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From the US to the UK and Beyond

One of the maps in my dad’s World Atlas showed his route from the US to the UK and then on into Germany. I believe the starting point in the US was Kearney, Nebraska, where he and the Buslee crew picked up their B-17 to ferry across the Atlantic.

On his way out of Ardmore, Oklahoma, he wrote about his expected stay in Nebraska in a letter to his mother dated June 22, 1944.

We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.

Dad must have made a few stops between Kearney and the East Coast of the US. On June 25, he wrote to his mother again.

Just a line to let you know that everything is fine.  There is no use in you writing me here, as we will only be here four days.  We have our own plane, and will fly over.  We should be there next week this time.

In describing their new B-17, he also wrote that

It only has twelve hours on it and guns all over it.  They are giving each of us a cal. – 45 pistol and a large knife.  You would think we were going to look for a fight.

Daddy was ready to head to combat. He wrote

Please don’t worry about me as I know what I am doing, and love it.

Daddy wrote to his mother again the next day, June 26.

One more day in this place, and we will be going.

Two days later on June 28, I’m not sure where he was, but he wrote to his mother,

In just a little while and we will be on our way.  I wish I could tell you where to, but it just isn’t being done this season.  I can tell you we will stay once more in the States, and I will try to drop you a line from there.  I am in the ship now.  We have everything packed, and we are taking time about watching it until take-off time.

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.

According to his separation documents, my dad departed the US on July 1, 1944 and arrived in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) on July 3.

There were three air bases in the Northeast involved in ferrying aircraft to the ETO – Grenier Army Air Base in New Hampshire, Presque Isle Army Airfield in Maine, and Dow Army Airfield, also in Maine.  From the spot marked on his map, I believe Daddy’s last stop in the US was Grenier Army Air Base in Manchester, New Hampshire.

From there, most ferried aircraft next went to RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland until mid-1942, when a change was made to Goose Bay Labrador. Sure enough, Dad marked the location of Goose Bay on his map.

There were three aircraft ferrying stops in the North Atlantic Route in Greenland, Bluie West 1, Bluie West 8, and Bluie East 2, but Daddy didn’t note a stop in Greenland.

The next stop Dad noted on his map was on the East coast of Iceland. There were three airfields in Iceland used on the North Atlantic Ferrying route: Meeks Field, Patterson Field (originally Svidningar Field), and Reykjavik Airport. Reykjavik Airport and Meeks Field appear on the map on the West coast of Iceland. I can’t locate Patterson Field on the map. He must have stopped in Iceland, but I am not certain of the exact location.

Next stop must have been the RAF Valley in Wales in the UK, judging from the location Dad marked on his map. Sixty to seventy ferried aircraft arrived there each day, then were forwarded to the operational bases in England of the 8th and 9th Air Forces.

From there, Dad marked a route across England to his home base in Grafton Underwood, and then continued the route deep into Germany. I know the location of his final mark. It would be Magdeburg, where high in the skies above Germany, another B-17 of his own Bomb Group would collide with his B-17 on September 28, 1944.

Another map included in the Atlas showed some various routes to the ETO.

Dad marked one spot on his Atlas map of Great Britain and Ireland, his home base in Grafton Underwood. (I added the arrow and red outline). Station 106 at Grafton Underwood was the home of the 384th Bomb Group, from which my dad flew his missions in WWII.

To be continued…

…with Magdeburg and Belgard.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

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Home Bases

While trying to piece together my dad’s timeline during his WWII service, I decided to dig through his box of WWII letters and memorabilia again. I ran across this treasure, “World Atlas of Today – War Edition.” I know I have thumbed through it before, but I did not remember my dad’s annotations I found on its cover and within it.

The inside cover calls it “Hammond’s World Atlas” and it was copyrighted 1943 by C.S. Hammond & Co., New York. It was printed specifically for WWII and includes a description of this volume which starts with…

With the whole of the globe the scene of the greatest upheaval since the birth of man – Maps – clear and accurate maps are absolutely indispensable to enable one to grasp the vast scope of the present world shaking conflict, and to form an appreciation of the tremendous distances involved.

Remember, this was a time before jet airliners and cell phones. Travel to distant places took much longer and news from those faraway places took longer, too. But my dad went to those faraway places and in the pages of this volume of maps, he recorded his travels, and in doing so recorded his history.

Dad wrote his name and station on the cover, George E. Farrar, 328th Hd. Sq., Kingman, Ariz. I know he was stationed with the 328 Hd. Sq in May 1943, so that’s probably about the time he received this atlas.

Inside the atlas on a map of the United States, Dad circled his home bases while he served stateside and drew some lines that I’m working to decipher. The bases he circled were:

  • Kingman, Arizona
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Kearney, Nebraska
  • Grenier Army Air Base, New Hampshire (three miles south of Manchester, New Hampshire)

Other than Kingman, I know Dad was in Albuquerque sometime between October 12 and December 18, 1942 as those were the dates a movie crew was in Albuquerque filming the movie “Bombardier.” Dad was there as part of the 383rd Student Squadron at Kirtland Army Air Base. I know this only from his notes, as his separation documents don’t list Albuquerque as a place he was either a student or instructor.

As for Kearney and Grenier, he and the Buslee crew picked up their B-17 in Kearney and I believe Grenier Army Air Base was their final destination in the states on their way to ferry their B-17 across the Atlantic.

Surprisingly, he did not circle Ardmore, Oklahoma, where for six months he administered phase checks and organized students and instructors, and completed his combat crew training, but he does have it marked on the map. Other points around the country that he connected with red and black lines were:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Sacramento, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Long Beach, California
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Thomasville, Georgia
  • Waycross, Georgia
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Fort Myers, Florida

I don’t know the significance of these cities other than his hometown was Atlanta, Georgia, and he attended AC Instructors School in Fort Myers, Florida for six weeks. I also don’t understand the significance of the red lines vs. the black lines. Perhaps the lines were routes he traveled, possibly red by train and black by plane. The lines emanating from Kingman and Albuquerque could have been training flight paths. As I discover more information, perhaps one day I will better understand Dad’s annotations on his maps.

To be continued…

…with a map showing his route to the ETO in more detail.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Ardmore Army Air Field

My dad’s (George Edwin “Ed” Farrar’s) WWII Separation Qualification record indicates that he was an Army Air Forces (AAF) Gunnery instructor for thirteen months. For seven months he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman, Arizona, conducting and administering training classes and gunnery tests. For six months he administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunnery at Ardmore OTU, Oklahoma.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar pointing to Ardmore, Oklahoma on the map

He spent six weeks at an Aircraft Instructor’s School in Ft. Myers, Florida. The course included instruction and practical training in teaching methods and student psychology as well as fundamentals of advanced aerial gunnery. I’m not sure whether he attended the AC Instructor’s School before he was a flexible gunnery instructor in Kingman or if the Instructor’s School came later, before his stint as an instructor in Ardmore.

Ardmore Army Air Field opened in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1942 as a glider training facility. By July 12, 1943, it became a Martin Marauder B-26 crew training base of the 394th Bombardment Group, but the 394th transferred out five weeks later on August 19, 1943.

On August 20, 1943, Ardmore Army Air Field passed from the Third Air Force to the Second Air Force and on September 16, the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing of the 20th Bomber Command moved to Ardmore. Soon after, the 395th Bombardment Group arrived with their B-17’s.

On November 24, 1943, the 395th Bombardment Group was transformed into the 395th Combat Crew Training School, which provided instructional personnel for the training of new combat crews for the B-17s. Perhaps it was at this time that my dad was assigned to Ardmore as an instructor.

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar in Ardmore, Oklahoma

According to their web site, during this time period in WWII, Ardmore Army Air Field was a receiving facility for new pilots, navigators, gunners, bombardiers, radio operators and flight engineers after they had completed their individual specialty training at other bases around the country.

While at Ardmore, the individuals were brought together for their final combat training to become B-17 combat crews ready to ship overseas and into the action. The training program included both classroom and flying instruction. As a combat crew in training, the men would be at the Ardmore base from three to five months before shipping overseas.

On March 25, 1944, the 395th Combat Crew Training School was changed to the 222nd Combat Crew Training School by Second Air Force General Order Number 35.

My dad transitioned from instructor at Ardmore to a gunner on one of the B-17 crews, where he completed his combat crew training as a flexible gunner (waist gunner) on the the John Oliver Buslee crew.

The Buslee Crew.  My dad is on the far right in the front row.

On June 8, 1944, he received his written orders “as a combat crew member requiring regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.” The order was issued by Major Milton S. Angier, Air Corps Commandant of the Combat Crew Detachment, 222nd Combat Crew Training School, AAF, Ardmore, Oklahoma.

My dad wrote his mother on June 22, 1944 on his way out of Ardmore and the beginning of his journey to Grafton Underwood with the Buslee crew. At the time, most of the B-17 crews traveled by train from the Ardmore base to Grand Island, Nebraska, where they were assigned the B-17’s that they flew to England, and I can only assume that Grand Island was his next destination.

He wrote, “We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.” He also said that he wanted his mother to know that “I haven’t waited this long to start asking God to help me.”

George Edwin “Ed” Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The Boys, Part II

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post, “The Boys.” Last week, I took a look at the Buslee and Brodie crews as they were composed on the September 28, 1944 mission to Magdeburg. This week, I want to look at the two crews as they were originally formed, with one exception. I am including two bombardiers for the Buslee crew. The original bombardier was killed on the crew’s second mission, so I am also including the crew’s replacement bombardier.

Both crews were originally made up of ten members. The crews each trained with two flexible, or waist, gunners. At their base at Grafton Underwood, England, by the Fall of 1944, a B-17 crew flew missions with only one flexible/waist gunner, meaning only nine members of the crew flew at one time. I imagine that this was one of the first stressful situations faced by the crews, knowing that the close connection the ten had made with each other in training was jeopardized. One man, one waist gunner, was going to have to fly with a different crew. I’ll look into how that played out for the Buslee and Brodie crews.

These are the two crews as they were originally assigned to the 384th Bomb Group:

The Buslee Crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

BOMBARDIER Marvin Fryden, original Buslee crew member, KIA 8/5/1944 on the crew’s second mission

Possibly Marvin Fryden (if not, James Davis)

BOMBARDIER James Buford Davis, replacement for Marvin Fryden, completed tour

James Buford Davis

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley

BALL TURRET GUNNER Erwin Vernon Foster, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

Erwin Vernon Foster

TAIL GUNNER Eugene Daniel Lucynski, original Buslee crew member, WIA (wounded in action) 9/19/1944

Eugene Daniel Lucynski

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Bryant was originally assigned as a flexible/waist gunner with the Buslee crew and flew on the crew’s first mission. He alternated with the crew’s other waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar, who flew the crew’s second mission. When Clarence “Ben” Seeley was seriously wounded on the crew’s second mission, Bryant took his place in the top turret for the remainder of the Buslee crew’s missions.

Lenard Leroy Bryant

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 9/28/1944

George Edwin Farrar

The Brodie Crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

BOMBARDIER William Douglas Barnes, Jr., original Brodie crew member, completed tour

William Douglas Barnes, Jr.

RADIO OPERATOR William Edson Taylor, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 10/5/1944

No photo available

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Leonard Wood Opie, original Brodie crew member, TBD (to be determined)

Opie and the other Brodie crew waist gunner, Harry Liniger, alternated flying waist with the Brodie crew in the month of August 1944. Opie flew only three missions with the crew and his record with the 384th ends there. The remainder of his WWII service remains unknown.

No photo available

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Five of the enlisted men of the Brodie crew

Far left: Harry Allen Liniger, Waist/Flexible Gunner on the James J. Brodie Crew

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Original crew lists provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The Boys

On September 28, 1944, the Lead Banana, manned by the Buslee crew, and the Lazy Daisy, manned by the Brodie crew collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Neither crew of the 384th Bomb Group was the original crew as assigned.

That day, the Buslee crew was made up of five original crew members and four fill-ins. The Brodie crew was made up of seven original members and two fill-ins.

These are the two crews as they were that day:

The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, 544th Bomb Squad

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR William Alvin Henson II, Gerald Sammons crew, KIA 9/28/1944

William Alvin Henson II

BOMBARDIER Robert Sumner Stearns, Larkin Durden crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

BALL TURRET GUNNER George Francis McMann, Jr., Stanley Gilbert crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Gerald Lee Andersen, Joe Ross Carnes crew, KIA 9/28/1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

George Edwin Farrar

 

The Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy, 545th Bomb Squad

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

TOGGLIER Byron Leverne Atkins, James Chadwick crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Donald William Dooley, from Group Headquarters, KIA 9/28/1944

Donald William Dooley

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Fourteen out of the eighteen boys aboard the two B-17’s were lost that day. Not only did they leave behind grieving parents and siblings, but they also left behind at least five wives and three children.

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Sortie reports provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

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

Late May 1945

Almost three weeks after my dad’s liberation, the Adjutant General sent this telegram to my dad’s mother.

1945-05-28-AdjutantGeneral-001

At the time of the telegram my dad was in France and expected to go to England before returning to the states. He wrote a longer letter to his mother from France in which he explained what had happened to him.  This is a portion of that letter.

 

I guess I can tell you a little about my missions now that the war here is over. I was knocked down on my 16th mission by another plane that ran into the side of us at 30,000 ft. I fell 25,000 ft. before I came to, and pulled my chute; it was a very nice ride. I didn’t think when Bob and I were kids and I told him he would never be a flyer, that some-day I would save my life with a parachute. I guess it was just meant to be that way.

I was the only man to live from my crew and we were flying lead ship of that group. Our bombardier was killed on our first mission when we brought a ship back from Hanover with 106 holes, and only one engine going. We crashed landed on the English coast. We had several other rough missions, but those were the worst.

By the way my last mission was at Magdeburg. When I hit the ground I received a little rough treatment from the Germans, but I expected it. I was in three German Hospitals for about two and a half months, but am in perfect shape now, that is as perfect as I ever was. We have been on the road marching since Feb. 6 and a lot of nights had to sleep in the open.

Well I guess that will be enough of my history until I get home on furlough. I just hope now that I will find every-one at home feeling fine, as I pray you will be every night. Even on the march, at night when we reached a barn at night I didn’t care how rough it had been that day or how rough it would be without food the next. The main thing that kept me going was the thought that some day I may have the chance to make you just a bit more happy, and that has been my thought ever since the day I was knocked down, and had hours to do nothing but think and look at fence.

I had better cut this as it is getting late and the lights here are very poor. And if I expect to do any more flying I had better take good care of them (my eyes). Tell every-one hello, and I will see you soon.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

 

 

 

Early May 1945

Seventy-one years ago this week my dad, George Edwin Farrar, and the group of Stalag Luft IV prisoners of war with which he was on the forced march across Germany, were liberated by British soldiers. This is the 15-word message my dad sent home to notify his family that he was alive and was free.

1945-05-02-FarrarEd-001

In the fifteen words to which he was limited, it reads:

Dear Mother.  Was liberated May Second. Am in good health. Will be home soon. Love, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar.

That same week, he penned a short letter home.

1945-05-06-FarrarEd-001

It reads:

Dearest Mother:

I guess you have heard through the government that I was liberated.  I was liberated by the English May 2nd and have been treated very nice since.  I should be home soon, and having some of the nice meals you fix.  That I have dreamed of for all-most a year.  Life was a bit hard here, but it is all over now.  I have been on the road marching since Feb. 6th with very little food, but am not in bad condition.  I hope that every-one at home are o.k. as I have been thinking of every-one each day.  Tell Gene I hope he had a nice birthday, and I was thinking of him on that day.

I’ll sure have a lot of things to tell you when I get home, and I am really going to stay around home.  I guess I’ll have to get a new watch when I return as I had to sell mine for bread when I was on the march.

I hope you can read this, as I am writing on an old German gas mask case, and it is a bit rough, so will close until I have a better chance to write.

Love to all,
Ed

I’m not certain when either of these posts were received by my dad’s family in Atlanta, Georgia, but in 1945, Mother’s Day was on May 13. If either arrived prior to that date, I’m sure it made for a very happy Mother’s Day for his mother, Raleigh May George Farrar.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Military Records Received

I received fifteen pages of copies from the NPRC shortly after they mailed them on February 18, 2015, in addition to a letter noting that “the copy quality is the best that can be obtained.”

The documents included:

INFORMAL INFORMATION REPLY

This document looks like a reply for information requested by my mother and is dated October 31, 1994. It supplies very little actual information. It shows my father’s dates of POW status as September 28, 1944 to May 8, 1945. It also shows that:

  • The record needed to answer your inquiry is not in our files. If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed.
  • The enclosed copies of documents were obtained from an alternate record source.
  • However, complete records cannot be reconstructed.
  • And, we regret that these sources do not contain the particular type of information or document requested.

It also gave an alternate address to request information about medals.

ENVELOPE (COPIED)

The envelope in which my mother mailed her request on September 28, 1994 (exactly 50 years after the mid-air collision) to:

AIR FORCE MANPOWER AND PERSONNEL CENTER
MILITARY PERSONNEL RECORDS DIVISION
RANDOLPH AFB, TX. 78150-6001

REQUEST PERTAINING TO MILITARY RECORDS

…filled out by my mother. Her request was for my father’s “Military history, where trained and where sent overseas. Also record of being a Prisoner of War in Germany, dates and camps, and what battles.”

For the purpose for which information or documents are needed, she wrote:  “Since he is deceased, we would like to have the Military history to include in our Family history and for the benefit of me and our children. Also what medals issued.”

INSTRUCTIONS

…presumably printed on the back of the REQUEST PERTAINING TO MILITARY RECORDS form.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION MPR FINDING AID REPORT

After a search on my father’s social security number, on 10/12/94 at 15:00:33, this report was summed up simply: NOT FOUND.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION MPR FINDING AID REPORT

After a search on my father’s service number, on 10/12/94 at 15:00:39, this report returned the following information:

SGO HOSPITAL LIST         QT          H 1945 022 002
FARRAR GEORGE E          QM         P 0000 193 180
FARRAR GEORGE E          QT          W280944 080545
FARRAR GEORGE E          AR          R 0009 076 277

ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES HONORABLE DISCHARGE certificate

ENLISTED RECORD AND REPORT OF SEPARATION, HONORABLE DISCHARGE form

  • Battles and campaigns included Normandy, No. France, and Rhineland.
  • Decorations and citations included American Theater Ribbon, EAME Ribbon w/3 Bronze Stars, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, Air Medal w/1 Bronze Cluster
  • Wounds received in action listed Germany 28 September 44.
  • Service schools attended were Kingman, Ariz., Ft. Myers, Fla.

ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES SEPARATION QUALIFICATION RECORD (front)

Military Occupational Assignments:

  • 1 month as Pvt in AAF Basic Tng 521
  • 13 months as Sgt as AAF Gunnery Instructor 938
  • 3 months as S/Sgt Airplane Armorer Gunner 612

Summary of Military Occupations:

  • AAF GUNNERY INSTRUCTOR (938) – Instructed Military Personnel in flexible gunnery for 7 months 1943 at Kingman, Arizona. Conducted and administered training classes and gunnery tests. Administered phase checks, organized students and instructors for training in aerial gunner for six months at Armore [Ardmore] OTU, Okla.
  • AIRPLANE ARMORER GUNNER – Was a crew member of a B-17 at an 8th AF Heavy Bombardment Base in England for 3 months in 1944. Flew 17 missions over German Occupied territory. Flew as Armorer Gunner in lead ship and was responsible for inspection and repair of bomb racks, gun sights, and turrets. Fired 50 caliber machine gun from Waist position when in combat.

ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES SEPARATION QUALIFICATION RECORD (back)

MILITARY EDUCATION

  • ACGS: Kingman, Ariz. Flexible Gunnery, (30 and 50 caliber machine guns) 6 weeks.
  • AC INSTRUCTORS SCHOOL – Ft.Myers, Fla. 6 wks. – Course included instruction and practical training in teaching methods and Student Psychology as well as fundamentals of advanced Aerial Gunnery.

TRANSMITTAL OF AND/OR ENTITLEMENT TO AWARDS

This form, dated September 19, 1988, noted approval of the Prisoner of War medal.  The approval verification at the bottom was actually dated September 28, 1988 (forty-four years  to the day after the mid-air collision).

TRANSMITTAL OF AND/OR ENTITLEMENT TO AWARDS

This form, also dated September 19, 1988, must refer to a different medal, but the writing on the form is too light to read.  I guess that’s part of the reference to the copy quality being the best that could be obtained.

VETERAN IDENTIFICATION SCREEN printout

This printout copy is very light, but I can read most of the information included, although most of the fields are not completed. Dates are correct: birth date, death date, enlistment date, and release date.  Social security and service numbers are noted.  The only other substantial bit of information on this printout is POW DAYS. It looks like it reads C030. I am unsure of the meaning of C030. His actual number of POW days was 217.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION – NATIONAL PERSONNEL RECORDS CENTER (Military Personnel Records), dated 08/23/88.

NAME                                   SERVICE               REGISTER
                                              CODE                    NUMBER              
SGO HOSPITAL LIST         QT                          H 1945 022 002
FARRAR GEORGE E          QT                          W280944 080545
FARRAR GEORGE E          QM                         P 0000 193 180

PRISONER OF WAR (POW) MEDAL APPLICATION/INFORMATION

A copy of the form my mother filled out on August 17, 1988 to apply for a posthumous POW medal for my dad. She included the description:

Was in B-17 #4337822. Plane on right hit by ground fire and hit the plane George Edwin Farrar was on, at 30,000 ft., coming off a target in Magdeburg, Germany. He was knocked unconscious, came to, hooked up parachute, landed on the ground. He was only survivor out of a crew of nine (9). He was liberated on May 2, 1945. Sent to Brussels, Belgium and on to a hospital in France where he spent several weeks.

He was a prisoner at Stalag Luft IV and was on a forced march across Germany from Feb. 6, 1945 until May 2, 1945.

Do not have POW identification card but do have the POW tag #3885.

I would have liked to have received much, much more information on my dad’s years of service in the Army Air Forces, but this is all that is left of his official military personnel record. Thanks to the internet and 384thBombGroup.com, I have been able to piece together a much more complete picture, and find new information every day…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

My Personal Experience Obtaining Military Records

In an effort to complete the picture of my dad’s war service, I decided to obtain his military records and asked for his entire file. I requested his records online through eVetRecs on September 10, 2014 and mailed the signature verification that day. I was given a maximum wait time of ninety days, so I expected to hear something by at least December 9, 2014.

December 9, 2014 came and went without any word on my request. I hoped this was a good thing, that there was so much information in my dad’s military file that it was taking longer than usual.

On January 21, 2015, an archives technician from the NPRC (National Personnel Records Center) mailed me a letter. The letter began:

The complete Official Military Personnel File for the veteran named above is not in our files. If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed.

My heart sank, but I kept reading. The letter continued:

Fortunately, there were alternate records sources that contained information which was used to reconstruct some service record data lost in the fire. However, complete records could not be reconstructed.

Ah, some hope. Not much, but some.

We have located a file created during our reconstruction attempts for the veteran named in your request. This partially “reconstructed” file is a record in the legal custody of the National Archives and Records Administration. Access to this record will be granted by providing a copy of the documents in the file. A reconstructed file typically contains limited service data from some of the alternate records sources, working notes from the reconstruction efforts and miscellaneous correspondence or unofficial documents sent to the NPRC with previous requests for information.

Hmmm… At this point, I was not sure how much information they had, but they did have something. And my curiosity was getting the better of me. I really wanted to know exactly what information they had.

The charge for reproducing this reconstructed file is shown on the attached ‘Order for Archival Reproduction Services’ form.

The total cost listed on the Order for Archival Record Reproduction Services was $70.00. Now I was confused. They didn’t have much information, but what they had was worth $70.00. Could this be something interesting, or could it be not much more than I already knew. I had failed to note on the website when I initially made the request – or maybe I did note it and had forgotten by the time I received the letter – that the fee schedule for five pages or less was $25.00, and six pages or more was $70.00.

Please return this form with your payment within 30 days. Once payment is received, the photocopies will be mailed to you. If payment is not received within this period, we will assume that you no longer desire a copy of this reconstructed file and your request will be closed automatically without further notice.

Now they’re getting to me. My take:  We don’t have much info for you, but what we have is worth $70, and you have to decide quickly if you want it or not, or else you can start this process all over again at a future date. And then there’s this…

Please keep in mind that the record may contain few military documents and NPRC will not refund your payment if the photocopies you receive do not contain the information you seek.

Oh, now what to do. I tried to translate what this cryptic letter meant. We don’t have anything interesting for you. We have something juicy that’s worth $70.00. Couldn’t they just tell me exactly what they had so I could make an informed decision? Obviously not. They had to tease me into paying up front to find out what was in this treasure chest. Of course…

As an alternative to purchasing copies of the file, you may view the original reconstructed file in our archival research room located at the National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138.

How much would it cost for me to travel to St. Louis? Much more than the $70.00 fee for having my dad’s records copied and mailed to me. On February 3, 2015, I mailed back the form and a check.

To be continued: Records received.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016