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The 222nd Combat Crew Crew Training School in Ardmore, Oklahoma

Last week I wrote about 384th Bomb Group tail gunner John James Bregant of the Frigham Young crew and my new acquaintance with his granddaughter, Kathryn Bregant Smith. Kathryn has her grandfather’s collection of photos and other memorabilia from World War II and shared photos and images of items from his collection.

I learned through Kathryn that John Bregant had attended the 222nd Combat Crew Training School in Ardmore, Oklahoma before starting his combat duty. My dad taught at the same school and joined a combat crew there in June 1944.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a gunnery instructor in the Army Air Forces in WWII for thirteen months before entering combat. His first station as an instructor was for seven months as a flexible gunnery instructor at Kingman, Arizona.

Following his service at Kingman, he was an instructor for six months at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School at the Army Airfield at Ardmore, Oklahoma. His duties were detailed as “administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunnery.” This duty started sometime in December 1943 and continued to early June 1944.


On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.

[https://www.army.mil/d-day/]


June 6, 1944 was D-Day. Two days later, on June 8, 1944, Dad received his written orders “as a combat crew member requiring regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.”

I suppose since he had been an aerial gunnery instructor, he didn’t require much more training himself and he was quickly assigned to combat duty in the European theater with the B-17 crew of John Oliver Buslee.

Dad wrote a letter to his mother on June 22 and found himself on his way out of Ardmore somewhere between June 23 and 25, beginning his journey to an 8th Army Air Forces air base of the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, England.

Dad’s combat orders included the names of three other men. I was familiar with the name Eugene D. Lucynski. He was the tail gunner on the Buslee crew. But the other two, Harold E. Beam and Arthur Pearlstein, did not find their way into the 384th Bomb Group and I have wondered who these men were that served in WWII with my dad at Ardmore.

Kathryn has her grandfather’s yearbook from the 222nd Combat Crew Training School.

222nd Combat Training School, Army Air Field, Ardmore, Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Smith, John Bregant’s granddaughter

John Bregant’s photo along with the other men of his B-17 crew, the Paul E. Norton crew, are identified as Crew No. 2728 in Combat Crews Section B in the yearbook. The other two crews included on the same page, the Quentin Wilson crew (Crew No. 2729) and the Robert B. Koch crew (Crew No. 2730), also served in the 384th Bomb Group in World War II.

Combat Crews of the 384th Bomb Group at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School, Ardmore, Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Smith, John Bregant’s granddaughter

While Kathryn hasn’t located photos of my dad or Eugene Lucynski within the pages of the yearbook, she did find others of interest to me. On a page of Flying Instructors,

Page from the 222nd Combat Crew Training School book
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Smith, John Bregant’s granddaughter

Kathryn found photos of the other two men listed on my dad’s combat orders, Harold Beam in Flying Training Section B and Arthur Pearlstein in Flying Training Section C.

S/Sgt Harold E. Beam

and

Sgt. Arthur Pearlstein

Now that I had photos of these men, I decided to dig a little deeper into how they served in combat. While I couldn’t find any more definitive information about Arthur Pearlstein’s (SN 12075325) WWII combat service, I did find out more about Harold Beam (SN 36377873).

Harold E. Beam was a resident of Vermilion County, Illinois when he enlisted on 29 September 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He was born in Illinois in 1921.

I also found by searching POW records in the National Archives that Harold Beam served his combat duty in the Infantry rather than the Army Air Forces and became a prisoner of war of Germany on 10 March 1945.

Beam’s POW record shows that he was returned to military control, liberated or repatriated, but his Latest Report Date was 24 January 1946. No POW camp is listed in his record. I can’t explain why his Latest Report Date was not until 1946, as the war with Germany ended the previous May. I also can’t explain why a serviceman in WWII with so much experience in aerial gunnery was sent into combat with the Infantry instead of the Army Air Forces.

Regardless of whether my father’s photo can be found or not in the 222nd Combat Crew Training School yearbook, I do have several photos, including these, from his time there as an instructor.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar, in Ardmore, Oklahoma

and pointing out Ardmore on the map,

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar, in Ardmore, Oklahoma

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Stalag Luft IV, Lager D, Barracks 4, Room 12

In the mid-air collision of 28 September 1944 over Magdeburg, Germany of the B-17’s of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group, four men survived to become prisoners of war.

One of the men of the Brodie crew, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., was an officer. The other three, my father George Edwin Farrar, Harry Allen Liniger, and Wilfred Frank Miller, were enlisted men. Officers and enlisted men were housed in separate prison camps. Farrar, Liniger, and Miller were housed in Stalag Luft IV, although it seems as though none of them arrived at the same time.

Another airman of the Brodie crew, William Edson Taylor, who was not participating in the 28 September mission with his crew, became a prisoner of war on a later mission, about a week after his crewmates, and was also housed in Stalag Luft IV.

Until two weeks ago, I had never found any of their names on a roster of prisoners of the camp. But two weeks ago, when I was revisiting some POW websites that I had not visited for a long time, I found most of them.

Unfortunately, I did not find the name of Harry Liniger on any of the rosters I reviewed, but I am certain he was held in that camp.

I found three new rosters for prisoners held in D Lager – two rosters of American POW’s and one roster of British POW’s. It is possible that Liniger was held in D Lager, but also as likely that he was held in A, B, or C Lagers instead. I believe he would have arrived at Stalag Luft IV before Miller and Farrar, so my best guess is that he was a resident of C Lager.

George Farrar was a hospital patient until almost Thanksgiving 1944 and Wilfred Miller was originally held in Stalag Luft III until January 1945.

Gregory Hatton’s website, Kriegsgefangen Lagar Der Luft VI and VI, contains a list of Camp Rosters, and in particular, one named Lunsford D Lager Diary Evacuated to Stalag 11A.

In the pages of the Lunsford D Lager Diary, I found my father, George Edwin Farrar listed as G. E. Farrar, on page 21. His S/N was 14119873 and his POW number was 3885.

George Edwin Farrar on Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

Wilfred Frank Miller, listed as W.F. Miller (the second W.F. Miller on the page), is on page 44. His S/N was 36834864 and his POW number was 3916.

Wilfred Frank Miller on Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

William Edson Taylor, listed as W.E. Taylor, is on page 72. His S/N was 16115332 and his POW number was 4059.

William Edson Taylor on Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

I also found airman Cecil Carlton McWhorter, listed as C.C. McWhorter, of the 351st Bomb Group, who was my one of my dad’s POW roommates and marching companions, on page 42. His S/N was 6285927 and his POW number was 3906.

Cecil Carlton McWhorter on Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

But my finds didn’t end there. Another roster on the Stalag Luft IV website was a roster of British airmen, Flt. Sgt. David Joseph Luft 4 roster RAF POWs at Luft IV. There on page 5, I found the name of my father’s British POW roommate and marching companion, Lawrence Newbold. The British roster provided not only Lawrence Newbold’s RAF S/N of 1576728 and POW number of 3113, it also told his Barracks number (4) and Room number (12).

Lawrence Newbold on Stalag Luft IV Lager D RAF roster

I now had confirmation of exactly where in Stalag Luft IV my father was held – Lager D, Barracks 4, and Room 12. But to really be able to visualize his place in the POW camp, a map of the camp would really come in handy. I found such a map on the website of a former prisoner of the camp, Jack McCracken.

Stalag Luft IV map drawing courtesy of Jack McCracken

With Jack’s map drawing, I was able to see exactly where my father was held in the camp as a prisoner of war. To enlarge the map for a better look, click on the image. Each of the four Lagers – A, B, C, and D are noted with the letters circled. Looking in the “D” section, look just underneath the circled “D” to the circled “4.” That would be Barracks 4.

As for Room 12, I have read that each barracks contained only 10 bunk rooms and that the POW’s called common areas like hallways and kitchens by numbers, too. Room 12’s sleeping arrangements may have been tabletops and floors rather than bunks, but I don’t know for certain except to say “comfort” was probably not a word in the POW’s everyday vocabulary.

Another bit of information, which I’ll have to research in more depth, is that the men on the roster on which I found my dad’s name were supposedly evacuated to Stalag 11A from Stalag Luft IV. I hope to learn more information about this detail as I delve deeper into my POW research.

Notes of Thanks and Credits

SSgt John Huston (Jack) McCracken,
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

Thank you to S/Sgt. John Huston (Jack) McCracken for sharing his map drawing of Stalag Luft IV on the internet. S/Sgt. McCracken was an Engineer/Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 in the 570th Bomb Squadron of the 390th Bomb Group. He was shot down 9 September 1944  on a mission to Düsseldorf, Germany and imprisoned at Stalag Luft IV and Stalag Luft I. He was housed in Barracks 3 of C Lager according to notes on his map.

I wish to give full credit to Jack McCracken for his map drawing of Stalag Luft IV and have attempted to ask permission through several e-mail addresses I found on his webpage, to use his map in this article but without success.

Unfortunately, I cannot make my request to Jack himself as we lost this hero in 2012. You can read more about Jack McCracken in his obituary on Find a Grave.

Thank you, Jack, for making this information available for generations to come.

Thank you, Gregory Hatton, for providing Stalag Luft IV rosters and other information.

With the exception of images in this post provided by John Huston (Jack) McCracken, Gregory Hatton, and others, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

The Crossing

Thanks to the stories and diaries of 384th Bomb Group Bombardier-Navigator Frank Furiga, I have a little more detail about the journey of a group of airmen, including Furiga of the Bert Brown crew, and my dad, George Edwin Farrar of the John Oliver Buslee crew, as they ferried a formation of B-17’s into the European Theater of Operations in the summer of 1944.

I have written previously about the journey, but Frank’s stories add new details to the crews’ experience.

In the latter part of June 1944 (likely sometime between June 23 and 25) , both the Brown and Buslee crews, along with several other air crews who had completed their combat training at Ardmore, Oklahoma, traveled by train from Ardmore to Kearney, Nebraska, on the first leg of their journey to their air bases in England.

Frank Furiga described Kearney as,

…where we were assigned a brand new B-17 G FLYING FORTRESS bomber to fly to Europe. It was so new that the plane had fresh paint odor. Here we assembled our flight clothes plus a few pieces of equipment. At 3 A.M. on June 29th, we took off [departing Kearney, Nebraska] headed to Europe.

Our first overnight stop was Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire [arriving June 29]. On the next day [departing June 30] we flew to Goose Bay Labrador [arriving the evening of June 30]. We were held up by bad weather for a day.

On our next flight we left early in the morning [departing the evening of July 1] and flew to Meeks Field at Keflavik, Iceland [arriving the morning of July 2].

We flew above clouds and witnessed a very interesting phenomenon. The shadow of our plane on the clouds was encircled by a beautiful multi-colored rainbow. Some of the fellows saw small icebergs on the way. Because of bad weather over the Atlantic we rested here a few days. Here again we experienced something else new — the length of the sunny day.

Early in the morning [departing the morning of July 4], we left for Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland. Approaching the airfield [arriving July 4], we saw the control tower firing a variety of colored flares which was most puzzling to our pilots as there were no alarms over the radio. Upon landing, we found out the control tower boys were having a jolly good time saluting us with various colored flares as they were celebrating our July Fourth national holiday!

Within a few days we departed for Bovingdon near London where we had combat lectures and procedures with our planes. We had left the new Fort [B-17 Flying Fortress] at Nutts Corner since it had to be combat-outfitted with armor plating and other items. Here we were assigned Bomb Groups. For us on July 23rd, we arrived at the 384th Bomb Group at Kettering, England, in Northamptonshire County. Our airfield was known as GRAFTON-UNDERWOOD.

Special Orders #144 indicate the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, England effective July 21, 1944. Special Orders #148 indicate the Brown crew was assigned to the group effective July 25.

Frank Furiga brings up Buslee crew bombardier Marvin Fryden again, reflecting on Fryden’s August 5 death on his second mission, while also remembering the loss of his brother, John, while they were in Ardmore, Oklahoma during combat crew training.

Lt. Fryden, on an early combat mission with the Buslee-Albrecht crew, was hit by flak in the chest during their bomb run over the target. When they landed, he was rushed to the hospital, but died on the operating table. In two events [the deaths of his brother, John, and friend, Marvin Fryden], combat had produced a profound effect on me. Especially since just a scant few weeks before we had been in London. The brevity of combat life was aging me, indeed.

While stationed at Grafton Underwood, Frank Furiga had the opportunity to see his older brothers Stephen and Michael, who were both also stationed in England at the time. Frank wrote,

Stephen, just a few years older than I, had been in the service the longest. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne paratroops and was somewhere in England. I happened to run into a few of his men and was surprised to find out that he was stationed at Cottesmore Aerodrome, just a twenty minute trip by train. I managed to spend an afternoon with him. Later on, I visited brother Michael at Thatcham near Reading where he was with the Medical corps.

Frank Furiga, George Farrar, and their respective crews were very quickly immersed in the dangers of aerial combat with mission after mission over the European continent, assisting in the liberation of France, and destroying the Nazi war machine in Germany. The war wasn’t “over there” anymore. The war was in them and they were in the war.

Each time they climbed aboard the B-17 for a mission, they knew might be their last. They knew it was best not to think about it, to just do their jobs. But before the end of the year, for both Furiga and Farrar, the war was over as both would become prisoners of war until the Spring of 1945.

Notes

Previous post, Frank Furiga

Previous post, Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

Previous post, From the US to the UK and Beyond

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Airmen of the Buslee and Brodie Crews of the 384th Bomb Group

I have been writing about the men of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII for many years, particularly those airmen who served on the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bomber group based in Grafton Underwood, England during the war.

My connection with these two crews is my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a waist gunner on the Buslee crew.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crew departed the states from their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other.

On 28 September 1944, the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in the 384th’s Mission 201 (which was the 8th Air Force’s numbered Mission 652).

On the mission, coming off the bomb run on the target, the B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy, piloted by James Joseph Brodie, collided with the unnamed B-17 43-37822 piloted by John Oliver Buslee with my father manning the machine guns in the waist.

All aboard Buslee’s aircraft were killed in the collision, ensuing explosion, and crash except for my father, the sole survivor of his fortress. Eight of my father’s bomber brothers perished on this one B-17 on this one day.

Three men survived aboard Brodie’s aircraft, and the remaining six perished, a total of fourteen killed in the collision of the two aircraft.

I have been researching the lives of these airmen for many years and am about to embark on another search for new information on each, so I thought it was time to recap what I have already learned and share links of what I have previously written about them.

Keep in mind, there are more than eighteen men (the number of airmen that made up the two crews on 28 September 1944) involved in this story. Each crew was originally made up of ten men, although neither crew ever flew missions with all ten aboard. All of their missions were flown with a crew of nine containing only one waist gunner instead of two, a change from earlier in the war.

And neither crew flew as all original members on every mission. Substitutes were more common on missions for the Buslee crew, but both crews flew with substitute airmen on the fatal mission of 28 September 1944. My histories of the men of the Buslee and Brodie crews include both original members and those who were substituting for them on that final mission.

Including original crew members and substitute crew members on 28 September 1944 for both crews, plus two key witnesses to the collision, the number of airmen whose family history I research is twenty-nine, thirty including Lloyd Vevle’s twin brother, Floyd.

In the list below, I’m listing all of the airmen by position in the B-17 and noting who were original crew members, who were crew substitutions, and who were key witnesses to the mid-air collision. I’m also including very brief biographical information (birth, death, and burial data), links to each airman’s personnel record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website, and links to histories I’ve previously written about them.

This post will also be available as a permanent page which will be updated with additional links to posts of any new findings from my research.


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

  • Born 14 November 1917
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 26
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • James Joseph Brodie

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

  • Born 1 March 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 22
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • David Franklin Albrecht

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

  • Born 9 December 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium, Plot C, Row 37, Grave 20
  • Lloyd’s twin brother Floyd Martin Vevle (Born 9 December 1922 – Died 14 January 1945, age 22) of the 390th Bomb Group is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at  the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Floyd Martin Vevle
  • The Vevle Twins

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

William Alvin Henson II, Sammons crew navigator, but navigator of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

James Buford Davis, Jung crew bombardier & Buslee crew replacement bombardier after Fryden’s death

Robert Sumner Stearns, Durdin crew bombardier, but bombardier of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 25 August 1923
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA, Section B, Site 302
  • Memorial marker at Family/Home Cemetery at Juniper Haven Cemetery, Prineville, Crook County, Oregon, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

Byron Leverne Atkins, Chadwick crew flexible (waist) gunner, but togglier of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but radio operator of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

  • Born 27 July 1920
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 24
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew ball turret gunner, but ball turret gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 26 September 1924
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 20, two days past his 20th birthday
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

  • Born 26 September 1925
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 19, two days past his 19th birthday
  • Buried Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

  • Born 22 December 1919
  • Died 14 April 1981, age 61
  • Burial information unknown, but parents (Gustave and Dominica Lucynski) are buried All Saints Church Cemetery, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, USA
  • Also known as Eugene D. or Dan Lucyn
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Eugene D. Lucynski

Gerald Lee Andersen, Carnes crew tail gunner, but tail gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

Lenard Leroy Bryant, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner, reassigned to top turret gunner after 5 August 1944 mission

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr., Allred crew ball turret gunner

Thank you to Fred Preller, webmaster of 384thBombGroup.com, and his volunteer researchers for providing and sharing information of the Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Frank Furiga Diary Entries Trace the Crossing to the ETO

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga, bombardier/navigator, 547th squadron. Photo courtesy of Paul Furiga.

Recently, Paul Furiga, son of 384th Bomb Group Bombardier/Navigator Frank Furiga, shared a page from his father’s World War II diary with me. The particular page described Frank’s journey from the US to the UK when he and his fellow USAAF service members ferried a group of B-17’s from Kearney, Nebraska to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). They were on the final leg of their journey into combat duty with the 8th Army Air Forces.

Frank Furiga left his last training base at Admore, Oklahoma in the same group of servicemen as my dad, George Edwin Farrar. Both Dad and Frank ended up at the same air base in Grafton Underwood, England, flying missions in heavy bombers, B-17’s.

I have written previously about my dad’s journey from Oklahoma to England, but today I am going to combine the information in my dad’s letters home with Frank Furiga’s diary entries to get a better picture of where they stopped along the way and on what dates. So here goes…


Dad illustrated his trip across the Atlantic on a map in a world atlas.

And then he explained where he was and when in several letters to his mother up to the point he left the United States.

June 22, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Dad wrote a letter to his Mother that they would be leaving Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were heading to Kearney, Nebraska to pick up their plane which he thought would take from three to seven days. They likely left Ardmore, probably by troop train, somewhere between June 23 and June 25. Today, driving the 540 miles between Ardmore and Kearney takes eight to nine hours. The letter was postmarked Ardmore on June 23.

June 25, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Dad’s next letter was written from Kearney, Nebraska on June 25 and postmarked Kearney the same day. He wrote, “We will only be here four days.” They had been assigned their plane to ferry overseas.

June 26, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

The next day, still in Kearney, Dad wrote, “One more day in this place and we will be going.”

June 28, 1944 [Farrar Letter]

Two days later, they were still in Kearney. Dad wrote, “In just a little while we will be on our way. We will stay once more in the States. This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.” This letter was postmarked Kearney on June 29.

I think Dad liked Kearney so much he had this photo made to send home to his mother. I can’t be certain this is Kearney, but it looks very similar to a photo of Central Avenue in Kearney on page 7 of an article, “Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II” by Todd L. Peterson.

George Edwin Farrar, likely in Kearney, Nebraska, June 1944

Kearney must have been a nice place even during wartime. Today, the “Visit Kearney” website tells me that Kearney is pronounced (car + knee), it is a colorful and exciting city situated in the heart of the Heartland, and it is the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World.


Now I’ll turn the next leg of the journey over to Frank Furiga and his diary entries.

June 29, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left Kearney, Neb. June 29.

Arrived Grenier Field, New Hampshire June 29 in morning.

Grenier Field was located in Manchester, New Hampshire.

June 30, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left June 30th.

Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador June 30th in evening.

July 1, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left there (Goose Bay, Labrador) July 1st evening.

July 2, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland on A.M. of July 2nd.

July 4, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Left Meeks July 4th A.M.

Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland on July 4th (or 5th).

Nutts Corner was a Royal Air Force (RAF) Station located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) east of Crumlin, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and 9.2 miles (14.8 km) north west of Belfast. During the Second World War it became an important RAF Coastal Command station and was also used as a transport hub for aircraft arriving from the United States.

Station #2, European Wing, Air Transport Command was activated 24 September 1943 at Nutts Corner using personnel from detachments of the 69th Transport Squadron and 1149th Military Police Company (Aviation) [per General Orders 21, EWATC, 24 September 1943] and operated as a transport hub until it was redesignated 18 July 1944.

July 5, 1944 [Furiga Diary]

Went from there (Nutts Corner, Ireland) on 5th by boat to Scotland.

From there in train to Stone in Staffordshire a few miles south of Stoke-on-Trent.

AAF Station 518 (VIII AF Service Command) was in Stone.


From this point, I can only follow their path through the orders sending both men and their crews to Grafton Underwood, just days apart. What they did between July 5 and the third week of July, I can’t say, but it may have involved some additional training time. Or perhaps just sitting around waiting for their assignments.

July 22, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #144]

George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. Orders stated,

The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 2 SO #202, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 20 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 21 July, 1944.

Hq AAF Station 112 was identified in “Army Air Force Stations” as

  • AAF Number: 112
  • Name: Bovingdon
  • Location: Hertfordshire
  • Principal Unit(s) Assigned: 11 Cmbt (Combat) Crew Replacement Ctr (Center)

Army Air Force Stations” is subtitled “A Guide to the Stations Where U .S . Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II” and was written by Captain Barry J. Anderson, USAF of the Research Division of the USAF Historical Research Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and published 31 January 1985.

July 26, 1944 [USAAF Special Orders #148]

Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 547th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944. Orders stated,

The following Officers and Enlisted Men having been assigned to the 384th Bomb Group from ACU & attached to 1st Replacement and Training Squadron (B), per par 1 SO #206, Hq AAF Station 112, dated 24 July, 1944, are further assigned to organization as indicated, effective 25 July, 1944.


From the letters and diary entries, I believe I can trace the path of George Edwin Farrar and Frank Dominic Furiga and the other servicemen they were traveling with as:

June 22, 1944: In Ardmore, Oklahoma.

June 23 – 25, 1944: Left Ardmore, Oklahoma. Arrived Kearney, Nebraska.

June 29, 1944: Left Kearney, Nebraska. Arrived Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire.

June 30, 1944: Left Grenier Field, New Hampshire. Arrived Goose Bay, Labrador.

July 1, 1944: Left Goose Bay, Labrador.

July 2, 1944: Arrived Meeks Field, Iceland.

July 4, 1944: Left Meeks Field, Iceland. Arrived Nutts Corner, Ireland.

July 5, 1944: Left Nutts Corner, Ireland. Boarded boat for Scotland. Continued by train to Stone in Staffordshire, England.

Unknown date, July, 1944: Continued to Combat Crew Replacement Center at AAF Station 112 Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.

July 22, 1944: George Edwin Farrar was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.

July 26, 1944: Frank Dominic Furiga was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group in Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, England.


Thank you Paul Furiga for sharing your dad’s diary entries.

Sources

Previous post:  From the US to the UK and Beyond

RAF Nutts Corner

Army Air Force Elements Stationed in Northern Ireland(1)

Army Air Force Stations

Kearney, Nebraska, and the Kearney Army Air Field in World War II

Visit Kearney

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

George Farrar, Lawrence Newbold, and Christmas 1944

During WWII, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner on a B-17 crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the United States Army Air Forces’ (USAAF) 8th Air Force. The 384th was based in Grafton Underwood, England. Dad was “Ed” to family, but in the Army Air Forces, he was known as “George.”

During the war, Lawrence Newbold was a wireless operator on an Avro Lancaster crew of the 50 Squadron of the British Royal Air Force (RAF). The 50 Squadron was based in Skellingthorpe, England. He was also known as “Lawrie” and signed a letter to my father as such (although I originally read it as “Laurie.”)

While the British Royal Air Force flew night bombing missions over Germany during WWII, the US Army Air Forces flew daytime missions. The result was constant, continuous bombardment against the Nazis in the European Theater.

On the night of March 18, 1944, Lawrence Newbold’s 50 Squadron took part in a mission to Frankfurt, Germany. In the course of the mission, his Lancaster was shot down and Lawrence bailed out over Germany. After interrogation, he was likely first confined to the Stalag Luft VI prison camp near the town of Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania), although I am not certain that was his original camp.

In July 1944, the POW’s of Stalag Luft VI were moved to the Stalag Luft IV prison camp in Gross Tychow, Pomerania (now Tychowo, Poland), which had opened in May. Whether Lawrence was one of the prisoners who endured the dreadful transfer from Stalag Luft VI to IV, via crammed railroad boxcars, the dismal hold of a ship, and the torturous “run up the road” (also known as the “Heydekrug Run” – more on this subject at a later date), I do not know, but I do know at the time he was captured, Stalag Luft IV was not yet open and he was transferred there sometime on or after the opening in May 1944.

On the morning of September 28, 1944, George Farrar’s 384th Bomb Group took part in a mission to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, another of the group’s B-17’s collided with George’s. George, who was luckily wearing his parachute, was thrown from the aircraft which had split in two in the collision. After interrogation and a lengthy hospital stay, he was confined to Stalag Luft IV in late November, around Thanksgiving.

Lawrence and George were assigned to Room 12 of an unknown barracks and lager of Stalag Luft IV. Within weeks the newfound roommates would spend Christmas 1944 together. Lawrence undoubtedly would like to have been home to spend Christmas with his wife Marjorie and their son Michael, and George was likely dreaming of Christmas with his parents and eight siblings.

In a Christmas POW postcard to his mother, George wrote,

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas.  We had as good as can be expected here.

I often think of how alone and scared my dad must have been at Christmas 1944 in a prison camp with no family to comfort him. But this year I have a new perspective. This Christmas is the 75th anniversary of the Christmas Dad spent in Stalag Luft IV and I will think of it as the Christmas Dad spent with Lawrence Newbold and his POW family of “Room 12.”

This year is special because Stephen Newbold, the son of Lawrence Newbold, and I, the daughter of George Farrar, met for the first time. When I was in England for the 384th Bomb Group reunion in September, Steve and his son, Paul, and I met in the village of Grafton Underwood, where Dad’s 384th Bomb Group’s airbase was located.

Paul Newbold, Cindy Bryan, and Steve Newbold

Dad would never have believed that seventy-five years after he and Lawrence Newbold endured the horrors of imprisonment in Stalag Luft IV and the 86-day 500-mile march to liberation during WWII, their descendants would have the opportunity to meet. At our meeting, the connection was instantaneous. I predict our friendship will be long lasting and I look forward to a future visit to England which must include meeting more of Lawrence Newbold’s descendants.

Even though George and Lawrence are both gone now, our pride in the sacrifices they made for us seventy-five years ago will live on through their children, grandchildren, and many generations to come.

On this 75th anniversary of the Christmas George and Lawrence spent together in 1944, to my newfound friends, Steve and Paul Newbold, and the Newbold family members I have yet to meet, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The 75th Anniversary of Dad’s Last Week at Grafton Underwood

George Edwin Farrar

The last seven days my dad, George Edwin Farrar, spent at the 384th Bomb Group’s Grafton Underwood air base were pretty busy, although the previous week, he only flew one mission (number 196), targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm Germany.

He spent the weekend of September 23 and 24, 1944 enjoying the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration.

Saturday, September 23 events included an award banquet in the Officers’ Mess with guest speaker Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, dancing in Hangar #1 for the enlisted men with music by George Elrick & his BBC Orchestra and other entertainers, dancing in the Officers’ Club for the officers with music by the Flying Yanks Orchestra, and dancing in the Zebra Club for Zebra Club members with music by the Stratton-Audley G.I. Band.

Transportation to the party was provided from several locations (Northampon, Kettering, Woodford, Corby, Brigstock, Lilford, Newport Pagnell, Finedon, and Geddington) for civilian guests.

Sunday, September 24 was a day of “novelty events,” including a sack race, a three-legged race, a relay race, a piggy-back race, a wheelbarrow race, and a slow bike race. Also on the schedule were a bicycle derby, a baseball game – Station 106 vs. 8th AF All Stars, Scotch bagpipe band & Highland dancers, and a U-S-O stage show at the Station Theater featuring an all-American cast including MC & comedian Artie Conray, comedy act Drohan & Dupree, and accordionist Ferne Downes.

The 200th Mission Celebration weekend was in advance of the actual 200th mission date, and in fact, occurred between Mission 197 to the railroad marshalling yards in Mainz, Germany on September 21 and Mission 198 to the railroad marshalling yards in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on September 25. Daddy flew Mission 198, but then missed Mission 199 on September 26 to a steelworks factory in Osnabrück, Germany.

Mission 200 finally arrived on September 27, targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Dad flew that one and that was the last mission on which he returned to Grafton Underwood.

The next day, on September 28, 1944, Mission 201, targeting a steelworks factory in Magdeburg, Germany, would be his last, cut short by a mid-air collision between his and another of the groups B-17’s. His next stop, after interrogation and a hospital stay, would be the Stalag Luft IV POW camp in Gross-Tychow (now Tychowo), Poland, and then the long walk home, a five-hundred mile, eighty-six day march across Germany to liberation.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The Next Generation Meets

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, the children of the waist gunners of both ships involved in the 384th Bomb Group’s mid-air collision of September 28, 1944 over Magdeburg, Germany met for the first time.

L to R: George Edwin Farrar, Cindy Farrar Bryan, Harry Allen Liniger, Jr., and Harry Allen Liniger, Sr.

That’s me, Cindy Farrar Bryan, daughter of George Edwin Farrar of the Buslee crew, on the left and Harry Liniger, Jr., son of Harry Allen Liniger, Sr. of the Brodie crew, on the right. Harry is pointing to his dad’s name on a plaque in the garden of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, GA. The plaque is dedicated to the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bomb Group.

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

The only survivors of the Brodie crew were navigator George Hawkins, tail gunner Wilfred Miller, and waist gunner Harry Liniger.

The front section of the nose of the Brodie crew’s “Lazy Daisy” was carried away, and with it, the togglier. Hawkins managed to break out of the right side of the nose just behind the right nose gun. Waist gunner Harry Liniger was attempting to escape through the waist door when an explosion threw him from the ship. The explosion also severed the tail of the ship and tail gunner Wilfred Miller rode the tail assembly down and later chuted from the tail section.

The only survivor of the Buslee crew was waist gunner George Edwin Farrar, my dad.  He believed that the other ship must have hit right in the center of their ship, as they were knocked half in-to.  At the time they were struck, Dad was knocked unconscious and fell about 25,000 feet, before he knew he was even out of the ship.

Both Liniger and Farrar (and also Miller) were confined as POWs in Stalag Luft IV and survived the 500-mile, 86-day Black March across Germany to their liberation in May 1945. Hawkins was so severely injured in the collision that he was confined to the hospital during the whole of his time as a prisoner of war.

Now that Harry and I have finally met, we’d like one day to meet the children of George Hawkins and Wilfred Miller, the only other survivors of the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision over Magdeburg. To those children, if you feel the same, please contact me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

German Hospitals Holding POWs in WWII

In the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between two of the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17s with the Buslee crew (my dad’s crew) aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard 42-31222 (aka Lazy Daisy), fourteen airmen died, but four survived. My dad, waist gunner George Edwin Farrar of the Buslee crew, was the only survivor on his fortress. He was seriously injured and required hospitalization for almost two months.

Aboard Lazy Daisy, waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger and tail gunner Wilfred Frank Miller survived without serious injury, but navigator George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. sustained extremely serious injuries due to the collision. I don’t intend to cover the extent of Hawkins’ injuries now. At this time, I want to only identify the hospitals at which my dad and Hawkins were treated as POW’s.

During WWII, the following German Lazaretts (Hospitals) held American POWs,

Lazarett IV A Elsterhorst (Hohnstein, Czechoslovakia)
Lazarett IV G (Leipzig, Germany)
Lazarett V B (Rottenmunster, Germany)
Lazarett VI C (Lingen, Germany)
Lazarett VI G (Gerresheim, Germany)
Lazarett VI J (Dusseldorf, Germany)
Lazarett VII A (Freising, Germany)
Lazarett IX B (Bad Soden/Salmunster, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (a) (Obermassfeld, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (b) (Meiningen, Germany)
Lazarett IX C (c) (Hildburghausen, Germany)
Lazarett X A (Schleswig, Germany)
Lazarett X B (Sandbostel, Germany)
Lazarett XIII D (Nurnberg-Langwasser, Germany)
Lazarett XVIII A/Z (Spittal/Drau, Austria)
Marine Lazarett (Cuxhaven, Germany)
Luftwaffen Lazarett 4/11 (Wismar, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett II Vienna (Vienna, Austria)
Reserve Lazarett Graz (Graz, Austria)
Reserve Lazarett Bilin (Bilin, Czechoslovakia)
Reserve Lazarett Wollstein (Wollstein, Poland)
Reserve Lazarett II Stargard (Stargard, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Schmorkau (Schmorkau, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Konigswartha (Konigswartha, Germany)
Reserve Lazarett Ebelsbach (Ebelsbach, Germany)

The above list is noted to be as of December 31, 1944 and was found on the website of the National Museum of the US Air Force.

The 384th Bomb Group website notes that George Hawkins was treated at POW Camp: Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (Serves Stalag 9-C) Obermassfeld Thuringia, Germany. In addition, Hawkins’ WWII records, which I found at the NPRC during a visit to St. Louis for an 8th AF Historical Society reunion noted he was treated at these hospitals:

  • A hospital in Magdeburg, Germany for 3 1/2 months (not noted on the above list)
  • A hospital in Obermassfeld, Germany for 1 week (according to above list, Lazarett IX C (a))
  • A hospital in Meiningen, Germany for 2 3/4 months (according to above list, Lazarett IX C (b))

According to an entry on Wikipedia about Stalag IX C and its associated hospitals, the camp was for Allied soldiers during WWII, rather than airmen. A large hospital, Reserve-Lazaret IX C(a), and a smaller hospital, Reserve-Lazaret IX C(b), were under Stalag IX C administration.

Hawkins spent a week at the large hospital in Obermassfeld, which was a three-story stone building and was operated by British, Canandian, and New Zealand medical staff. But it was the smaller hospital in Meiningen where Hawkins would spend the remainder of his captivity during the war.

I can only guess that my father was taken to the same hospital in Magdeburg where Hawkins was first treated and after two months of treatment was transferred to the Stalag Luft IV prison camp. I don’t believe he would have been transferred to either the hospital in Obermassfeld or Meiningen, but he may have been transferred elsewhere before being placed in the general population of Stalag Luft IV.

My assumption may not be correct, but I do not know of a particular hospital that was associated with Stalag Luft IV. Unlike George Hawkins’ records at the NPRC, my father’s records only consist of recreated documents supplied by my mother after his file at the NPRC was destroyed in the fire of 1973.

Until I learn differently, I will assume that Dad was treated in the same hospital in Magdeburg as George Hawkins, but my percentage of certainty about that is pretty low. If anyone knows of any other resources to help me find information about POW hospitals in Germany, please comment or e-mail me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The Shoe Leather Express

Seventy-four years ago, near the end of WWII, with Allied forces advancing from the west and the Soviet Red Army advancing from the east, the Nazis began a series of forced marches of prisoners out of their prisoner of war camps. There is no definitive answer as to why the prisoners were marched from the camps or what the Nazis planned for them in the end. One theory is that the prisoners were marched out of the camps simply to delay their liberation.

By the end of January 1945, the plan to march allied prisoners out of Stalag Luft IV and away from liberation by the Soviet Red Army was ready to begin. The winter of 1945 was one of Germany’s coldest on record with blizzard conditions. The prisoners of Stalag Luft IV, the POW camp in which Dad was held prisoner, were ill-equipped for a march in such weather. They had been underfed and were not clothed properly for the conditions.

On February 6, 1945 the march out of Stalag Luft IV began. With just a few hours notice to prepare to march out of the camp, the prisoners scrambled to gather what they could.

The prisoners did not know where they were going or how long they would be on the road. The march out of Stalag Luft IV has been given many names – the Death March, the Black March, and even the Shoe Leather Express. Most of those that survived just called it “The March”. My dad, George Edwin Farrar, usually called it the “Forced March” when he told me stories of sleeping in the hay and stealing a chicken for food.

Many books have been written about the 86-day 500-mile march of Stalag Luft IV prisoners. The best book on the subject is the original The Shoe Leather Express by Joseph P. O’Donnell. Joe was Stalag Luft IV POW 1414 and experienced the prison camp and the march firsthand. Joe wrote a series of six books on the subject of POWs, with the first book of the Shoe Leather Express series subtitled The Evacuation of Kriegsgefangenen Lager Stalag Luft IV Deutschland Germany.

The complete list of the Shoe Leather Express books is as follows:

  • Book 1:  The Shoe Leather Express, The Evacuation of Kriegsgefangenen Lager Stalag Luft IV Deutschland Germany
  • Book 2:  The Shoe Leather Express Book II, Luftgangsters Marching Across Germany, A Potpourri of Prisoner of War Experiences in Nazi Germany During World War II
  • Book 3:  The Pangs of the Thorn, Book III of The Shoe Leather Express, A Collection of True Stories of Prisoners of War in Japan and Nazi Germany WWII
  • Book 4:  A History of Stalag Luft IV, May 1944 – February 1945, Book IV of The Shoe Leather Express
  • Book 5:  And Then We Came Upon A Time of Great Rewarding, A Time of Remembrance, A Collection of Prayers and Poems for and by Prisoners of War
  • Book 6:  Talent Behind Barbed Wire, A Collection of Sketches and Cartoons of Prisoner of War Life

The harsh conditions of the march from Stalag Luft IV and treatment of the POWs is not well known. The march itself is rarely a topic of discussion in the subject of WWII history. But that needs to change. February 6, 2020 will mark the 75th Anniversary of the start of the Black March, and this event from history should be recognized and remembered.

The 50th Anniversary of the Forced March was commemorated in the Congressional Record. On May 8, 1995, in the First Session of the 104th Congress, John William Warner entered the commemoration into the 141st Congressional Record (S6237). It may be read here in one of my past posts.

As for Joseph O’Donnell’s Shoe Leather Express books, they are out of print and hard to find through used book sources, but the preface and first two chapters of the original Book I may be read online courtesy of Joseph O’Donnell and Gregory Hatton here.

Candy Kyler Brown, daughter of Stalag Luft IV POW John R. Kyler kindly provided me with the titles of all the books in Joseph O’Donnell’s The Shoe Leather Express series. Candy began researching her father’s WWII and POW experiences long before I began researching mine and has produced both a website and book with must-read information for anyone interested in learning more about the WWII POW experience.

Candy’s book, What I Never Told You: A Daughter Traces The Wartime Imprisonment Of Her Father, is available on Amazon.

Candy’s website, Remember History, offers a wealth of information about her father and about her friend, Joseph O’Donnell, and his POW experiences.

As Candy and I and other sons and daughters of Stalag Luft IV POWs have learned, it all starts with an inquisitive mind and a desire to know the truth about our fathers’ captivity during WWII. Don’t let this important part of our country’s history and your family’s history be lost to the past.

Learn everything you can by reading published books and personal accounts published online.  Search for your own family WWII-era letters and photos long packed away.

If you’re lucky enough to have a living father, grandfather, or uncle in his mid-90’s, ask him if he served in WWII. Ask about his war service and learn everything you can from him. If he is a former prisoner of war, find out everything you can about his POW experience. Record it. Share it with the world or just share it with future generations of your family.

We must not forget their service and we must not forget their sacrifice. Remember and make these men proud.

Resources

Preface and first two chapters of The Shoe Leather Express Book I

What I Never Told You: A Daughter Traces The Wartime Imprisonment Of Her Father by Candy Kyler Brown

Candy Kyler Brown’s website, Remember History

The 50th Anniversary of the Forced March commemorated in the Congressional Record

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019