World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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Bruce Bockstanz POW photo ID card - wwII 

2nd Lt. Bruce Bockstanz 
 96th Bomb Group 

Shot down on July 19, 1944. was assigned to the North II compound, Block 4, Room 12 of Stalag Luft I.

Bruce lives in Grosse Pointe, MI and is married has 5 children and 12 grandchildren.  Bruce recently attended the 55th Anniversary of the Liberation in Barth.  Click here to send email to Bruce.

When Bruce arrived at Stalag Luft I he found his cousin Ernie Bockstanz assigned to the same room as him !! 

Pictured below are 10 of the 18 Kriegies of Stalag Luft I, North II Compound, Block 4, Room 12.  This photo was taken on one of their last days there.

North 2, Block 4, Room 12 prisoner of war at Stalag Luft I

Front row:  Ernie Germono,  R.L. (Pancho) McNichols,  Bill (Mushmouth) Tate,  Ernie (Bugs) Bockstanz

Back row:  Ralph (Bluto) Rinard,  Ray (Sam) McCormick,  George (Sully) Sullivan,  Dick (Rollo) Reedy, Bruce (Big Bocky) Bockstanz, and Andy (The Gump) Lohman.

Note from Bruce:  Everyone in the POW camp had a nickname.   Even with 18 in a small room they still enjoyed each others company and Bruce is convinced that adversity brings out the best in one.


Roommates -  North 2  - Block 4,  Room 12

Charles E. Quinby 1st Lt. Michigan
Joseph Bernstein 2nd Lt. New Jersey
Ernest L. Bockstanz 2nd Lt. Michigan
George J. Sullivan 2nd Lt. Michigan
Richard C. Winston 2nd Lt. New York
Thomas W. Bonds 1st Lt. Arkansas
Guy M. Carter 2nd Lt. Florida
Raymond A. McCormick 2nd Lt. Wisconsin
Richard W. Reedy 2nd Lt. Pennsylvania
David R. Snaars, Jr. 2nd Lt. New York
Robert McNichols 2nd Lt. Ohio
William M. Tate 2nd Lt. Tennessee
Ralph J. Rinard 2nd Lt. Indiana
Robert J. Keylock 2nd Lt. Wisconsin
Ernest Germano 2nd Lt. California
Earl W. Newton, Jr. 2nd Lt. Illinois
Andy Lohman 2nd Lt. Minnesota
Dennis J. Brennman 2nd Lt. New York
Robert A. Marmaduke, Jr.   Illinois
Guy Wilson   Ohio
Bruce K. Bockstanz 2nd Lt. Michigan



Highlights of a young American during World War II.  From his carefree civilian college life to the Army Air Corps training as a navigator. From there it's off to England and the Air War in Europe until he is shot down and finds himself in a German Prisoner of War Camp.

Read Bruce's well documented and detailed memoirs: 

  • Highlights of Life - excerpts from letters written to and from Bruce during the years 1940 thru 1945. 

  • From the Wild Blue Yonder to Kreigesgefangerenlager (POW Camp) -  very good detail on Bruce's experience from the final flight on the B-17.  From the bail-out, to the evasion on the ground, the capture and subsequent beating inflicted by the local Gestapo, and transport to POW camp.

  • Diary of Lt. Bruce K. Bockstanz – Stalag Luft I -  Bruce's personal notes on life in the POW camp  thru evacuation to Camp Lucky Strike in LeHarve, France awaiting a trip home via a "liberty ship"  Covers the dates 3/8/45 thru 6/24/45

  • The Last Flight of the Silver Slipper by Bruce's pilot - 1st Lt. Charles Quinby - an account of the events occurring on Bruce's last bombing mission as written by the pilot of the B-17.

    Stars and Stripes article - November 11, 2001 - The Return to Stalag Luft I

    From our guestbook:

    Name: Jim Bockstanz
    Hometown: St. Clair, MI
    Sent: 11:24 AM - 6/18 2000
    On this Father's Day 2000, my thoughts are of how lucky I am to have my father (Bruce Bockstanz) around to share his experiences with me and the rest of his family. The time we have left together will be cherished. I am grateful for the interest you have shown in his remembrances of his time spent at Luft I and am looking forward to the addition of his story to your wonderful site. I hope everyone that reads his accounts will realize the personal toll each of these prisoners paid for all of us to enjoy the life we have today. Your efforts are a great service for future generations to be able to relive the sacrifices of war and realize the heroism that all servicemen showed in the face of ultimate sacrifice.

    Name: Bruce Bockstanz
    Hometown: Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
    Sent: 4:00 PM - 6/2
    On this day in 1944 I was navigating a brand new B-17 from Gander, New Foundland to Valley, Wales - on my 22nd birthday!

    Sent: 5:54 PM - 5/31
    I just finish reading the new section to this great web site - 'Rescue'. Raymond Darling's recollections as a rescuer brought tears to my eyes as a rescuee! I will never forget my feelings of utter elation when those big birds - those b-17's - those flying fortresses, swept down on that airfield at Barth. We were free at last!   

     On one point I question Mr. Darling's recollections. He said that we were haggard and skinny and our eyes were glazed. Like we were in a trance. If our eyes were glazed, it was because we were anticipating our return to the states and those that were waiting for us there (with maybe a warm-up stop in Paris)!

     As for 'haggard and skinny', we had been eating well since Easter, about two months before. About that time our hosts began to realize that 'for them the war was over' and that they better start treating us better. They found that they did have some Red Cross food parcels after all. Most of us put back the weight that we had lost during a tough winter. Then when the Russians arrived, they rounded up all the nearby cattle and drove them onto our peninsula. So while waiting for the airfield to be prepared, we gourged on hamburgers and milk.

     As evidence that we were in good shape and raring to get on with the things that we had missed, look at the photo of my roommates and i under 'kriegies', elsewhere in this web site. This was taken just after the German guards had left and we were waiting for the Russians. Do our eyes look 'glazed'? Or is that the joy we felt shining through.

     We said at the time that in later years, we would forget the rough parts and remember the better moments. That's what I’m experiencing today. While I’m in the mood, I just called my pilot, Chuck Quinby and started arrangements to meet him at the 8th air force reunion in Salt Lake city in October! 

    Sent: 8:33 AM - 3/20/2000
    I was a navigator on the B-17, The Silver Slipper. It was the first non-painted fortress to fly in the ETO. We were stationed at the 96th bomb group at Snetterton Heath.
    On July 19, 1944, we were hit by two flax bursts just after dropping our bombs on the ball-bearing plant at Schweinfurt. Escorted by P-38's, we dropped out of formation and flew for an hour on two engines. We bailed out over Reil on the Mosel River. After interrogation, we spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft I, Barth, Pomarania, North compound II, block 4, room 12.
    Am currently trying to find out more about the ceremony at Barth in April. Anyone planning to attend? 

    Bruce Bockstanz - Grosse Pointer of Interest

Bruce was chosen as Grosse Pointe's Pointer of Interest on July 13, 2000

Bruce was a Navigator with the 96th Bomb Group

Navigators tools from World War II Navigation cadets were sent to flying school following preflight where they spent from 15 to 20 weeks in training. Emphasis was placed on precision dead-reckoning navigation with basic proficiency in pilotage, radio, and celestial navigation. A navigation cadet logged approximately 100 hours in the air but for every hour of flight, he spent five hours in the classroom.

The demand for navigators required a constant expansion of the training program through 1943 and by VJ-Day, more than 50,000 had been graduated. The elimination rate was approximately 20%

Upon completion of training, navigators usually were sent to operational training units to become part of a flying crew being readied for combat assignment.



“The Navigator Graduate”

By Marvin C. Petersen

I’ve won the right to wear these Silver Wings
and see the many awesome sights of
which the poet sings.

I’ve earned a place among the gods of flight
under the sun’s and moon’s eternal light.

I now can join that group so proud
who can look down upon a cloud
And find their way across unmarked space
where for them alone there is a place.

I can now join that honored fraternity
whose members look into eternity,
Who fly beyond the fetters of the earth
and see at once, yesterday’s death and
tomorrow’s birth.

I stand today upon duty’s threshold here
where opportunity is shining clear
And know that what tomorrow brings
depends on how I guide these Silver Wings.


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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.