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The Other Crew

Normally, Mr. Buslee was the letter writer of the Buslee family, but today John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s mother took the time to write to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.

April 9, 1945
Park Ridge, Ill.

My Dear Mrs. Farrar: –

We have received your letter telling of the good news of hearing from your son, George, it is, and must be wonderful for you to know he is alive and well, at least I imagine that’s all he could say or they wouldn’t pass it if he would say he was ill or hungry which I’m sure he is. I understand all prisoners would really be in a bad way if it weren’t for the Red Cross. I hear each fellow gets certain rations from them each week which should help a little, altho, their life must be almost unbearable there in those camps.

Just a day or so before we received your letter I noticed in one of our papers where a boy who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft 4 B – Germany had notified his people he’d be released, so we are in hopes your son is also free again. We are so happy to know that George at least is alive and that he may some day be able to tell us all about the rest of the crew. Isn’t it strange the nothing has been heard of the other two boys?

We have never had a word from the McManns altho Mr. Buslee has written them several times, the Peluso’s have promised to let us hear as soon as they hear anything, and the family of Lt. Brody who was the other pilot haven’t heard any other news than missing, either, and according to some of the other eye witnesses he was in the most dangerous spot, so you see we never can tell so we hear are still hopeful because each day we see where someone who had been reported killed has been found to be alive. I do hope our prayers will be repaid with good news soon.

We are so sorry to hear your other son is ill in the hospital, please let us hear how he is, we are very much interested in you and your family. Hope good luck follows your son in China, and that you will continue to hear good news of George often. Wish we could get something to him to lighten his burden in camp. Mr. Buslee has written him, it must have been a terrible blow to him to have them tell him all his crew were gone – but we heard tell that the Germans like to break down the hopes of the boys by telling them all sorts of lies.

We hear the Henson’s are enjoying a trip to Florida, they seem to be such grand folks, nice that you live so close to each other in Atlanta.

We have had such nice letters from so many of the wives and mothers of the boys and we do appreciate them so much.

We hope you and Mr. Farrar are in perfect health and try to keep up your spirits until your sons come home again and thank you so much for all your kindnesses, and write again soon.

Sincerely,
Mrs. John Buslee

Lots of interesting information for me in this letter.  From this one letter I have learned:

  1. How uninformed the folks back home were about conditions in Germany.  Most of the boys were out on the road marching, not sitting in a prison camp.  They weren’t receiving those Red Cross rations either.  Most of the boys were slowing starving to death.  Don’t know how or what kept them going.
  2. Mrs. Buslee must have meant Sebastiano Peluso of the Buslee crew and James Brodie of the Brodie crew as the “other two boys.”  From reviewing letters, I believe all of the Buslee crew next-of-kin except the Pelusos had heard word of their sons.
  3. I don’t have any letters from the McManns, and apparently other familes had not heard from them either.
  4. The families did know the identity of at least the pilot of the other crew as Mrs. Buslee references Lt. Brody (meaning James Brodie).  This is the most interesting piece of information in this letter to me.  It does let me know that the families knew that their boys were involved in a mid-air collision that involved two flying fortresses and did know about the other crew.
  5. My Uncle Bob, George Edwin Farrar’s (my dad) younger brother, who was injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid in November 1944 must have still been hospitalized.
  6. My Uncle Carroll, Dad’s older brother, was still serving in China.
  7. The Hensons were the parents of the crew’s navigator, William Alvin Henson II.  Mrs. Buslee may also have been including Henson’s wife and infant daughter.
  8. “Mr. Farrar”, my dad’s father, was not in good health.  He was bedridden and very ill and the family hoped he would live long enough to see the three of his four sons that were in WWII come home from the war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Not a Happy New Year for Everyone

After receiving the New Year’s Eve telegram from the War Department telling her that her son was alive and a prisoner of war, Raleigh Mae Farrar sent a telegram to the Buslee family the next morning, New Year’s Day 1945, to share her good news.  Mr. Buslee quickly wrote a letter in response to Mrs. Farrar.

January 1, 1945
411 Wisner Ave.
Park Ridge, Ill.

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

Your letter of the 27th and news clipping were received on Saturday and it was so nice of you to keep us informed.  The news in this item was naturally that which we would have liked to receive about Lt. Henson and to think that a daughter was born to his wife recently makes for increased worries for her and I trust that the sad news is not too great a strain on her.

The copilot as you may know is also a Daddy to a girl born about a month ago.  We met he and his wife at Ardmore in June and like all of the boys in the crew we have been awaiting such word.  Mrs. Albrecht is at the home of her parents at Chico, California.  She reports that both she and the baby are doing well.

The telegram that we received from you this morning was indeed a piece of good news for the New Year.  To learn of your son’s safety is indeed wonderful and I hope means such good news may come regarding all of the other boys and more that this terrible struggle will soon end and that all may return and lets hope that the peoples of the World will realize that there is but one way to get along and that is in a peaceful harmonious manner forgetting all greed and selfishness and faith in the Lord.

My wife and my daughter and myself are overjoyed in learning that your son has been reported.  You can imagine our feelings since Saturday after hearing about Lt. Henson.  Then too there is cause for worry as our son in law is due to leave California any day.  He is also a pilot but in the Navy and is scheduled for the South Pacific.

To learn that your younger son is now scheduled to go to school after the harrowing experiences in the Navy on a carrier was more good news so I trust that the favorable word that has come to you of late is a fore runner to the still greater news that the war is over.

Thanks again Mrs. Farrar for your thoughtfullness in keeping us so closely advised and we will in turn write to you when we get word.  My wife and daughter join me in this appreciation,

Sincerely yours,
John Buslee

Notes:

  • I don’t know what information my grandmother’s letter of December 27 or news clipping contained.
  • Lt. Henson was William Alvin Henson II, the navigator on Lead Banana when it collided with Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.
  • The co-pilot was David Franklin Albrecht.
  • Mrs. Farrar’s son mentioned in the letter is George Edwin Farrar’s younger brother, Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar, who was injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid on November 25, 1944.
  • Mr. Buslee’s daughter and son-in-law were Janice and Gene Kielhofer.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Bob Farrar Injured in Kamikaze Attack on USS Intrepid

Robert Burnham Farrar

Robert Burnham Farrar

By late 1944, Raleigh Mae Farrar would have more than one son in the war to worry about.  George Edwin Farrar’s younger brother, Robert Burnham Farrar, known as Bob, had enlisted in the Navy on May 8 the year before, just a few months after turning eighteen.  His parents were against it, thinking him too young to go to war, but he had made his mind up that he was going to serve his country like his older brothers Carroll and Ed.

Bob was serving on the USS Intrepid when it was attacked by two Japanese kamikaze pilots within five minutes on November 25, 1944, the day after Thanksgiving.  Six officers and fifty-nine crew were killed, while about a hundred men were wounded.  Bob survived the attack, but was injured, possibly from smoke inhalation from the resulting fire.  He required later hospitalization.

The fire was reportedly extinguished in two hours.  Still able to sail, Intrepid headed to San Francisco the next day, November 26, for repairs and arrived there on December 20.

A slide show of photos of the attack on the USS Intrepid on November 25, 1944 can be seen on YouTube.

Bob and older brother Ed as children in Atlanta, Georgia:

Left to right, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar and younger brother Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar

Left to right, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar and younger brother Robert Burnham (Bob) Farrar

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014