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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Both crews were originally made up of ten members.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

Veronica Brodie

James Joseph Brodie, the pilot of the Lazy Daisy who lost his life on September 28, 1944, had a brother named Francis and two sisters, Veronica and Mary.  James was the youngest child in the family.  Veronica was three years older than James, Mary was ten years older, and Francis was twelve years older.  With such a wide difference in ages between the two older children and the two younger ones, Veronica was probably closer to James than Mary and Francis.  It would be Veronica who felt the loss of her brother more deeply and took steps to find where he had been buried.

War Department
Office of the Quartermaster General
Washington 25, D.C.

23 June 1947

QMGMF 29
Brodie, James J.
S.N. 01 012 186

Address Reply To
THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL
Attention: Memorial Division

Miss Veronica Brodie
c/o Ginn and Company
2301-2311 Prairie Avenue
Chicago 16, Illinois

Dear Miss Brodie:

I have received your letter concerning your brother, the late First Lieutenant James J. Brodie.

The official Report of Burial discloses that the remains of your brother were interred in Plot R, Row 9, Grave 220, in the United States Military Cemetery Margraten, Holland, located ten miles west of Aachen, Germany.

Please accept my sincere sympathy in the loss of your brother.

Sincerely yours,
RICHARD B. COOMBS
Major, QMC
Memorial Division

Today, cemetery records show that James Brodie is buried in the cemetery’s Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

James Joseph Brodie

James Joseph Brodie

James Joseph Brodie

James Joseph Brodie, the pilot of Lazy Daisy, which was involved in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision with Lead Banana, piloted by John Oliver (Jay) Buslee of Park Ridge, Illinois, was also a Chicago boy.  James was born on November 14, 1917 to Michael and Mary Golden Brodie.  Both parents, Michael and Mary, were born in Ireland.  James was the youngest in the family and had a brother, Francis, and two sisters, Veronica and Mary.  While Veronica was only three years older than James, Mary was ten years older, and Francis twelve years older.  All the Brodie children were born in Illinois.

In the early days, the Brodie family lived in Antioch, Illinois, where the children attended Antioch High school.  In the late 1930’s, the family moved to Chicago when their father was offered a job in a large electrical company. They lived in the two flat on North Kostner Avenue in Chicago until 1963.  James continued his education at University of Illinois, completing four years of college.

As a young man, James planned to be a priest and enter the seminary.  He shocked the entire family when one day he announced he was joining the military.

James Joseph Brodie

James Joseph Brodie

James entered the service from Illinois, enlisting in the Army Air Corps on July 11, 1941.  His path was probably very similar to Jay Buslee’s through the pilot training program.  James probably earned his wings about the same time as Buslee, on January 7, 1944.  Jay had a short furlough after earning his wings, and Brodie probably did, too, taking this time to marry Miss Mary Elizabeth Clarke on January 10, 1944 before heading to transition pilot training.

Both Brodie and Buslee were assigned to serve with the 384th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force at Grafton Underwood , but while Jay Buslee was assigned to the 544th Squadron, James Brodie was assigned to the 545th.  Both James and Jay flew their first combat missions on August 4, 1944, and both flew only two training missions as co-pilot before piloting their own forts with their own crews.

I don’t know if Jay Buslee and James Brodie ever crossed paths in their similar military careers before – anywhere from training in the states to on base at Grafton Underwood, or in any of the local pubs in town – but their lives both ended within moments of each other as their two flying fortresses, Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, collided over the skies of Magdeburg, Germany at ten minutes past noon on September 28, 1944.

Not long before James lost his life in the mid-air collision, his wife, Mary, gave birth to a son.  Soon after the family was notified of James’s death, which wasn’t until July 1945, his wife and son vanished and stopped communicating with the Brodie family.

Mary Elizabeth Clarke was born on January 20, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois.  She attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Mary Elizabeth Clarke, Northwestern Illinois yearbook "Syllabus", 1943, Education School, Alpha Chi Omega

Mary Elizabeth Clarke, Northwestern Illinois yearbook “Syllabus”, 1943, Education School, Alpha Chi Omega

Mary died at the age of 82 on December 18, 2005 in Rochester, Minnesota.  According to her obituary, she had gotten married again the year after James was declared killed in action on October 27, 1946.  Her married name at the time of her death was Mary Elizabeth Wagner.  Her obituary also indicates that James and Mary’s son, who was born around the time of the mid-air collision had died in infancy.

James Joseph Brodie is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands in Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4.  He was awarded the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.

Thank you to Larry Miller, great-nephew of James Joseph Brodie, for providing photos and information for this post.  Also thank you to Buslee crew NexGen, Derral Bryant, an ace researcher, for finding and providing dates and other details for this post.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014