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Christmas 1944

1944-11-23-Rybarczyk-001

1944-11-23-Rybarczyk-002

Chester Rybarczyk, original Navigator with the Buslee crew, was very lucky to not be on the Lead Banana with his regular crewmates on September 28, 1944 when it collided with the Lazy Daisy.  Rybarczyk, who witnessed the collision and was concerned about the fate of the crew, sent this Christmas card to the Farrar family on November 23, 1944.  Still no news about the crew almost two months later.  Rybarczyk wrote:

I hope you have heard some good news.  I have heard nothing as yet.

“Chet”

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

August 14, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

At this point in his combat career, George Edwin Farrar has flown four missions, the roughest being his first on August 5, 1944.

August 14, 1944

England

Dearest Mother:

Haven’t heard from you in a couple days, so thought I would go ahead and write.  Hope everyone is doing all right.  I guess by the time you receive this, school will be started off again.  I hope everyone will do as good as they did last term.

It only takes nine days to receive your letters now, but I have never received a V-mail letter.  I don’t know what is wrong, as I think you told me several weeks ago you sent me one.  Maybe it will get here before I leave.

I still like England all right, and the food is getting better each day, that is on the base, because you just can’t get anything to eat in town.

I sure hope I can finish up and get home by Christmas, or the first of the year.

I got a letter from the little Bryant girl, and she was raising all kind of hell about a blonde.  I only know the girl, and she said in the letter she wasn’t playing second to anyone (what a laugh).  I guess she will learn.

Well I guess I had better cut this, as I will be up early in the morning, and the sleep will come in good.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 28, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

Ed Farrar’s last letter to his mother before leaving the states for combat duty.  The reference to “my boy” is his younger brother, Gene, who would have been 13 at the time.  Also at home would have been his younger sister, Beverly, only 7 in 1944.  Ed needed to be able to send money home to help support the family as his father was gravely ill and bedridden, unable to work.  Payday in the service during WWII must not have been consistent as you can read below.

June 28, 1944

Dear Mother:

In just a little while and we will be on our way.  I wish I could tell you where to, but it just isn’t being done this season.  I can tell you we will stay once more in the States, and I will try to drop you a line from there.  I am in the ship now.  We have everything packed, and we are taking time about watching it until take-off time.

This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.

I am sorry about sending you any money before I leave, but they didn’t pay us, and there was so much to do, that there was nothing we could do about it.

The card inside is the address of the jewelers where I left my watch.  If they don’t send it to you in a couple of weeks, please write them a letter and ask about it.

I guess that covers everything except how much I would have liked to see everyone before we leave.  I would have phoned, but I had such little money, I thought it best to hold onto it.  Take good care of everything and I’ll be back soon.  I hate to be running around so much, but I am used to it by now.  I never know where I will be from one day to the other, and that does make the time go by fast, but I’ll be glad when this is all over.

Tell everyone and especially my boy hello.  Will drop you a card later.

With all my love,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 26, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

Another letter to his mother before departing the states.  Janet and Dot are two of Ed’s sisters.  The reference to Forts must be an abbreviation for Flying Fortresses, another name for the B-17 aircraft.

June 26, 1944

Dear Mother:

One more day in this place, and we will be going.  You should receive my A.P.O. address in a couple of days.  And you can write me then.  I will be where I am going in a few days, or by the time you receive this letter.  I wish you would write me one letter air mail, and one V-mail letter at the same time, and see which one I receive first.  We are not being paid here, as we thought.  I’ll try and tell you when I fly my first mission, but am not sure they will let it through the mail.  Just keep up with the papers and you will see what the Forts are doing.

Tell Janet and Dot I really appreciated the letters, and will write them the first chance I get.  Maybe there will be a little more to write about next week.  I’ll write you every other day if we are at our base.  You know they are flying from one base to the other, and bomb each way.  You can also get the thirty missions in that way.  I’ll try to drop you a line again before we leave the states.  I am sure glad that we are flying over, as I don’t care to take the long ride it takes on a boat.  We can go over in a matter of hours.  So after all I won’t be so far away.  Will close here, until I get another chance to write.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 25, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

On the move and on the way to England, the Buslee crew has arrived at the location where they received the plane they would fly over.  The letter does not indicate where they were at the time.

June 25, 1944

Dear Mother,

Just a line to let you know that everything is fine.  There is no use in you writing me here, as we will only be here four days.  We have our own plane, and will fly over.  We should be there next week this time.  If I get my new address before I leave, I will send it to you.

I left my watch in Ardmore to be worked on.  They were going to send it to me, but there will not be time, so I am having them send it to you.  There will be a little charge on it.  I will send you the money before we leave here, as we will get paid.  I may have some things to send home so you can look for them.  I will write you where you can send my watch when I get over.  Be sure and save the letter so they will let you send it at the Post Office.  You have to show them the letter that I asked for it before you can send it.

You know I may be home for Christmas.  I hope so anyway.  Don’t count on it too much, but I am going to try.

Tell Gene he should see our plane.  It only has twelve hours on it and guns all over it.  They are giving each of us a cal. – 45 pistol and a large knife.  You would think we were going to look for a fight.

That is about all for now, but will write again when I have time.  Please don’t worry about me as I know what I am doing, and love it.  Tell every-one hello.

With love,

Ed

Farrar’s mother did get the watch to him in England, but the watch did not make it back to the states with him after the war.  More on that later.

Questions:

  1. Where would the crew have picked up the aircraft they flew to England?
  2. What serial number/name was the aircraft?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

June 22, 1944 Letter from Ed Farrar to His Mother

On June 8, 1944, while at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School in Ardmore, Oklahoma, George Edwin (Ed) Farrar received combat duty orders requiring “regular and frequent participation in aerial flights.”  Two weeks later he wrote a letter to his mother.  He would leave the states in about a week, but still didn’t know where he would be permanently stationed.

June 22, 1944

Ardmore Army Air Base

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Dearest Mother,

Received your sweet letter this noon, and also the one from Gene [one of Ed’s younger brothers].  I enjoyed both very much.  I don’t guess I’ll hear from you any-more from this station, but will send you my new address as soon as I learn it.  There is a lot of talk that we are not going to England, as we thought, but will find out at our next station.  We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane.  It should take from three to seven days.  I’ll write you as often as I can, and I want you to know that I haven’t waited this long to start asking God to help me.  That is one thing I have never been too proud to do, and I think it helps a lot, too.

There is one thing nice about not going to England, and that is we won’t run into as much flak anywhere else.  All we will have to worry about is fighters, and we have damn good guns on our ships to take good care of them.  That is why we fly more missions everywhere else.  When we are not flying, we don’t have to turn our hands, and in less than a year I’ll be back with thirty days to spend at home.  We may even finish by Christmas, as I am going to fly every mission I can, and finish up soon.

Well, I had better cut this here as we have a long hop in front of us.  Will write again soon.

Love to all,

Ed

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

Combat Orders – June 8, 1944

Combat Orders

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013

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 at cindy@thearrowheadclub.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013