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Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 4

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…

This is the last part of my Harry Allen Liniger, Update article and will cover Harry’s return home, release from military service, and post WWII life.

For a recap of the story of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee crew and Brodie crew B-17’s in which Harry Liniger was one of only four survivors, read 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey’s account here.

Germany Surrenders

On 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.

On 8 May 1945, V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe.

Harry Allen Liniger’s Return Home from World War II Military Service

According to Harry’s Honorable Discharge and Separation Record, he departed the European Theater on 27 May 1945, destination US, and arrived back on U.S. soil on 9 June 1945.

Harry’s POW Story in his Own Words

Shortly after his arrival home, the Gates County [North Carolina] Index newspaper interviewed Harry about his POW experience and published the following article in the 13 June 1945 edition of the paper.

~*~

Liniger Home; Lost 60 Pounds As War Prisoner in Germany

Gatesville. – Having gained back the 60 pounds he lost as a German prisoner of war, Sgt. Harry Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger of Gatesville, is back in town on a 60-day recuperation furlough. At the expiration of his furlough he will report to Miami for further assignment.

Sgt. Liniger, waist gunner aboard a Flying Fortress, parachuted to earth in Germany last September when his Fortress was in [a] collision with another Fortress which had been riddled by anti-aircraft fire. Of the 20 men aboard the two Fortresses, only Harry and three others survived.

The navigator [Brodie crew airman George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.] suffered fractures of both legs, but more than ten days elapsed before he could get medical attention. Harry suffered a back injury and various cuts and bruises. He was in jail within four hours after landing, he said.

He would not have escaped from the crippled plane had it not exploded, the sergeant added. The blast blew him out of the turret and he retained consciousness long enough to open his parachute.

Without Shoes

He landed without shoes, was given one issue of clothing which he wore for the next several months and subsided on three potatoes a day and half a loaf of bread per week supplemented by occasional Red Cross supplies. Diseases, dysentery and marching during the evacuation when Russia started its drive, took its toll of American prisoners, Harry said.

While they were marched in an effort to keep out of reach of Russian liberators, 500 or more would go to sleep in a barn and leave 50 or 60 who could not go on the next morning. The Germans said the disabled men would be hospitalized. Harry could not say whether they were or not.

Harry weighed only 98 pounds when he again reached Allied military control. He regained his normal weight within 30 days at a French rest camp.

Harry and thousands of others escaped when the collapse of Nazi Germany appeared eminent, but he was in a group recaptured by German troops who were scheduled to surrender the following day. But on the following day, the regiment got orders to continue fighting at the Elbe River.

At one time, the American escapees were within sound of front line gun fire but German machine guns drove them back to cover.

As prisoners, the men were permitted to write a letter a month. He did not receive a letter during the whole time he was imprisoned, and Red Cross supplies did not come through with regularity, he said.

Harry holds the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Ribbon, American theatre of operations Ribbon, and the European theatre of operations ribbon with four campaign stars, representing the Air War, the battles of Norway and Southern France and the battle of Germany.

Article courtesy of the Gates County Index newspaper online archives and contributed by the Albemarle Regional Library System, Gates County Public Library

~*~

This newspaper article was a great find. It confirms many things I have believed to be true and many things I can conclude about my own father’s POW experience that I have only assumed. My father, George Edwin Farrar, who was one of the other three survivors Harry mentions, was held in the same POW camp and forced on the same march. Dad likely was fed the same diet and suffered a similar loss of weight.

However, I don’t believe Dad was part of the group of American escapees Harry mentions. I would like to learn more about Harry’s escape and recapture experience, though. I imagine I can find similar stories from other Stalag Luft IV prisoners in some of their books and diaries. As often happens in my research, one find triggers a new search, and I’ll keep looking.

Just a couple of minor corrections to the article:

  • Eighteen men were aboard the two fortresses, not twenty
  • Harry was in the waist of the plane, not one of the turrets

One thing I must comment on, though, is regarding Harry’s mention that he did not receive a letter during his imprisonment. Don’t think his parents, sister, or future wife didn’t write to him. I am quite certain they wrote as soon as they received an address for him. They wouldn’t have learned he was a prisoner of war, or where he was held captive, or obtain an address to write to him until late December 1944.

Under normal circumstances, letters between families and prisoners took months to deliver. But Harry was marched out of the POW camp on February 6, 1945. Letters were probably on their way to him, but never made it into his hands. By the time a letter would have arrived at Stalag Luft IV, Harry was no longer held there. And mail certainly wasn’t delivered to the prisoners on the road during their 500-mile 86-day long march.

Marriage

Seven weeks after returning home, Harry married his sweetheart, Carrie Bell Carter. The Gates County Index newspaper published an article upon the news of their marriage.

On 1 August 1945, Dillon, South Carolina: “Mr. and Mrs. L.S. Carter of Gatesville, N.C. announce the marriage of their daughter, Carrie Belle, to Staff Sergeant Harry A. Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger, also of Gatesville. The wedding took place in Dillon on July 26. … They will leave Gatesville on August 11 for Miami Beach when Sgt. Liniger is scheduled to report for duty.”

Japan Surrenders

Just days before Harry and Carrie were to leave for Miami, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan, on Hiroshima on 6 August and on Nagasaki on 9 August. On 14 August, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender. Surrender documents would not be signed until 2 September. Some consider the 14 August 1945 date to be V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, but others consider 2 September 1945, when the surrender document was signed, to be V-J Day.

Reassignment Processing

According to the 1 August newspaper article, Harry Liniger left home on 11 August. He and his new wife Carrie traveled to Miami Beach for his reassignment processing. Their son, Harry Jr., shared this photo with me.

Harry Allen and Carrie Belle Carter Liniger (on the far right) at the 5 O’Clock Club, Miami Beach, Florida

I am uncertain of their arrival date in Miami, but the Gates County Index published another article reporting Harry’s arrival.

On 22 August 1945, Miami Beach, Florida: “S/Sgt. Harry A. Liniger, 21, of Gatesville, N.C. has arrived at Army Air Forces Redistribution Station No. 2 in Miami Beach for reassignment processing after completing a tour of duty outside the continental United States. During his processing, he is housed in an ocean-front hotel and enjoys abundant facilities for rest and recreation in this year-round beneficial climate.”

Release from Military Service

Honorable Discharge/Separation

With the war with Germany and Japan over, I am not sure how long Harry and Carrie remained in Miami, but according to his separation document, Harry Liniger was honorably discharged from military service on 31 October 1945 (his Date of Separation) at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina.

Some of the notable information on Harry’s Honorable Discharge includes:

  • His Military Occupational Specialty and No. as Airplane Armorer Gunner 612.
  • His Military Qualification as AAF Air Crew Member Badge (Wings)
  • His Battles and Campaigns as Southern France, Normandy, Northern France, and Rhineland
  • His Decorations and Citations as European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars, 1 Overseas Service Bar, Good Conduct Medal, and Air Medal. (Not listed on his Honorable Discharge are his Purple Heart, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and Prisoner of War Medal).
  • His Total Length of Continental Service was 1 year, 7 months, and 22 days.
  • His Total Length of Foreign Service was 11 months and 9 days.
  • For his Service outside the Continental U.S., he departed the U.S. on 1 July 1944, Destination European Theater, arriving 5 July 1944. He departed the European Theater on 27 May 1945, Destination US, arriving 9 June 1945.
  • He attended Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, and Gunnery School at Harlingen, Texas.

Post-World War II Life

Ocala, Florida

On his Honorable Discharge/Separation document, I found another piece of interesting information. Harry’s permanent address for mailing purposes was listed as Box 251 Gatesville, NC, but handwritten beside that was the address “Municipal Trailer Park Ocala, Fla.”

Harry’s parents, Paul and Estella Liniger, lived for a time in Ocala and Harry and Carrie spent time there with them, enough so that Harry included the address on his Honorable Discharge/Separation document.

I have been living in Ocala for the past ten years and was curious if the trailer park still existed and where it is/was located.

I found that the Ocala Municipal Trailer Park no longer exists, but that it was formerly located at 517 Northeast 9th Street, Ocala, FL, directly north of Ocala’s Tuscawilla Park, near where one of the city’s premier entertainment venues, the Reilly Arts Center, is located today.

The trailer park opened in 1937 to house WPA (Works Progress Administration) workers. The WPA was an American New Deal agency that employed millions of jobseekers to carry out public works projects. The trailer park was also reported to be intended for visitors to the area who were expected to stay on a short-term basis, but became very popular with longer-term visitors and residents.

Closing and eventually demolishing the park stretched over a three-year period beginning in 2007, displacing the ninety people who lived there.

The property is currently divided into two uses: one, a parking lot for The Reilly Arts Center, and two, the home of the Ocala Skate Park (for skateboarding, in-line skating, and freestyle bicycling).

I had never been aware that the parking lot where my husband and I park when we attend shows at the Reilly are at the very spot where Harry and Carrie Liniger stayed with his parents after World War II.

While in Ocala, Harry worked at an alligator farm. The name of the gator farm is unknown, but perhaps Harry worked for Ross Allen, the noted herpetologist, at the Ross Allen Reptile Institute on land near the head of Silver Springs. The reptile institute attracted thousands of tourists to Silver Springs for many decades.

Harry Liniger worked at a Gator Farm in Ocala, FL after the war

and

Carrie Liniger at a Gator Farm in Ocala, FL after the war

and

Harry and Carrie Liniger in Ocala, FL after the war

Harry and Carrie’s son, Harry Liniger, Jr., visited his grandparents in Ocala when he was twelve years old. He said, “When I was 12 years old my mother put me on a train by myself to visit my grandparents in Ocala. They took me to Silver Springs for a visit. It may have been special to them. They lived in a trailer park and I remember playing shuffleboard every day.”

Post-World War II

Harry and Carrie Liniger later moved to Portsmouth, Virginia and in 1946, Harry and Carrie were blessed with a son, Harry Jr.

Still in the early years of his marriage, and when Harry Jr. was only fourteen months old, Harry Liniger died in an accident in Portsmouth on 8 October 1947 at the age of 23.

He is buried in the Powells Point Christian Church Cemetery in Harbinger, Currituck County, North Carolina, along with his parents and sister.

Carrie passed away October 5, 2011, and is buried in the Carter family plot in Gatesville, NC, less than 100 yards from the house in which she was born.

Notes

Thank you to Harry Liniger, Jr. for sharing these stories from his family history.

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 3

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

Dave Osborne’s Fortlog

MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

Previous post, Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger on Find a Grave

Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers

13 June 1945 edition of the Gates County [North Carolina] Index newspaper

Several articles in the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper covered the trailer park over several years:

Excluding the Gates County Index newspaper article, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 3

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…

This part will cover Harry Allen Liniger’s MIA (Missing in Action) and POW (Prisoner of War) experience.

The Mid-air Collision

On 28 September 1944, the B-17’s of the John Buslee crew and the James Brodie crew collided over Magdeburg, Germany. Rather than repeat the story of the collision, I will direct those who would like to read it to 384th Bomb Group pilot Wallace Storey’s account here.

Missing in Action

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group note the following for Harry Allen Liniger: On 28 September 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Harry Allen Liniger, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action).

Harry and the other airmen involved in the collision would remain missing until some word was heard, typically relayed from the Red Cross to the military, and from the military to the families, or next of kin, of the missing. Word did not travel quickly outside of wartime Germany to families waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones.

The Gates County Index newspaper published two articles in the month of October with the only information available at the time.

On 18 October 1944: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger of Gatesville have been advised by the War Department that their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, turret gunner on a Liberator bomber [correction: waist gunner on a Flying Fortress/B-17 bomber] is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”

On 25 October 1944: “Sgt. Harry A. Liniger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville, waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and recently awarded the Air Medal, is missing following a flight over Germany on September 28.”

A follow-up article in the same issue noted: “Award of the Air Medal for ‘exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in sustained bomber combat operations over enemy occupied Continental Europe’ to Sgt. Liniger was announced by an Eighth Air Force bomber station in England soon after news that he was missing reached Gatesville.

Waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, Sgt. Liniger was taking part in attacks being carried out against targets in Germany and the occupied areas by the American Air Forces. He was serving with a Fortress group that is a veteran unit on the European aerial front. Sgt. Liniger is 20 and was a student at Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg prior to entering the service.”

Prisoner of War

By December 1944, the Liniger family had received word that Harry was alive and a prisoner of war. The Germans allowed the POWs to write a limited number of postcards and letters home, but the mail could take several months to arrive.

For example, I have a letter my father wrote as a POW he dated 9 November 1944. Someone, probably my grandmother, noted on the letter that she received it over four months later on 23 March 1945.

Initial postcards the POWs sent home within a short time after capture looked like this postcard of my father’s.

Harry Liniger wrote his card just two days before my dad, who was hospitalized following capture, on 3 October. (I don’t believe POW’s were allowed to tell their families they were not in good health, hence unable to note he was seriously wounded and could not walk).

The Gates County Index newspaper published an article on 20 December 1944, so these first post cards likely took two months to reach the families.

On 20 December 1944: “Mrs. Paul W. Liniger of Gatesville recently received another card from her son, S/Sgt. Harry Liniger, prisoner of war of the German government. The sergeant said that he was in good health and was being moved to another prison camp. The card was dated October 3, five days after the Flying Fortress of which he was a crew member, was forced down into Nazi occupied Europe.”

Prison Camp

In Nazi Germany, Allied prisoners of war were confined to separate prison camps based on at least two criteria. Those held captive from various nationality air forces, airmen were kept in “Luft” stalags. Officers and enlisted men were also separated into different camps. Of the four survivors of the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision between the Buslee and Brodie B-17’s, one was an officer and three were enlisted.

The officer, George Marshall Hawkins, Brodie crew navigator, was seriously injured and served his entire POW internment in a POW hospital. If he had not been injured, he would have been assigned to an officer’s POW camp. The three enlisted men, George Farrar of the Buslee crew, and Wilfred Miller and Harry Liniger of the Brodie crew, were all assigned to Stalag Luft IV. Farrar spent the first two months of captivity in a hospital, but was then placed in the camp in late November 1944.

I discovered George Farrar and Wilfred Miller on the same camp roster, a Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, placing both of them in the same Lager of the camp. I have been unable to find Harry Liniger’s name on any of the available rosters, though. It is possible that he was held in Lager A, B, or C, but looking through the Lager D roster more closely, I believe a page could be missing between scanned pages 37 (which ends with Lewis) and 38 (which begins with Lissendrello) where Harry Liniger possibly could be included alphabetically in this list.

Harry Allen Liniger’s POW number was #3818. His son, Harry, Jr., found the number in his grandmother’s war time diary along with her son’s POW address. Harry, Jr. says Estella Liniger’s diary was pretty simple, but held a lot of valuable information. “It had the addresses from all my dad’s duty stations, the address for the Red Cross in Switzerland and a few others. One entry said she received my dad’s Air Medal in the mail. It mentioned receiving a couple of letters from dad saying he was ok. She also wrote out her prayerful thoughts on some days.”

The March

Harry Allen Liniger was one of the Stalag Luft IV POW’s marched out of the prison camp on February 6, 1945 to begin the 500-day 86-mile march of prisoners across Germany. One day, Harry Liniger, Jr., opened his father’s New Testament and found a note his dad had written on cigarette paper.

Harry had recorded a horrific train ride to which the prisoners were subjected on their journey. This note confirms an event in the historical record of the march, the memory of which likely haunted the men on the train for the rest of their lives.

On another day, Harry Jr. showed the note to his daughter and she decided to look through the book. She found a list on the inside cover that looked like Harry was adding up his back pay while in captivity. There was also a man’s name, Charles Gleason, ASN 32718483, and a New York address of 200 E. 81st St., printed in the back.

Charles Gleason’s POW record in the online National Archives notes that he was held in Stalag Luft IV. Charles was a left waist gunner with the 97th Bomb Group, 340th Bomb Squadron, of the 15th AF based in Amendola, Italy in the Province of Foggia. [Note: Between 17 August 1942 and 21 October 1942, the 97th Bomb Group flew from Polebrook and Grafton Underwood with the 8th Air Force].

Charles Albert Gleason was 5’8″ tall, weighed 145 pounds, had gray eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion. He registered for the draft on 15 February 1942. His place of residence was 200 E. 81 St., New York, NY and he was born on 29 June 1921 in New York, NY.

Federal Census records from 1930 and 1940 note that Charles’ father was Charles A. Gleason, Sr., his mother was Katherine (or Catherine, possibly with the maiden name of Kelly). He had two older sisters, Dorothy and Rita. His father died in 1936, leaving Charles’ mother a widow.

Charles Gleason went MIA on the 97th Bomb Group’s 23 October 1944 mission to the Pilsen, Czechoslovakia Skoda Works in B-17 42-31709. The missing air crew report, MACR9513, notes the cause as flak.

Ten men of the Josie Francis Flotz (Durham, NC) crew – Paul Eugene Rominger (Ohio), Leon Joseph Cooning, Jr., Wallace John Lameweaver, Robert T. Oakes, Dalton John Cormier, Charles Albert Gleason, Clifton Edward Huffman (or Hoffman of Palestine, WV), John David Lawson (Osborne, KS), and Richard Arthur Leonard (Dayton, OH) – all were captured and became prisoners of war.

MACR9513 notes that at a location of 4915N/1257E, the Flotz crew’s B-17 was observed “Straggling after target run. Result of enemy aircraft and damaged by flak or defect in oxygen.”

An airman who was an eyewitness, Sgt. Glenn W. Troutman, reported, “After completing the target run, I saw aircraft #709 straggling, because of a hit by flak or some other damage to aircraft.” Crew member Clifton E. Huffman reported: “All ten [crew] members bailed out shortly after losing three engines over target. Saw all crew members at Frankfort interrogation center.” The pilot, Josie F. Foltz, Jr., reported that they were over the target (just after Rally) when they left the formation. He added “All crew members bailed out approx. the same time & about 50 to 100 mi. SE of target near Eger, Germany.”

Charles Gleason was able to evade for a day, but was captured on 24 October 1944 at 17:30 (5:30 in the evening) near Maerzdorf dist. in Kaaden (Kadaň), a town in the Chomutov District in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czechoslovakia.

I expected to find Harry Liniger and Charles Gleason on the same POW roster from Stalag Luft IV. Coming from bomb groups that were not based even in the same country, Liniger in England and Gleason in Italy, I can’t imagine where they would have met if not in the prison camp or on the march.

However, I do not find their names in any list together. I do find Charles Gleason listed in the roster on page 74 of the POW book “Barbed Boredom – A Souvenir Book of Stalag Luft IV” by Charles G. Janis. He is listed as “Gleason C 200 E 81st St New York N.Y.” Harry is not found in this list. The author of “Barbed Boredom,” Charles Janis, was held POW in Lager D, the lager where I know George Farrar and Wilfred Miller were both held. However, neither of their names appear on Janis’ list either. And in the roster where I do find Farrar’s and Miller’s names on, the Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster, I do not find Charles Gleason, Harry Liniger, or Charles Janis.

Charles Gleason’s POW record indicates his last report date was 9 July 1945. Harry Liniger’s last report date was 31 May 1945. George Farrar’s last report date was closer to Gleason’s. Farrar’s was 13 July 1945. Farrar had an extended hospital stay following his liberation and perhaps Gleason did as well as both returned home much later than Harry Liniger.

Charles Albert Gleason died April 20, 2001 at the age of 79.

I have shared this information about Charles Albert Gleason because he must have been important to Harry Liniger during their confinement as POW’s during World War II. If any family members of Charles Gleason have any information about this time in his life, please contact me.

Liberation

The Gates County Index newspaper published several articles upon the news of Harry Liniger’s liberation.

On 30 May 1945: “Sgt. Harry Liniger, waist gunner on a Flying Fortress shot down over enemy occupied Europe many months ago, has been liberated from a German prison camp, according to information reaching his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger, through the Red Cross.”

On 6 June 1945, Gatesville: “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger have received an Army Signal Corps message from their son, Sgt. Harry Liniger, liberated prisoner in Europe, telling them, ‘At the rate I am moving, I will be home in a few months.’ They also received a telegram from the War Department saying that Sgt. Liniger was returned to military control on May 2.”

On 28 May 1945, upon the receipt of the telegram of her son’s liberation and return to military control, Estella Liniger recorded her last prayerful thoughts in her diary, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.

Notes

Thank you to Keith Ellefson for obtaining Charles Gleason’s missing air crew report for me.

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

Stalag Luft IV Lager D roster

Dave Osborne’s Fortlog

Charles Gleason’s POW record in the National Archives

Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers

97th Bomb Group courtesy of the American Air Museum in Britain

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 2

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the crew and on board Brodie’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Harry Allen Liniger, Update continued…

This part will cover Harry Allen Liniger’s entry into military service, stateside training, and overseas combat duty.

Harry Allen Liniger’s Entry into Military Service

Military School

Although I was unable to find a 1940 census record for the Liniger family, I believe in 1940, 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger was likely living in Salemburg, Sampson County, North Carolina. He attended Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg.

Harry graduated from Edwards on 22 May 1942 and turned eighteen that summer. His diploma notes he “completed the course of study prescribed for graduation from the High School Department.” If he attended the school for four years, he would have been there since the Fall of 1938.

Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger and Dink Bishop
Edwards Military Institute Graduation
Photo courtesy of Harry Liniger, Jr.

This postcard picture of the Edwards Military Institute at Salemburg, Sampson County, NC is from “North Carolina Postcards” of the North Carolina Collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Edwards Military Institute, Salemburg, NC
Photo courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The school, more recently known as Southwood College, was founded in 1874. From 1935 to 1965, two institutions, Edwards Military Institute and Pineland College, both operated on the same site. In 1965, the institutions became Southwood College, which closed in 1973.

Draft Registration

On 11 December 1942, Harry Liniger registered for the WWII draft at the Local Board No. 1 at the National Guard Armory in Edenton, North Carolina. He listed his place of residence as Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina. Harry’s place of employment was Marine Air Base in Edenton. He was 18 years old and born on 9 August 1924 in Steubenville, Ohio.

P.W. Liniger (Harry’s father Paul) of Gatesville, North Carolina was the person who would always know his address.

Harry described himself as 5′ 7″ tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. He noted a scar on his inside right wrist as an “other obvious physical characteristic that will aid in identification.”

Enlistment

On 24 March 1943, Harry enlisted in WWII at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and was inducted into military service as of this date. Harry’s enlistment record notes his residence as Gates County, North Carolina, and that he was born in Ohio in 1924. According to his enlistment record, his civilian occupation was “paymasters, payroll clerks, and timekeepers.”

One week later, 31 March 1943, was Harry’s date of entry into Active Service at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina (according to his Honorable Discharge).

Training in the States

The Gates County Index newspaper reported two significant events in Harry’s stateside training.

On 12 April 1944, Harlingen Army Air Field, Texas: “Harry Liniger … was graduated this week at this field as an aerial gunner and was awarded his silver wings. … [Next] he will join an aerial combat team…”

On 20 September 1944, Army Air Field, Oklahoma: “Pfc. Harry Liniger … has completed final phase training as aerial gunner of a heavy bombardment unit at the 222nd Combat Crew Training Station, 2nd Army Air Force.”

Other stateside training stations for Harry included basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 613 Training Group at St.  Petersburg, Florida, 403 Training Group at Miami Beach, Florida, and Academic Squadron 1 at Scott Field, Illinois.

WWII Combat Duty at Grafton Underwood, England

Harry Allen Liniger’s 384th Bomb Group Individual Sortie record indicates that his duty was Arm-Gunner, one month’s pay was $140.40, and his home address was Mrs. Estelle Prysock Liniger, Box 251, Gatesville, NC.

Harry was credited with sixteen combat missions with the 384th Bomb Group, from his first on 7 August 1944 to his last on 28 September 1944.

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group indicate the following for Harry Allen Liniger:

  • On 26 JULY 1944, Corporal Harry Allen Liniger was assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group, 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944 as a waist gunner (classification AAG, Airplane Armorer/Gunner, with the MOS, military operational specialty, of 611).
  • On 2 AUGUST 1944, Corporal Harry Allen Liniger was promoted to Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #155.
  • On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Harry Allen Liniger, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared POW (Prisoner of War).

The Gates County Index newspaper was quick to report Harry’s 2 August promotion to Sergeant.

On 23 August 1944: “Harry Liniger, now in England, has been promoted to sergeant.” Their source was a letter Harry wrote to his sister, identified as Mrs. Wesley Parker of Gatesville.

Side Note: From Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1, remember one of the lodgers living with the Liniger family during the recording of the 1930 census? Ancestry transcribed the name as Parker Westley, but apparently his correct full name was Jonathan Wesley Parker. He and Harry’s sister Eileen married that same year of the census on 8 August 1930. Wesley was 22 years old and Eileen was 14 according to their ages as recorded in the 1930 Federal census.

More about Harry Liniger and his MIA/POW experience in my next post…

Notes

Previous post, Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

Previous post, Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Missing Air Crew Report 9753 for the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Edwards Military Institute – North Carolina Postcards Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Southwood College, previously Edwards Military Institute and Pineland College

Gates County Index newspaper articles courtesy of Digital North Carolina newspapers

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Harry Allen Liniger, Update – Part 1

Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner for the James Brodie crew. Photo courtesy of son Harry Liniger, Jr.

A new search, and additional information from his son, Harry, Jr., have provided me with some new information regarding Harry Allen Liniger, waist gunner of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was an original member of the Brodie crew and was one of the three survivors on Brodie’s B-17 in the mid-air collision on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. 

To view my original post and other information about Harry Allen Liniger, please see the links at the end of this post.


Because I have so much new information to share after my latest research into Harry Allen Liniger, this update will be presented in multiple parts. First up, some background about the Liniger family.

The Liniger Family

The 384th Bomb Group waist gunner, Harry Allen Liniger, was born in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio on 9 August 1924 to father Paul Whitney Liniger (1889 – 1960) and mother Estella Jeanette Prysock Liniger (1893 – 1973). Paul and Estella married on 17 February 1912 in Belmont, Ohio. Harry had an older sister, Eileen May Liniger (1916 – 1972).

Harry first appears in the Federal Census in 1930 as a 5-year-old. He, his parents, and sister (all listed with the last name misspelled “Lianeger” and with his sister’s name misspelled “Oleen”), lived in Lynnhaven, Princess Anne County, Virginia. Paul was the Head of Household and 41 years old. Also included in the Liniger’s household were Estella (wife, age 36), Eileen (daughter, age 14), and Harry (son, age 5).

Also living in the Liniger household were Paul’s brother Harry A. (age 43), sister Mary (age 45), and two lodgers, Conard Ginon (age 32) and Parker Westly (age 22). Other than the two lodgers, all were recorded as born in Ohio. All, including the Liniger’s children Eileen and Harry, were recorded with the occupation of Showman or Show woman in a Traveling Circus.

384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger at 3 years old
Photo courtesy of his son, Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

Going back twenty years, and two years before he and Estella married, Paul Liniger (misspelled Linneger, age 20), is recorded in the 1910 Federal Census as living in Pultney Township, Belmont County, Ohio with his father John (age 56, occupation – engineer on a ferry boat), his mother Sarah (age 46, no occupation), and brother Harry (age 23). Both Paul and Harry were listed with the occupation of Acrobat in the Circus. [Note: John Liniger is recorded under the name “William Liniger” on the 1900 Federal Census].

Beginning a career in the circus at least as far back as 1910 with the Liniger brothers in their early twenties, they went on to have their own show and eventually their own circus.

In 1916, the “Liniger Bros. & O’Wesney Shows” was described as a new show in the amusement world that was destined to be a big success. The staff was identified as Paul Liniger (manager), Ray Owesney (secretary-treasurer), and Harry Liniger (equestrian director), among others. Also of note was the comment that “Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Liniger will learn with delight that the stork paid them a visit on May 11 and left a ten-pound baby girl. [Billboard, May 20, 1916, p. 62, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

Paul Liniger in his areal uniform
Photo courtesy of his grandson Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

In 1917, the “Liniger Bros.’ Combined Shows” big show program consisted of nineteen numbers, including the Three Liniger Brothers, and many other comedy, acrobatic, animal, and other acts. The transportation included six wagons and other vehicles. The brand new “canvas” included the big top – a “50,” and a “35” and two “20s.” Staff included, among others, Paul W. Liniger (manager), Mrs. Paul W. Liniger (ticket taker), and Harry Liniger (boss canvasman). [Billboard, June 2, 1917, p. 26, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

The Liniger Brothers
Photo courtesy of Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

In 1918, the show did not go on, “Owing to the fact that Harry Liniger, of the Liniger Bros. Shows, has been drafted and is somewhere in France, the show did not take the road this season.” [Billboard, August 10, 1918, p. 24, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

In a 1920 entry found on the Classic Circus History website of the Circus Historical Society, in the Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922, Harry was described as having been a clown in the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Forces). Harry served in WWI, enlisting on 27 May 1918.

According to the Ohio Roster of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in WWI, Harry spent part of his military service in WWI in the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.), from 22 July 1918 to 23 February 1919. The Showman certainly took his show on the road in World War I! Harry’s military service release date, when he received an honorable discharge, was on 6 May 1919. [Read more about this aspect of the A.E.F. on The World War History and Art Museum website, “The Circus Goes to War – Show Business and the Armed Forces of World War I.”]

Harry Liniger of the Liniger Brothers Circus on the left, unidentified on the right
Photo courtesy of his great-nephew Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

I did not find a 1920 Federal Census record for the Liniger’s, but I found another record of their involvement in the circus during the 1920’s on the Classic Circus History website of the Circus Historical Society. The Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922 notes that the brothers performed as the “Liniger Brothers” in the circus in that timeframe.

In 1921, Paul and Harry were with the Rhoda Royal show, “one on the sailor rope and the other in clown alley,” and in a later article, Harry Liniger wrote that he left the Rhoda Royal Circus, and the “Liniger Bros. will be out next spring with their own vaudeville and picture show under canvas.” [Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922]

In 1922, Paul and Harry had their own Liniger Bros. Circus-Vaudeville Motorized Show. [Billboard Excerpts 1920 – 1922]. The staff included, among others, Liniger Bros. (proprietors), Paul Liniger (manager), Harry Liniger (operator) ; Stella Liniger (pianist), Paul, Jr. and Eileen Liniger (kid workers). The program included Harry Liniger, Paul, Jr., and Eileen Liniger in songs and dances, and comedy acrobats by the Liniger Bros. and Paul, Jr. [Billboard, July 15, 1922, p. 63, Classic Circus History – Liniger Brothers.]

The Liniger Brothers Circus Family
Photo courtesy of Harry Allen Liniger, Jr.

For 1925, the only archive record I find online is this archive from Circus World. It is an Archive Record Herald. A herald is a circus advertisement that was similar to a hand bill. Below is the header for the Liniger Bros.’ herald.

Photo courtesy of Circus World Archives

Please check the Archive Record Herald link for images of the herald itself, both Side A –“WATER-PROOF TENTS” and Side B –“CASTLE’S CONGRESS OF ANIMAL ACTORS.” Among the “notable acts” are the “3 Liniger Brothers.”

After 1925, I know the show went on because the Liniger’s were recorded in the 1930 census with the occupations of Showman and Show woman in a traveling circus, but I find no other mentions of the Liniger Brothers in internet searches after this year. To learn more about the American circuses of this era, I may have to visit the Showmen’s Museum just south of Tampa, Florida.

The Showmen’s Museum is described as “Unlike other museums, the Showmen’s Museum houses decades of memories and history of carnivals and circuses of the past. Guests can stroll the 54,000-square-foot property and view the many artifacts, photographs and relics of the past.” Check their website for hours and ticket prices. 6938 Riverview Dr., Riverview, FL  33578, (813) 671-3503.

But I need to back up one year for a notable event in 1924. In 1924, the Liniger family grew by one. When Paul and Estella’s son was born in 1924, Paul named him for his brother – Harry Allen Liniger. The future 384th Bomb Group waist gunner grew up in a circus family whose many acts included everything from clowning to acrobatics and more. But for all the shows the Liniger’s performed, Paul’s son Harry would perform the most death defying act of any of them.

As a waist gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber, Harry celebrated his twentieth birthday on 9 August 1944 participating in his third combat mission of World War II. He risked his life on a total of sixteen combat missions, avoiding injury from enemy fighters and the ground fire of the German flak guns, until seven weeks after that birthday mission. On 28 September 1944, after his bomber and another of the 384th collided 25,000 feet above Madgeburg, Germany, Harry was propelled from the B-17 in an explosion that threw him from the ship.

If Harry had any flashbacks from his family’s circus days, he may have felt like he had been shot out of a cannon and was flying through the air, but not with the greatest of ease, no trapeze, and without a net to catch him and break his fall. Fortunately for Harry, his chest chute functioned properly and delivered him safely to the ground, although the “safely” part ended rather abruptly when he was taken into custody as a prisoner of war upon landing.

More about Harry Liniger and his military training and World War II service in my next post…

Notes

Previous post, Harry Liniger, Waist Gunner for the Brodie Crew

Previous post, Harry Liniger – After the War

Previous post, Boarding a Train

Harry Allen Liniger’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

Harry Allen Liniger’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

Harry Liniger’s POW record in the online National Archives

The World War History and Art Museum website, page “The Circus Goes to War – Show Business and the Armed Forces of World War I.”

Circus World Archive Record Herald

Parkinson’s Directory of American Circuses, 1916-1925, Classic Circus History from the Circus Historical Society – Liniger Brothers listing

Classic Circus History from the Circus Historical Society – Liniger Brothers

© 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

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

“Sparks” Artist John Graham Forster

Last week, in a post about 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, I included a drawing of Harry titled “Sparks Liniger” that was drawn by J. G. Forster. I believe Forster was John Graham Forster, a fellow radio student of Harry’s at radio school at Scott Field, Illinois.

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

I believe “Sparks” was derived at radio school as a nickname for Liniger from the obsolete (today) type of radio equipment called a “spark-gap” transmitter which generated radio waves by means of an electric spark.

Liniger’s fellow radio student, John Graham Forster, did not serve in combat in the same bombardment group as Harry. While in training in the states, servicemen (and servicewomen) were transferred to various stations around the country for different phases of their training and most likely lost track of others they trained with over time.

Regardless of whether they stayed in touch or lost track of each other, Liniger thought enough of the drawing to save it and his son still has it almost eighty years after it was drawn.

It is easier to learn more about men who served in combat together if those historical records have been gathered and presented for future generations by a historical association. But finding someone who served with a relative in a training setting can be quite difficult. Generally, those types of records or lists don’t exist.

So since I have been able to identify the artist who drew Liniger as “Sparks,” I’m going to take the opportunity to look into where Forster came from and a little of his WWII history as it serves to illustrate the differences in the backgrounds of those who were brought together to fight a world war and the enormous movement of those personnel as part of the American war machine to various points across the globe.

I usually research and write about those who served in the Eighth Air Force in WWII, and mostly about the specific B-17 heavy bombardment group in which my father served, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). But there were many other divisions of the United States Air Forces serving in different parts of the world during WWII, and this is a good opportunity to introduce the subject, which I will write more about at a later date.

John Forster was a third generation American. He was named after his grandfather, John Graham Forster of St. Louis Parish, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather John immigrated to America at eighteen years old, settled in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and married and raised a family there. Grandson John was born there in 1922.

John Graham Forster, Senior Year photo from Waltham High School Yearbook

In the 1940 Waltham High School Yearbook, John’s Senior year, he noted his first ambition was to,

Go round the world and see our 48 states

He liked nice girls and baseball, planned to enter an art career, and was Art Manager of the Senior Play.

In 1942, John enlisted in the United States Air Corps. After his training, including his and Harry’s time at radio school, John was assigned to the 764th Bomb Squadron of the 461st Bomb Group.

But the 461st was stationed nowhere near Harry’s 8th Air Force base with the 384th in Grafton Underwood, England. In fact, the 461st was not even part of the 8th Air Force, but was instead part of the 49th Bombardment Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force. The 461st flew B-24 Liberators and the group was known as the “Liberaiders.”

The Fifteenth Air Force operated in the WWII Mediterranean Theater of Operations and mainly operated out of bases in southern Italy. The 461st was based at Torretto Field, about 12 km (about 7 1/2 miles) south of the town of Cerignola, Italy.

John Forster was assigned to the Carl J. Schultz crew as radio operator/gunner. The Schultz (#3-1) crew consisted of:

  • Carl J. Schultz, Pilot
  • William R. Baird, Co-Pilot
  • James R. Merkel, Navigator
  • Joshua Loring, Jr., Bombardier
  • John G. Forster, Radio Operator/Gunner
  • John W. Rice, Engineer/Gunner
  • William F. Sanders, Gunner
  • Glenn A. Sligar, Engineer/Gunner
  • Don R. Trail, Gunner
  • William R. Vaitkunas, Gunner

On 23 March 1945, John Forster participated in the 461st’s Mission 200 to bomb a high priority target, the Kagran Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. Thirteen of the 461st’s thirty aircraft were hit by flak over the target and the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

On this mission, William Baird was pilot of the unnamed B-24J 44-41091 with Dwight B. Olson serving as his co-pilot. Other original crew members included John Rice, Glenn Sligar, William Sanders, William Vaitkunas, and of course, John Forster. Substitutes, besides Olson, included Edward T. Wenslik as Bombardier, Richard C. Davis as Navigator, and Marlin R. Smith as Gunner.

At about the time of bombs away, the Number 2 engine of 44-41091 was hit by flak and knocked completely off the ship. They dropped back in the formation with a fire in the wing. Following an unsuccessful attempt to put out the fire, they lost altitude and dropped about 5,000 feet. Five chutes were seen to emerge before the plane went into a dive and exploded.

Davis, the Navigator of the crew, reported that he was reunited in the next few days with all of the crew except for Lt. Baird, the pilot. A German guard reported that Baird was found dead with an unopened chute some distance from the wreckage of the aircraft.

One of the crew wrote in his Individual Casualty Questionaire that,

Lt. Baird … went beyond the “call of duty” that day in fighting the ship to keep it from going into a spin, and then momentarily leveling it out with the trim tabs giving us all, the nine of us, time to jump.

With the exception of Baird, the entire crew was held prisoner of war at Moosburg, Stalag VIIA. All were liberated from Moosburg on 29 April 1945 and were taken to Camp Lucky Strike in La Harve, France to begin their journey back to America.

Forster did become an artist after the war. In the 1952 Waltham Massachusetts City Directory, he listed his occupation as artist. He married a nice girl and had seven children.

John Graham Forster died on 24 June 1982 at the age of 59 in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in Section 23-N, Lot 48-A.

I don’t know if he ever saw all of our “48 states” (or additionally Alaska and Hawaii), but he did see quite a bit of the world, including Italy, France, Austria, and Germany, and saw things he couldn’t imagine during high school from the radio room of a B-24.

Thank you to Chuck Parsonon, Admin of the 461st Bombardment Group’s Facebook group for providing me with information for this post.

Thank you to the folks running the 461st Bombardment Group website for the excellent information on the group and its service members you provide.

Sources

Last week’s post, Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

461st Bombardment Group on Facebook

461st Bombardment Group

15th Air Force

March 1945 Missions

23 March 1945 Mission

Missing Air Crew Report, MACR13190

Wikipedia: Spark-gap Transmitter

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

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

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

(Possibly) Robert Sumner Stearns

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

George McMann

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

Gordon Eugene Hetu
Photo courtesy of Anne Fisher via Ancestry.com

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