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Request for Details

By mid-August 1945, George Edwin Farrar was back in the states, but I do not know if he had returned home to Atlanta, Georgia by this time or not.  The Army Air Forces sent him a letter on the 16th inquiring about the death of crewmate Sebastiano Peluso, presumably at the request of the Peluso family.  The Peluso family must have finally received word that their son had died in the mid-air collision between Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, on which he was the radio operator on September 28, 1944.

Peluso was the last crew member identified from the wreckage of the two flying fortresses.  James Brodie, pilot of the Lazy Daisy, was also not identified early on.  Notification of his death had not come until July 6.

Unfortunately, Farrar would not have much information to offer to the Peluso family as he had been knocked unconscious in the collision, coming to in free fall and just in time to deploy his parachute.  He was told in prison camp that he was the only survivor of his crew.  He had no information on the other crew members other than they were in position at the time of the collision.  One thing he did say when I asked repeatedly as a child how he came to be the only survivor, was that all the other boys thought they were out of harm’s way and had already removed their chest chutes when the collision occurred, but that he had left his on.

August 16, 1945
Headquarters, Army Air Forces
Washington

SUBJECT: Staff Sergeant Sebastiano J. Peluso, 12182596
TO: Staff Sergeant George E. Farrar, 14119873
79 East Lake Terrace Northeast
Atlanta, Georgia

1. This headquarters has received a request for details of the death of Staff Sergeant Sebastiano J. Peluso, 12182596, radio operator of your aircraft, B-17G, Serial Number 43-37822, which disappeared on 28 September 1944.

2. Request that you forward to this headquarters any information you may have concerning the circumstances of the death of Staff Sergeant Sebastiano J. Peluso, or any details you may be cognizant of regarding his status after your Fortress disappeared.

BY COMMAND OF GENERAL ARNOLD:
N. W. REED
Major, Air Corps
Chief, Notification Branch
Personal Affairs Division
Asst Chief of Air Staff

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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Gratitude and Sorrow

Sebastiano Peluso’s parents had last written to George Edwin Farrar’s mother on June 27, but they felt compelled to write again two weeks later.  They assumed her son, the only known survivor from the Lead Banana on September 28 the year before, had returned home from the war.  Farrar had still not returned to the United States.  The Pelusos were still anxiously waiting for any word about their boy.

July 11, 1945
Coney Island

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I am the father of Sebastiano and I have no word to express my gratitude for the kind of sympathy and cooperation you have show regard my son. Only a mother could understand and consider the sorrow we have, and really I want to thank you for what you are doing for us.

First of all I want to congratulate you for George coming home, and I wish happiness and success to a courageous boy, which deserves respect and honor from his nation.

Now I wish only one favor from you. First, let George rest and relax, and when he feels better the only think I ask to him if could give me any news of his friend Sebastiano. What happen after the plane was hit. If he saw my son coming down with the parachute?

He could write me a letter and if he have something important to tell me I could come myself and speak him personally. Although the trip is long. If I hear good news from my boy, I am sure I will not feel the trip. Maybe we could call George on the telephone and he gives details of what he knows.

So if George decide to speak with us just let us the day is home and we call him. The best hour for us to call is from 8 to 10 p.m. Again I thank you in advance and hoping to hear from George. Regard and happiness to a wonderful mother.

Sincerely,
Joseph Peluso
2963 W. 24 St.
Coney Island
Brln.
N.Y.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Erwin Foster Visits the Pelusos

Erwin Foster was the original ball turret gunner with the Buslee crew.  He trained in Ardmore, Oklahoma with Sebastiano Peluso and served with him on eight missions in WWII.  Foster was not on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 and finished his tour with the 384th on April 22, 1945.  Foster was from Elmira, New York, a city in upstate New York about four hours (today) from the Pelusos in Brooklyn.  After returning to the states, Foster visited the Pelusos the weekend of June 23 – 24, 1945.

June 27, 1945

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I dislike having to inconvenience you this way – but I would deeply appreciate a letter from you, with all the information your dear son can possibly think of. He most likely is home by this time. I know it’s the hardest mission for him, but as I have said in my previous letters, it means so very much to my family.

We haven’t received any news from the war dept. S/Sgt. Irwin Forest visited us over the weekend. Naturally there wasn’t much he could tell us for he did not go on that mission. It was good seeing one of Yono’s buddies.

Mrs. Farrar if George finds it hard talking about what happened Sept. 28, my husband would be only too glad to see George personally. Please let us know soon. You see our hope for Yono’s return is high and deep. We know he’s safe and any information would help us. We of course haven’t overlooked the other side of the story.

I’m sure you won’t let us down.

Sincerely Yours,
Mr. and Mrs. Peluso

The Pelusos thought that George Edwin Farrar should have been home by this time, but he had not, in fact, yet left the ETO.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

There is Always Tomorrow

The following day another letter arrived at the Farrar home, this one from the parents of Lead Banana radio operator, Sebastiano Joseph Peluso.  Peluso was the only crew member on Lead Banana on September 28, 1944 to have not been accounted for.  His parents were desperate for some news of their son.

June 6, 1945

My dear Mrs. Farrar,

Your lovely letter arrived yesterday. I can’t put into words how grateful I am hearing from you. For awhile I was beginning to think my letter never reached you. For such incidents do occur.

It must be quite difficult having to write all the crew members families, the information your dear son George will have for us. But your being a mother of three sons, can easily be understood how much this little information will mean to our families.

I haven’t received any news concerning my dear son Yono. The only thing I have received, was a letter from the war department with a check for $32.00, which was found among Yono’s belongings back in England. I believe that any day, I will be getting all his personal belongings since they send the money that was left behind before going on their mission.

While listening to the news on the radio this morning, I did hear something which gives me higher hopes. The commentator said – 25,000 soldiers who have been listed as “Missing in Action”, are on their way home. Next of kin haven’t been notified as yet. I hope and pray, with heart and soul, that my son is among the bunch. I do have very strong feelings that some news will come before this month ends.

Mrs. Farrar, I’m so happy for you, that your dear son is on his way home. May he be home by the time this letter reaches you. My sister is expecting her son home any day now. He was held prisoner of Germany for 16 months. He has a little boy 2 ½ years old that he has only seen once – when he was 4 months old.

I received a letter from Mr. Buslee this morning. He would like to know if we have heard of anything further. It seems to be quite strange that the War Dep’t never notified him as to how the six crew members were killed. Perhaps nothing ever did happen to them but just that the German Gov’t reported them “Killed in Action.” God! may this be true – and they should come home soon – George is the only one person who can really tell us what did happen.

It’s wonderful to know that you are preparing yourself for his homecoming. Forty-two chickens and good fresh vegetables should be more than tempting. Food here in New York is so hard to get today – especially “Meat.”

I can’t say the weather here has been very promising – we’ve been having some real Oct. weather. The temperature was down to 45 and 50 degrees and a top coat is still necessary.

Sorry to know that Mr. Farrar hasn’t been well. Mr. Peluso hasn’t been taking all this too easy either. I have to keep giving him courage – as for myself – I’ve been keeping my chin up. For I know with all my heart, Yono, is safe, but I do believe he must be wounded.

Mrs. Farrar, you’ve been wonderful, and I can’t tell you how I appreciate your writing me. I’ll be looking forward to your next letter. “Thank God” there is always tomorrow to look forward to. I sincerely hope your dear son is well – “God Bless him and keep him safe.”

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. Antonetta Peluso

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Seven Months

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, known as Yano to family, was the only Buslee crew member who was still unaccounted for.  George Edwin Farrar’s family knew he was a POW and all of the other families had heard that their sons had been killed on September 28, 1944 in the mid-air collision between Lead Banana, carrying the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew, and Lazy Daisy, carrying the James Joseph Brodie crew.

On the Brodie crew, all of the families had been notified except for Brodie’s family.  Three of the Brodie crew were POWs – Harry Allen Liniger, Wilfred Frank Miller, and George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.  The rest of the crew had been reported killed in the collision.

Seven months of not knowing the fate of their son gave the Pelusos hope that he was still alive.

April 20, 1945

Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I should have thought of writing you sooner. Kindly forgive me for putting this letter off so long. I am hoping that your letter in return will have some good news about your dear son. Since many German Prison Camps have been liberated by our armies. I do pray, and have prayed, that George was fortunate enough to be one of the many boys to be released.

As you know, the 28th of this month will make 7 months since the time our boys went down in Magdeburg – and since then, not much has happened. As yet, we have not received any news concerning our dear son, Yono. My husband and I strongly believe that our son is hiding somewhere. Lately we have all been impatient for some kind of news since Magdeburg is just about being captured by the 9th Army. I pray and hope that by the time this letter reaches you I will get the news I have been waiting for for 7 months.

Have you heard from any of the other parents and wife’s of the crew members? If so I will deeply appreciate you letting me know. May I hear from you soon – God Bless You – and may your son be with you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. & Mr. Peluso

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

First Correspondence from Mrs. Peluso

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Mrs. Antonetta Peluso was the mother of the Buslee crew’s radio operator/gunner, Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, aboard the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  Both she and her husband, Joseph, were born in Italy and had immigrated to the United States.  Sebastiano, better known as Yano to the family, and his older sisters were born in New York.  Sebastiano was the youngest, born July 8, 1924.  Sister Sala or Sarah (different sources report different names) was nine years older, and Jennie or Jean (different sources report different names) was seven years older than Sebastiano.  During the war, the Pelusos lived in Brooklyn, New York.

January 12, 1945
2963 West 24th Street
Brooklyn, 24, New York

My Dear Mrs. Farrar,

I received your letter last week, and it makes me happy to know your dear son, George, is safe in a German Prison Camp.  Let us hope it won’t be long now, that he will be home once again.

As yet I have not received any information concerning my son Sebastiano.  I am waiting patiently for news that will lighten the heavy burden in my heart.

I was deeply sorry to read about 1st. Lt. William A. Henson II.  Mr. Carey S. Stearns has also received the same news about his son 1st Lt. Robert S. Stearns.  I am praying that the German Government made a mistake in the reports Mrs. Henson and Mr. Stearns received.

Mrs. Farrar, I wish you all the Luck in the world in your dear son’s safety.  I will inform you if I get news about my son.

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. Antonetta Peluso

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Next of Kin List Released

The day after Christmas 1944, at ninety days missing in action, the US Army Air Forces wrote to the Buslee crew’s next of kin and enclosed a list of the names of the crew members on the Lead Banana on September 28 and also included the names and addresses of next of kin in case the families wanted to communicate with each other.

December 26, 1944
Headquarters, Army Air Forces
Washington

Attention:  AFPPA-8
(9753) Farrar, George E.
14119873

Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar,
79 EastLake Terrace Northeast,
Atlanta, Georgia.

Dear Mrs. Farrar:

For reasons of military security it has been necessary to withhold the names of the air crew members who were serving with your son at the time he was reported missing.

Since it is now permissible to release this information, we are inclosing a complete list of names of the crew members.

The names and addresses of the next of kin of the men are also given in the belief that you may desire to correspond with them.

Sincerely,

Clyde V. Finter
Colonel, Air Corps
Chief, Personal Affairs Division
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Personnel

1 Incl
List of crew members & names
& addresses of next of kin
5-2032, AF

1st. Lt. John O. Buslee
Mr. John Buslee, (Father)
411 North Wisner Avenue,
Park Ridge, Illinois.

1st. Lt. William A. Henson, II
Mrs. Harriet W. Henson, (Wife)
Summerville, Georgia.

1st. Lt. Robert S. Stearns
Mr. Carey S. Stearns, (Father)
Post Office Box 113,
Lapine, Oregon.

2nd. Lt. David F. Albrecht
Reverand Louis M. Albrecht, (Father)
Scribner, Nebraska.

S/Sgt. Sebastiano J. Peluso
Mrs. Antonetta Peluso, (Mother)
2963 West 24th Street,
Brooklyn, New York.

S/Sgt. Lenard L. Bryant
Mrs. Ruby M. Bryant, (Wife)
Route Number Two,
Littlefield, Texas.

S/Sgt. Gerald L. Andersen
Mrs. Esther E. Coolen Andersen, (Wife)
Box Number 282,
Stromburg, Nebraska.

S/Sgt. George E. Farrar
Mrs. Raleigh Mae Farrar, (Mother)
79 East Lake Terrace Northeast,
Atlanta, Georgia.

Sgt. George F. McMann
Mr. George F. McMann, (Father)
354 West Avenue,
Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The above list is also a part of MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) 9753.  For a diagram and list of each man’s position on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944, click here.

The Brodie crew’s next of kin must have gotten the same letter and a list of those on the Lazy Daisy.  The following list is attached to MACR9366.  For a diagram and list of each man’s position on the Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944, click here.

1st Lt. James J. Brodie
Mrs. Mary E. Brodie, (Wife)
4436 North Kostner Avenue
Chicago, Illinois.

2nd Lt. Lloyd O. Vevle
Mr. Oliver E. Vevle, (Father)
240 Sixth Avenue, North
Fort Dodge, Iowa.

2nd Lt. George M. Hawkins, Jr.
Mr. George M. Hawkins, Sr., (Father)
52 Marchard Street
Fords, New Jersey

T/Sgt. Donald W. Dooley
Mr. Guy T. Dooley, (Father)
711 South Rogers Street
Bloomington, Indiana.

S/Sgt. Byron L. Atkins
Mr. Verne Atkins, (Father)
Route Number Two
Lebanon, Indiana.

Sgt. Robert D. Crumpton
Mrs. Stella M. Parks, (Mother)
Route Number One
Ennis, Texas

Sgt. Gordon E. Hetu
Mr. Raymond J. Hetu, (Father)
3821 Webb Street
Detroit, Michigan.

S/Sgt. Wilfred F. Miller
Mrs. Mary Miller, (Mother)
Rural Free Delivery Number One
Newton, Wisconsin.

S/Sgt. Harry A. Liniger
Mrs. Estelle P. Liniger, (Mother)
Box Number 251
Gatesville, North Carolina

If the US Army Air Forces had told the families of the two crews what actually happened to their sons’ aircraft and provided the lists of both crews to the families, the families of the two pilots, Buslee and Brodie, would have discovered that they lived only seven and a half miles apart in Chicago, Illinois.  These families would most likely have been very interested in communicating if they had been made aware of each other.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

October 21, 1944 Telegram Form

Twenty-three days after the mid-air collision between the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana, a Telegram Form dated October 21, 1944 reported the fate of one more of the crew from the two planes, and provided the identification of four of the previously unidentified.   It reported “one more dead has been found:  Byron L. Atkins.”  The newly identified men were identified as:

  • John Buslee (identified on the form as Jon Busslee)
  • David F. Albrecht
  • Lloyd Vevle (identified on the form as LLoyd Ovevle)
  • Lenard Bryant (identified on the form as Lenhard J. Eyret)

Atkins and Vevle were from the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy.  Buslee, Albrecht, and Bryant were from the Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana.  Atkins was probably located away from both crash sites as he was carried away with the nose of the Lazy Daisy during the initial impact of the collision.

In determination of the fate of the two crews, eighteen total men, this report updates the count to fourteen (14) recovered dead, with twelve (12) identified, and four (4) P.O.W.s.

MACR9753 does not include any more Telegram Forms or Reports of Captured Aircraft and does not provide any information on the identifications of Sebastiano Joseph Peluso aboard Lead Banana or James Joseph Brodie aboard Lazy Daisy.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant    Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)    Reported P.O.W. on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form

Brodie Crew List:

  • Pilot – James Joseph Brodie
  • Co-Pilot – Lloyd Oliver Vevle     Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Navigator – George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.    Reported P.O.W. on October 6, 1944 Report on Captured Aircraft
  • Togglier – Byron Laverne Atkins     Reported dead on October 21, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Donald William Dooley    Reported dead on October 1, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Robert Doyle Crumpton    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Gordon Eugene Hetu    Reported dead on September 30, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Tail Gunner – Wilfred Frank Miller    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form
  • Waist Gunner – Harry Allen Liniger    Reported P.O.W. on October 4, 1944 Telegram Form

The October 21 Telegram Form notes also:

  • Time:  0925
  • From:  L L E N
  • Remarks:  SSD L B K M 157     19 Oct.44   -1740-

This information can be found on pages 18 of MACR9753.  MACR stands for Missing Air Crew Report.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944

The diagram shows the combat position of each Buslee crewmember on Mission 201 on September 28, 1944.  Only one crewmember manned both waist gunner positions on this mission.  If they were all still in position after coming off the target at Magdeburg, the diagram shows where each man would have been at the time of the mid-air collision with the Lazy Daisy.

Buslee Crew List:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The only survivor of the mid-air collision this day with the Lazy Daisy was the waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar.

Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group for granting me permission to use and modify their B-17 diagram for use on The Arrowhead Club site.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Map of September 28, 1944 Collision and Crash Sites

Maps of the area show the location of the mid-air collision and subsequent crash sites of the Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  Two maps are included below.

The first map shows the collision site and crash sites of the Lazy Daisy and Lead Banana.  The mid-air collision occurred after coming off the target at Magdeburg, at 12:11 pm on September 28, 1944 at 52°06’N 11°39’E (X on the first map, just past the second “g” in “Magdeburg”). Both planes crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of the mid-air collision.  Lazy Daisy crashed near Erxleben (E on the first map) and Lead Banana crashed approximately one and one-quarter miles north of Ostingersleben (O on the first map).

X = Collision Site, 52°06'N 11°39'E O = Ostingersleben E = Erxleben

X = Collision Site, 52°06’N 11°39’E
O = Ostingersleben
E = Erxleben

The second map is a map of Germany with the area of detail outlined.

Germany Map

Royalty free map of Germany obtained from http://www.tourvideos.com/maps-Germany.html.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013