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WWII Pilot Wallace Arnold Storey will be laid to rest today. His loss is personal for me. Wallace was the WWII veteran of the 384th Bomb Group who started me on my journey of discovery of my father’s WWII service.
I have written several articles about Wallace Storey (see Notes at the end for links), but have not previously written about his early life, which I will do today.
Wallace was born on November 19, 1922 to Paul Eugene and Ethel A. (Cooley) Storey in Calhoun Falls, Abbeville County, South Carolina.
The 1930 census records Wallace as a seven year old child. The family record lists father Paul E. Storey (29 years old), mother Ethel A. Storey (29 years old), and younger brother Paul E. Storey (2 years old). The family resided at 404 Houston Street in Greenville, Greenville County, South Carolina. Parents Paul and Ethel were both South Carolina natives as were both sets of their parents. Father Paul E. Storey was an insurance agent.
The 1940 census records Wallace as a seventeen year old and the same family members as in 1930, but ten years older. The family lived on Grove Road in Greenville and had lived there since at least 1935. Father Paul E. Storey was an Assistant Manager of an Insurance Agency. Wallace had completed the third year of high school as of the date the census was taken, and would graduate from Greenville High School later that year.
“The Nautilus” 1940 yearbook from Wallace’s senior year in high school listed his many accomplishments.
As you can see, Wallace was already interested in aviation, achieving the role of president of the Aviation Club.
After high school, Wallace continued his education at Clemson University, including involvement in the school’s R.O.T.C. program where he was part of Company A-1 at the school, until a war got in the way of his education.
On June 30, 1942, nineteen-year-old Wallace filled out his military draft card. He listed his address as 112 Grove Road in Greenville, South Carolina. He listed his date and place of birth as November 19, 1922 in Calhoun Falls, Abbeville County, South Carolina. He listed the person who would always know his address as his father, P.E. Storey. His employer’s name was Mr. Bailey at Judson Mill in Greenville. His height was 5’10” and he was 165 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion.
Less than two months later, Wallace Arnold Storey enlisted in the Air Corps, on August 13, 1942. His enlistment record shows that at the time of enlistment, he was a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina. His enlistment record also shows he was born in 1922 in South Carolina. He was single with two years of college.
I have previously written of Wallace’s military history, so will only mention here that he completed thirty-five missions as a B-17 pilot with the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII, stationed in Grafton Underwood England, and served in the Air Force Reserve until retirement as a Lt/Col. in February of 1969.
It was Wallace’s ninth credited mission with the 384th Bomb Group that put him in a front row seat to witness the mid-air collision of my father’s B-17 with another B-17 of the group.
After the war, Wallace continued his education at Clemson University where he graduated in 1947 with degrees in both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. After graduation, Wallace worked with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA) before joining Milliken and Company.
In 1948, Wallace married Martha Ray Lasseter of Decatur, Georgia and they became Spartanburg, South Carolina residents. He continued his employment with Milliken in the capacity of Vice-president and Director of Engineering, where he designed over forty Milliken facilities before retiring in 1987. After retirement, he continued as a consultant to Milliken for many years.
In 2011, my cousin Terry found Wallace’s story of the Magdeburg, Germany mission of September 28, 1944 on the internet and alerted me to read it.
I had not thought of my dad’s WWII stories for a very long time, and reading Wallace’s account of the story I knew so well awakened a renewed interest in me to learn more about my dad’s time in the war.
After an initial phone conversation, I visited Wallace and Martha Ray at their home in South Carolina and heard him tell the Magdeburg story firsthand. And so began my journey back in time into the 1940’s and a world at war.
I credit two people with setting me on this journey. One, my cousin Terry, who remembered the stories my dad told in our childhood, and second, Wallace Storey, who was actually there and saw the mid-air collision at the moment it happened.
Wallace Arnold Storey passed away on September 4, 2020. Wallace’s obituary is a tribute to the military, professional, and personal aspects of his life in more detail than I have told you here. His funeral service is today, which will conclude with his burial in Greenville Memorial Gardens in Piedmont, Greenville County, South Carolina beside Martha Ray, his wife of 71 years, who predeceased him in July.
Blue skies, Wallace Storey. Thank you for your service and may you rest in peace.
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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020
The following is a narrative report of Mission 201 on September 28, 1944.
AAF STATION NO. 106
Office of the Intelligence Officer
28 September, 1944
SUBJECT: Narrative for Lead, High, and Low Sections, 41st. “C” Combat Bombardment Wing on Mission Flown 28 September, 1944.
TO: Commanding Officer, AAF Station No. 106, A.P.O. 557.
The following is a combined Narrative and Report by Lt. W.V. HENDERSON, Deputy Wing Commander, Capt. JOHNSON, High Section Leader, and Capt. M.A. BOOSKA, Low Section Leader. Due to battle damage received at the target, Major H.E. FRINK, 41st “C” Wing Air Commander was forced to land away at BRUSSELS, Belgium. All navigational data is taken from the High Section Navigator.
1. Twelve (12) aircraft (without spares) of the Lead Section, twelve (12) aircraft plus one (1) Spare of the High Section, and twelve (12) aircraft (without spares) of the Low Section took off between 0730 and 0818 hours to attack the Steel Works at MAGDEBURG, Germany.
a. Number of A/C taking off (including spares): 37
Number of A/C taking off (less unused spares): 36
Number of A/C attacking (any target): 36
Number of A/C not attacking: 0
Number of A/C returned to Base: 33q
Number of A/C presumed landed in allied-occupied terr: 1
Number of A/C unaccounted for: 2
Number of A/C known missing: 2
Number of Sorties Flown: 36
b. Spare A/C 7703 (Lt. Rice, pilot) turned back as briefed.
c. Due to severe mechanical trouble, A/C 2106 (Lt. Wismer, pilot) was forced to drop his bombs on a Target of Opportunity at 50°45’N.-09°25’E. He then turned back at 50°50’N.-09°30’E., 1130 hours and landed at this Base at 1438 hours.
2. Two (2) of our aircraft are known missing.
Two (2) aircraft of the High Section, A/C 337-822 (Lt. Buslee, pilot) and A/C 1222 (Lt. Brodie, pilot) collided over the target and both ships were observed going down on fire and out of control. No chutes were observed.
3. Assembly of the Group and Wing was accomplished fifteen (15) minutes before departure time from our Base at 0823 hours, 7,000 feet without difficulty. We were ahead of “Cowboy-Baker” but we swung wide on the first control point and got in our correct slot in the Division at 0920 hours over Cambridge, 7,000 feet. We left the coast of England on course and on time at 0937 hours, Clacton, 9,000 feet. Speeds were S. O. P.
4. The route to the Belgian Coast was without incident and we crossed it at 1001-1/2 hours, 50°10’N.-02°44’E., 13,000 feet. From this point into the I.P. the mission was flown as briefed and without difficulty. No flak was encountered prior to the target and no enemy fighter attacks were made on our Wing for the entire mission. [Wallace Storey notes that this information is incorrect and that ten (10) planes were lost by the 303rd Group of the 41st Combat Wing on this mission. Storey references the books “Mighty Eighth” and “Mighty Eighth War Diaries.”]
5. At the I.P., we were notified by Buckeye-Red that target weather would be approximately 8/10th’s which was accurate. We made our bomb run from the I.P. to the target in Wing formation on PFF. When we approached the target, there was another Section making a run 90° to us on the same target. They passed over the target at the same time we did directly underneath us and we were unable to drop because we would have dropped on them. We therefore made a turn and started a second run in Wing formation. Bombs were away on PFF at 1211 hours from 26,000 feet. However, in the opinion of Capt. Booska, Low Section Leader, it is possible that today’s may have been visual as there was a break in the clouds directly over the target one (1) minute before bombs were away. As it is presumed that the Lead Wing Bombardier landed in Belgium, our reports will state that PFF bombing was accomplished. Magnetic heading of bombs away was 265 degrees. Some crews observed the results through breaks in the clouds and they state that the bombs hit in the target area. Flak at the target was moderate and accurate.
6. After we dropped our bombs, and swung off the target, the Wing Leader informed the Deputy to take over as the former had been hit by flak. At this point, the entire Lead Section started to break up. We were on a collision course at the same time with another unidentified Wing and the Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section. The High and Low reassembled and flew alone until we finally picked up the Lead Section ten (10) miles ahead of us. I called the Deputy Leader to slow down, which he did, and we assembled back into Combat Wing formation. After this, we had no other difficulties and the rest of the mission was flown as briefed and without incident. We departed the Belgian Coast at 1437 hours, 10,500 feet and recrossed the English Coast at 1508 hours, 1,000 feet.
7. Fighter escort was excellent on the entire mission and close support was given at all times. Contact was made with Buckeye-Red and the information received was accurate.
8. There are no further comments or suggestions.
W. E. DOLAN,
Major, Air Corps,
Station S-2 Officer
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013
When I was a little girl, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, told me the most incredible story. This was not a story from a children’s book, and I found it so much more interesting than the usual kids’ tales. He told the story over and over, but in a way that was captivating to a child and not overly frightening. He was in a war and the plane in which he was flying was hit by another plane and split in half, spilling him out. He was the only one of the nine boys on his plane who lived.
He was knocked out in the mid-air collision, but came to when he heard his mother calling his name, finding himself free falling from the plane. He had fallen 25,000 feet before he woke up, but managed to hook up his chute in time and landed on the ground. He lost consciousness again, and when he woke up the second time, an old German woman was beating him with a stick. He was unable to walk and was carried to a house. From there, he was transferred to a German hospital by train, where the guards let him sleep in one of their bunks. He was in the hospital for several months, and was then transferred to a regular barracks in a prison camp. He had to learn to walk again, and at first he was only able to shuffle his feet.
Several months later, he and the other prisoners were moved out of the prison camp and were forced to march across Germany. The prisoners would have to march all day, and sleep in the hay in barns or sometimes out in the open at night. They had very little food.
He showed his war medals and told his story to my young cousins and neighborhood friends, too. We would all ask the same questions. “Why didn’t you tunnel out of the prison camp? Why didn’t you escape on the march when the guards weren’t looking?”
His answers were simple so we children could understand. The prison camp barracks were up on stilts and guard dogs roamed there at night. The prisoners were safer in a group on the march. Survival chances were lower for a man alone. He and other prisoners stole a chicken one night while on the march, and he had to trade his watch for some bread.
Those stories not only stuck with me all these years, but with all of them, too.
In May 2011, I received an e-mail from my cousin, Terry. She was living in the Netherlands at the time and she and her husband had been touring American military cemeteries in Europe. That made her think of my father and the stories he told of being in the war. She started doing some internet research and found my dad’s information on the 384thbombgroup.com website.
She also found Wallace Storey’s account of the September 28, 1944 mission to Magdeburg where he described watching the planes collide. Here was someone who had actually seen the collision that my dad had told me about so many times so very many years ago. I found Mr. Storey’s account on the internet and read and reread the story over and over again, not really believing it was possible that someone else was telling me my father’s story.
I contacted Mr. Storey and in June 2011 visited him at his home in South Carolina. Hearing Mr. Storey recount what he saw took me back to my childhood, listening to my dad tell the tale, but this time from a different perspective. It added another dimension to the story. Now, in my mind, I could see the collision itself, not just the consequences of my dad’s plane breaking in half, and him tumbling unconscious toward the earth.
It also added another angle for me, one I had never considered before. What happened to the plane that collided with my dad’s plane? I had always assumed everyone on the other plane had died, but I was to learn through Mr. Storey that three of the other plane’s crew survived the collision. And I learned that two of the crew were placed in the same German prison camp as my dad. I wonder if he ever knew they were there or met them. Since my dad was hospitalized for a couple of months, I’m sure he wasn’t placed in the same barracks as those men, so he may not have had any contact with them.
Relatives of crew members on both planes involved in the collision have contacted Mr. Storey, and he, in turn, has given me their contact information. I have connected with nephews of both the pilot and top turret gunner on my dad’s plane, and the son of the waist gunner on the other plane. We are not related, but we are a family of sorts. We are all the next generation, or Nexgens as I have heard us called, of these brave boys who were as close as brothers in WWII. We all have the same questions and all spend an unordinary amount of time thinking the same thoughts. Is there anyone out there that knew my dad/granddad/uncle in the war and could you tell me about him? What was it like to live through those times? And what would the boys’ lives have been like if the planes hadn’t collided, and they hadn’t been killed or become prisoners of war?
We Nexgens may not ever know the entire story, but it’s an interesting journey, and one we seem to have no choice but to take. We learn something new every day about our relatives that were in the war, and somehow that knowledge is a comforting thing.
Thank you, Terry, for starting me on this journey to discover as much as possible about my dad’s and our grandparents’ lives during this not-so-pleasant time in history.
And thank you, Wallace, for sharing your WWII memories with me. It is my pleasure and an honor to connect with men like you, who lived through this moment in history and are willing to share their tales.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013
The Buslee and Brodie crews were involved in a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944 during the 384th Bomb Group’s Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard 42-31222, Lazy Daisy. The two planes collided after bombs away and coming off the target.
Nearly part of the day’s tragedy himself, Lt. Col. Wallace A. Storey, USAF (Ret.), witnessed the collision between 43-37822 and Lazy Daisy.
The following excerpt from the book, A Pair of Silver Wings and the Eighth Air Force by Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) and Mrs. Martha L. Storey, is provided for use on The Arrowhead Club website by the kind permission of the authors, who assert full ownership of copyright for the material. Use of this material is limited to the following provisions. This excerpt is intended for unrestricted private use. Please copy and use as needed to support your WWII research. If you wish to incorporate this information in a commercial product of any kind, request authorization from Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) in advance.
September 28, 1944
On this day the 384th Bomb Group was dispatched to bomb the Krupps Steel Manufacturing Plant at Magdeburg, Germany. This was a heavily defended target and a long flight of almost ten hours. On this mission there was a tragic occurrence illustrative of some of the little discussed risks of combat flying that sometimes happened but, fortunately, was never repeated on any of my missions.
After being awakened at 0310 we had breakfast and briefing and were in our planes at 0610 as the “start engine” flares arched from the 384thBG control tower—or “Cherub” as was its call sign. Of course, the radio was not used for aircraft control as the group departed so as to avoid alerting the German defenses any earlier than necessary. Once we were airborne the fact that the 8th was assembling was soon evident to the enemy but any delay increased the chances of deception.
On this mission, I was to follow ship #222, [42-31222]“Lazy Daisy”, flown by Lt. Brodie, on to the taxiway leading to the runway. He was to fly #2 position of the high element of our squadron and I was to fly position #3 (i.e. right and left wing respectively off of the lead plane,#941, [42-97941, “Marion”] of the element). Take off went well as we began our roll at 0720. The Group assembled without incident and we fell into line as briefed for the Wing Order of Battle.
Our 41st Combat Wing was made up that day of the 303rdBG in lead, followed by the 379th, with the 384th last. This order, which varied from mission to mission, was to prove fateful on that day. Just a few weeks earlier the Luftwaffe had begun a new tactic which they called “company front attacks”. They added extra armor and guns to three or four dozen Focke Wolfe FW-190 single engine fighters. They approached the 8th Air Force Groups head on in wedges of eight to sixteen planes so as to saturate the bombers’ defensive fire and sometimes disrupt their formation. Although we did not know it at the time, they had used this tactic against the 446th Group of the Second Division the previous day and inflicted the greatest loss ever suffered by a single group of the 8th Air Force in World War II—-25 B-24’s.
The German fighters used this tactic against the 303rd Group, the lead group in our Combat Wing, on the mission to Magdeburg on the 28th. The 303rd lost eleven B-17’s in this frontal assault. One of the lead pilots of the 303rd is quoted as saying “When we turned on our bomb run we were attacked by about 50 Nazi fighters en masse, coming at us as a solid bunch. Those guys were like mad men–with one idea–to knock us down in a suicidal attack”. There was a total of fifteen B-17’s that were lost that day from our Combat Wing. This amounted to a 13.9% loss of the l08 planes–the highest loss in the Wing of any of my missions.
Being the 3rd Group in the Wing we were fortunate not to be as heavily attacked as the other two Groups, but what happened led to confusion as we bombed the target. Flak was extremely heavy that day and the Wing had been somewhat disrupted by the heavy opposition. We found ourselves on a crossing course with another Group and just after “bombs away” the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn. Our high element, being on the inside of this steep turn, had to move quickly by reducing power while climbing slightly. Glancing to my right, I saw that “Lazy Daisy” was sliding toward me. I pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path while keeping my eye on the #2 ship of the lead element, Lt. Buslee in #337 [43-37822], on whose wing our element was flying. I yelled to Gross to watch for him to come out on the other side and, sure enough, he slid under us and right into Buslee in the lead element.
I watched the two planes as they collided. It cut #337 [43-37822] in half and the wings on #222 [42-31222] folded up and both planes fell in a fireball. They were 18 men lost in those two ships. We didn’t see any chutes as we continued our turn to the right.
Some of the formations were broken up, both because of this and because of the fighter attack, but we did not have any further problem as we headed back home. Even though the 1st Division lost 23 planes, the Germans did not come out unscathed. There were 10 confirmed fighters destroyed, 7 probables, and 5 damaged by the B-17 gunners. Our crew was extremely lucky that day as “Lazy Daisy”, by all normal odds, should have collided with us and must have crossed under with less than five foot clearance as I pulled up. And for Buslee, flying on the last of his 35 missions, and for Brodie, and their crews it was the unluckiest of all days.
We were all happy to be safely back at Grafton Underwood as we touched down on the soil of England. Upon inspecting our plane we found two sizable Flak holes but, fortunately, they missed our fuel tanks and other vital points. Fighters and Flak were not the only dangers of combat flying. Taking off, assembling, and landing in extremely bad English weather (such as grounded the 8th frequently in 1943 but not later) formation flying in weather where only the adjoining plane could be seen and maneuvering large formations required great competency in the flight crews and, often, great luck as described in this mission.
Copyright (C) 2002—Lt/Col. Wallace A. Storey
- I have included clarifications of aircraft serial numbers and names in brackets above.
- Correction: John Oliver Buslee, pilot of 43-37822, was flying his 16th mission on September 28, 1944.
- The William A. Johnstone crew was aboard 42-97941, Marion.
- The Kenneth E. Gross crew was aboard 43-38548, name unknown. Co-Pilot Wallace A. Storey, was flying the plane and was able to see Lazy Daisy coming toward him from the co-pilot seat on the right side of the cockpit. His quick reaction saved his crew from an otherwise certain collision. The Pilot, Gross, may never have seen Lazy Daisy from his vantage point on the left side of the cockpit.
- The Richard H. Groff crew was aboard 43-38615, name unknown.
- The Harold M. Toler crew was High Group Lead aboard 43-38016, Lorraine. Robert M. Mitchell, who had served as Ball Turret Gunner twice with Buslee crew waist gunner George Edwin Farrar, was on the Toler crew on this mission.
Wallace A. Storey provided this diagram depicting the formation of the aircraft just prior to the collision:
To read more about Wallace A. Storey, click here.
With the exception of material in this post copyrighted by Wallace A. Storey, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013
The following biography of Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) is provided for use on The Arrowhead Club website by the kind permission of the author, Wallace A. Storey, who asserts full ownership of copyright for the material. Use of this material is limited to the following provisions. This biography is intended for unrestricted private use. Please copy and use as needed to support your WWII research. If you wish to incorporate this information in a commercial product of any kind, request authorization from Lt. Col. Wallace Storey, USAF (Ret.) in advance.
Following the outbreak of World War II and the entry into the conflict of the United States, Wallace A. Storey joined the US Army Air Force on August 13, 1942. Upon being called to active duty in February 1943, he went through pilot training in the Central Flying Training Command in Texas. Preflight was completed at San Antonio, Texas and Primary Flight Training at Jones Field, Bonham, Texas. After Basic Training at Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas and Advanced Training at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas, Aviation Cadet Storey graduated in Class 44C and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Air Force.
Storey completed B-17 Flying Fortress Training at McDill Field, Tampa, Florida and was sent to England in June of 1944, joining the 8th Air Force. His service in the 8th was in the 545th Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group. His service there involved attacks on the V-1 sites in France, support of army and paratroop attacks in Operation Market Garden, the breakout at Metz, and during the Battle of the Bulge. The majority of his missions were against German Chemical and Synthetic Oil Refineries.
Storey flew 16 missions as co-pilot and 19 as first pilot with the same crew.
Upon return to the Zone of the Interior, Storey served in the Air Transport Command as a Ferry Pilot until the end of the War. Subsequent to active duty service, Storey served in the Air Force Reserve until retirement as a Lt/Col. in February of 1969.
Military Service History
1. U.S. Army Air Forces – 1942-1945.
2. USAAF Central Flying Training Command – Rated Pilot – 1944.
3. B-17 Transition School – Rated four-engine Pilot – 1944.
4. Pilot USAAF 8th Air Force – European Theater – Heavy Bombardment. Recipient of fifteen (15) medals and battle stars for thirty-five (35) combat missions.
5. Rated Commercial Pilot – Single and multi-engine – 1945.
6. Graduate Squadron Officer’s School USAF – 1959.
7. Qualified Base Engineer USAF – 1959.
8. Graduate Civil Engineer Administration School USAF – 1961.
9. Rated Communication/Electronics Officer and Pilot Tactical Bomber-1961.
10. Rated Development Officer (Special) USAF -1964.
11. Graduate Command and Staff War College- -1965.
12. Retired Lt/Colonel United States Air Force Reserve – 1969- Present.
13. Member of the U.S. Air Force Association.
14. Life Member of The Retired Officer’s Association.
Copyright (C) 2002—Lt/Col. Wallace A. Storey
Pilot – Kenneth E. Gross
Co-Pilot – Wallace A. Storey
Navigator – Kenneth J. Nelson
Bombardier – Robert Clock Hassard
Radio Operator/Gunner – Dean R. Hepner
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Wilbert G. Brickner
Ball Turret Gunner – Kniland E. Tod
Tail Gunner – Allen G. Carson
Flexible Gunner – Jesse L. Johnson
Flexible Gunner – Edward B. Stone
Crew Last 19 Missions:
Pilot – Wallace A. Storey
Co-Pilot – James E. Sweeney
Rest of Crew same as original crew except Johnson
Lt. Col. Wallace Storey lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina and can be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the exception of material in this post copyrighted by Wallace A. Storey, © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013