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Clarence Burdell Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner of the John Oliver Buslee Crew
Photo courtesy of grandson Jess Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley was born in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska on December 12, 1921, and grew up in Halsey, Thomas County, Nebraska. His parent were Ferris and Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley. Rather than Clarence, he preferred to go by his middle name, Burdell.

Burdell’s father, Ferris Seeley, was born in Nebraska in 1894. Ferris’s parents, John and Clara Seeley, were born in Iowa (John) and Illinois (Clara).

Burdell’s mother, Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley, was born in Christiansand, Norway in 1898. Her parents, George August and Gunnild Gurine Rasmussen, were both born in Norway. The Rasmussen’s immigrated to the United States in 1903 when Esther was five years old.

Ferris and Esther married on June 18, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska shortly before Ferris enlisted for WWI service. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and served in the Balloon Corps during the war. He was released from his military service on January 15, 1919.

I cannot locate a census record for Ferris and Esther Seeley for 1920, but their first son Donald Ferris Seeley was born that year in Omaha.

In 1930, according to the Federal census, the Seeley family lived at 2786 E. Street, Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, where Ferris Seeley worked as a delivery man in the construction industry. Ferris and Esther had four children – ten year old son Donald Ferris, eight year old son Clarence Burdell, six year old son Harold Floyd, and two months shy of four year old daughter Margaret Gwendolyn. All of the Seeley children were born in Nebraska.

In 1940, according to the Federal census and family records, the Seeley family lived in the village of Halsey in the Natick Precinct of Thomas County, Nebraska. The census record reported that on April 1, 1935, the family still lived in Lincoln, so the move to Halsey occurred after that point. Ferris worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher” on a ranch. Donald was no longer listed as living at home, but Burdell, Harold, and Margaret Gwendolyn were still at home with their parents. Burdell also worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher.”

In 1942, at twenty years old, Burdell was living in San Diego, California and working for Consolidated Air Craft when he registered for the draft on February 15. He listed his mother, Mrs. Esther Seeley of Halsey, Nebraska as the “person who will always know your address.” He listed his height at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, weight at 167 pounds, and with brown hair, brown eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Although I cannot find an enlistment record for Burdell in the National Archives under the Serial Number recorded for him in his 384th Bomb Group website’s personnel record (39270874), according to his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, he enlisted in the Army on December 22, 1942.

Of course, at the time, the Air Force was part of the Army, so he either signed up for the Army Air Forces or he was designated so because of his aviation employment at Consolidated Air Craft. [Even without finding an actual enlistment record, I believe the December 22 date to be accurate because Burdell’s Social Security Number as indicated on the BIRLS file matches the SSN for him in the Social Security Death Index (both records found on Ancestry.com).]

Burdell’s two brothers also served in WWII. Older brother Donald Ferris Seeley (1920 – 1974) served in the Navy aboard the ammunition ship USS Rainier, and younger brother Harold Floyd Seeley served in the Army in a clerical position.

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

At the completion of his military training in the states, Clarence Burdell Seeley became the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  After final crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated July 22, 1944. The crew flew heavy bomber missions in B-17s over Germany.  The ten-man crew included:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Once the Buslee crew of ten reached Grafton Underwood, flight crews had been reduced to only nine men per aircraft and included only one waist gunner rather than two. On the crew’s first mission on August 4, 1944 to Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany, Jay Buslee co-piloted alongside pilot Arthur Shwery, giving Buslee some combat training. This resulted in co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht flying with the Paul E. Norton crew, and George Edwin Farrar sitting out the mission as Lenard Leroy Bryant had been selected to fly as sole waist gunner on the Buslee crew’s first mission. Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his first mission as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner.

On the crew’s next mission, Shwery again provided combat training for Buslee, and Albrecht flew with the Norton crew. Farrar was rotated in as waist gunner and Bryant sat out this mission. This August 5 mission was to a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany with the Buslee crew aboard aircraft 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the beginning of the bomb run over the target, they were met with anti-aircraft fire. A shell exploded to the side of the Tremblin’ Gremlin’s nose and a shell fragment pierced the flying fortress and struck bombardier Marvin Fryden in the chest. Fryden managed to maintain his position and released Tremblin’ Gremlin’s bombs on the target before collapsing.

The engineer and top turret gunner, Clarence Burdell Seeley, sustained the second most serious injury. A piece of flak tore through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. Also incurring minor injuries on the mission were navigator Chester A. Rybarczyk, pilot Arthur J. Shwery, co-pilot John Oliver Buslee, and waist gunner George E. Farrar.

The fort had sustained heavy battle damage. The right inboard engine was out. The radio compartment was riddled with flak holes and the radio equipment was destroyed. The trim tabs that control the plane’s balance were shredded. The hydraulic brake system was shot out. Part of the oxygen system was also out, causing the men up forward to use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Only Fryden and Seeley needed immediate first aid treatment during the return trip. Navigator Chester Rybarczyk assisted Fryden, who remained conscious during the entire mission. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as they reached the English coast and Buslee headed for the nearest airfield. Even with his brakes gone, Buslee managed to bring the plane in on the concrete landing strip and slide it off onto the grass to reduce the speed before finally coming to a halt.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden died later in an Army hospital with his friend Chester Rybarczyk at his side.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence Burdell Seeley was seriously wounded and was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

The 65th General Hospital during World War II was a reserve unit made up of staff from Duke University Medical Center of Durham, North Carolina, and was located in England on the grounds of Redgrave Park in Suffolk County. It was mainly Nissen Hut construction supplemented by ward tents. The hospital had 1456 beds and served from February 1944 to August 1945 as the major hospital center for the surrounding U.S. 8th Army Air Force.

Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson speculated that,

I suspect the 65th General Hospital was the general hospital closest to the field (Halesworth, Station 365) that they landed at upon return from the mission. Once he [Seeley] was ambulatory and it was determined that he would possibly recover well enough to go back on flight status, I imagine he would be returned to GU [the 384th’s base at Grafton Underwood] for convalescence and evaluation by the squadron flight surgeon.

Following his flak injury, Burdell Seeley was not able to fly again for almost two months.  As a result, he was grounded until October 1944.

With Seeley out as the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner, and the fact that flight crews had been reduced to only one waist gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant was moved into the engineer/top turret gunner position on the crew. This left George Edwin Farrar as the sole waist gunner for the Buslee crew.

On September 28, just days before Seeley would return to flight duty, Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew collided with 43-37822 carrying the Buslee crew after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Of the Buslee crew, only waist gunner George Edwin Farrar survived. The other eight members of the crew (see note below) were killed in the mid-air collision.

Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203 on October 2, 1944. He safely completed his tour with 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945, and was able to return home.

Clarence Burdell Seeley was released from military service on June 12, 1945. He and Patricia Louise Johnson of Merna, Nebraska were married that year.

Burdell returned to cattle ranching after the war and he and Patricia had two children. Burdell died on March 18, 1980 at 58 years old of a heart attack while working cattle in the corral with a neighbor. He is buried at the Kilfoil Cemetery in Merna, Custer County, Nebraska.

Note

On the September 28, 1944 mission the Buslee crew was made up of:

  • 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)

Note of Apology

In an earlier post, I incorrectly identified Clarence B. Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, as Clarence Benjamin Seeley, born on February 26, 1921 to Clarence A. and Marie A. Seeley, died August 17, 2007 in Portland, Clackamas County, Oregon. Interestingly, both Seeley families had roots in both Iowa and Nebraska, so I think it’s possible there could be a family relationship somewhere between them. Regardless, I apologize to both Seeley families for the mis-identification and thank Clarence Burdell Seeley’s grandson, Jess Seeley, for correcting me and providing me with biographical information on his grandfather, Burdell.

Sources

Press Release of the Buslee Crew’s August 5, 1944 Mission as reported in the Park Ridge, Illinois Advocate

65th General Hospital

Clarence Burdell Seeley and family memorial infomation on FindaGrave.com

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Memorial Day

 

There are many ways to memorialize the men of the 384th Bomb Group of WWII, but my dad – George Edwin Farrar – chose to remember his crew mates on a cap that I believe from its condition he wore on the Black March of Stalag Luft IV prisoners of war in early 1945. I discovered the cap over twenty years after my father died when my sister and I were cleaning out the family home for sale after the death of my mother.

On the bill of the cap, he wrote the names of the men that were members of the original Buslee crew, and the name of the replacement bombardier after the death of the original bombardier on August 5, 1944.

DSCN0285

Sebastiano Peluso was the radioman, Erwin Foster the belly gunner, George Farrar and Lenard Bryant the waist gunners, Clarence Seeley the top turret gunner/engineer, Eugene Lucynski the tail gunner, John Buslee the pilot, David Albrecht the co-pilot, Marvin Fryden the bombardier, and Chester Rybarczyk the navigator. James Davis replaced Marvin Fryden as bombardier after the August 5, 1944 mission.

Half of the crew – Peluso, Bryant, Buslee, Albrecht, and Fryden – perished in WWII.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Clarence B. Seeley

Originally published April 1, 2015

Post Updated June 2, 2020

In the original text of this post, I incorrectly identified Clarence B. Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, as Clarence Benjamin Seeley, born on February 26, 1921 to Clarence A. and Marie A. Seeley, died August 17, 2007 in Portland, Clackamas County, Oregon.

Jess Seeley, the grandson of Buslee crew member Clarence Seeley, recently informed me that I had it wrong and his grandfather, Clarence Burdell Seeley, was the engineer/top turret gunner of the Buslee crew. I have rewritten my post here and will republish it on June 17, 2020 to correct my error.

I apologize to both Seeley families for the mis-identification and thank Jess Seeley for correcting me and providing me with biographical information on his grandfather, Burdell.

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner of the John Oliver Buslee Crew
Photo courtesy of grandson Jess Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley was born in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska on December 12, 1921, and grew up in Halsey, Thomas County, Nebraska. His parent were Ferris and Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley. Rather than Clarence, he preferred to go by his middle name, Burdell.

Burdell’s father, Ferris Seeley, was born in Nebraska in 1894. Ferris’s parents, John and Clara Seeley, were born in Iowa (John) and Illinois (Clara).

Burdell’s mother, Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley, was born in Christiansand, Norway in 1898. Her parents, George August and Gunnild Gurine Rasmussen, were both born in Norway. The Rasmussen’s immigrated to the United States in 1903 when Esther was five years old.

Ferris and Esther married on June 18, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska shortly before Ferris enlisted for WWI service. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and served in the Balloon Corps during the war. He was released from his military service on January 15, 1919.

I cannot locate a census record for Ferris and Esther Seeley for 1920, but their first son Donald Ferris Seeley was born that year in Omaha.

In 1930, according to the Federal census, the Seeley family lived at 2786 E. Street, Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, where Ferris Seeley worked as a delivery man in the construction industry. Ferris and Esther had four children – ten year old son Donald Ferris, eight year old son Clarence Burdell, six year old son Harold Floyd, and two months shy of four year old daughter Margaret Gwendolyn. All of the Seeley children were born in Nebraska.

In 1940, according to the Federal census and family records, the Seeley family lived in the village of Halsey in the Natick Precinct of Thomas County, Nebraska. The census record reported that on April 1, 1935, the family still lived in Lincoln, so the move to Halsey occurred after that point. Ferris worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher” on a ranch. Donald was no longer listed as living at home, but Burdell, Harold, and Margaret Gwendolyn were still at home with their parents. Burdell also worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher.”

In 1942, at twenty years old, Burdell was living in San Diego, California and working for Consolidated Air Craft when he registered for the draft on February 15. He listed his mother, Mrs. Esther Seeley of Halsey, Nebraska as the “person who will always know your address.” He listed his height at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, weight at 167 pounds, and with brown hair, brown eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Although I cannot find an enlistment record for Burdell in the National Archives under the Serial Number recorded for him in his 384th Bomb Group website’s personnel record (39270874), according to his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, he enlisted in the Army on December 22, 1942.

Of course, at the time, the Air Force was part of the Army, so he either signed up for the Army Air Forces or he was designated so because of his aviation employment at Consolidated Air Craft. [Even without finding an actual enlistment record, I believe the December 22 date to be accurate because Burdell’s Social Security Number as indicated on the BIRLS file matches the SSN for him in the Social Security Death Index (both records found on Ancestry.com).]

Burdell’s two brothers also served in WWII. Older brother Donald Ferris Seeley (1920 – 1974) served in the Navy aboard the ammunition ship USS Rainier, and younger brother Harold Floyd Seeley served in the Army in a clerical position.

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

At the completion of his military training in the states, Clarence Burdell Seeley became the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  After final crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated July 22, 1944. The crew flew heavy bomber missions in B-17s over Germany.  The ten-man crew included:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Once the Buslee crew of ten reached Grafton Underwood, flight crews had been reduced to only nine men per aircraft and included only one waist gunner rather than two. On the crew’s first mission on August 4, 1944 to Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany, Jay Buslee co-piloted alongside pilot Arthur Shwery, giving Buslee some combat training. This resulted in co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht flying with the Paul E. Norton crew, and George Edwin Farrar sitting out the mission as Lenard Leroy Bryant had been selected to fly as sole waist gunner on the Buslee crew’s first mission. Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his first mission as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner.

On the crew’s next mission, Shwery again provided combat training for Buslee, and Albrecht flew with the Norton crew. Farrar was rotated in as waist gunner and Bryant sat out this mission. This August 5 mission was to a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany with the Buslee crew aboard aircraft 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the beginning of the bomb run over the target, they were met with anti-aircraft fire. A shell exploded to the side of the Tremblin’ Gremlin’s nose and a shell fragment pierced the flying fortress and struck bombardier Marvin Fryden in the chest. Fryden managed to maintain his position and released Tremblin’ Gremlin’s bombs on the target before collapsing.

The engineer and top turret gunner, Clarence Burdell Seeley, sustained the second most serious injury. A piece of flak tore through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. Also incurring minor injuries on the mission were navigator Chester A. Rybarczyk, pilot Arthur J. Shwery, co-pilot John Oliver Buslee, and waist gunner George E. Farrar.

The fort had sustained heavy battle damage. The right inboard engine was out. The radio compartment was riddled with flak holes and the radio equipment was destroyed. The trim tabs that control the plane’s balance were shredded. The hydraulic brake system was shot out. Part of the oxygen system was also out, causing the men up forward to use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Only Fryden and Seeley needed immediate first aid treatment during the return trip. Navigator Chester Rybarczyk assisted Fryden, who remained conscious during the entire mission. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as they reached the English coast and Buslee headed for the nearest airfield. Even with his brakes gone, Buslee managed to bring the plane in on the concrete landing strip and slide it off onto the grass to reduce the speed before finally coming to a halt.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden died later in an Army hospital with his friend Chester Rybarczyk at his side.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence Burdell Seeley was seriously wounded and was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

The 65th General Hospital during World War II was a reserve unit made up of staff from Duke University Medical Center of Durham, North Carolina, and was located in England on the grounds of Redgrave Park in Suffolk County. It was mainly Nissen Hut construction supplemented by ward tents. The hospital had 1456 beds and served from February 1944 to August 1945 as the major hospital center for the surrounding U.S. 8th Army Air Force.

Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson speculated that,

I suspect the 65th General Hospital was the general hospital closest to the field (Halesworth, Station 365) that they landed at upon return from the mission. Once he [Seeley] was ambulatory and it was determined that he would possibly recover well enough to go back on flight status, I imagine he would be returned to GU [the 384th’s base at Grafton Underwood] for convalescence and evaluation by the squadron flight surgeon.

Following his flak injury, Burdell Seeley was not able to fly again for almost two months.  As a result, he was grounded until October 1944.

With Seeley out as the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner, and the fact that flight crews had been reduced to only one waist gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant was moved into the engineer/top turret gunner position on the crew. This left George Edwin Farrar as the sole waist gunner for the Buslee crew.

On September 28, just days before Seeley would return to flight duty, Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew collided with 43-37822 carrying the Buslee crew after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Of the Buslee crew, only waist gunner George Edwin Farrar survived. The other eight members of the crew (see note below) were killed in the mid-air collision.

Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203 on October 2, 1944. He safely completed his tour with 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945, and was able to return home.

Clarence Burdell Seeley was released from military service on June 12, 1945. He and Patricia Louise Johnson of Merna, Nebraska were married that year.

Burdell returned to cattle ranching after the war and he and Patricia had two children. Burdell died on March 18, 1980 at 58 years old of a heart attack while working cattle in the corral with a neighbor. He is buried at the Kilfoil Cemetery in Merna, Custer County, Nebraska.

Note

On the September 28, 1944 mission the Buslee crew was made up of:

  • 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)

Sources

Press Release of the Buslee Crew’s August 5, 1944 Mission as reported in the Park Ridge, Illinois Advocate

65th General Hospital

Clarence Burdell Seeley and family memorial infomation on FindaGrave.com

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Original post © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

George Francis McMann, Jr.

My grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, communicated regularly with most of the families on the Next-of-Kin list she received from the War Department.  The document listed all the crew members that were aboard Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.  One family from which she did not receive any letters was the McMann family.  The letter of April 9, 1945 from Mrs. Buslee to Raleigh Mae Farrar indicates that none of the families had heard from the McManns.

Their son, George Francis McMann, Jr., was the ball turret gunner with the Stanley M. Gilbert crew.  September 28, 1944 was the first time McMann had flown with the Buslee crew.  He had just flown with the Gilbert crew the day before, September 27, but the Gilbert crew did not fly on September 28.  McMann was selected for that mission as ball turret gunner for the Buslee crew, one of a long list of replacements for original Buslee crew ball turret gunner, Erwin V. Foster.

The only other Gilbert crew member to fly on September 28 was Jack V. Carella, the tail gunner.  Carella joined Buslee navigator, Chester Rybarczyk, on Hot Nuts with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew on September 28.

According to the Blankenmeyer Sortie Report, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, aircraft 42-39888, known as Hot Nuts, “Left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base.”  Undoubtedly, the crew aboard Hot Nuts left formation in an attempt to determine the fate of the crews of the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, especially the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, as Chester Rybarczyk was normally a part of that crew and could have been on that plane if he had not replaced Robert H. Obermeyer on the Blankenmeyer crew.

Jack Carella must have been very concerned for his Gilbert crewmate, George McMann, as well.  The two men aboard Hot Nuts were watching their close friends’ plane go down as described in MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) 9753, with “pieces of tail and wings falling off.”  Lead Banana was “going down in flames, spinning into the clouds.”

Two days after witnessing the mid-air collision between Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, tail gunner Jack Carella returned to the skies with the Gilbert crew for mission 202 on September 30 to the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) airfield, Handorf Airfield, in Münster, Germany.  Joining him on the Gilbert crew that day was none other than Erwin V. Foster, whose absence from the Buslee crew since September 9 had put George McMann in the ball turret on Lead Banana on September 28.  From his position in the ball turret, Foster would have had a great view except for the clouds that day, clouds which obscured the primary target and resulted in a decision to release the bombs on the center of the city.

Foster and Carella continued to fly together on the Gilbert crew until the end of their tours.  Carella completed his tour on January 28, 1945 and returned to the states.  Foster completed his tour a month later on February 28.  Along the way, Foster was able to serve one more time with one of his original Buslee crew mates, engineer/top turret gunner, Clarence B. Seeley, eight days before Foster’s final mission.  They were reunited on mission 269 on February 20 to a railroad target in Nuremburg, Germany.  Seeley eventually completed his tour on March 10.

George Francis McMann was born in early October 1924 to George and Nellie McMann.  He entered the service from Rhode Island.  McMann lost his life on his tenth mission on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision between Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  He is buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands in Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4.  McMann was awarded the Purple Heart.

In August 2013, Jack Carella signed the 384th Bombardment Group’s Wing Panel.  To see photos, click here.

For more information on the Wing Panel project, click here.

May 3, 2015:  Correction made above to George McMann’s birthdate.  After reviewing the 1925 Rhode Island state census, I can see that George’s age was 6/12, rather than 6, when the family’s entry was recorded on April 18, 1925.  George was born in Providence Ward 7, Providence County, Rhode Island.  At the time of the census, the McManns were boarders in the home of Florence Riley at 1466 Westminster Street in Providence.  Both of George’s parents were born in Rhode Island about 1900 as both were listed at 25 years old at the time of the census.  No other children for the McManns were listed.  I can find no other census record for the family.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Transcription

This is the transcription of the press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

SENT TO:  Park Ridge (Illinois) Advocate
Passed for Publication
112
1 September 1944
SHAEF
Field Press Censor

AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND – 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 anti-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.

This story of Lt. Fryden’s valorous action was told by his friend and pilot, another resident of the Chicago area, 2nd Lt. John O. Buslee, 21, 411 Wisner Ave., Park Ridge.

Lt. Buslee and Lt. Fryden were members of a crew that had just recently arrived in England for action on the Eurpoean aerial front and the Langenhagen operation was their second mission.  [This was GEF’s first mission.]  On both of these, Lt. Buslee flew in the position of co-pilot with a veteran pilot to gain some combat experience before taking his own ship aloft in the danger ridden skies of Europe.  However, he handled the controls the majority of the time.

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. Lucynski, 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.

Tony Rybarczyk reports that Marvin Fryden did not die alone.  His friend, and crew navigator, Chester Rybarczyk (Tony’s dad), was with Marvin and held him as Marvin died.  Rybarczyk was put in for the Purple Heart on this mission, but didn’t think it would have been right to accept it.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Scanned Images

These are scanned images of a press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 173 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 519.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-37982, named The Tremblin Gremlin.

The primary target was a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – Arthur J. Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Again, Buslee flew as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  Another training opportunity for Buslee.

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

Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out and waist gunner George Edwin Farrar, flew with the crew this mission.  Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew.  Bryant had flown with the crew on their first mission, and Farrar had his first actual combat experience on this one.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden was mortally wounded on this mission.  He died later in an Army hospital.

Pilot, Arthur J. Shwery was wounded, but was able to fly again by Mission 176 on August 9.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Clarence B. Seeley was more seriously wounded and was not able to fly again until Mission 203 on October 2, 1944.  His long recovery kept him from flying with the Buslee crew on September 28, and being involved in the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  Seeley completed 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945.  He completed his tour and returned home.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 171 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 514.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102620, named “De Rumble Izer.”

The primary target was Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – Arthur J. Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee flew his first mission as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  A training opportunity for Buslee, no doubt.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102959, name unknown.

The tenth member of the crew, George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  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 Buslee crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Buslee Crew When Assigned to the 384th Bomb Group

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Source

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew, Eighth Air Force, 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)

Crew photo, back row, left to right:

  • Lt. John Oliver Buslee, Pilot, from Park Ridge, Illinois
  • Lt. David Franklin Albrecht, Co-Pilot, from Chico, California
  • Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, Navigator, from Toledo, Ohio
  • Lt. James B. Davis, Bombardier, from New Castle, Indiana

Crew photo, front row, left to right:

  • Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, from Elmira, New York
  • Sgt. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner, from Brooklyn, New York
  • Sgt. Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner, from Lubbock, Texas
  • Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, from Halsey, Nebraska
  • Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, Tail Gunner, from Detroit, Michigan
  • Sgt. George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner, from Atlanta, Georgia, (my dad)

Notes:

  1. The Buslee crew departed the US on July 1, 1944.  They were stationed with the 544th Bombardment Squadron of the 8th Air Force at the Grafton Underwood airfield.
  2. Original crew members were Pilot – John Oliver Buslee, Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht, Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk, Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden, Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley, Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster, Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski, Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar.
  3. The original Buslee crew’s bombardier, Lt. Marvin B. Fryden, was killed on the crew’s second mission on August 5, 1944.  The photo must have been taken after Lt. James B. Davis replaced Fryden on the crew.
  4. The crew must have trained together in the US as a crew of ten, but by the time they saw action, the B-17 crews were made up of only nine men.  One Waist Gunner manned both waist gunner stations and was called a Flexible Gunner.  As a result, this crew of ten never all served on the same mission together.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013