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November 29, 2000

Mr. Henry M. Farwell

Dear Henry:

Received your letter of November 7, 2000 along with the flak helmet photo, thank you for both. Thank you also for the kind words. I have not written up 386th Group Mission 209, in final form, however I do have all the research done concerning it.

June 15 ,1944 the Group scheduled thirty-five aircraft to bomb a fuel dump along with a number of supply trucks and other enemy vehicles. One of the planes scheduled had a problem and did not take off. The remaining thirty-four ships took off on runway 33 at 0745 hours, formed up and headed across the channel to the enemy French Coast.

Twenty-four of our planes carried 250 pound general purpose demolition bombs, the other ten planes carried 500 pound bombs.  Your plane flying in the second box of eighteen, high flight carried eight 500 pounders.  Fighter support was made up of P-47’s and P-38 aircraft, there were also some Spitfires in the mix.  All allied fighters provided area cover for our Group and other B-26 units operating in the sector.  No flak was encountered on the first run to the target.  However a second run was made, during a 360 degree turn moderate accurate flak was encountered.  The flak was reported as coming from between Villers Bocage and Bougy Airdrome.  All groups operating in that area reported heavy type accurate flak. Four gun batteries have reported as being seen there.  The target area location was La Roque, France.  The target did not have an aiming point, area bombing was ordered in the heavy wooded section from 8,000 feet, bombing by eighteen’s. First box bombs carried over the desired area covering a 820 x 5200 foot area. Some bomb bursts occurred in the woods and extending northwest . There were several hits on the main Jurques-le-Meznit, Auzoup road, with no apparent damage to an enemy armored vehicle on that road.

The second box area pattern covered 900 x 3300 foot section with bursts in the desired area. The pattern extended northwest from the starting point in the woods, and also hits on the aforementioned road. One leaflet bomb was also dropped. Bombing was made on a 315 degree heading at 0931 hours. Returning crews reported several convoys of enemy vehicles including heavy tanks at 0911 hours. Nineteen Group aircraft were battle dam- aged, two of which were totaled.  Upon landing in England a 554th Squadron plane 131622 RU-D crash landed at a base called Friston after retuning from enemy territory on single engine.   Captain Asa Hillis the pilot received a flak wound in left wrist.  Tech Sergeant Henry Farwell who was flying as bombardier was wounded when a piece of flak tore through his flak helmet causing a very bloody head injury.  The name of their plane was "LITLJO".   A second plane made a crash landing back at Great Dunmow base, the pilot Lieutenant Earl Slanker 552nd Squadron brought it in on its belly.  His bombardier Lieutenant Solon Humle received a small wound in the dorsal surface right elbow caused by flak.  The radioman on the same plane Tech Sergeant Burton Vreeland was injured as he escaped from the wrecked airplane.  The name of the plane was "CAREFREE CAROLYN" tail number 135247 RG-Z.  They were flying in number six position lead flight, in the first eighteen.  The Blackwelder crew reported a B-17 burning on the ground near Lunvierz.  One other person was hit by flak, Corporal J.D. Collins tail gunner flying with Lieutenant Madson, 552nd Squadron in ship 296112 RG-F, the plane had no nickname.  They had been flying in number four position in the lead flight in the first box of eighteen planes.  The bombing results for the 386th Group was rated from fair to excellent.  The 387th Bomb Group operating in the same general area had one B-26 shot down and one plane crashed in England.

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554th BS, 386th BG, June 15, 1944 - Group Mission Number 209. The archives who wrote the information shown in the display case did not have much confidence that Tech Sergeant Henry M. Farwell survived the flak hit. However the narration above shows otherwise!

Henry, enclosed you will find a copy of your crew orders for retuning to the U.S.A.   Well I guess that is all for this sortie, take care and stay in touch.


Chester P. Klier
Historian, 386th Bomb Group

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