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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Both crews were originally made up of ten members.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

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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

The Replacements

Earlier this year (2015), I entered a Florida Writers Association contest. The top sixty entries would be published in the association’s annual collection of short stories. All of the stories would be based on the theme of revisions or starting over.

This is the story I wrote about my dad and how he restarted his life after WWII. My story, The Replacements, was selected as one of the top sixty and was published in the book, Florida Writers Association Collection 7: Revisions – Stories of Starting Over

The Replacements

by Cindy Farrar Bryan

 

In WWII, the Army Air Forces’ recruitment posters, pamphlets, and movie trailers seduced “average American boys from average American families” to join the service.  Two of those average American boys shared a desire to perform their patriotic duty from the air.

George Edwin (Ed) Farrar was the middle child of Carroll and Raleigh May Farrar’s brood of nine from Atlanta, Georgia.  Carroll Farrar owned a print shop until his health failed.  Very ill, he could no longer support his family.  Ed quit school after the tenth grade to replace report cards with paychecks.  Aside from his job servicing vending machines, Ed brought home a steady stream of winnings from Golden Gloves boxing matches.

John Oliver (Jay) Buslee was the second child and only son of John and Olga Buslee of Park Ridge, Illinois.  John Buslee was a partner in the Chicago firm Neumann, Buslee & Wolfe, Inc., self-described as “merchants, importers, and manufacturers of essential oils.”  On the road to a bright future, Jay studied for two years at the University of Wisconsin.

Though Ed’s and Jay’s lives had different starts and different expected futures, WWII brought them together.  They both enlisted in the Army Air Forces.  Ed began his military duty as an enlisted man and gunnery instructor.  Jay followed the path of an aviation cadet and future officer and embarked upon pilot training.

***

The Eighth Air Force waged a fierce air battle over Europe fighting the Nazis, with numerous losses of aircraft and bomber crew after bomber crew.  The American war machine constantly required new bombers and replacement crews to man the controls and guns of those bombers.

Ed’s and Jay’s paths crossed in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where they were selected to serve on a replacement crew and completed their final combat training.  They would man a B-17 heavy bomber with Jay as the pilot and Ed as a waist gunner.  In July 1944, Ed, Jay, and the rest of the “Buslee crew” were assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force to fly bombing missions over Germany out of Grafton Underwood, England.

For the Buslee crew, the reality that their combat training had become actual combat came quickly.  On their second mission on August 5th, their flying fortress, Tremblin’ Gremlin, was pounded by heavy flak.  They limped back to England with 106 holes in the fuselage; damage to the radio, brakes, and oxygen system; loss of two of the four engines; half the crew wounded; and a dying bombardier.

Their following missions throughout August and September were not as rough, but that changed on their sixteenth mission to Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944.  The Buslee crew manned the B-17 Lead Banana.  After dropping their bombs and coming off the target, their group was startled to find themselves on a crossing course with another group coming in.  Wallace Storey was piloting a B-17 behind and to the right of Lead Banana when “the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn” to avoid the oncoming group.

Storey saw the B-17 to his right, Lazy Daisy, slide toward him.  He responded quickly and “pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path.”  Moments after the near miss, he saw Lazy Daisy continue her slide and collide with Lead BananaLead Banana cracked in two, just past the ball turret.  Lazy Daisy’s wings “folded up and both planes fell in a fireball,” spinning into the clouds.

***

The boys’ families held out hope, and waited for news of their sons.  Three of the nine men aboard Lazy Daisy survived, but Ed Farrar was the only survivor of the Buslee crew’s nine aboard Lead Banana.  The Farrar family learned Ed was a prisoner of war on New Year’s Eve.  Near the end of January 1945, the Buslee family learned Jay died in the collision.

Ed sustained serious injuries in the collision.  He was unable to walk when confined in the Stalag Luft IV prison camp.  Only able to shuffle his feet at first, Ed eventually regained his mobility.

On February 6, 1945, the prisoners were marched westward out of the camp.  Known as the “Black March,” it began during one of Germany’s coldest winters on record, with blizzard conditions.  With very little food, the prisoners marched by day and slept in barns or out in the open at night, never knowing their intended fate.

On May 2, 1945, after eighty-six days and five hundred miles, the British liberated the column of men in which Ed Farrar marched.  The prisoners, described as walking skeletons, were returned to health before they were returned home.

***

Months later, Ed finally made it home.  By then, Ed’s own father was bedridden, but Jay’s father was eager to visit Ed to learn everything he could about the mid-air collision that killed his son.  John and Olga Buslee traveled to Atlanta to hear the news in person.  Before they returned to Park Ridge, John offered Ed a job as a salesman for his business.  Ed did not want to leave home so soon, but he accepted the offer and the opportunity to restart his life.

Ed moved into the Buslee home as Jay’s parents would not hear of him living anywhere else.  Ed helped fill the void left by their lost son, easing a small portion of the pain in their hearts.  John Buslee taught Ed sales skills and life skills and helped him return to the normalcy of civilian life.  Ed lived as the Buslee’s son and thrived under John Buslee’s tutelage.  He walked a new path toward the man he would become, and toward a success in life he would not have attained without John’s help.

***

Ed had two brothers who also fought in WWII, and he had not seen them since his return home from war.  He learned they would both be home for Christmas, and they arranged a reunion in Atlanta.  Ed was the last to arrive home, on December 16, and found that his father’s condition had worsened.  Carroll Farrar had delayed the business of dying until he could see his three boys together, home from war.  A few days after Ed’s arrival, his father was admitted to the hospital.  Carroll Farrar died on December 20, just five days before Christmas.

In January 1946, once again reluctant to leave his family, Ed returned north to the Buslee home.  As a man who had just lost his father, Ed was welcomed back by the man who a year earlier had lost his son.  A beloved father and a precious son could not be replaced, but Ed Farrar and John Buslee stepped into those roles for each other to help ease their shared sorrow.

Ed and John needed each other in a way neither would have expected before WWII.  They both traveled a new, unexpected path that would not have existed without the tragedy of war.  The war had ceased to wage over Europe, but the aftermath of war continued to wage deep within both men.  For Ed Farrar and John Buslee, WWII meant not only victory, but also loss, healing, learning to live with an altered version of the future, and starting over.

Note:  With many projects I must tackle before the end of the year, I am not able to devote the time to a weekly blog publication and the research that goes behind each post, so I will leave you with this as my last post of the year. Blog posts will resume in January. So for now, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – December 26, 1948

To review:  The Buslee’s had finally received their son’s ring after a very long wait.  A quest that had begun at the beginning of that year was finally complete.

Mr. B, who had done a great service for the Buslee’s, must not have realized how much the return of their son’s ring must have meant to the them.

December 26, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

First of all, the best wishes and regards. I just don’t know, how to start this letter and how to express our thanks and appreciation for your nice Xmas presents-!!! And I wish, too, if you just know how ashamed we are, because we did not send you the smallest present-!!! Please, dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, if you may, forgive us-! Once again thank you so much for me and my wife and PLEASE, Mrs. Buslee, don’t think a minute, you owe me anything-! If you would do that, I would be more ashamed, than I feel now-!!!

We hope, you have had a nice Xmas-of course, we know your sorrow-and we have been talking about you plenty, last two days. When I listen to the radio, to the nice Carrols and to the nice preaching last two days, I just think, how the world would be happy, if all the peoples in all the countries would be like you or Z’s family, families who are thousands of miles away from each other, but those thousands of miles don’t stop the nice feeling for each family. I don’t know, if you will understand that I try to tell you, but the way I mean it is, that over the radio, in the churches, they tell us, to love each other, but how many peoples, how many nations, put this in reality?-!

Once again, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, PLEASE never thank me again, because, it really was nothing what I did for you, and everybody would do that-! I stop all my mail to Czechoslovakia, because I hate to make somebody unhappy. Everybody in Czechoslovakia, who is writing letters to USA, is considered as a spy and reactionary. One of my friend, who came with Dr. Beneš from England and used to be his bodyguard commander in the Hradcany castle, -he was a Colonel-is now working in mines. He send me a letter through his friend, who is in Austria, that after the Communist took over, they came to his apartment, search everything and found some mail from me, in which I wrote the truth about the new red master. And now they are after my letters and open all my letters. Besides, I am writing anti-communist articles in Czech papers in USA, and they have me marked, and I would not dare, to go and see my dear mother in Czechoslovakia. I know, I never would return-! It is a terrible life in that unhappy country under the red masters. Brother don’t trust his own brother-! It’s an awful life-! God bless our good USA and all the good peoples, because this still is one spot on the earth, where, if we wish, can say, that we don’t like Mr. Truman, or any of his cabinet members. If somebody would say so in my old country, it would mean 10 Years in mines-!

Once again, we thank you so much for your nice presents, and believe me please, how ashamed I am, that I did not remember you-!

Sincerely yours:
Mr. and Mrs. B

Along with the ring, came the knowledge of details of the death of the Buslee’s son, John Oliver (Jay).  That year, 1948, must have been nearly as painful as 1944 and 1945, when Jay’s plane went down and the Buslee’s endured waiting for word and then finally learning of his death.  They could no longer hold their son, but now they could hold his ring.

ring-cropped

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – December 4, 1948

To review:  The American Embassy located the ring by September 23 and promised to send it to the Buslee’s.

The Buslee’s must have received the ring around November 17 or 18.  They were very prompt in reporting news about the ring and assuming they didn’t wait long to write to Mr. B and Z’s family, their letter of November 18 to Mr. B – as referenced in this letter – must have reported their receipt of the ring.  On November 23, Z’s family received their letter with the good news.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee,

Thank you for your letters, -one from Nov. 18, and one from Dec. 1., -and I am sorry, I did not answer your first at once. We thank you for your regards, dear Mrs. Buslee, which we cordially repeat for you and all your family.

I am happy, Mrs. Buslee, that you finally got that ring. Of course, it is damaged and even Z’s father in his letter try to explain why, as he write in his letter of Nov. 24, which I will try to translate for you. You must excuse all the errors I will make in the spelling, but the meaning will be the same. I mean the meaning of Z’s father’s letter. Well here it is:

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, Nov. 23, I have received your letter with its pleasant content, where you are informing us that you finally got the ring, which belonged to your son and for which you waited so long.

I can’t understand, why your military authorities waited so long and why they promised to me, they will deliver the ring in 21 days. But thanks God, that after 8 months you finally got the ring.

Dear Mrs. Buslee, war is a terrible thing, and it destroy everything and everybody without mercy. The damages of the stone in the ring is a witness, how terrible it is. The ring, as I do believe, is a witness, how terrible it was for the owner of the ring, who in the flames found his heroic death with the rest of the crew.

On the day of All Saints /this is a holiday in Czechoslovakia, when everybody goes to the cemetery to visit the graves of the dead, /I and my wife, we were in our thoughts with you and have thinking about you, how much sorrow you must have.

Now you have a chance, and hope, that your son will be returned to his fatherland and it will a bit relieve your sorrow, if you will be able to visit his grave. Please, excuse us, we did not answer your letter from Oct. 11, 1948. After the informations you gave us, we were looking for another letter, where you will tell us that finally you got the ring and it is so now.

My son Z finally got home from the army and now is working in Prague, where he is a baker. He was very surprised and it took such a long time for your Embassy to deliver the ring. But, after he remembered, how already in 1945 he tried to deliver the ring to the right family and failed and how finally with the help of Mr. B, this was made possible, he was pleased too.

Yours letters are full of thanks, faithfulness and we are happy, it was possible for us to do this little service for faraway family, which done so much for even us.

The package, which you mentioned in your letter, did not yet arrive, but we are sure it will bring plenty of joy to us-! Soon, as we will get it, we will let you know.

About my health; it’s not much good, but when better time will come, I hope to feel better. We have too much worry now, but we do hope, they will be gone with better times too.

We are very satisfied that the matter is finally closed and we are thanking you for all the regards and thanks which we repeat and remain with friendship, yours

Z’s Family

Well, Mrs. Buslee, I hope you will understand that translation and I just can’t think of all those high words in Czech, to put the exact words in the English words, but the meaning is the same.

They have a terrible time in Czechoslovakia now, the same like in 1939-44, when the Nazis were he masters of that country. But now it is still worse, because now their own peoples-the Czech Communists-trained in Russia, are the bloody masters-! Please, if you will write to Z, PLEASE, do NOT mention anything about the situation in that poor country, because, that could mean-and I am sure it would mean-very hard time for Z and his family. About three month ago, Z’s father send me a letter, but more than half of his letter was complete mess; the censor just used his pen so much, I didn’t now, what Z’s father is writing about.

Please, Mrs. Buslee, DON’T thank me for anything-! I am just happy you finally have the ring and it’s a shame, it took so long to get it from our own Embassy–!

Our daughter got married, but Mrs. Buslee, I am sorry to tell you, that we have No daughter-! She done something I NEVER expect she would do and we just have so much sorrow in our hearths-!! I hate New York-!!!!!

To you and all your family, our best wishes and we remain sincerely yours:

Mr. & Mrs. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – Undated

To review:  The ring, which should have arrived at the Buslee’s home by April 29, 1948, had vanished.

This letter from Z’s mother is undated and I have no way of knowing when it was written other than it must have been written between July and September based on references in the letter.

Dear Mrs. Buslee:

Before I go further with my letter, I am sending the best wishes to you and your family. Thanks once more for the lovely letter and the photos. Please excuse me that I have not written any sooner.

We were expecting a message from you folks that you received the ring, but so far we did not hear from you. I am sending also a few pictures. Out here in the country we are not very well prepared to take pictures as good as the folks in the city. When we are altogether again we will take a family group and send it to you.

We were hoping that our son would be home in June, but new developments made it impossible, and he will not be home before, if then, October. We will be very happy when the occasion comes that you folks could visit us, and also Mr. B. We would be very happy to have you in our home. We are sorry we do not speak English. My husband talks a little German, but not very much. We are thinking of you every day and every time the mailman appears we are looking for a letter from America.

We were thinking we were doing the right thing and sending it the safest way, but as it turned out, it was not safe at all. We realize that you folks are anxious to get the ring, but there is nothing in our power for us to do so you can get it sooner. When my husband came back from Prague we were very happy because they promised you folks would get the ring in 21 days.

Mrs. Buslee, you are asking me how many children we have. The oldest 24 and the youngest 21. [Two other sons besides Z.] Both are healthy and good boys and the oldest one has learned pastry making. The youngest one goes to electrical engineering school. I am plenty busy to get the washing, etc. ready when they are home. We also have with us my oldest sister and my husband being sick needs good food, so we are raising quite a bit of poultry on our little farm and we are enjoying the living in the country. It is very nice and all we hope for is final settlement and peace. I have written you about our family and do not want to bother you any more with a longer letter. We all are happy to get letters from you any time you find a little time. Write to us.

With best regards, Z’s Mother and Family

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – August 25, 1948

To review:  In his last letter, Z’s father reported that he had sent the ring on April 8, 1948 and that the Buslee’s should receive it within three weeks – by April 29.

Almost four months later, the ring had still not arrived.  While the Buslee’s were wondering what had happened to the ring, Z’s family and Mr. B were confused as to why the Buslee’s had not given them any good news and thanks for sending the ring.

Richmond, Texas, Aug. 25, -48

Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee,
Park Ridge, ILL.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

Please, forgive me, that I am writing to you, but I have just received a letter from Z’s father and it is a very sad letter. Well, Z’s father would like to know, if you have received the ring, which belonged to you beloved son John.

Enclosed you will find a Confirmation, which Z’s father, after he gave the ring to the American Military Attaché, received from the American Embassy in Prague, dated April 8, 1948.

It read, that The Office of the Military Attaché received the ring from Z’s father, to be delivered to the family of Lt. John O. Buslee. That prove, Z’s father delivered the ring to the Attaché.

I wonder, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, why didn’t you write to Z’s father, that you have the ring, so he would be sure, that his service and his trouble, was not useless-!!!

I send to Z’s family two CARE packages, because I know, how happy they were, to do this service for us and because I know, it was a very expensive trip for him, going to Prague with the ring. But, all he would like to know, is, if you received the ring which belonged to you beloved son. If not, please return enclosed letter from the Military Attaché, and I will send it to Z’s father at once, so he can investigate, why the ring was not send to you.

I do hope, you will understand, why I am writing to you, because I just feel sorry for Z’s family.

With best wishes I am yours:
Mr. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – April 17, 1948

To review:  After Z recounted his experience of witnessing the crash of Lead Banana, his father wrote a letter to the Buslee’s detailing the event.

Z’s father wrote again very soon with more news about the ring.

Richmond, Texas, April 17, -48

Dear Mr. Buslee-:

Here is the translation of Z’s father’s letter, but please kindly correct all the errors in spelling-!

* * *

Prague, 4-8-1948

Esteemed Mr. Buslee :

I am informing you, that to-day, that is 4-8-1948, I have send the ring, which belonged to your son. It will be send to you by the Military Attaché of the US Embassy in Prague. I gave the ring personally to him and he thank me very nicely. Now I have only one wish, that is, you get the ring, which belonged to your beloved son.

After the information from the Military Attaché, you will have the ring in 3 weeks and please, after you will receive it, let me know.

I wish to tell Mr. B about this too, but I forgot his address at the office of the Attaché and will write to him soon, as I get home.

Please be sure, how happy I am, that with the help of Mr. B I was able to do this for you.

With respect:

Z’s Father,

Czechoslovakia

* * *

Well, Mr. Buslee, I am sure you will have the ring in next 2 weeks, and I too, just like Z’s father, will be very—very happy-!

Yes, it is hot here in Texas, but you just get use of it, but I tell you, Mr. Buslee, if I would be in Chicago only one winter, I guess I would freeze to death-! For three years, our daughter – she try to get us to New York, but I am afraid the winter would kill me. She told me lately, “daddy, I will find a little home and Shoe Shop for sale, /I have a Shoe Shop here/ and you must move to New York-! But we still don’t like the idea-! You know, the winter here is very mild. July, August and September, well, this three months are “no good”,-too hot, but the nine months of the year, just fine-! The only trouble I have here, is my Arthritis, which tortures me for long time, and the climate is no good for this kind of trouble, because it is here very low. Next July we are planning going to Hot Springs, Ark., and I hope to cure that “so and so”-Arthritis-!

If we ever will travel to New York to see our daughter, we will go via Chicago and see you, Mr. Buslee. And if you ever will travel to the South, please, do not forget Richmond-!!!!

Sincerely yours:

Mr. B

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – April 12, 1948

To review:  On March 26, Mr. B sent a translated letter to the Buslee’s explaining that it would be possible for the finder of their son’s ring to send it to them from Czechoslovakia.

In a follow-up letter, Z’s father explains that his son was home on a short visit and told of the crash of the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  In a previous letter, Z identified the date of the crash as September 22, and in this letter as September 24.

Richmond, Texas, April 12, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

Thank you for your nice letter Mrs. Buslee and please, forgive me, it took me two days to answer your letter. First, here is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. Please kindly correct those words, they are written in “my” English, that mean, there is plenty of errors in spelling, but, I do hope, you will understand-!

Esteemed Mr. Buslee,

In addition to my first letter, I am informing you, that my son Z came home on very short visit and was unable to answer your letter and asked me, to do so for him and to tell you about the plane in which your dear son found his death.

First I have to state, that the ring really belong to your son, Mr. Lt. John O. Buslee and the No. 0-764209 is correct-! His name is engraved inside the ring and no doubt everything is correct-! /Here Z’s father means, that I found the right kins./

My son Z left the ring here with me and now I am waiting for your directions how to send the ring to you, or I will take care of this myself and send it. Mr. B, who helped us to find you has told us, that he suggested to you, to ask the Amer. Consul, who would take care of it. /I told Z’s father in last letter, if he is SURE, he can send the ring direct to you, Air Mail-Registered, it would be the best way, but, he MUST be SURE, that the Czechoslovak authorities would let him send the ring-!/

And now to the unfortunate death of your son, my son Z stated this:

On Sept. 24, /Sunday/ about 14 hours, /That is 2 P.M./ came a swarm of bombing US planes and the direction was Magdeburg in Germany. One plane was separated from the swarm and the way it looks, damaged. Finally after a while, the plane came down in flames near the village. My son, who have been in Germany on forced labor in lager close to village, went to the scene and came there sooner before the German authorities did. The plane was burned, motor deep in the ground and the way it looks, everybody in the plane was dead and burned, too, because there was no sign of any body of the dead flyers. Because the place, where the plane came down, is out of populated places, it is not possible, that the flyers, dead or injured, have been removed, before Z and his friends came to the wreckage of the burned plane. The very next day, Sept. 25, 1944, my son and his two friends, one Czech and One Frenchman, went to the place again and in the ruins they were looking for some souvenirs. My son found the ring, and at first he thought, he found some little part of the instruments of the plane. But after cleaning the little thing from all the sticky material on it, he find out it is a ring, which must belong to one of the dead flyers. Then he found the name, the serial number and the engraved Emblem of the USA. The stone – the color of the stone – is damaged by flames and it is not possible to tell the original color of the stone.

After Z came home from Germany, in Dec. 1944, he hide all the things he found in the burned plane, it was some papers and some money besides the ring, and after the liberation in 1945 he went to the Amer. Consul in Prague, /I will return to this point of Z’s father’s letter-!/where he told them all he know about the plane and asked them to find out the kins of the flyer, so he can send them the ring. They kept the half-burned papers and money, but asked Z to keep the ring till they find out the family of the flyer.

With the help and kindness of Mr. B it will be possible for my son, to return the ring to you, and it will be a great honor for me, to return this memory-ring-which belonged to your heroic son.

Please, forgive my son Z for not writing to you, but he is in service now, and is changing place very often. /Here Z’s father can’t say, where his son is stationed-! /I will be happy to answer all your questions and please, do not bother yourself about the expense with sending the ring-! It will be only a happiness for us to deliver to you the ring, which, we know, will be treasured by you.

My son have only one wish to you and that is, if you would be so kind and send him a picture of your son, which he would be happy to have as a memory for unknown hero and which would be the only reward he is asking for; that would be the best reward for the safekeeping of the ring-!

And now I have only one wish and that is, to deliver the ring to you soon as possible, because I know, how it would and will be treasured by you-!

I am looking forward to your instruction and your decision how to send the ring.

Yours: Z’s Father,

So that is the translation of Z’s father’s letter. And now, dear Mrs. Buslee, let me tell you, that you DO NOT bother me and please, do not mention this again-!!! You don’t know, how happy I will be, after you will send me a letter, that you have the ring-! And I do hope, it will be soon. Z’s father in his letter to me last week told me, he believes, you will have the ring in hand in the second half of April. A pray for this-!!! I made the suggestion to you and to Z’s father too, that it would be the best way to send the ring to the Amer. Consul General in Prague, but after the information, which Z’s father gave me about those things his son have to the Consul in 1945, I believe it would be the best send the ring direct to you. I told Z’s father to go to the Czech authorities and explain them what it is all about and I am sure, they would let him send it direct. I would not care, to write direct to President Beneš and I am sorry Jan Masaryk is dead-! If I would write to him, he sure would fix it up and the ring would be here in 10 days-!!

PLEASE, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, DO NOT send any money to Z’s family-! You know, they have plenty of money in Czechoslovakia, but—they can’t buy nothing for it, because, there is nothing to buy. The boy, Z, he is a Philatelist-stamp collector-and I already send him US stamps about 20 dollars worth and I send him about 40 beautiful “First Day of Issue” covers and he is very happy about them. All Z is asking you is a picture of your son John. And you, dear Mrs. Buslee, in letter to me, are promising the picture not only to Z’s family but to us too. Please, believe me, we sure will be happy to have one too.! So please, DO NOT send any money to Z’s family, but, if you really would like to send something to make those people happy, I will give you a suggestion, but after you will have the ring-!!! You know, piece of cloth or pair of stockings, that’s something, which they can’t buy for no money and how happy they would be- ! But—only after you will have the ring, then we will discuss it further-! Once again I am asking you PLEASE, do not mention any bothering, Mrs. Buslee and we too hope, we meet some time. In case you came to the South, please do not forget Richmond and the B’s-! Sincerely yours: Mr. B

The next day, Mr. B wrote a quick note to the Buslee’s with some information he forgot to include in the previous day’s letter.

Richmond, Tex., 4-13-48.

Dear Mrs. Buslee-:

By translating Z’s father’s letter, I forget to tell you that the time when the plane came down, is given in CET /Central European time/ that mean, if the plane came down 14 hours /2 P.M./CET, that would be 7 A.M, CST, or 8. A.M, EST.

Sincerely yours:
Mr. B

The time of day of the mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana noted on Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 9753 was 12:11 p.m. – just after noon.  I assume this would have been the time of day at the Grafton Underwood air base.  I believe there is an hour time difference between Grafton Underwood, England and Magdeburg, Germany.

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015