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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

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Eugene D. Lucynski

Eugene D. Lucynski was born on Wilson Street in Bay Ward 6, Bay County, Michigan around January 1920, according to the 1920 census.  Eugene was the youngest child and only son of Gus (Gustav) and Dominica Lucynski.  He had two older sisters, Gertrude (three years older) and Virginia (two years older).

Eugene, his parents, and both sisters were all born in Michigan.  Gus’s parents were from Prussia (later reported in the census as Poland). Dominica’s father was from Germany, but her mother was born in New York.

In 1930 Eugene was ten years old.  By this time, the family had moved to Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, and lived on Oregon Avenue.

In 1940, Eugene, now twenty years old, worked as a waiter at a lunch counter (according to the 1940 census).  The family still lived in the same house on Oregon Avenue in Flint, but Gertrude had gotten married to Charles Hogue and she and Charles lived with them.  Eugene’s sister Virginia married Steve Plunkey on September 28, 1940.

In 1942 Eugene was listed in the Flint city directory as a machine operator for Fisher Body.

I cannot find an enlistment record for Eugene Lucynski, but sometime in 1942 or 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces.  On June 8, 1944, he was assigned combat crew duty on the same orders as my father, George Edwin Farrar.

Combat Orders

On July 22, 1944, he was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bomb Squad on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144, as Tail Gunner for the John Oliver Buslee crew.

Eugene’s first mission with the 384th was the August 4, 1944 mission 171 to a rocket R&D facility – CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) – in Peenemunde, Germany. He flew twelve total missions with the Buslee crew, the last being September 11, 1944.

For reasons unknown, he flew his next two missions with the Carnes crew, replacing Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner.  Mission 195 on September 17, was a tactical mission to s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.  Mission 196 on September 19, was to the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm, Germany.

On the September 19 mission, the Carnes crew was aboard the Tremblin’ Gremlin.  The Gremlin was struck by flak, and after bombs away, left formation under control.  The crew, including Eugene Lucynski, who had replaced Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner, bailed out over Binche, Belgium.  Landing in allied territory, the crew eventually returned to duty, with the exception of seriously injured ball turret gunner, James B. King, Jr. This was Eugene Lucynski’s fourteenth and last mission with the 384th.

With the Carnes crew not returning to duty until October, Gerald Lee Andersen flew as the tail gunner aboard the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  It was Andersen’s fate, rather than Lucynski’s, to be aboard Lead Banana when it collided with Lazy Daisy coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany.  Whatever the reason behind the switch in tail gunners for the two crews, it saved Lucynski from being on the Lead Banana on September 28, and put Andersen on that ill-fated flight, where he lost his life.

Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist for www.384thbombgroup.com, shared a theory with me. Keith believes that Lucynski must have been wounded on the September 19 mission and subsequently grounded by the Flight Surgeon. He must have either been in the hospital, on convalescence or doing ground duty at Grafton Underwood from the date of his last mission until December 7, 1944 when he was awarded the Purple Heart.

Eugene Lucynski received a Purple Heart on December 7, 1944.  Photo courtesy of www.384thbombgroup.com.

Eugene Lucynski received a Purple Heart on December 7, 1944. Photo courtesy of http://www.384thbombgroup.com.

Lucynski must have served for another year before the end of his service with the Army Air Forces.  A passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on December 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.

I cannot find any record of Eugene D. Lucynski after his arrival back in the United States.  I would love to hear from any relatives who can offer any more information about him.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

First Letter from Mrs. Andersen

Gerald Lee Andersen

Gerald Lee Andersen

The same day she received the US Army Air Corps’ December 26, 1944 letter about her missing husband – the tail gunner on Lead Banana – and accompanying list of crew members and their next of kin, Gerald Lee Andersen’s wife, Esther, penned a letter to Raleigh Mae Farrar, George Edwin Farrar’s mother.  Mrs. Andersen dated her letter December 26, 1944, which was the same date of the letter that included the next of kin list from the Army Air Forces.  Perhaps the Army Air Forces pre-dated their letter or Mrs. Andersen wrote the wrong date on hers.  Her letter is as follows:

December 26, 1944
Stromsburg, Nebraska

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar
79 East Lake Terrace Northeast
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

Today I received from the War Department the names of the crew on the B-17 (Flying Fortress) on which my husband, S/Sgt. Gerald Lee Andersen, was reported missing in action since September 28 and also the names of the next of kin.

I received the information that the plane was damaged by antiaircraft fire and forced down near their target over Germany.  I would like to know if you have received any information concerning your son, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar, safety.

I wish to keep in contact with all next of kin in case any of us receive any information that we may exchange.

My anxiety as I know yours has been great and we hold on to every hope of their safety.  My sympathy is with you.  May I hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Esther E. Coolen Andersen
Box 282
Stromsburg, Nebraska

Teaching address:
Mrs. Esther E. Andersen
Box 38
Scotia, Nebraska

Esther’s husband, Gerald Lee Andersen, was the tail gunner on the Joe Carnes crew in the 544th squadron of the 384th bomb group.  Andersen’s first mission with the 384th was the August 7, 1944 mission 174 to an oil depot in Dungy, France.  Andersen flew nine total missions with the Carnes crew, the last being September 13, 1944.

Eugene D. Lucynski was the tail gunner on the John Buslee crew, also in the 544th squadron of the 384th bomb group.  Lucynski’s first mission with the 384th was the August 4, 1944 mission 171 to a rocket R&D facility – CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) – in Peenemunde, Germany.  Lucynski flew twelve total missions with the Buslee crew, the last being September 11, 1944.

For reasons unknown, Lucynski flew his next two missions with the Carnes crew, replacing Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner.  Mission 195 on September 17, was a tactical mission to s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.  Mission 196 on September 19, was to the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm, Germany.

On the September 19 mission, the Carnes crew was aboard the Tremblin’ Gremlin.  The Gremlin was struck by flak, and after bombs away, left formation under control.  The crew, including Eugene Lucynski, who had replaced Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner, bailed out over Binche, Belgium.  Landing in allied territory, the crew eventually returned to duty, with the exception of seriously injured ball turret gunner, James B. King, Jr.  The temporary absence of the Carnes crew left Andersen to fill in with other crews.

Andersen’s next mission was mission 198 on September 25 to the railroad marshalling yards at Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.  He flew as tail gunner on the John Buslee crew replacing Eugene Lucynski, who had taken his place on the Carnes crew.  The Bulsee crew didn’t fly on September 26, so on that date on mission 199, Andersen flew with the Joseph D. Patella crew.  Andersen’s next two missions on September 27 and September 28, however, would be back on the Buslee crew again, replacing Eugene Lucynski.

This series of crew changes resulted in Gerald Lee Andersen flying as the tail gunner aboard the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 when it collided with Lazy Daisy coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany.  Whatever the reason behind the switch in tail gunners for the two crews, it saved Lucynski from being on the Lead Banana on September 28, and put Andersen on that ill-fated flight, where he lost his life.

Gerald Lee Andersen was born on June 20, 1923.  He was only 21 years old when he lost his life on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision between Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  He is buried in Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell (Lincoln County), Nebraska in Section F, Site 1229.

The photo of Andersen was sent to Raleigh Mae Farrar (George Edwin Farrar’s mother) on April 7, 1945 by Andersen’s wife, Esther.  On the back of the photo she described her husband as 5-feet 7-inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with dark wavy hair, green eyes, and a fair complexion.  She noted his age as 22, which he would have been, had he lived, in June of that year.

Esther Andersen’s letter of April 7, 1945 will be published in a future post.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201

Lazy Daisy, Aircraft 42-31222

Lazy Daisy, Aircraft 42-31222

Lead Banana, 43-37822

Lead Banana, Aircraft 43-37822

September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 201 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 652.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-37822, Lead Banana.  The Brodie crew was aboard 42-31222, Lazy Daisy.

The primary target was the steelworks industry in Magdeburg, Germany.

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)

Chester A. Rybarczyk flew this mission with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew.  William Alvin Henson II replaced Rybarczyk as Navigator on the Buslee crew.  This was Henson’s third flight with the Buslee crew.

James B. Davis flew this mission with the Raymond J. Gabel crew.  Robert Sumner Stearns replaced Davis as Bombardier on the Buslee crew.  This was Stearns second flight with the Buslee crew.

George Francis McMann, Jr. flew this mission as Ball Turret Gunner on the Buslee crew.  This was McMann’s first flight with the Buslee crew.  Irving L. Miller, who had replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner five times on the Buslee crew, also flew with Davis on the Gabel crew this mission.

Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene D. Lucynski for the third time as Tail Gunner on the Buslee crew.

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger

James Joseph Brodie (Pilot), Lloyd Oliver Vevle (Co-Pilot), George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. (Navigator), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Gordon Eugene Hetu (Ball Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), and Harry Allen Liniger (Waist Gunner) were all original Brodie crew members aboard the Lazy Daisy.  The only non-original crew members were Byron Laverne Atkins (Bombardier/Togglier) and Donald William Dooley (Radio Operator/Gunner).

Original Brodie crew Bombardier, William D. Barnes, Jr., last flew with the Brodie crew on September 13, 1944.  Barnes did not fly again until October 17, 1944.  He returned to flight as a Navigator, completed his tour after 35 missions, and returned to the US.

Byron Laverne Atkins flew only six missions, three of them as a Ball Turret Gunner, and one as a Flexible Gunner.  He served as Togglier for the Brodie crew on two occasions – once on September 21 and again on September 28, 1944.

William Edson Taylor, the original Radio Operator/Gunner for the Brodie crew did not fly on the September 28 mission.  On October 5, he flew as Radio Operator/Gunner with the Robert Bruce Birckhead crew.  His aircraft was damaged by flak and crashed near Munchen-Gladbach, Germany (MACR 9754).  Of the crew, four were killed, and five were taken prisoner of war, including Taylor.

Donald William Dooley’s first mission would be his last.  He flew as Radio Operator/Gunner for the Brodie crew on this mission.

Sortie Report Description:

Two Bomb Runs – Primary Target Attacked: The 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st CBW “C” Wing on today’s mission. Near the target, another formation of bombers flew below this wing, forcing them to hold their bombs. The wing made a second bomb run and released their bombs on the primary target.

Lazy Daisy Sortie Report Status and Comments:

Failed to Return
MIA; collided with 43-37822 over target; both ships went down on fire and out of control; no chutes observed; crashed near Erxleben, Germany; MACR 9366.

Lead Banana Sortie Report Status and Comments:

Failed to Return
MIA; collided with 42-31222 over target; both ships went down on fire and out of control; no chutes; crashed near Osteringersleben, Germany; MACR 9753.

Source:  Sortie Report – Buslee Crew, Sortie Report – Brodie Crew

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 27, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 200

Hale's Angels, Aircraft 42-102449

Hale’s Angels, Aircraft 42-102449

September 27, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 200.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 200 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 650.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102449, Hale’s Angels.

The primary target was the railroad marshaling yards in Cologne, Germany.

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 – Robert M. Mitchell
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

On this mission, the Buslee crew was the High Group Deputy and Hot Camera Ship.

Chester A. Rybarczyk did not fly this mission.  William Alvin Henson II replaced him as Navigator on this flight.

James B. Davis also did not fly this mission.  Robert Sumner Stearns replaced him as Bombardier.

Henson had flown with the Buslee crew once before, on September 3, 1944.  This was the first flight with the Buslee crew for Stearns.

Robert M. Mitchell replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner on this mission.  This was the first time Mitchell flew with the Buslee crew, although he had flown with Farrar on September 19 as part of the William M. Reed crew.

Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Eugene D. Lucynski for the second time as Tail Gunner.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 25, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 198

Hot Nuts, Aircraft 42-39888

Hot Nuts, Aircraft 42-39888

September 25, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 198.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 198 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 644.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-39888, Hot Nuts.

The primary target was the railroad marshaling yards in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James B. Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Irving L. Miller replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner for the fifth time.  This was the last time Miller would fly with the Buslee crew.  On March 19, 1945, Miller completed his tour and returned to the US.

Eugene D. Lucynski had bailed out of The Tremblin’ Gremlin on September 19 when it was struck by flak and had not returned to the Buslee crew.  Gerald Lee Andersen replaced Lucynski on this and the next two missions as Tail Gunner.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 19, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 196

September 19, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 196.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 196 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 642.

Most of the Buslee crew did not fly this mission.  Waist Gunner George Edwin Farrar flew this mission with the William M. Reed crew aboard aircraft 43-38062, Pleasure Bent.  Tail Gunner Eugene D. Lucynski flew with the Joe Carnes crew on 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin.  The remainder of the Buslee crew did not fly. Robert Mitchell flew as ball turret gunner.

The primary target was the railroad marshaling yards in Hamm, Germany.

The Tremblin’ Gremlin was struck by flak on this mission and the crew, including Lucynski, bailed out over Binche, Belgium and landed in allied territory.  The Sortie Report states that all returned to duty except for the injured Ball Turret Gunner, James B. King, Jr., who was seriously wounded.  However, Lucynski’s record on the 384th Bomb Group web site shows that this was his last mission and does not show that he completed his tour and returned home.  Lucynski’s inclusion on The Tremblin’ Gremlin on this mission kept him off Lead Banana on September 28, when the Lazy Daisy collided with it coming off the target in Magdeburg.

This was the last mission for The Tremblin’ Gremlin.

Source:  Sortie Report – Farrar, Sortie Report – Lucynski

Question – What happened to Eugene D. Lucynski after the September 19, 1944 mission?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 13, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 194

Lorraine, Aircraft 43-38016

Lorraine, Aircraft 43-38016

September 13, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 194.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 194 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 628.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-38016, Lorraine.

The primary target was the oil industry in Merseburg, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Commander – William A. Fairfield, Jr.
  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Kenneth S. Lord
  • Bombardier – Donald L. Ward
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Albert K. Sherriff
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Lloyd E. La Chine
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Not the normal Buslee crew at all.  With William A. Fairfield, Jr. as Commander and John Oliver Buslee as Pilot, the regular Co-Pilot, David Franklin Albrecht, did not fly.

Donald L. Ward replaced James B. Davis on this flight.  Davis flew as part of the Joe Carnes crew.

Albert K. Sherriff replaced Sebastiano Joseph Peluso.  Irving L. Miller replaced Erwin V. Foster as Ball Turret Gunner as he had three times before.  Lloyd E. La Chine replaced Eugene D. Lucynski as Tail Gunner.

The only regular Buslee crew members on this flight were Buslee, Bryant, and Farrar.  Rybarczyk, Peluso, Foster, and Lucynski did not fly this mission.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 11, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 192

Big Dog, Aircraft 42-102661

Big Dog, Aircraft 42-102661

September 11, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 192.

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 192 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 623.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102661, Big Dog.

The primary target was the oil industry in Luetzkendorf, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James B. Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The same crew as mission 191 from the day before.  Again the regular Buslee crew without Erwin V. Foster.  Paul Leland Watson again replaced Foster as Ball Turret Gunner on this mission.

Source:  Sortie Report, Aircraft Photo

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

September 10, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 191

September 10, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 191

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 191 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 619.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-38213, name unknown.

The primary target was the BMW Motor Component Parts Plant in Sindelfingen, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James B. Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The regular Buslee crew without Erwin V. Foster.  Paul Leland Watson replaced Foster as Ball Turret Gunner on this mission.  Foster did not fly again until September 30, 1944, two days after the Buslee crew was involved in the September 28 mid-air collision with the Brodie crew.  Foster completed his tour with 35 missions on February 28, 1945, returning to the US.

Watson would also replace Foster the next day on mission 192, but would not fly with the Buslee crew again after that.  Watson flew 29 missions in all, his last on November 16, 1944 when his aircraft received a direct flak hit to an engine, setting it on fire.  Six chutes were observed, with one on fire.  The aircraft crash-landed in Belgium, with an injured pilot and engineer, and a dead co-pilot.  Five of the crew became POW’s, including Watson.

Rybarczyk is back as Navigator after sitting out the September 9 mission.

Aircraft 43-38213 only flew three more missions after this one, for a total of fourteen combat missions.  On September 13, 1944, immediately after bombs away, the aircraft was seen going down in flames.  Four of the crew members on this flight were killed, with five becoming POWs.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013