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MISSION 191

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #191 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #619.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his tenth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 10 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

384th Leads Wing
The 384th Bomb Group (H) provided all aircraft for the 41st B CBW, the tenth of eleven wings in Air Task Force 3 of Eighth Air Force Mission 619. The lead and high squadrons attacked the primary target at Sindelfingen visually, after four and two bomb runs, respectively. The low squadron lost contact with the group leader and, after finding the primary target obscured by clouds, went on to bomb a target of opportunity, railroad marshaling yards between Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt, Germany.

Mission documents, specifically the Pre-Briefing Target Study, identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as Sindelfingen nr. [near] Stuttgart (MT Works of Daimler Benz) [BMW Motor Component Parts Plant].

The Secondary Target was the Stuttgart Marshalling yards and the Targets of Last Resort were any military positively identified as being east of the Rhine; also, Neckarsulm nr Bockingen – aircraft components (pistons).

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted due to aircraft equipment failure
  • 4 were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed

Bombardier Vern Arnold provided a great narrative on his introduction to the Nazi “box barrage” type of flak attack on today’s mission in Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition.

[A box barrage flak attack] is possible only at large, vital targets where there are an almost unlimited number of gun installations. All of the guns in that area are coordinated into a single overall plan in which each gun is assigned a particular spot in our bomb run path to fill it with continuously exploding shells.

As soon as they spot a group going onto its bomb run (where we cannot swerve or dodge) they begin to create a solid cut of bursting flak directly in its path. Obviously, it is impossible to squeeze 36, 105 foot wide bombers through such a nightmare without everyone getting hit and hit plenty.

Watching the group ahead of us, they seemed to be actually swallowed up in the inferno. I had to busy myself with checking the bomb control panel to maintain any semblance of self control. Seconds later, we were in it too and it was just as bad as it looked from a distance.

Arnold continued and explained how their ship was hit, lost an engine, and then a second engine, nearly needing to abandon ship. They had to limp home alone, having been abandoned by the bomber stream, and eventually made it back, but not without a flak burst near Dunkirk just before crossing the English Channel.

On Mission 191, the Buslee crew was part of the Lead Group led by Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun, Jr., originally of the 303rd Bomb Group, transferred to 41st CBW HQ at Molesworth as Director of Operations and Executive Officer until 23 DECEMBER 1944.
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #191, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Paul Leland Watson
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Paul Leland Watson replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-38213 on this mission.  The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0754
  • Time landed 1457
  • Target attacked at 1200 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Observed Results, Probable damage: Hit City.
  • Radio: VHF shot out over target.
  • Guns and Turrets: Left solenoid upper turret is out.
  • Battle damage: 15 minor flak holes; left flap to be replaced #9 Tokyo

The James Brodie crew – James Brodie, Lloyd Vevle, George Hawkins, William Barnes, William Taylor, Robert Crumpton, Gordon Hetu, Wilfred Miller, and Harry Liniger – of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-97521, The Saint.

The Brodie crew was the one crew flying spare that completed the mission. Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group mission notes read,

Lead Squadron flying spare; joined formation. The Brodie crew may have been originally assigned to fly 42‑97309 [Kathleen Lady of Victory], and was forced to switch aircraft for unknown reasons. Apparently they were told to go to Ground Spare Aircraft 43‑37971, but that had already been assigned to Johnstone. Again for unknown reasons, the Chadwick Crew was told to move to lead Ground Spare Aircraft 43‑37971, and turn over 42‑97521 [The Saint] to the Brodie Crew.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Armament failure: Left gun would not fire in upper turret.
  • Technical failure, aircraft: Entire interphone [system] went out on route back.
  • Battle damage: Moderate flak damage.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • The Lead and High groups bombed the primary target with unobserved results.
  • The Low group bombed a target of opportunity (Zuffenhousen) with poor results.
  • No enemy fighters were observed.
  • Flak at the target was moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Both CPF and Barrage type fires being employed. Rockets were also fired upon this formation. Without any visual damage being done.
  • Fighter escort was good and as briefed.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 191
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020