff, Walker Ace
Liniger, Harry Allen Woods, Harold Leroy
Louden, Jack Elmer Wright, William Clifford
Lunceford, John William Wyatt, Kenneth Ainley
MacGregor, Douglas Roy Younker, John Joseph
Madden, Arthur W Zesch, Charles Emil
Mariani, Waldo Frank Zordel, Wilbur Godfrey

Thanks, Fred, and thank you to all of the 384th Bomb Group volunteers who research and record, compile, and share information with me and all other 384th Bomb Group researchers. Whether we researchers are historians or family members, we all greatly benefit from the hard work of these few:

Fred Preller, 384thBombGroup.com Webmaster, tries to keep all the pieces of the website working together. Fred’s father Robert H. Preller served as a 546th BS copilot from May to September 1944.

Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist. Keith’s Uncle Raymond O. Wisdahl flew 35 missions with the 384th. Keith has taken a serious interest in data validity and completeness He has been especially involved in the Wing Panel Signing Project.

John Edwards, 384th Bomb Group, Inc. Historian and 384th NEXGEN Research Director. John is an aviation researcher who, thru friendships with 384th Veterans, formed a bond with the 384th family.

Mark Meehl, 384th Bomb Group, Inc. Archivist, is a researcher who specializes in ground personnel, and who also maintains the master log of all combat sorties. Mark’s father Paul E. Meehl served as a 384th ground crew chief from early 1943 thru the end of the war.

Phil Hettel, combat data specialist. Phil’s Uncle Joseph J. Rachunas flew 25 combat missions with the 384th, was shot down and became a POW on his last mission.

Marc Poole, 384thBombGroup.com Webmaster Emeritus, founder of the original 384th website. Marc now serves in an advisory capacity, with occasional forays into research. While a student at Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, Marc established the website in 1999. He was motivated by the wartime experiences of his uncle, Johnny Butler, who was a 547th Bomb Squadron pilot during Summer 1943. In 2004, Marc turned over operation of the site to current webmaster Fred Preller.

And, yes, I’m one of the research volunteers, too…

Cindy Farrar Bryan, author of this blog, researcher and website analyst. My father George Edwin Farrar, a gunner on the Buslee Crew, was the sole survivor of that crew when they were involved in a mid-air collision on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg, Germany.

In addition…

All who contribute materials and suggestions – and who report factual errors and website problems. Additional volunteers are always welcome. If you have an interest in helping to preserve the heritage of the 384th, whether you are a computer whiz or not, there are tasks in the (overflowing) Official 384thBombGroup.com Job Jar to suit all capabilities. To inquire about opportunities, e-mail the Webmaster.

The above information was appropriated from Fred Preller’s “About This Site” page on 384thBombgroup.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1938

July 6, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from trading and providing a variety of specified commercial services.

July 6 – 15, 1938

Delegates from thirty-two nations attended the Evian conference to discuss Jewish refugees fleeing persecution by Nazi German. The conference ended with no resolution passed condemning German anti-Semitic policies. Most, including the U.S., refused to relax their immigration restrictions and no country would accept them.

July 11, 1938

The Reich Ministry of the Interior banned Jews from health spas.

July 23, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews over the age of 15 to apply for identity cards from the police, to be shown on demand to any police officer.

July 25, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jewish doctors from practicing medicine.

August 3, 1938

Italy enacted sweeping anti-Semitic laws.

August 11, 1938

The Nazis destroyed the synagogue in Nuremberg.

August 12, 1938

The German military mobilized.

August 17, 1938

The Nazi Executive Order on the Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names required Jews bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin to adopt an additional name. Men would add “Israel” and women would add “Sara” to their names on all legal documents.

August 18, 1938

German General Ludwig Beck resigned as chief of the German General Staff in protest of Hitler’s overtly militaristic policies.

September 27, 1938

The Nazis prohibited Jews from all legal practices.

September 29, 1938
Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France signed the Munich agreement, or “Munich Betrayal.” Adolf Hitler had threatened a European war unless the Sudetenland, a border area of Czechoslovakia containing an ethnic German majority, was surrendered to Germany. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy agreed in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler.

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

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

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

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

A B-17 Navigator Oversleeps

In the overnight hours between Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, 1944, the 384 Bomb Group prepared for Mission #163 to the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Airfield at Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

Air personnel were awakened to begin their preparation process – breakfast, briefing, picking up flight gear and equipment, and assembly at their designated aircraft – as usual for each mission.

But one navigator fell back asleep after being awakened. William Alvin Henson II was awakened at 0150 – that’s 1:50 in the morning. After the orderly who awakened him told him that breakfast was at 0230, Bill Henson fell back asleep.

No one missed Henson or reported him missing until the pilot of his aircraft did so at engine time. Pilot, Lt. Alfred H. Cole, who had recently been promoted from co-pilot to pilot of his own crew, called the tower. Cole’s usual navigator, Harry Simons, wasn’t assigned to Cole’s crew that mission and Bill Henson was to replace him.

The tower advised Cole to taxi on time and he did so until he was nearly in takeoff position. Cole called again and was advised to wait in the dispersal area.

Someone found Henson still asleep in bed and awakened him at 0620. Henson must have had to skip breakfast and hustle to operations to get his briefing materials, control points and maps, but didn’t receive a flight plan. He headed to the Tremblin’ Gremlin with the rest of the Cole crew aboard and waiting for him to take off. Henson arrived at 0645 and they took off at 0655.

Henson had to put his navigation skills to work to search for the formation, but without success. The formation crossed the English coast at Felixstowe at 0821, altitude 15,000 feet, without them. By 0835, Cole realized they were not going to locate the formation and decided to turn back. They landed back at Grafton Underwood at 0954.

544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall determined the abortion was justified on the part of the pilot, but stated that the…

Navigator is held responsible and will be required to fly an extra sortie to complete his tour. The Squadron duty operations clerk is also held partly responsible since he did not double check barracks. He will do night duty for one week. It is also felt that the Group Duty Navigator should have discovered that this navigator was not present at briefing. In calling roll at Navigators briefing, he should have discovered that this navigator was absent.

544th BS Operations Officer Major George H. “Snapper” Koehne, Jr. agreed with the abortion justification ruling.

What did the punishment of flying one extra sortie (mission) for the simple act of falling back asleep mean for navigator Bill Henson? Well, if Henson had begun his tour earlier in the war, he would have completed his tour of duty of 25 missions on September 27, 1944 with the 384th’s Mission 200, and been sent home. As it turns out, on his 26th mission, Henson was aboard 43-37822 with my dad’s crew and was killed in the mid-air collision over Magdeburg.

As horrific as the thought of dying because you fell back asleep is, that wasn’t the case for Henson. By the time Bill Henson was assigned to the 384th, the number of missions to complete a tour had been increased to 30, and he still had several more to go before he could return home. He did get awfully close, though.

Navigator William A. Henson’s Statement in Full

I was awakened at 0150. The orderly told me that breakfast was 0230 so I went back to sleep and was awakened a second time at 0620. Came to operations and obtained control points and necessary maps but no flight plan. Went to ship and took-off as explained by pilot. Gave heading of 130° in order to meet formation at Splasher # 7. Couldn’t get Splasher # 7 on radio compass. Circled in what I thought was apparent area of Splasher # 7. Saw balloon barrages at approximately 0800 and realized we were sout[h] of London. Gave heading to Felixstowe and arrived there approximately 0830 and realized formation had left. Plane was equipped with gee box but on my first gee fix plotted west of Northampton, so I thought it was inoperative. Later fixes proved to be correct. Request all responsibility of abortion.

Pilot Alfred H. Cole’s Statement in Full

At engine time the navigator had not yet arrived. I called the tower and was advised to taxi on time – I taxied until nearly in take-off position at which time I called Cherub again and was told to wait in Dispersal #46.

The navigator arrived at 0645 and we took off at 0655. At 0835 we had not yet located the formation and it became apparent that were not going to find it. I decided to turn back.

Other Sources

William A. Henson’s personnel data from the 384th Bomb Group website

384th Bomb Group Website mission data

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1938

April 22, 1938

The Decree against the Camouflage of Jewish Firms forbid changing the names of Jewish-owned businesses, i.e., changing the business name to give the appearance that the business was Aryan-owned and disguise that the business was Jewish-owned.

In Nazism, “Aryan” designated a supposed master race of non-Jewish Caucasians usually having Nordic features.

April 26, 1938

The Nazis ordered Jews to register wealth and property. The Order for the Disclosure of Jewish Assets required Jews to report all property in excess of 5,000 Reichsmarks.

June 1938

The Chinese military leader Chiang Kai-shek ordered the dikes along China’s Yellow River destroyed. The result of this attempt to slow down a Japanese invasion was the destruction of more than four thousand cities, towns, and villages, leaving two million Chinese homeless, and a devastating famine ensued.

June 14, 1938

The Nazis ordered businesses owned or run by Jews to be registered and marked as Jewish.

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

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

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

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1938

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Two-hundreth Mission Celebration, Revisited

I originally published this article on September 24, 2014. Realizing that the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission party would coincide with the date of the last day of the 384th Bomb Group Historical Association’s 2019 reunion and farewell dinner, held in England this year, I decided to review the article and found a few errors. So I’m republishing it today with corrections. (I have corrected the original, too, so if you look back at the 2014 article, you’ll just see this same information).

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group's 200th Mission Celebration

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group Website Photo Gallery

On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission, although that milestone mission would actually be flown four days later.

Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21. The party was on a Saturday – September 23. Mission 198 was flown on the 25th, and 199 on the 26th.

The boys reached mission 200 on Wednesday, September 27. The 384th Bomb Group formed the 41st CBW “A” wing for Mission 200’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.

On Mission 200, there were several mishaps and not everyone made it back to Grafton-Underwood alive.

  • The Donald George Springsted crew and Bert O. Brown, Jr. crew were involved in a taxi accident prior to takeoff. The Brown crew’s aircraft, 44-6080, had to be scrapped. The Springsted’s aircraft, Sneakin’ Deacon, was repaired in time to fly the next day’s mission.
  • The Loren L. Green crew aboard Pro Kid had to abort and turn back due to an internal failure in an engine.
  • The Frank F. Cepits crew aboard The Challenger came back with the #3 engine feathered. (See Note)
  • The James W. Orr crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin II experienced a bomb bay door malfunction over the target. The bomb bay doors could not be opened, either electrically or manually. Gremlin returned to base still loaded with all of her bombs.
  • The John H. Hunt, Jr. crew had a harrowing landing. Boss Lady’s tail wheel would not extend for the landing. Fortunately, no one was injured.
  • The William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with wounded aboard. Rebel came back with an injured tail gunner, Robert H. Hoyman.
  • Navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren of the Raymond J. Gabel crew aboard Fightin’ Hebe was killed by flak. He is buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England: Plot E Row 5 Grave 12. I will have the opportunity to visit Lt. Lovegren’s grave during the 384th’s visit to the American Cemetery at Madingley during the reunion.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed Mission 200 with the John Oliver Buslee crew aboard Hale’s Angels, which was the high group deputy and hot camera ship. They completed the mission without incident.

The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly Mission 200, but both the Buslee and Brodie crews would be part of the bomber stream for Mission 201 on Thursday, September 28, 1944, and it would be their last. The Buslee crew aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg at about ten minutes past noon. Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.

What a difference one mission could make for an airman in WWII. For the Buslee and Brodie crews, Mission 200 was a celebration, Mission 201, a disaster.

Note

The Challenger was lost on February 3, 1945 when the pilot was forced to ditch in the North Sea. Ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook saved the life of navigator Edward Field on this mission and The Challenger sank to the bottom of the North Sea.

Source

384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1938

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1938 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1938

January 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbid Jews from changing their names.

January 28, 1938

President Roosevelt called for a massive rearmament program for the U.S.

February 1938

Adolf Hitler bullied Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg into giving him control of Austria’s interior ministry.

February 4, 1938

Adolf Hitler became commander-in-chief of the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, and the German war minister.

February 5, 1938

The Nazi Law on the Profession of Auctioneer excluded Jews from the profession.

March 12, 1938
Germany announced Anschluss, a union with or annexation of Austria, which had a population of 200,000 Jews, most living in Vienna. Nazi troops entered Austria and began arresting and publicly humiliating the Austrian Jews, making them perform tasks such as getting on their hands and knees and scrubbing the pavement.

March 13, 1938

The new Nazi government in Vienna declared Austria a province of the Greater German Reich.

March 18, 1938

The Nazi Gun Law banned Jewish gun merchants.

Late March 1938

The SS was placed in charge of Jewish affairs in Austria and Adolf Eichmann established an Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.

Two weeks after the Anschluss, the National Socialist Gauleiter (regional head) of Upper Austria, August Eigruber, announced the building of a concentration camp at the town of Mauthausen on the Danube. Political opponents and those considered criminal or antisocial would be imprisoned at Mauthausen and forced to work in the granite quarries.

March 24 – April 7, 1938

Japan’s first military defeat in modern history occurred during the Battle of Taierzhuang. The Chinese killed approximately 16,000 Japanese soldiers during the two-week battle.

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

The Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

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

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Imagine

On September 28, 1944, two B-17 heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany.

As I remember the bedtime story Dad told me over and over when I was a child, ground fire hit the ship flying next to his, and that ship, knocked off course, ran into his ship. His ship cracked open like an egg, spilling everyone out. Dad was knocked out in the collision, but as he fell toward earth, he heard his mother call his name. He came around enough to open his chute and lost consciousness again.

The old woman struck him again and again with a stick as Dad woke up on the ground. German soldiers arrived and found him seriously injured, unable to walk. They carried him to a house to await transportation on his journey to confinement as a prisoner of war.

Dad would pause and get very sad as he told me that he was the only one on his plane who survived. When I asked why, he explained that he was the only man wearing his chest chute when the ships collided.

The story continued like it always did. The Germans took Dad to a hospital because he couldn’t walk. Moved by train, the German soldiers were kind to him and allowed him to ride in a bunk in their rail car. After his stay in the hospital, they moved him to a prison camp, where he learned to walk again, able to only shuffle his feet at first. And then came the part of the story that seemed the most significant, the march across Germany and how he slept in barns in the hay at night.

My childhood image was of my father dressed in a crisp uniform and polished shoes marching in columnar formation. I imagined him lounging in a fresh mound of clean hay, trying to avoid the proverbial needle that surely existed in every haystack. I was probably around eight years old and my imagination was highly influenced by a daily dose of Looney Tunes cartoons.

* * * * *

My father, George Edwin Farrar, died in 1982, and over the years I stopped thinking about the stories he told in my childhood of the mid-air collision, the prison camp, and the march. One day, almost thirty years after his death, a cousin e-mailed me a familiar story she had found on the internet. It was told by an eye-witness to the mid-air collision, the co-pilot of another B-17 in the formation. Reading the story brought all the memories flooding back.

The additional discovery of Dad’s record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website triggered my curiosity to learn more. I found that September 28, 1944 was my father’s sixteenth mission as a waist gunner on the John Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, which was based in Grafton Underwood, England. But most telling was a copy of the missing air crew report attached to Dad’s record.

Through the missing air crew report, I learned that my father was wrong about why his crewmates didn’t survive. He was the only one who made it out of the ship. After the mid-air collision, his B-17 was seen spinning into the clouds on fire, with centrifugal force likely trapping the rest of the crew, who may have also been knocked unconscious. And through a conversation with another eye-witness, I learned the ball turret was knocked from the ship during the collision and plummeted to earth with the belly gunner inside.

Included in the missing air crew report was a statement in handwriting I immediately recognized as my father’s. In his statement he said,

Our ship was hit by another B-17 from our group. The other ship must have hit right in the center of our ship, as we were knocked half in-to. At the time we were struck I was knocked unconscious and fell about 25,000 feet before I knew I was even out of the ship. Never saw any of the other boys. I received a little rough treatment from the Germans when I hit the ground, and was unable to tell where I was. Any information you can find out about the boys I would appreciate hearing very much.

He concluded his statement with,

May you have luck on the mission of finding what did happen to the boys.

I pulled out the box of my dad’s WWII mementos that my mother had given me before her death in 2004, and read letter after letter from the families of my dad’s lost crew to my grandmother during 1944 and 1945. While waiting for news about their sons, the mood of the letters evolved from disbelief, to hope, to despair, to sadness. The only joy came in the shared gladness of news of my father’s survival.

The information from the missing air crew report and deep emotion of the letters transformed me and I knew I had to learn more about this shared family tragedy. I began researching my father’s and his crewmates’ WWII history, learned all I could about the Stalag Luft IV prison camp where my father was held, and began reading personal stories of the march.

I learned that as a prisoner of war, Dad spent almost two months in the hospital. Shortly before Thanksgiving 1944, he was transferred to Stalag Luft IV. On February 6, 1945, my father was among the prisoners who marched from Stalag Luft IV. He remained on the road until his liberation at Gudow eighty-six days and five hundred miles later on May 2, 1945.

I started this blog to record the findings of my research. The stories on my blog not only let me record my findings, they lead to connections with relatives of the men my father served with in combat and was held captive with as a POW.

It may have been Dad’s statement, “May you have luck on the mission of finding what did happen to the boys,” that triggered not just an interest, but an intense desire, to find out for myself what happened in the skies above Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, and to learn more about the families and their sons.

* * * * *

Imagination is a funny thing. It creates a picture in one’s mind based on available information. When new information is added, a new picture emerges, but the old one remains. Version control for the brain, I suppose.

The more I learn, the more the picture changes, but it is only an image conjured by my imagination of the things my father told me and the things I have learned since. I have never seen these places with my physical eyes, only within my mind’s eye.

My image of my father sleeping in the hay in a barn is now of an emaciated man I would not recognize, huddled with other prisoners under thin, dirty blankets. If they slept, they dreamt of home and food, and when they didn’t sleep, they asked God for the strength to walk just one more day.

* * * * *

The next steps in my journey are to visit the airfield in England at which my father was based, to see the crash site in Germany of his B-17 and the remains of the Stalag Luft IV prison camp, walk some of the path of the march, and find the location of his liberation at Gudow.

I need to see the remains of the prison camp where my father stared at fence day after day, learned to walk again at twenty-three years old, and with the lack of food, began the slow progression of starvation that would continue until liberation.

I need to physically see barns where the prisoners rested during the march, and not only view them from the road, but throw open the doors and breathe in the stale and musty smells of the hay. I half expect to awaken the sleeping ghosts of hundreds of starving and exhausted airmen when the daylight strikes the dark recesses of these shelters that housed the marchers from the harshness of the bitterly cold nights of winter 1945.

I need to physically put one foot in front of the other along the road, to scuff up some dirt where dad walked through snow and ice. I need to be in the same physical space he once traveled. I know I will feel him there and connect with him, and I will remember the bedtime stories of my childhood once again.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1937

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

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1937

November 5, 1937

Adolf Hitler held a secret conference in the Reich Chancellery to reveal his plans for the acquisition of Lebensraum, or living space, for the German people (at the expense of other European nations).

Attending the conference were:

  • German War Minister, Werner von Blomberg
  • Commander in Chief of the Army, Werner von Fritsch
  • Commander in Chief of the Navy, Erich Raeder
  • Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring
  • Foreign Minister, Constantin von Neurath
  • Colonel Friedrich Hossbach

Colonel Hossbach took the minutes of the conference which resulted in the meeting being known as the Hossbach Conference, and his record of minutes the Hossbach Memorandum.

At the conference, Hitler swore the men to secrecy and told them that his words should be regarded as his last will and testament. Hitler expressed his view of and vision for Germany with these arguments and reasons:

  • Germany had a tightly packed racial core and was entitled to greater living space than in the case of other peoples.
  • History proved that expansion could only be carried out by breaking down resistance and taking risks, there had never been spaces without a master, and the attacker always comes up against a possessor. Where could Germany achieve the greatest gain at the lowest cost?
  • Germany’s two biggest problems, two hate inspired antagonists, Britain and France, to whom a German colossus in the center of Europe was a thorn in the flesh.
  • Germany’s problem could only be solved by means of force, but when and how remained to be seen.
  • Military action must be taken by 1943-1945 at the latest, to guard against military obsolescence and the aging of the Nazi movement. Germany must take the offensive while the rest of the world was still preparing its defenses.
  • The primary objective would be to seize Czechoslovakia and Austria to protect Germany’s eastern and southern flanks.
  • Hitler envisioned three different strategies (see Cases 1 – 3 in the Hossbach Conference link below) designed to capitalize on the present and future military and political problems of France and England.

Following the conference, Foreign Minister Constantin von Neurath suffered several heart attacks and asked to be relieved from his post.

Hitler’s vision and casual acceptance of the immense risks of starting a war in Europe shocked his colleagues and conference attendees, especially German War Minister Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the German Army Werner von Fritsch. Both repeatedly emphasized that Britain and France must not appear as Germany’s enemies. Blomberg and Fritsch’s continuing opposition to Hitler’s war plans resulted in their removals via trumped up scandals within three months.

With the removal of the top echelon of the Army, Hitler assumed supreme command with Wilhelm Keitel as chief of the high command.

November 6, 1937

Italy joined the Anti-Comintern (Communist International) Pact. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan previously signed the pact, which was directed against the international Communist movement, in November 1936.

November 8, 1937

Chinese resistance in Shanghai ended. The Japanese victory claimed 100,000 Chinese troops and as many as 200,000 civilians.

In Munich, Germany, a traveling exhibit called “The Eternal Jew” opened which promoted stereotypes of Jews and the Nazi perceptions of their danger to the world.

December 11, 1937

Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.

December 12, 1937

Japan bombed the US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River in China.

December 13, 1937

Nanking fell to the Japanese. During the following “Rape of Nanking” more than 200,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.

Sources:

More detail on the Hossbach Conference and Hossbach Memorandum from The History Place

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:

Summer 1937

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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