For further details, read on.
Between August 1942 and November 1943 (15 months), he was in training at the following places:
According to one website describing the history of the 100th Bomb Group:
In 1943. the average life of an 8th Air Force B-17 crew was eleven missions [Orrin did 16]. In 1943-1945, the 100th lost 177 aircraft missing in action plus 52 lost due to operational accidents, making a total of 229. The 100th was not the Group with the highest losses in the 8th, but since its losses often came many at a time, it soon acquired the reputation of a hard-luck outfit and the name “The Bloody Hundredth.”
For more information about the 100th Bomb Group, see:
information about the base Thorpe Abbotts in
Between November 30 and
Source: Aviation History website, http://www.aviation-history.com/boeing/b17.html
For more information on the B-17 Flying Fortress, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-17_Flying_Fortress
various times during his service he received passes for going into
He flew on several B-17’s, including: “Ol Dad”, “Bertha the Blues”, “The Bigassbird II”.
He specifically mentions other crew members in his journal: Lt. Gossage, Lohof, Vollmer, Phillips, and Lt. William Murray.
is a photo of Orrin and other members of his crew who were shot down over
William B. Murray crew (left to right):
Standing: Mahlon Hall (
Kneeling: Fred Schillinger (
KIA=killed in action; POW=Prisoner of War
349th Sqdn. MACR #3017, Microfiche #1020, Aircraft #42-30799 – Bigassbird II.
article in the Antigo Daily Journal, Antigo,
Heinrich’s story began
They both saw a doctor who then dressed their wounds.
Following is a copy of his registration papers at Dulag-Luft:
His identification number (KGF) was 3377.
to a website on prisoners of war in
[Dulag-Luft’s] chief function was to obtain information of an operational character relating to Allied Air Forces through the interrogati0on of captured crews of Allied planes. Information thus acquired was of course supplemented by the evaluation of documents sometimes recovered from crashed aircraft. The only information, which a prisoner is required to give…, consists of his true names and rank or regimental number. If he refuses such information he need not be accorded any privileges. There is nothing in international law which… prohibits the interrogation of prisoners, provided no pressure of any sort is employed to extract (it).
It was the invariable practice that captured aircrew personnel passed first through this intelligence center for interrogation before being sent via a transit camp to an established prisoner of war camp. It became generally known as Dulag Luft…
Upon arrival at Dulag Luft, prisoners were undressed and their clothes searched. They were then put into cells described in solitary confinement. They were there visited by a reception officer…and sometimes by an interpreter as well if the reception officer was not fluent in the language of the prisoner. The reception officer would endeavor to persuade the prisoner to answer all the questions on the form…. And would transmit this form together with his assessment of the character of the prisoner to Major Junge…who in turn would detail the most suitable member of his staff top conduct the questioning. These interrogations were sometimes held in the cells, but more often in the rooms of the officer detailed. Usually such interrogations were quite short, as, for instance in the case of an air gunner, who would have little information; but sometimes in the case of a pilot or prisoners who were particularly security minded, the interrogations might continue for three or four days, often twice per day.
The interrogation officers would compile in the form of statements, the information which they had gleaned as a result of their oral examination of the prisoners, and these statements would then be forwarded to the German Air force Operations staff.
On insert date, Orrin’s wife received a
telegram from the US Government informing her that Orrin was a prisoner of war
Orrin was subsequently transferred to “Stalag Luft I” at Barth near the
According to a website on prisoner of war (PW) camps in
By Jan. 1944, 507 American Air-Force officers were detained there. The strength of the camp grew rapidly from this date, until April 1944 when the Red Cross reported 3,463 inmates. [Orrin arrived in March 1944.] New compounds were opened and quickly filled. Nearly 6000 PWs were crowded into the camp in Sept. 1944, and at the time of the liberation of the camp 7717 Americans and 1,427 Britons were returned to military control.
… Early in 1944 the camp consisted of 2 compounds designated as South & West compounds , containing a total of 7 barracks, in which American officers & British officers and enlisted men were housed. … The South compound was always unsatisfactory due to the complete lack of adequate cooking, washing, and toilet facilities. [Orrin was in the South compound - Barrack 1 - Room 6.]
… Guard towers were placed at strategic intervals.
… Each barracks contained triple-tiered wooden beds equipped with mattresses filled with wood chips. A communal day room was set aside in almost every barracks, but equipment was negligible. Lighting was inadequate throughout the camp, and since the Detaining Power required the shutters to remain closed from 2100 to 0600, ventilation was entirely insufficient.
… Stoves for
heating and cooking varied in each compound, except that facilities in all
compounds were inadequate. Many of the buildings were not weather proof, and
the extremely cold climate of northern
… Prior to April 1944, treatment was considered fairly good. Followng the April meeting of the Protecting Powers however, the German attitude towards PWs became more severe. New orders regarding air raids were issued by the Germans. These required all personnel to be inside when the "immediate warning" siren was blown. As a result, 3 cases of German patrol guards shooting at men inside the camp occurred during May. At the same time the Commandant issued regulations authorizing guards to use firearms, to avenge what they termed "insults to German honor". The German interpretation of this order was extremely liberal, and more shooting developed.
… Red Cross parcels, when available, were issued at the rate of one per person per week.
… The German
food ration, up until
… Until this "starvation" period, the normal daily menu would consist of about 6 potatoes, one-fifth of a loaf of bread, margarine, marmalade, a small piece of meat (usually horsemeat), 2 vegetables (cabbage, parsnips, beets or turnips) tea & coffee, and an amount of sugar. In addition, a thin barley soup was frequently served.
... One bath-house containing 10 shower-heads represented the only facilities for over 4,000 officers to bathe
… The climate in the region was extremely cold, and both the number of stoves and the amount of fuel issued were insufficient to maintain good health.
… All incoming
mail at Stalag Luft 1 was censored at Stalag Luft 3 until Jan. 1945. Some
pieces of mail received at the camp had been in transit 6 & 7 months, and
normally men would be in the camp 7 months before receiving their first news
from home. The average time in transit from the
… Representatives of the International Red Cross visited the camp approximately every 4 months.
For a complete description and photos of what it was like at Stalag Luft I, see: http://www.b24.net/pow/stalag1.htm
did a number of activities for recreation, including playing football and
baseball, participating in educational and artistic activities, and attending
musical and theatrical entertainment.
Following is a copy of the program for a musical comedy “Hit The Bottle”
performed at camp on
Orrin spent 14 and 1/2 months as a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft I, as “a guest of Germany”, as soldiers said.
According to a website on Stalag Luft I:
At about 2200 that evening, the guards turned out the perimeter & street lights. A few moments later these same guards were observed marching out of the camp leaving the gate unlocked, As soon as this news was conveyed to the SAO, he formally took over the camp, The following morning the PW "military police" of the camp were put in charge of all guard stations, to see that the men remained orderly and stayed in the camp. Another organization was formed to serve as exterior guards to prevent wandering parties of Germans from coming into camp.
Although the actual liberation was performed by the Russians, no effort was made by them to evacuate the PW from the area.
According to a website on Stalag Luft I, the evacuation involved over 200 B-17’s carrying over 9,000 POWs:
assembled in the Orderly Room we were told by the briefing officer that we had
one more mission to fulfill. Our mission would be to fly into
… In three days
U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE heavy bombers have brought out over 9,000 Allied
prisoners from Stalag Luft No. I at
For further information and photos, see:
Orrin was discharged from the Air Force with the rank of Captain in 1946.
As a result of his service he received the following medals of Honor
A description of these medals follows (compliments of Jean Adams Heinrich):
For more information about the Prisoner of War Medal, see: http://www.merkki.com/powmedal.htm
Orrin kept a journal from the day he
enlisted to two days prior to his being shot down over
years, Orrin had an opportunity to return to the area in
article in the Antigo Daily Journal, Antigo,
A search spanning 43 years and two
continents landed Orrin Heinrich of Antigo in the pages of a German newspaper
recently. Heinrich, a retired fur
… The trip back to
Heinrich says the mix-up was understandable, since 40 B-17 bombers were shot down in about two minutes over the Vechta area that day. “The whole area was just loaded with stories of picking men up and locking them up and waiting for the army,” Heinrich says. “Things were so changed. Most of the small farmers were gone replaced by large farms.”
The former airman says that he wished he had rented an airplane to fly over the area, since the landmarks he remembered might be more easily discovered from a vantage point similar to that of a B-17 bomber. There is still hope. In the German newspaper article people who could remember the capture 43 years ago were asked to contact local researchers or Heinrich. “If I could have found that young boy who spoke English, he’d be 57 now, that would have made me happy,” Heinrich says.
Following is a copy of the article in the German newspaper, followed by the translation:
Following is a copy of the article in the Antigo newspaper:
In 1989, Orrin’s son Joseph Heinrich, and
Joseph’s wife Jane, visited the 100th Bomb Group memorial museum at