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The Bombardier in the Buslee Crew Photo

Five years ago, in February 2017, I posed a question to my readers. Do you think the bombardier in the John Buslee crew photo is Marvin Fryden or James Davis? I am referring to the airman standing in the back row on the far right.

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

Marvin Fryden was the John Buslee crew’s original bombardier. Fryden was killed on his second mission on 5 August 1944 aboard the B-17 Tremblin’ Gremlin by a burst of flak. James Buford Davis replaced Fryden as the Buslee crew’s bombardier on 9 August 1944.

On the back of the Buslee crew photo that I have, the man standing on the far right is identified as James Davis. I have always questioned the accuracy of that identification. I have always believed that the bombardier in the photo is Fryden.

I have positive identifications of the remaining members of the crew in the photo. These are the identifications provided on the back of the photo in my mother’s handwriting.

Back row, left to right:
• 2Lt. John Oliver Buslee, Pilot, from Park Ridge, Illinois
• 2Lt. David Franklin Albrecht, Co-Pilot, from Chico, California
• 2Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, Navigator, from Toledo, Ohio
• 2Lt. James B. Davis, Bombardier, from New Castle, Indiana

Front row, left to right:
• Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, Ball Turret Gunner, from Elmira, New York
• Sgt. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner, from Brooklyn, New York
• Cpl. Lenard Leroy Bryant, Waist Gunner, from Lubbock, Texas
• Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, from Halsey, Nebraska
• S/Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, Tail Gunner, from Detroit, Michigan
• Sgt. George Edwin Farrar, Waist Gunner, from Atlanta, Georgia, (my dad)

I have been able to verify through other photographs of these men that those identifications are accurate. I only questioned the identification of Davis as the bombardier and hoped I could eventually determine if that identification is accurate as well.

Unfortunately, at the time I was attempting to analyze the faces in the photo, I only had a photo of James Davis, no photo of Marvin Fryden. On my visit to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in October 2016, I found this photo of James Buford Davis in uniform in his Army Air Forces personnel file.

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

To my eye, when comparing the photo of Davis to the bombardier in the crew photo, I could not determine that the airman in the crew photo was Davis, and so concluded that it was Fryden. But I still felt a great deal of uncertainty without a photo of Fryden to use for the comparison.

James Davis on the left. Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

James Davis on the left. Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

I had another reason to believe Fryden was in the photo. I believed that James Davis would not have appeared in a Buslee crew photo that also included Clarence Burdell Seeley.

James Davis did not join the Buslee crew until the 9 August 1944 mission and would not have appeared in a crew photo until, at least, he had been named as the bombardier replacement for their crew. So James Davis would not be in a Buslee crew photo on or before 5 August, when Marvin Fryden was killed. Add to that, Clarence Burdell Seeley looks very healthy in the crew photo, not what I would expect after 5 August 1944.

On the 5 August 1944 mission in which Marvin Fryden was killed, the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence Burdell Seeley was hit by flak and seriously injured. A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. He was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment and was hospitalized there for 35 days.

The 65th General Hospital was at Redgrave Park in Suffolk County, England. Redgrave Park is about 85 miles/137 km from Grafton Underwood, home of the 384th Bomb Group. During his period of hospitalization, Seeley would not have been in the Grafton Underwood area for a crew photograph.

Back in 2017, I enlisted 384th Bomb Group Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson in my research and he speculated that,

I suspect the 65th General Hospital was the general hospital closest to the field (Halesworth, Station 365) that they [the Buslee crew] landed at upon return from the [5 August 1944] mission. Once he [Seeley] was ambulatory and it was determined that he would possibly recover well enough to go back on flight status, I imagine he would be returned to GU [the 384th’s base at Grafton Underwood] for convalescence and evaluation by the squadron flight surgeon.

If I recall correctly, five years ago Keith believed the bombardier in the photo to be Davis and believed the photo was taken at Grafton Underwood. At the time, I was under the assumption that the photo was a photo of the original crew taken at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the end of their crew training before they left the States for England.

In the past few years, I have found more information in the records of the 384th Bomb Group which provides more detail about the timeline of Seeley’s hospitalization and recovery period.

According to military records, on 13 August 1944, Seeley was moved from the 65th General Hospital to the 4209 U.S. Army Hospital Plant, APO 587. APO (Army Post Office) 587 was located at Knettishall, England, which was about 5.5 miles/8.8 km from the 65th General Hospital at Redgrave Park, still far from Grafton Underwood.

But on 11 September 1944, Seeley went from absent sick (LD) 65th General Hospital to duty. Even though he would not return to flight duty until Mission 203 on 2 October 1944 (four days after the Buslee crew went MIA on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg, Germany), Seeley was likely back at Grafton Underwood on or shortly after 11 September.

Now I see a window of opportunity for the Buslee crew photo to include both James Davis and Clarence Seeley that I did not previously see. The crew photo could have been taken sometime during this period between 11 and 28 September. That is the only way I can see both James Davis and a healthy Clarence Burdell Seeley appearing in the same photo.

Sounds like the issue of all the parties being available at the same time for a photo op between 11 and 28 September 1944 works out fine, right? Not so fast. I also discovered that ball turret gunner Erwin Foster was out on sick leave at the 303rd Station Hospital at Thrapston between 10 and 26 September. And tail gunner Eugene Lucynski went MIA with another crew on 19 September, bailing out of Tremblin’ Gremlin over Belgium. He was injured and hospitalized at an unknown location reportedly until 10 November.

Thrapston was only about 5.5 miles/9 km from Grafton Underwood. So I see a possibility that Foster was still close by, maybe even still at Grafton Underwood and being treated on an outpatient basis. If he was on base or able to travel to the base long enough for a photo, perhaps the crew photo was taken during a narrower window of between 11 and 18 September 1944. By 19 September, Lucynski would not have been in the photo.

And recently my other issue – that I had no photo of Marvin Fryden for comparison purposes – was also resolved. Ash Samet, Marvin Fryden’s widow’s grandson (of Marilyn’s second marriage to Jerome Samet), contacted me just a few weeks ago and sent me a portrait of Marilyn and Marvin Fryden. The grandson’s name is Ash Samet. Ash is a computer graphics artist.

Marvin Fryden, bombardier of the John Buslee crew, 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bomb Squadron
Photo courtesy of Ash Samet

I ran the question by him of who he thinks the bombardier in the Buslee crew photo is – Fryden or Davis – and he created this very elaborate comparison of the facial features of both Davis and Fryden to the bombardier in the crew photo.

Photo analysis of Buslee crew photo with comparison to photos of Marvin Fryden and James Davis
Created by Ash Samet, Marilyn Fryden’s grandson and computer graphics artist

If you click the comparison graphic, then click again to enlarge, you can review the detailed comparison that Ash performed. I am going to note Ash’s findings here, too, but please keep in mind, this is Ash Samet’s work and Ash’s words, and I credit Ash Samet fully with this expert analysis.

Ears

One of the first things I notice between the pictures are their ear-shapes! The greyscale photo has an almost angular feel to it, matching James, where Marvin’s ears (for lack of a better word) are almost bean-shaped. Silhouette aside, the greyscale image has an attached earlobe, like James, where Marvin’s earlobes are detached.

Eyes

It’s hard to see since it’s in shadow, but I thought it was interesting how James’s eyelid falls so low that it’s almost giving the appearance of a monolid, where Marvin has a definitively double eyelid. The greyscale image is squinting, but since the brows are lower/not raised, the skin above the eye isn’t being stretched. If he had a double eyelid as defined as Marvin’s, it would be more exaggerated as the folds compress with a squint!

Lips

Another landmark I notice between these pictures is the lips- Marvin has very full lips, and while they could pull to be thinner in a smile/squint, I’d estimate the corners of his mouth would have to reach more towards aligning with the outsides of his eyes. The middle photo’s mouth is pulled slightly wider, but still close enough to a neutral position that I’d say the lip thickness matches James more!

Mouth

James’ mouth also has more of a natural curl at the corners, which is accentuated by the expression in the middle photo.

Smile-lines

A more subtle detail in the photo is the “smile-lines” look very angular- even seeming to make a diamond-shape! Though the left picture of James is a neutral expression, you can see a natural indent that looks similar.

Based on the fat distribution on Marvin’s face, I’d imagine if his mouth pulled wider he’d show dimples.

Nose

The picture of James has a nose with noticeably round features matching the greyscale photo more closely than the picture of Marv, but aside from that, it looks like the eye-to-nose proportions of Marv’s nose is longer than the other images.

Eyebrows

Also a minor detail that’s harder to see- but the eyebrows of the greyscale image seem to reach much closer to the middle of the face than Marv’s- it could possibly be shadow, but they’re dark enough that I’d wager the actual hair itself is darker than Marvin’s!

Well, that kind of does it for me. Ash Samet has me convinced. I’m going with identification of the bombardier in the Buslee crew photo being James Buford Davis.

Keith Ellefson was trying to lead me down that road, but I resisted. I was so convinced that the Buslee crew photo was taken in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where the crew performed their final training. But Keith said, no, the background looks more like England than Oklahoma. To me, if the location was Ardmore, it had to be Fryden in the picture. I wanted to believe it was Oklahoma and I wanted to believe it was Fryden.

And Keith thought the bombardier looked like Davis, too. I should have listened. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that the crew photo may not have been taken before the crew’s first mission with all ten original crew members. I took the wrong road. I took the scenic route instead, leading me about five years in the wrong direction. Sorry for not listening to you five years ago, Keith. And thank you Ash Samet for taking me by the hand and showing me the proper path step by step to the correct identification of James Buford Davis, the airman, the bombardier, in the photo.

Sources/Notes

Previous post, Davis or Fryden?

Previous post, A Photo of Marvin Fryden, Bombardier of the Buslee Crew

Previous post, August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Transcription

Numerical Listing of APO’s January 1942 to November 1947

65th General Hospital

Notes about the 65th General Hospital link: the American Air Museum in Britain website will be down from 30 June 2022 until September 2022 for reconstruction. A notice on their site reads:

The American Air Museum archive is temporarily closing for reconstruction. We are working on a site-wide upgrade which will be completed in September  2022. To allow the American Air Museum team time to process the database, we will be stopping crowdsourced contributions from 30 June 2022. This means that from 30 June 2022 you will not be able to search, add or edit information in the American Air Museum archive. You can find out more about our plans here.

Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group. Thanks to Keith, also, for his superb research, analysis, and advice, and thank you to Ash Samet for providing me with the photo of Marvin Fryden and his photo analysis.

Except for the work – image, graphics, and text – of Ash Samet, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022

Davis or Fryden?

The John Buslee crew’s original bombardier was Marvin Fryden. Fryden was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 by a burst of flak aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin. James Davis replaced Fryden as the Buslee crew’s bombardier. In the original Buslee crew photo that I have, the man standing on the far right is identified as James Davis. I have always questioned the accuracy of that identification. I have always believed that the bombardier in the photo is Fryden.

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

On my visit to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis last October, I found a picture of James Buford Davis in uniform.

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

I feel more certain now that the photo of the Buslee crew actually includes Marvin Fryden rather than Davis.

James Davis on the left.  Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

James Davis on the left. Davis or Marvin Fryden on the right?

Agree or disagree? I would love some feedback.

© 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 Family of Marvin Fryden

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force. On August 5, 1944, on his second mission as bombardier with the Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, Marvin was mortally wounded. To read more about that mission, click here.

A little research into Ancestry.com turned up some information on his family, but not anything new about Marvin himself.

Marvin’s parents were Harry and Sylvia Kaplan Frydyn. The Frydyn’s were Jewish. They were originally from Radom which was considered part of Poland or Russia, depending on the year. Radom is located about sixty miles south of Warsaw. Both Harry and Sylvia’s parents were also from the same area. (See note below).

Harry Frydyn was born on February 15, 1889 in Radom. According to US Naturalization Records, he immigrated to the United States from Russia on November 13, 1907 around the age of 18.

The 1910 census recorded Harry as “Harry Freiden,” from Russia Pol, with both parents from Russia Pol. It confirms that Harry immigrated in 1907. His native tongue was Polish. He was a presser in a tailor shop. At the time, he would have been twenty-one years old and was a boarder living with Jake and Eva Dekalsky. His age and residential status as a border leads me to believe that he immigrated to America without his parents, but I find no documentation to support the theory. [The 1910 census instructed: if foreign born, give country.]

On March 5, 1914, according to Harry’s immigration and naturalization record, he became a naturalized citizen.

Sylvia Kaplan Frydyn was born in 1898 in Bialastok, Poland. She immigrated to the United States in either 1910 (according to the 1920 census) or 1914 (according to the 1930 census).

On June 5, 1917, Harry registered for the WWI draft. He would have been twenty-eight years old. His draft registration card shows he lived at 2343 W. Iowa St., Chicago. He was a naturalized citizen from Radom, Russia. He was a presser for S. Shapiro at 1315 Milwaukee Avenue. He was Jewish and single. He noted that he had no previous military service. He claimed an exemption from the draft due to defective eyes. He described himself as 5’8″, of slender build, brown eyes, brown hair, and slightly bald. I see no record of Harry having served in WWI.

Harry and Sylvia were married on December 8, 1919 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

The 1920 census recorded Harry and Sylvia “Frydyn” living at 3238 Augusta Street, Chicago, Ward 15 as borders of David and Rose Rosenberg and their son Jerome. Although the record states that the Rosenbergs immigrated in 1907, it states that Harry and Sylvia both immigrated in 1910, Harry was naturalized in 1916, and Sylvia in 1919. It shows both Harry and Sylvia’s birthplace as Russia and native tongue as Yiddish, and the same for both sets of their parents. Harry was a tailor in a tailor shop. David Rosenberg was also a tailor. [The 1920 census instructed: if foreign born, give the place of birth and, in addition, the mother tongue.]

Harry and Sylvia had three children in the 1920’s. Their first child, Marvin, was born on January 8, 1921 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. On May 20 or 21, 1925, they were blessed with a second son, Marshall. But sadly Marshall only lived to the age of five and a half months, dying on November 4, 1925. The next year, the Frydyn’s third child came along. Florence was born on October 16, 1926.

The 1930 census recorded Harry (39), Sylvia (31), Marvin (9) and Florence (3) renting a home at 2652 W. Potomac Avenue, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Living with them was Sylvia’s sister Lilly (25). The census noted that both Harry and Sylvia were from Poland and both sets of their parents were from Poland. Their native language was Jewish. It states Harry immigrated in 1910 and Sylvia immigrated in 1914. Harry was a tailor in a clothing factory. Lilly was an operator in a clothing factory. Lilly had immigrated to the U.S. in 1927. Sylvia did not work outside the home. [The 1930 census instructed: if foreign born, give country in which birthplace is now situated.]

The 1940 census recorded the Frydyn family still residing at 2652 W. Potomac Avenue in Chicago. Harry (50) worked as a dress presser for a dress company. Sylvia (42) did not work outside the home. Marvin (19) worked as a salesman at Hyraces Silk Manufacturers and had had one year of college. Florence (13) was a student. The 1940 census record also states that Harry and Sylvia were both born in Poland. [The 1940 census instructed: if foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937.]

On January 13, 1942, Marvin enlisted in the Army Air Corps. An aviation cadet, his enlistment record shows that he had completed two years of college, was 5’9″ tall, weighted 126 pounds, worked as a laboratory technician or assistant, and was single with no dependents. His enlistment record spells his name “Fryden,” although only two years earlier, he was listed on the 1940 census as “Frydyn.”

In 1942, Harry also had to register for the WWII draft. His registration card shows he was born in Radom, Poland and lived at 6719 Lakewood, Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. He worked for Johara, Inc. at 325 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Sometime in 1942, Marvin married Marilyn Ash. Marilyn was born on October 26, 1925. Their marriage license states that Marilyn was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and that she and Marvin married in Bernalillo, New Mexico. Marvin would have been twenty-one years old, but Marilyn would have only been about sixteen or seventeen when they married. Although she stated that she was born in Albuquerque, records on Ancestry.com lead me to believe that it’s possible that Marilyn was born and raised in the Chicago area, which would indicate that Marvin and Marilyn knew each other before he entered the service. Marvin and Marilyn had had only two years of married life together when Marvin died on August 5, 1944. At the time of Marvin’s death, Marilyn was only eighteen years old. You can read more about Marilyn and her love for Marvin here.

Marvin Fryden is buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in Cambridge, England, Plot E, Row 2, Grave 4. He earned a purple heart, American Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.

Marvin’s mother, Sylvia, died on July 8, 1952, and his father, Harry, died in January 1967. Marvin’s wife, Marilyn – who had remarried and whose last name had become Samet – died on November 7, 2013 in Cary, North Carolina.

Correction:  Marvin Fryden did not have a middle name/initial. I originally thought he had a middle initial of “B” and have recorded his name improperly in the past. I am correcting the error here, but may not be able to make the change in all places, for example in his Category Name.

Note:  I hope to delve a little deeper into the history of Radom with some more research and make it the subject of next week’s post.  Update:  I will cover Radom the week after Thanksgiving. Update 2: Researching the history of Radom is more complicated than I anticipated. I’ll have to put off that post until I have more time to cover the subject properly.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

More Information About James B. Davis

I previously wrote about James B. Davis, the second bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squad of the 384th Bomb Group stationed at Grafton Underwood Airfield in England. Click here for the previous article.

I have found some more information about him before and after his WWII years that I’d like to share.

James Buford Davis was born on October 5, 1921 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana to Charles Raymond (1891 – 1986) and Bessie “Bess” Millican (1893 – 1981) Davis. Charles Raymond, who went by the name “Ray,” named his son after his own father. He and Bess lived in Crofton, Christian County, Kentucky in 1920 and he was a farmer. But by the time son James was born, the family had moved to Indiana.

In 1930, the Davis family lived at 356 South 14th Street in the Fifth Ward of New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. Ray was thirty-nine years old and Bess was thirty-six. Ray had been born in Kentucky and both of his parents were from Kentucky. Bess was born in Indiana. Her father was from Indiana and her mother was from Kentucky. James was eight years old at the time of the 1930 census. He had a younger brother Charles R., age five, and a younger sister Evelyn Joy, age four. Ray was employed as a commercial paint salesman.

In 1940, the family had moved to 1216 Woodlawn Drive, but still lived in New Castle. Ray was still working as a salesman for a paint company. James was now eighteen years old, and had another brother Neel D. Davis, who was nine.

James graduated from New Castle Chrysler High School with the Class of 1940. The school’s Rosennial Yearbook of 1940 pictured James with the caption “Hi-Y Student Manager.”

James Buford Davis Senior High School Photo

James Buford Davis Senior High School Photo

The code of the sixty Hi-Y boys of New Castle High School was “clean speech, clean living, and clean scholarship.” All boys of good character who desired membership were eligible to join.

After high school, James attended college for two years before enlisting in the Air Corps on July 21, 1942 at Bowman Field, Louisville, Kentucky. As I’ve covered James’s WWII career here, I won’t cover it again. While serving with the 384th Bomb Group, James received 3 bronze stars, an Air medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, and a presidential citation.

After the war, James graduated from Purdue University. He married Joan McShirley on August 21, 1948. They had one son, Sean (1951 – 1967). At one time James owned Express Auto Supply in Hobart, Indiana and later co-owned a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in New Castle, Indiana.

James B. Davis, 88 of Indianapolis died December 20, 2009.

Note:  Now that I have found a photo of James B. Davis, I am trying to determine if the bombardier in the Buslee crew photo is the original bombardier Marvin Fryden or replacement bombardier James B. Davis.  What do you think? Is the man standing on the far right Fryden (who I don’t have a picture of) or Davis?

The Buslee Crew

The Buslee Crew

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

 

 

 

 

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Transcription

This is the transcription of the press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

SENT TO:  Park Ridge (Illinois) Advocate
Passed for Publication
112
1 September 1944
SHAEF
Field Press Censor

AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND – Although mortally wounded, the bombardier of a B17 Flying Fortress calmly reported his injury to his pilot and then released his bombs on the target in a remarkable exhibition of sheer courage and presence of mind during a recent American heavy bomber attack over Germany.

The bombardier, 1st Lt. Marvin Fryden, 23, 6719 North Lakewood, Chicago, died later in an army hospital after his bomber, the “Tremblin’ Gremlin,” had reached England with only two of its four engines functioning, its fuselage riddled with more than 100 flak holes and with more than half of its crew wounded.

The “Tremblin’ Gremlin” was flying in a fortress formation attacking the German airfield at Langenhagen, north of Hannover.  As the American heavies started their bomb run over the target, a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire suddenly exploded all around them.

One shell exploded at the side of the “Tremblin’ Gremlin’s” nose, and a fragment whirled through the bomber’s metal skin and struck the bombardier in the chest below his left shoulder.  Lt. Fryden swayed and nearly toppled over from the force of the enemy steel entering his body, but he regained his balance and clutched his bomb release more firmly.

“I’m hit”, was all that the wounded airman reported over the inter-communication system to the pilot’s compartment.

Perhaps he was thinking of the slogan for bombardiers at this station – “Get the bombs on the target” – for he pressed the bomb release that sent the explosives, carried in the belly of his Fortress, plunging toward the German airfield…Lt. Fryden had accomplished the job that had brought him into central Germany.

This story of Lt. Fryden’s valorous action was told by his friend and pilot, another resident of the Chicago area, 2nd Lt. John O. Buslee, 21, 411 Wisner Ave., Park Ridge.

Lt. Buslee and Lt. Fryden were members of a crew that had just recently arrived in England for action on the Eurpoean aerial front and the Langenhagen operation was their second mission.  [This was GEF’s first mission.]  On both of these, Lt. Buslee flew in the position of co-pilot with a veteran pilot to gain some combat experience before taking his own ship aloft in the danger ridden skies of Europe.  However, he handled the controls the majority of the time.

The flight from England to the center of Germany was made without incident, but when the Fortresses initiated their bomb run in the vicinity of the target, ground defenses opened up with a thick curtain of flak that burst about the planes like black mushrooms popping out of the ground after a heavy rain.

A fragment from the same burst that wounded the bombardier, hit the navigator, 2nd Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, 21, 1118 Elum St., Toledo, Ohio behind the ear, but the injury was not serious.

“It was popping all over the place during the few minutes we were in the bomb run,” said Lt. Buslee, describing the flak.  By the time we made our turn away from the target, more than half the crew had been hit and suffered injuries of varying degrees.”

The engineer and top turret gunner, Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, 22, of Halsey, Neb., was the next of the nine-man crew to be hit.  A jagged piece of steel ripped through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle.  Another burst of flak alongside the nose sent hot metal flying into the pilot’s compartment.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Arthur J. Shwery, 20, Route 2, Janesville, Wis., was hit above the eye, and cut, while a fragment bounced off Lt. Buslee’s thigh, however, merely breaking the skin and inflicting a bruise.

The sixth crew member to be hit was the waist gunner, Sgt. George E. Farrar, 22, 79 East Lake Terrace, S.E., Atlanta, Ga.  He was cut on the cheek and a small piece of flesh was torn off one finger.

While its crew was having its bad moments, the big silver-colored ship was taking a heavy pounding.  The right inboard engine was hit and ceased to function; the radio compartment was riddled with holes and the radio equipment destroyed; the trim tabs that control the plane’s balance, was shredded; the hydraulic brake system was shot out, and part of the oxygen system was eliminated, necessitating that the men up forward use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Probably the fact that the radio operator, Sgt. Sebastino Peluso, 20, 2963 West 24th   Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., was bending over attending to a chore, saved him from becoming a casualty when the flak pierced the sides of the big bomber and so thoroughly smashed up his radio compartment.  More than a dozen flak holes ringed his section of the ship.

Only the bombardier and top turret gunner were in need of immediate first aid treatment during the return trip, and the navigator, Lt. Rybarczyk, did as much as possible for Lt. Fryden, who retained consciousness during the entire mission.  Sgt. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as the “Tremblin’ Gremlin” reached the English coast and Lt. Buslee headed for the nearest airfield.  With his brakes gone, he was faced with a ticklish landing, but he brought the plane in nicely on the concrete landing strip and slid it off onto the grass to reduce the speed of the freely-rolling uncontrollable wheels.

The other members of the crew not already mentioned, and neither of whom was touched by the liberal quantity of flak the German gunners planted in the sky over Langenhagen, were Sgt. Erwin V. Foster, 24, 356 West Water St., Elmira, N.Y., the ball turret gunner, and S/Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, 24, 7307 North Dort Highway, Mt. Morris, Mich.

Lt. Fryden was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fryden, 6719 North Lakewood, Mrs. Marilyn Fryden, lives at 2410 West 51st St.  He was a graduate of Tuley High School and Central College, and worked for a cement company in Chicago as a laboratory assistant before entering the service.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant October 10, 1942, and was promoted to first lieutenant October 9, 1943.

Tony Rybarczyk reports that Marvin Fryden did not die alone.  His friend, and crew navigator, Chester Rybarczyk (Tony’s dad), was with Marvin and held him as Marvin died.  Rybarczyk was put in for the Purple Heart on this mission, but didn’t think it would have been right to accept it.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 Mission 173 Press Release – Scanned Images

These are scanned images of a press release regarding the Buslee crew on Mission 173, August 5, 1944.

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 1 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 2 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 3 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

Press Release regarding Buslee crew on Mission 173, Page 4 of 4

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

August 5, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 173

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 173 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 519.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-37982, named The Tremblin Gremlin.

The primary target was a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – Arthur J. Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Again, Buslee flew as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  Another training opportunity for Buslee.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Again, Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102459, Little Kenny.

Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out and waist gunner George Edwin Farrar, flew with the crew this mission.  Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew.  Bryant had flown with the crew on their first mission, and Farrar had his first actual combat experience on this one.

Bombardier Marvin Fryden was mortally wounded on this mission.  He died later in an Army hospital.

Pilot, Arthur J. Shwery was wounded, but was able to fly again by Mission 176 on August 9.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Clarence B. Seeley was more seriously wounded and was not able to fly again until Mission 203 on October 2, 1944.  His long recovery kept him from flying with the Buslee crew on September 28, and being involved in the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy.  Seeley completed 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945.  He completed his tour and returned home.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

August 4, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 171

The 384th Bomb Group Mission 171 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 514.

The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 42-102620, named “De Rumble Izer.”

The primary target was Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany.

Crew List:

  • Pilot – Arthur J. Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee flew his first mission as co-pilot with experienced pilot Arthur J. Shwery piloting the plane.  A training opportunity for Buslee, no doubt.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102959, name unknown.

The tenth member of the crew, George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the Buslee crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Source:  Sortie Report

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Buslee Crew When Assigned to the 384th Bomb Group

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Source

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013