Lance-Corporal R. Orchard

 

Unit : No.8 Platoon, "A" Company, 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment

Army No. : 5123690

 

The following is Lance-Corporal Orchard's account as a prisoner of war:

 

 

Captured 23 Sept 1944. Arnhem "Holland".

 

One meal in 7 days, 50 men in a cattle truck. No food one water bottle between 50. Reached Lindberg [Stalag XIIA, Limburg] "Germany" 29th. Hell Camp. Stayed 3 weeks. No wash yet. No water. Left for Sargan [Stalag VIIIC, Sagan] Upper Silesia conditions a little better still not enough food, met my old Pltn Sgt, Sgt White.

 

Percy Collet killed [Private Percival Collett, No.8 Platoon, KIA 19/09/44]. Haven't heard anything of Bill, Jack Ross [No.7 Platoon, wounded, prisoner of war]. Whole operation badly organised. 12,000 on op, 6,000 killed, 4,000 wounded & prisoner, 2000 escaped. German losses 18,000 killed 10,000 wounded, Monty's tanks never reached us.

 

Reprisals taken against us by Germans, took away our Palliasses Tables Forms lights, later on would not let Camp Leader C.S.M. G. Baxter give out Red Cross parcels. Getting news by secret wireless. Russians pretty close, everybody's confident we will be relieved by them, can hear the Russians guns. Receive orders to move, told 4 day march we marched for 36 days men dying every day. I dashed out to get swede, two of the guards gave me a hiding but I kept the swede. Last week of march everybody overran by lice, got dysentery bouts worn right down must go sick, 3 men die in barn. No treatment, everybody just about beat but won't show it.

 

Reached Stalag 9B Badall [Bad Orb] Germany in a pretty rough state. Some American P.O.W. already there they look almost as bad as we do.

 

We go to the hospital. No doctor, orderlies, palliasses or fire one man died in the night slept on floor and the boys can still joke.

 

Flour water for dinner 6th of a loaf for Tea no Breakfast or Supper.

 

Yank guns are getting nearer, everybody on their toes.

 

Monday Morning April 1st 1945. British M.O. tells us we're free men, everybody keyed up, waiting for the American tanks, they arrive about 10.20 break the wire down everything O.K. now.

 

Flown home on the 6th April, landed near Winchester, can't properly realise it yet, treated like Lords. Both Bill & Jack Ross O.K.

 

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