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MISSION 178

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #178 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #545.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fourth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 12 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Luftwaffe Attacked Near Paris
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The mission proceeded generally as briefed, up until bomb release – then the bomb release on the high group lead aircraft failed to operate. The high group leader asked wing for permission to make a second run, which was granted, but the target was so obscured by prior bombing that they were unable to aim accurately. The high group then proceeded to the briefed secondary, an airfield between Étampes and Mondesir and completed a successful attack there.

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of equipment failures
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as La Perthe, a Landing Ground actively used by the Germans, a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) target in France.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was Etampes/Mondesir.
  • The Targets of Last Resort were Any A/D, M/Y, any bridge, any enemy column or convoy on the road, any concentration of troops or equipment not in the area restricted west of Paris.
  • Meager to moderate opposition may be expected.

The Buslee crew flew spare today, filling in for the Gilbert R. Lindberg crew when the Lindberg crew could not find the formation. They were part of the Lead Group led by Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall, Lead Group Commander , 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #178 was the same as #176 and #177:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-38013, Nevada Avenger. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0610
  • Time landed 1400
  • Target attacked at 1049 from an altitude of 20,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Engines: #1 and #4 cylinder head temperature gauge went out. Written up. Oxygen: Ball turret (written as Lower Ball) auto mix [Foster’s oxygen system] not operating properly; used more oxygen than when in safety position. Not written up.
  • Technical Failures, Flying Equipment and Battle Damage: None
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tubes should be put in A/C 013, none at present.
  • No armament failures reported

Mission data in group reports included,

  • A B-24 section gave us considerable difficulty, evidently crowding the Division leader and we made a 360° turn just prior to reaching the French coast.
  • We had no encounters with enemy aircraft throughout.
  • At the I.P. … meager and inaccurate flak was fired between the Lead and Low Sections after they had taken bombing interval. Nuttall’s pilot, 1st Lt. Allred reported between 30 – 40 bursts sent up. No damage resulted. No other flak was encountered during the Mission.
  • Fighter escort was excellent today.
  • The Scouting Force (led by prior 384th Commander Budd Peaslee) gave us our target weather long before we reached the target area.
  • Suggest that the Second Division not have course and departure points which practically coincide with the First Division. Such a practice causes no end of worry to Wings which must go in abreast as they did today.

Also of note on this date…

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr, a United States Navy Lieutenant and older brother of future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was killed on an experimental flight over England as part of a program code-named “Aphrodite.”

As part of the secret program, Joe Kennedy, Jr. was pilot on an old B-17 which was filled with explosives. After the ship was set for a pre-determined course, the pilot was to bail out, allowing the ship to crash into its target. On this day, Kennedy’s aircraft exploded prematurely and he vanished in the blast.

As the eldest son of Joe Kennedy, Sr., he was being groomed by his father to run for President of the United States. After his death, younger brother John followed the path first planned for Joe Jr., from House to Senate to the Presidency.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 178
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

Source of information on Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition
  • Wikipedia

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 177

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #177 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #541.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his third mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 11 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “A” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

More Troop Support
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. Little opposition and good weather conditions permitted each group formation to bomb their assigned targets in the Brest area accurately. Note that each group was assigned a different aiming point for this mission.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 4 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “A” Combat Wing as Brest, France for the purposes of ground support. The 384th Bomb Group website notes the target as tactical and specifically, the military target of Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

Mission documents include additional target information:

  • These targets were requested by the Army Ground Forces and it is believed that they are probably fortified positions or concentrations of personnel and material.
  • Convoys: None expected, however, crews should be briefed to be on the lookout for friendly convoys at all times.
  • Penhat A.C. Reporting Station
  • Aiming point Gun Emplacements and Observation Tower

The Buslee crew flew today in the Lead Group led by Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lead Group Commander Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Group Operations Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #177 was the same as #176:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-37822, The Lead (or Led) Banana. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 1357
  • Time landed 1920
  • Target attacked at 1725 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Flak reported as 4 Rockets at Time of 1723 at Place the target
  • No battle damage reported
  • No aircraft technical failures reported
  • No armament failures reported

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew spare on this mission in the Low Group, but joined the formation and completed it aboard B-17 42-102518, Damn Yankee, minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the radio compass was out with the indicator inoperable, the left waist gun feed belt was damaged, and the right waist interphone went out during the mission after being ok at the start of the mission.

Mission data in group reports included,

Returning crews reported rockets fired from ground leaving white and brown smoke trails following an angular course and burst at formation altitude but well ahead of formation. Rockets were reported in two concentrations, one over Brest, one SW of city. Up to 15 rockets were reported. Lead crew reports 14 in a line along the Brest waterfront.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 177
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 176

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #176 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #533.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his second mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 9 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

More Bad Weather
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing – except for three aircraft from the 303rd BG, which formed the high element of the high group – on today’s mission. Although the division abandoned operations at the Dutch Coast due to bad weather, the 41st B carried on until after they had passed Aachen, at which point the weather had become impenetrable. The wing leader ordered the wing to attack the briefed target of last resort, which the lead and high groups accomplished. However, the low group’s bombsight gyro ‘tumbled’ just before bombs away, so they went on to bomb a target of opportunity (TOO).

Thirty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 35,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of personnel failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 were scrubbed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

Erding Air Depot and A/F 20 miles NE of Munich, very important Air Storage Deport [Depot] holding large stores of A/C parts and equipment. Repairs and overhaul of operational A/C are carried out in the workshops. MPI is the center of the Sq. group of bldgs. 1 3/4 mi WNW of the A/F. This is a dispersed storage unit.

The targets of last resort were A/F at Stuttgart and the shoe factory at Permarens.

The Buslee crew flew today in the Low Group led by Capt. Edward William Lane. In his Low Section Leader’s Narrative, Lane noted that they bombed a target of opportunity, a bridge at Nohfelden, Germany, over the Nahe River.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun, Jr., originally of the 303rd Bomb Group, transferred to 41st CBW at Molesworth as Director of Operations and Executive Officer until 23 DECEMBER 1944. [The American Air Museum in Britain reports that Calhoun was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at age 23 and Clark Gable pinned Calhoun’s silver oak leaves on him. Read more about Calhoun on their site].
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #176 was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew were aboard B-17 44-6149, Hot After It. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0705
  • Time landed 1345
  • Target attacked at 1052 from an altitude of 18,500 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 with group, Returned: 4
  • Observed Results, Probable Damage: Poor
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported

Buslee reported Technical Failures:

  • Tail gunner’s (Lucynski’s) interphone push to talk button on the gun inoperative.
  • Three (3) bombs hung up on the right inboard rack. 1 on upper station of right outboard rack.
  • Fluxgate compass inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included Armament Failures reported for 44-6149 as Four bombs returned.

With Buslee flying his first mission as first pilot, David Franklin Albrecht flew in the co-pilot position with the Buslee crew for the first time in combat.

With Clarence Seeley in the hospital recovering from his flak wound of the 5 AUGUST mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, took over as Engineer/Top Turret gunner for the crew.

With the death of Marvin Fryden due to flak on the 5 AUGUST mission, James Buford Davis became the Buslee crew bombardier, and flew his first combat mission of the war.

Also on this same mission with the Buslee crew, but flying in the High Group, the original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron completed Mission #176 aboard B-17 42-31484, Mairsy Doats, minus waist gunner Leonard Opie. The crew’s other waist gunner, Harry Liniger, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Opie to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the range sites were bent on both waist guns and the tail gunner’s heated suit went out.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 176
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 173

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #173 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #519.

On 5 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their second combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group. It was the first combat mission for my dad, who did not participate in the crew’s first mission.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Fighter Control Center
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission to knock out a control center for enemy fighter aircraft. Intense flak at the primary target did not deter the bombers, and visual bombing conditions enabled accurate bombing.

Forty-one aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 41,

  • 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 2 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 had 5 enlisted crewmembers bail out when they misheard the bailout standby order

One of the aircraft landed away post-mission with battle damage and wounded aboard. None of the aircraft are missing.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition), 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold related the story of his first mission and noted that,

Our group didn’t lose any ships, but there were so many so badly shot up that we are “stood down” tomorrow to allow the ground crews time to patch them up.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

GAF [German Air Force/Luftwaffe] Controlling Station at Langenhagen, 6 miles north of Hannover. This airfield is believed to be producing FW 154’s. This is the German version of the Mosquito. It has been bombed as ATO but little damage had been done. Dimensions are 2000 yds E-W by 2750 yds N-S.

Also noted was that,

There were three dummy airfields in the vicinity of the target,

and enemy opposition was expected as,

Both single and twin-engine fighters may be encountered. Moderated opposition is expected.

Like the previous day’s mission, the Buslee crew flew with experienced pilot Arthur Shwery, today in the High Group led by Gerald Sammons.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Commander Major Gerald Busby Sammons, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William Edward Buck, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Deputy Group Commander
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #173 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-37982, Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the target, the group encountered intense and accurate flak, including major flak damage to the Gremlin. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Arthur Shwery at the completion of the mission described the destruction.

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, front, as reported by Arthur Shwery

and (over),

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, back, as reported by Arthur Shwery

On his post-mission Tactical Interrogation form, F/O (First Officer) A.J. Shwery indicated the location or Place of the flak as the Target, marked it as Intense, and specified it as Accurate.

In the top margin of the form (not shown in the photos), Shwery indicated that the crew landed at Hailsworth with injured, 1 serious, 2 slight.

In the form’s printed fields, Shwery did not enter the Time took off that day, but he did indicate Time Landed with the entry,

1455 at Hailsworth
Returned to GU at 2200 with another A/C

In his narrative further describing the details of the flak, Shwery’s hand-written notes included the following information.

  • Flak hit A/C [aircraft] on Bomb Run and killed Bomb. [Bombardier Marvin Fryden], Engineer [Clarence Seeley] in leg, & F/O Shwery (Pilot) were injured.
  • Bomb. [Bombardier] received first aid and toggled on lead.
  • Co-Pilot took over controls after pilot was hit and piloted A/C over target and back to Hailsworth.
  • After landing bombardier received treatment at hospital but had a relapse and died.

(Over).

  • Damage: T Turret [Top Turret] went out after target.
  • Command radio antenna shot up.
  • 106 [underlined 4 times] flak holes.
  • #4 turbo bucket wheel lost 4 buckets.
  • #3 engine hit at tgt [target] & feathered.
  • #2 engine out just before reaching Eng. [English] coast on return.
  • Right rudder shot out at target.
  • All trim tabs, oxygen, hydraulic systems also hit.
  • Bomb bay mechanism hit.
  • Returned in formation after leaving gp [group] at target and then rendezvous again.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed.
  • Per Gerald Sammons, “Flak was intense and accurate.”
  • Per Lead Bombardier for the Lead Group, Capt. A. Palazzo, “Approximately 1 1/2 minutes before bombs away we were hit severely by flak and I for a moment thought my bomb load might have been hit.”
  • “A/C 982 landed at Hailsworth due to major flak damage and three injured.”
  • Also per Gerald Sammons, “Bombs were away at 1302 hours from 25,500 feet…with good results.”
  • Bombing results believed to be excellent.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht again did not fly with the Buslee crew. For the second time, Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102459, Little Kenny.

With George Edwin Farrar manning the waist gun on this mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, the other waist gunner assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out.

Marvin Fryden, the Buslee crew bombardier, died of his injuries on this, his second, combat mission of the war. Engineer/top turret gunner Clarence Seeley was seriously injured and was hospitalized. Seeley resumed flying in October and completed his tour in March 1945.

Notes

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 171

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #171 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #514.

On 4 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their first combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

V-Weapon Laboratory Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The long haul to Peenemünde on the Baltic – over 10 hours total flying time – was rewarded with visual bombing conditions at the primary target. Crews felt that the target area was well hit.

For the 384th, it was “a double mission day,” as late WWII historian Ken Decker called the date in his Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition). On this day, forty-two aircraft were assigned to #171, the target a Crossbow V-Weapons rocket research and development complex in Peenemünde, Germany. Of the 42,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents specify that the primary target was the Hydrogen Peroxide Plant at Peenemünde, a building 170 yards wide and 300 yards long. The document also noted, “This is the work that is connected to buzz bombs.”

On the second mission of that double mission day, in the afternoon, nine aircraft were assigned to #172, the target a Crossbow (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site) in Crepieul, France, but a thunderstorm at the target area resulted in no target attacked.

Assigned to the first mission of the day, #171, the Buslee crew flew in the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing, with 2nd Lt. Arthur Shwery in the cockpit providing Buslee with his first real-time combat training. According to historical mission documents, the crew took off at 0939 (9:39 A.M British time), and landed at 1823 (6:23 P.M. British time), almost a nine-hour mission.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander James Wesley Hines, 545th Bomb Squadron Operations Officer
  • 41st “C” Combat Wing Air Commander Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #171 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-102620, De Rumble Izer, and Shwery reported on the post-mission Tactical Interrogation Form that everything went as briefed. They attacked the target at 1449 (2:49 P.M. British time) from 21,000 feet, with good results of all bombs on target. Shwery reported three incidents of flak, including flak at the target.

In other post-mission documents, Shwery reported,

  • No battle damage to his aircraft, 42-102620, De Rumble Izer.
  • One technical failure, a radio issue. The tail gunner’s interphone was inoperative.
  • No enemy aircraft.
  • No armament failures.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good except for about a half hour after leaving the target.
  • Flash Telephone Report on A.A. (Anti-Aircraft) Gunfire: Eight or more rockets were observed in the target area. They had white trails and white bursts. Three aircraft reported a huge rocket which burst behind the formation just after bombs away. It burst into a ball of fire, which broke up into 4-5 smaller balls with fiery streamers emanating from them.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, the crew’s original co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on the unnamed B-17 42-102959.

The tenth member of the crew, my father George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  At this time in the war, the 384th assigned only one waist gunner per aircraft on missions. Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 171
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Lingering Shadows of an Aluminum Overcast

When  I look at written World War II history, I see names, dates, places of great battles, and statistics. I rarely see mention of family, but families are what’s at the core of such a great struggle. One man was not fighting this great war against his enemy, another man. Their families were right there beside them fighting, too. When one man went down, many more at home who shared his blood went down with him. The loss of one man became a great emotional loss at home and the loss of many future generations of his family.

Two B-17 flying fortresses collided above Germany on September 28, 1944. Of the eighteen men aboard the two forts, four survived. None of the four live on today, but their children and grandchildren carry on their legacy. At least three of the men who died that day had children or knew that they were to become fathers in the months to come. That makes seven families, not quite half, who share a common history dating back to WWII.

Of the eleven men who would have no descendants, most of them had siblings who had children and there are nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews who also share their history and cherish their memories.

We are known collectively as the Buslee and Brodie crews’ NexGens, the Next Generation of the men of these two crews of the 384th Bomb Group of the Mighty Eighth Air Force who bravely defended our country in WWII.

I began my search for Buslee/Brodie NexGens, who I consider extended family, in 2011 after I met Wallace Storey. I remember so clearly now my astonishment when Wallace told me that he had been in touch with other family members of the two crews. It was that light-headed feeling of shattered disbelief that almost knocked me off my feet, the thought of something I had never considered possible. There were others out there who knew my father’s story of the mid-air collision. It was no longer my family’s private history.

I had never before considered that my sister and I were not the only ones. From my dad’s stories, I knew he was the only survivor of the Buslee crew. At the time, I did not know that children were born to two of the men after the mid-air collision. And I never suspected that any of the men of the Brodie crew had survived the horrific accident, but three of them had. One of their sons had contacted Wallace Storey before me. So had a newphew and great-nephew of Buslee crew members.

I began contacting the relatives for whom Wallace provided information and I started researching each man who had been on those two planes, looking for their families, and finding some of them. During this process, I realized there was a lot we didn’t know about September 28, 1944, and that the other NexGens wanted to know as badly as I what happened in the skies above Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944.

Top secret reports from WWII were public now, and I discovered details bit by bit and started putting them together, like pieces of a puzzle. I shared what I found with the other Buslee/Brodie NexGens and they shared knowledge, photos, and letters. These men who were our fathers and grandfathers, and uncles and great-uncles had an incredibly close bond. And now we NexGens were forming our own bond as we learned details about that late September day, details that in the 1940’s our families struggled so very hard to discover, but of which they were left uniformed.

With the power of knowledge of what happened to the boys that day, we are able to feel them again, hold them close, grieve for them, and look at them with a new sense of awe and respect. I have new family now, these descendants of the great airmen of WWII. We live in the lingering shadows of an aluminum overcast that will never fade away as long as we remember.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

One Moment

Sometimes we choose our path in life and sometimes it is chosen for us. Every single decision we make and every step we take in a certain direction write a piece of our history. But that history is not solely of our making. Outside influences are a huge factor in what happens to us upon each footfall, upon each spoken and unspoken thought, upon the most minute action we take.

The men of the Buslee and Brodie crews all chose the path of joining the United States Army Air Forces to fight in WWII. The histories of eighteen men from eighteen families were all very different from the moment of their births until the morning of September 28, 1944 when they climbed aboard their two B-17s to take their places in the 8th Air Force bomber stream on that day’s mission to Magdeburg, Germany.

On that day, each man had his job to do. The pilots and co-pilots had to deliver the bombs to the target. The navigators had to direct them to the correct location. The bombardiers had to release the bombs at the precise point. The radio operators had to maintain communications. The engineers had to make sure all systems worked properly. The gunners in the ball turret, waist, and tail had to defend their ships and loads of bombs and personnel. Each man had his individual job, but each crew was speeding through the skies toward their target as one.

They had one goal. Get their bombs on the target. And then they could go home. That day, their path was chosen for them. They were not completely in charge of the history they were making that day. They were a small piece of an enormous weapon of destruction, a tiny cog in a very big wheel.  And that day, they would not go home.

Whatever minute action or outside influence it was, because a single determining factor cannot be pinpointed, the Brodie crew’s ship collided with the Buslee crew’s ship after coming off the target. That one defining action fixed forever the most important moment in the history of eighteen men. It was the moment that the lives of fourteen men were lost and fourteen families were destroyed. It was the moment that the future path of four men was reset to skew greatly from the path that was imagined for them at birth.

It was just one moment in history. But it changed everything.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

Flak

As Eugene Spearman points out in his stories of his WWII missions with the 384th Bomb Group, one of the greatest threats to the flyers was flak.

In June 1944, when my dad’s crew was finishing up their final training and waiting for their assignment – to the European theater or the Pacific theater – he wrote one last letter home before starting the journey to their new base. He already knew all about flak, and it was already a concern. These are a couple of excerpts from that letter:

There is a lot of talk that we are not going to England, as we thought, but will find out at our next station.

There is one thing nice about not going to England, and that is we won’t run into as much flak anywhere else.

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.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, and the Buslee crew ran into heavy flak on his very first mission on August 5, 1944. The following excerpts are from a report of that mission in the Park Ridge (Illinois) Advocate dated September 1, 1944. Pilot John Oliver Buslee was from Park Ridge. The report shows an example of the damage that can be caused by flak.

Although mortally wounded, the bombardier of a B17 Flying Fortress calmly reported his injury to his pilot and then released his bombs on the target in a remarkable exhibition of sheer courage and presence of mind during a recent American heavy bomber attack over Germany.

The bombardier, 1st Lt. Marvin Fryden, 23, 6719 North Lakewood, Chicago, died later in an army hospital after his bomber, the “Tremblin’ Gremlin,” had reached England with only two of its four engines functioning, its fuselage riddled with more than 100 flak holes and with more than half of its crew wounded.

The “Tremblin’ Gremlin” was flying in a fortress formation attacking the German airfield at Langenhagen, north of Hannover.  As the American heavies started their bomb run over the target, a heavy barrage of anit-aircraft fire suddenly exploded all around them.

One shell exploded at the side of the “Tremblin’ Gremlin’s” nose, and a fragment whirled through the bomber’s metal skin and struck the bombardier in the chest below his left shoulder.  Lt. Fryden swayed and nearly toppled over from the force of the enemy steel entering his body, but he regained his balance and clutched his bomb release more firmly.

“I’m hit”, was all that the wounded airman reported over the inter-communication system to the pilot’s compartment.

Perhaps he was thinking of the slogan for bombardiers at this station – “Get the bombs on the target” – for he pressed the bomb release that sent the explosives, carried in the belly of his Fortress, plunging toward the German airfield…Lt. Fryden had accomplished the job that had brought him into central Germany.

The flight from England to the center of Germany was made without incident, but when the Fortresses initiated their bomb run in the vicinity of the target, ground defenses opened up with a thick curtain of flak that burst about the planes like black mushrooms popping out of the ground after a heavy rain.

A fragment from the same burst that wounded the bombardier, hit the navigator, 2nd Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, 21, 1118 Elum St., Toledo, Ohio behind the ear, but the injury was not serious.

“It was popping all over the place during the few minutes we were in the bomb run,” said Lt. Buslee, describing the flak.  By the time we made our turn away from the target, more than half the crew had been hit and suffered injuries of varying degrees.”

The engineer and top turret gunner, Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, 22, of Halsey, Neb., was the next of the nine-man crew to be hit.  A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle.  Another burst of flak alongside the nose sent hot metal flying into the pilot’s compartment.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Arthur J. Shwery, 20, Route 2, Janesville, Wis., was hit above the eye, and cut, while a fragment bounced off Lt. Buslee’s thigh, however, merely breaking the skin and inflicting a bruise.

The sixth crew member to be hit was the waist gunner, Sgt. George E. Farrar, 22, 79 East Lake Terrace, S.E., Atlanta, Ga.  He was cut on the cheek and a small piece of flesh was torn off one finger.

While its crew was having its bad moments, the big silver-colored ship was taking a heavy pounding.  The right inboard engine was hit and ceased to function; the radio compartment was riddled with holes and the radio equipment destroyed; the trim tabs that control the plane’s balance, was shredded; the hydraulic brake system was shot out, and part of the oxygen system was eliminated, necessitating that the men up forward use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Probably the fact that the radio operator, Sgt. Sebastino Peluso, 20, 2963 West 24th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., was bending over attending to a chore, saved him from becoming a casualty when the flak pierced the sides of the big bomber and so thoroughly smashed up his radio compartment.  More than a dozen flak holes ringed his section of the ship.

Only the bombardier and top turret gunner were in need of immediate first aid treatment during the return trip, and the navigator, Lt. Rybarczyk, did as much as possible for Lt. Fryden, who retained consciousness during the entire mission.  Sgt. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as the “Tremblin’ Gremlin” reached the English coast and Lt. Buslee headed for the nearest airfield.  With his brakes gone, he was faced with a ticklish landing, but he brought the plane in nicely on the concrete landing strip and slid it off onto the grass to reduce the speed of the freely-rolling uncontrollable wheels.

The other members of the crew not already mentioned, and neither of whom was touched by the liberal quantity of flak the German gunners planted in the sky over Langenhagen, were Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, 24, 356 West Water St., Elmira, N.Y., the ball turret gunner, and S/Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynsky, 24, 7307 North Dort Highway, Mt. Morris, Mich.

Lt. Fryden was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fryden, 6719 North Lakewood, Mrs. Marilyn Fryden, lives at 2410 West 51st St.  He was a graduate of Tuley High School and Central College, and worked for a cement company in Chicago as a laboratory assistant before entering the service.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant October 10, 1942, and was promoted to first lieutenant October 9, 1943.

To see what flak looks like, click here to watch a flak training film for WWII pilots on YouTube. Thank you to Carl Lustig, son of 384th radio operator, David Lustig, for pointing out this great video to me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

The diagram shows the combat position of each Buslee crewmember on Mission 201 on September 28, 1944.  Only one crewmember manned both waist gunner positions on this mission.  If they were all still in position after coming off the target at Magdeburg, the diagram shows where each man would have been at the time of the mid-air collision with the Lazy Daisy.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The only survivor of the mid-air collision this day with the Lazy Daisy was the waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar.

Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group for granting me permission to use and modify their B-17 diagram for use on The Arrowhead Club site.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Map of September 28, 1944 Collision and Crash Sites

Maps of the area show the location of the mid-air collision and subsequent crash sites of the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  Two maps are included below.

The first map shows the collision site and crash sites of the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana.  The mid-air collision occurred after coming off the target at Magdeburg, at 12:11 pm on September 28, 1944 at 52°06’N 11°39’E (X on the first map, just past the second “g” in “Magdeburg”). Both planes crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of the mid-air collision.  Lazy Daisy crashed near Erxleben (E on the first map) and Lead Banana crashed approximately one and one-quarter miles north of Ostingersleben (O on the first map).

X = Collision Site, 52°06'N 11°39'E O = Ostingersleben E = Erxleben

X = Collision Site, 52°06’N 11°39’E
O = Ostingersleben
E = Erxleben

The second map is a map of Germany with the area of detail outlined.

Germany Map

Royalty free map of Germany obtained from http://www.tourvideos.com/maps-Germany.html.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013