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Farrar Family Reacts to the News

George Edwin Farrar, my dad, was born in 1921 and was the middle child in a family of nine children.  His mother was Raleigh Mae George Farrar and his dad was Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr.  The ages of the Farrar children spanned twenty-seven years, from Geraldine born in 1910, to Beverly born in 1937.

Geraldine was eleven years older than my dad and was called “Gerry.”  A photo of Gerry and my dad as a child:


By 1944 Gerry was married to Wallace “Wally” Mass and living in Susanville, California.  On October 15, 1944, she sent this telegram home after hearing the news of my dad being missing in action:


And finally, a photo of my dad and his mother when he was home on leave earlier in his service:


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 12, 1944 Letter from Chester Rybarczyk

Two weeks after the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, the original navigator on the Buslee crew, Chester Rybarczyk, wrote to the Farrar family.  Rybarczyk flew the September 28 mission with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew, and watched the mid-air collision involving his Buslee crewmates aboard Lead Banana.

October 12, 1944

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

First of all, I’ll introduce myself.  I’m Lt. Rybarczyk, navigator on the crew that George trained with at Ardmore and we flew our first missions together.  You probably have the news of him being missing.  Well I can’t tell you very much about what happened.  I’m not allowed to give such information.  I was flying in another ship that day.  I saw what did happen.  The ship he was in was not on fire and he had plenty of altitude.   The crew had a good chance of bailing out and I think they did.  You may not hear anything else about him for a little while.  He will probably be a prisoner of war and he will be back with you as soon as the war with Germany is over.  So don’t take this too bad.  I think he is safe and well.

He sure was a good boy.  One of the best men on the crew.  I had lots of confidence in him.  He got along swell with the rest of the boys.  We never had any trouble with him.  He was excellent in his work and gave it everything he had.  You should be proud of a boy like that.  I know I was glad to have him on the crew.

If you should hear anything about him, please let me know.  May God Help those boys.

Sincerely yours,

Chester Rybarczyk

The ship Rybarczyk was flying in that day, Aircraft 42-39888, also known as Hot Nuts, “left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base” according to the Sortie Report, apparently in a effort to determine the fate of the crew of Lead Banana.  It is unclear why Rybarczyk would state that “the ship he [George Edwin Farrar] was in was not on fire” as all other eye witness reports state otherwise.  Perhaps it was simply an act of kindness to give Farrar’s family more hope for his survival.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

A Letter from the 384th BG Chaplain

On October 9, 1944, eleven days after the mid-air collision between the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy, Chaplain Dayle R. Schnelle of the 384th Bombardment Group Headquarters wrote to the family of George Edwin Farrar to notify them that their son was missing in action.

October 9, 1944


384th Bombardment Group

APO 557  c/o P.M., N.Y.

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar

79 East Lake Terrace, N.E.,

Atlanta Georgia

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

May I, as Chaplain of the 384th Bombardment Group, personally, and pursuant to the request of the Commanding General, Eighth Air Force, and in behalf of the Group Commander, express to you our deepest and heartfelt concern regarding your son, S/Sgt. George E. Farrar, 14119873, who is reported as missing in action.

I am well aware of the worry and anxiety which is yours.  May I assure you that you will be notified immediately should any further word concerning your son be received.  May I urge you to remember that you should in no wise consider your son as dead.  It is highly possible that he may yet escape or is being held a prisoner of war.  In either case it will be some time before any word will be received concerning him.  May I add that your concern is our concern, not only of this group, but also of the entire Air Force as well.

There is no other information that I can give other than you have already received from the War Department, except, that all mail and packages will be returned to the sender.  May I assure you that I believe that our God still answers prayers.  I promise that I shall remember him continuely before God as I know that you are also doing.  I firmly believe that the hand of God still guides the destiny of His children.  May your faith in the ultimate triumph of God’s will give you courage, strength, and grace to meet the burden of this hour of uncertainty.


Dayle R. Schnelle,



  • Was this the first word the family had received that their son was missing?  A telegram from the War Department was sent later, on October 14, but may have been received prior to this letter (not knowing how quickly mail was delivered in 1944).  Would someone from the War Department have delivered the news earlier in person?
  • Was the US Army Air Forces already aware that Farrar was reported as a prisoner of war on the Telegram Form dated October 1, 1944?
  • Did seventeen other families, the families of the other boys on both crews, receive this same letter this day?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

War Letters

Many servicemen in WWII kept diaries, and even more wrote letters home.  It wasn’t unusual for families to keep every letter sent home and many soldiers returned from war with their diaries.  Most of these are now in the hands of their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, packed away and not read for many, many years.  Now 70 years later, these are family treasures.  Through these letters and diaries we can all realize the sacrifices these soldiers and their families made for our freedom.

If my dad, George Edwin Farrar, wrote a lot of letters home, they have been lost over the years.  And there is no evidence of a diary.  I do have some letters he wrote to his mother, which I will publish.

The most treasured letters I have are the letters to my grandmother from the families of other members of the Buslee crew after the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision between their B17, Lead Banana, and another 384th Bomber Group B17, Lazy Daisy.  These letters show how slowly news traveled during WWII, and how much anguish families experienced not knowing the fate of their loved ones for such a long time.

When an airman jumps from an airplane, he is in free fall until he deploys his parachute.  His life hangs in the balance until the parachute stops the free fall and glides him gently down to earth.  Without the chute, his descent would be much faster, and with a very unpleasant abrupt ending.

Here at home, the families of the men involved in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision were all in free fall for a very long time.  I imagine, for the families that eventually found their boys were alive, they felt an emotion very like the airman whose parachute opens and sets him down again on earth, an elation.

But for the families whose agony of not knowing continued for so long, the abrupt news that their sons wouldn’t be coming back from war would emotionally be like never deploying the chute and hitting the ground at full speed.  At first, with the pain, there would be disbelief.  The news took so long in coming that it must be wrong.  Families still hoped for a good outcome and still waited in free fall, as if when hitting the ground, they were to bounce back into the realm of not knowing.  Perhaps the second landing would be more gentle.

I will start publishing the letters I have, sharing the information and emotions they represent.  The first will be letters my dad wrote home before beginning combat duty, and I will soon get to the ones the families of the crew sent to my grandmother while they were all waiting for news of their sons.

I will also publish official letters and documents that my grandmother received from the government.  One of my purposes is to try to show the timing of news to the families in relation to what was actually happening.  News from Germany was very slow in coming and so was very outdated.

If anyone has any letters that were written by my grandmother, Mrs. Carroll J. (Raleigh) Farrar, during WWII, I would very much appreciate hearing from you and obtaining copies.  Also, copies of any letters home from any of the Buslee crew that describe what life was like at Grafton Underwood or during prior training or combat missions, would be appreciated.  I would like to get a better feel for what life was like for these boys and their families during this time period.  Please contact me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013