SOME OF THE PRISONERS HELD AT
Heidrich pictured as a Generalmajor while commanding the 7th Flieger-Division
in Russia, winter 1942/1943.
Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross worn at the throat awarded for his
role commanding Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3 during the conquest of
German Cross in Gold, worn on the right breast, recognized his leadership
of the regiment on its first deployment to Russia in late 1941.
General der Fallschirmtruppe Richard Heidrich (Luftwaffe)
RANK: General der Fallschirmtruppe
CAPTURED: St. Christofore, Italy
DATE: 3 May 1945
OF BIRTH: 28 July 1896
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lewalde/Saxony
DATE OF DEATH: 22 December 1947
PLACE OF DEATH: Hamburg-Bergedorf (while in hospital care)
OCCUPATION: Regular Soldier
HAIR COLOUR: Fair
EYE COLUR: Blue
NEXT OF KIN: British Zone
Volunteer: 18 August 1914
17 November 1914
18 May 1915
14 July 1915
20 August 1915 – Patent 17 December 1915, later established at 1 September
31 July 1925 – RDA 1 April 1925 (171)
1 February 1931
18 January 1936 – RDA 1 April 1935
1 January 1939 – RDA 1 April 1937
4 July 1940 – RDA 1 April 1940
4 August 1942 – RDA 1 August 1942
1 July 1943
der Fallschirmtruppe: 31 October 1944 – RDA 1 October 1944 (1)
August 1914-10 April 1915: Entered the Army as a War Volunteer in Reserve
Infantry Regiment 101.
April 1915-30 September 1916: Transferred to the Royal Saxon 3. Infanterie-Regiment
König Ludwig III von Bayern Nr.102.
October 1916-15 May 1920: Platoon and Company Leader in the Royal Saxon
16. Infanterie-Regiment Nr.182.
May 1920-30 September 1920: Platoon Leader in Reichswehr Border Jäger
Regiment 24 of Reichswehr-Brigade 12.
October 1920-26 August 1924: Platoon Leader in the 10th (Saxon) Infantry
Regiment upon the formation of the new Reichsheer from the Übergangsheer
or Transitional Army.
August 1924-30 September 1925: Leader Assistant Course with the staff
of Wehrkreis [Military District] Command IV, Dresden.
October 1925-30 September 1926: On the staff of the 4th Division.
October 1926-30 September 1929: Platoon Leader in the 10th (Saxon) Infantry
October 1929-31 October 1920: Detached to the II. Naval Artillery Battalion.
November 1930-31 January 1931: Platoon Leader in the 2nd Company of the
10th (Saxon) Infantry Regiment.
February 1931-31 August 1934: Company Chief in the 10th (Saxon) Infantry
September 1934-14 October 1935: Tactics Instructor at the Infantry School,
October 1935-11 October 1937: Instructor at the War Schools in Potsdam
October 1937-3 June 1938: Commander of the Parachute Infantry Company.
June 1938-31 December 1938: Commander of the Parachute Infantry Battalion.
January 1939: Transferred from the Army to the Luftwaffe. [On 1 January
1939, the Army’s Parachute Infantry Battalion was absorbed into the Luftwaffe
as the II. Battalion of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1. Heidrich concurrently
transferred to that branch of service with the rank of Oberstleutnant.]
January 1939-5 February 1939: Commander of the II. Battalion of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment
1 of the 7th Flieger-Division.
February 1939-31 May 1939: Operations Officer (Ia) on the staff of the
7th Flieger-Division. [Formed on 1 September 1938 under the command of
Generalmajor Kurt Student, the 7th Flieger-Division controlled the Luftwaffe
parachute units and associated transport aircraft.]
June 1939-25 August 1939: Officer for Special Employment in the Reich
Air Ministry and to the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe.
August 1939-31 August 1939: Leader Reserve in Wehrkreis IV, Dresden.
-30 September 1939: On the staff of the 7th Flieger-Division.
October 1939: Transferred from the Luftwaffe back to the Army.
October 1939-30 November 1939: Transferred to Infantry Replacement Battalion
December 1939-5 February 1940: Commander of Infantry Replacement Regiment
4 of Division Nr. 154. [Commanded by Charakter als Generalleutnant Arthur
Boltze, this replacement and training division, headquartered at Dresden
in Wehrkreis IV, provided basic training for new recruits.]
February 1940-31 May 1940: Commander of Infantry Regiment 514 of the 294th
Infantry Division. [Formed in Wehrkreis IV under the command of Charakter
als Generalleutnant Otto Gabcke, the 294th Infantry Division remained
in Army High Command reserve when Germany launched the invasion of France
and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940. By early June (Oberstleutnant Heidrich
had since returned to Luftwaffe service), the division was released from
reserve and assigned to the 2nd Army at the front where it saw action
during the second phase of the invasion of France.]
June 1940: Transferred from the Army back to the Luftwaffe.
June 1940-31 July 1942: Commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3 of the
7th Flieger-Division. [For Operation “Seelöwe” (Sea Lion), the planned invasion
of Great Britain, the 7th Flieger-Division was assigned drop zones
in the area of Lyminge—Sellinge—Hythe on the right wing of Generaloberst Ernst Busch’s 16th Army and tasked
with the immediate capture of the high ground north and northwest of Folkestone.
After the indefinite postponement of Operation
“Seelöwe” and months of routine training, the 7th Flieger-Division
deployed to Greece in the spring of 1941. On 20 May 1941, General der
Flieger Kurt Student’s XI. Flieger-Korps opened Operation “Merkur” (Mercury),
the invasion of Crete, with the drop of two massive waves of paratroopers
and glider-borne troops from the 7th Flieger-Division onto the island.
Heidrich’s regiment dropped to the southwest of Canea where it was badly
scattered upon landing.
By the end of the day, the regiment had suffered heavy casualties and
been surrounded in Prison Valley by considerable New Zealand and Greek
forces. Relieved by German mountain troops under Oberst Willibald Utz
on the night of 24-25 May, Heidrich’s regiment continued its advance on
Canea. On 1 June 1941, the last British and Dominion troops who had not
been evacuated from Crete surrendered to the Germans north of Sphakia.
In September 1941, the 7th Flieger-Division began transferring to Russia
where the bulk of the division served on the Leningrad front while geographically
separated divisional elements fought before Moscow and at Stalino. Heidrich’s
regiment saw heavy combat near Leningrad until early January 1942 when
it was withdrawn from Russia along with the bulk of the division for rest
and refitting in France.]
August 1942-31 October 1942: Delegated with the leadership of the 7th
Flieger-Division. [Heidrich assumed divisional leadership from Generalleutnant
Erich Petersen when that officer was tapped for promotion to General der
Flieger and appointment to the post of Inspector of the Luftwaffe Field
Formations. In October 1942, the 7th Flieger-Division returned to Russia
and served in the central sector seeing action near Smolensk, Rzhev and
Orel until withdrawn to France by early 1943.]
November 1942-30 April 1943: Commander of the 7th Flieger-Division (Fallschirmjäger).
May 1943-16 November 1944: Commander of the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division.
[On 1 May 1943, the 7th Flieger-Division was redesignated the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division
while undergoing refitting in southern France. In mid-July 1943, the bulk
of the division was airlifted from France and dropped on Sicily to augment
the German forces there following the Allied invasion. Following heavy
combat on the island, the division was evacuated to the mainland in September
and based in the heel of Italy. Upon the British seaborne landing at Taranto
on 9 September 1943 (Operation Slapstick), Heidrich concluded his
division could not offer effective resistance and so withdrew it northwards
The 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division continued to fight along the Adriatic
coast until early February 1944 when it transferred to the critical Monte
Cassino sector under General der Panzertruppe Fridolin von Senger und
Etterlin’s XIV Panzer Corps. Over the next few months, the combined U.S.,
British Commonwealth, Polish and French forces suffered extraordinary
casualties while trying to dislodge the mountain defenses of the XIV Panzer
Corps. In May 1944, the Allies finally broke through at Cassino and, in
conjunction with the breakout from the Anzio beachhead, captured Rome
on 4 June 1944. After a fighting withdrawal to the Arno River, Heidrich’s
division transferred to the Gothic
Line defenses along the Adriatic coast in August 1944. When the Allies
cracked this German defense line, the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division withdrew
up the coast to Imola. On 16 November 1944, Heidrich relinquished leadership
of the division to Oberst (later Generalmajor) Karl-Lothar Schulz.]
November 1944-3 May 1945: Commanding General of the I. Fallschirm-Korps
in Italy. [Heidrich took the reins of the corps
from General der Fallschirmtruppe Alfred Schlemm when that officer was
tapped to command the 1. Fallschirm-Armee on the Western Front.
After a long winter of relative inactivity on both sides, the Allies launched
their final Italian offensive in April 1945. Initially holding the Imola
salient opposite the British Eighth Army, the I. Fallschirm-Korps withdrew to the northeast in conjunction
with the rest of General der Panzertruppe Traugott Herr’s 10th Army.
By the end of the month, the British had surged forward capturing Ferrara,
Rovigo, Padova and Venice before swinging eastward to the Italo-Yugoslav
May 1945-July 1947: Prisoner of war in British captivity.
- 29 July 1946: Transferred to Island Farm Special Camp 11 from the London
District Cage (LDC).
- 13 August 46: Transferred to the LDC from Island Farm Special Camp
- 24 August 1946: Transferred to Island Farm Special Camp 11 from the
- 7 January 1947: Transferred to the LDC from Island Farm Special Camp
- 16 January 1947: Transferred to Island Farm Special Camp 11 from the
LDC and then to Camp 99 Medical Hospital for repatriation.
Decorations & Awards:
Cross of the Iron Cross: 14 June
1941, Oberst, Commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3.
(No. 382): 5 February 1944,
Generalleutnant, Commander of the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division.
(No. 55): 25 March 1944,
Generalleutnant, Commander of the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division.
Cross in Gold: 13 April 1942,
Oberst, Commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3.
Iron Cross, 1st Class (1914)
Iron Cross, 2nd Class (1914)
Clasp to the Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class: 25 May 1941.
Clasp to the Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd Class: 25 May 1941.
Merit Order, Knight 2nd Class with Swords
Albert Order, Knight 2nd Class with Swords
of Honor for Combatants 1914-1918
Forces Long Service Award, 1st Class (25-year Service Cross)
Forces Long Service Award, 3rd Class (12-year Service Medal)
Medal of 1 October 1938
with Prague Castle
Badge in Black – World War I award
Parachutist Badge [As one of the early parachute infantrymen of the Army
and per regulations, Heidrich continued to wear the parachutist badge
of that branch of service even after his transfer to the Luftwaffe. The
Luftwaffe awarded its own badge to qualified parachutists that differed
in appearance from the Army version.]
in the Wehrmachtbericht [Armed Forces Communiqué]: 9
June 1941; 24 December
1943; 25 March 1944;
29 June 1944.
Martin. Salerno to Cassino – The United States Army in World War II: The Mediterranean
Theater of Operations. Washington D.C.: Center of Military History,
United States Army, 1988.
Ernest F. Jr. Cassino to the Alps – The United States
Army in World War II: The Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Washington
D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1989.
Karl-Friedrich. Die Generale der Deutschen Luftwaffe, 1935-1945, Band
2 (Habermehl-Nuber). Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, Germany, 1991.
Franz. Battleground Italy, 1943-1945: The German
Armed Forces in the Battle for the “Boot”. Ian McMullen, translator.
J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Winnipeg, Canada, 2003.
Jean Paul. “Operation Merkur: The German Invasion of Crete,” After
the Battle, Number 47 (1985), pp. 1-31.
Bruce & Chappell, Mike (illustrator). Osprey Men-At-Arms 139: German
Airborne Troops, 1939-45. Osprey Publishing Ltd., London, United Kingdom,
1983 (1987 printing).
Ronald. Operation Sea Lion: German Plans for the
Invasion of England 1939-1942. Oxford University Press, London, United
 Achieving the rank of Generaloberst, Kurt
Student was held for a time as a prisoner of war at Island Farm Special
Camp 11. Student continued to command the 7th Flieger-Division until 14
May 1940 when he was severely wounded in the head by a stray bullet while
in Rotterdam negotiating the Dutch surrender. Shortly thereafter, temporary
divisional command passed to Generalmajor Richard Putzier. Generalleutnant
Wilhelm Süßmann later assumed permanent command of the 7th Flieger-Division.
After recovering from his head wound, Student was appointed commanding general
of the XI. Flieger-Korps effective 1 January 1941.
 After the Luftwaffe
failed to gain air superiority over southern England during the Battle of
Britain, Adolf Hitler postponed Operation “Seelöwe” on 17 September 1940.
On 12 October 1940, Hitler further postponed the invasion, if then feasible,
to the spring of 1941. With Hitler’s attention firmly turned to his next
conquest – the Soviet Union – the invasion fleet was dispersed and the armies
allocated to “Seelöwe” were released for duty in the east.
 On 20 May 1941, Generalleutnant Wilhelm Süßmann,
the commander of the 7th Flieger-Division, was killed while en route to
Crete when his DFS 230 glider crashed on the island of Aegina after the
tow rope parted. Temporary divisional command passed to Oberst (later Generalmajor)
Alfred Sturm, the commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 2. Generalleutnant
Erich Petersen, in turn, succeeded Generalmajor Sturm as divisional commander
on 1 October 1941.
 On 20 May 1941, Oberst Heidrich’s Fallschirmjäger-Regiment
3 consisted of three battalions: I. Battalion commanded by Hauptmann Friedrich-August
von der Heydte; II. Battalion commanded by Major Helmut Derpa (killed in
action); and III. Battalion commanded by Major Ludwig Heilmann. Achieving
the rank of Generalmajor, Ludwig Heilmann was later held as a prisoner of
war at Island Farm Special Camp 11. For a frank characterization of his
regimental commander and fellow battalion commanders, refer to Friedrich-August
von der Heydte’s memoir Daedalus Returned (pp.23-24). Of interest, then Gefreiter Max Schmeling,
the former world heavyweight boxing champion, was a member of Hauptmann
von der Heydte’s battalion and made the combat jump over Crete.
 Generalmajor Hans Korte held temporary command
of the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division from 4 January 1944-21 February 1944.
 Two battalions of the 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division
were dispatched to the west and attached to the Panzer Division “Hermann
Göring” facing the Allied landings at Salerno (Operation Avalanche).
der Fallschirmtruppe Schlemm was later held as a prisoner of war
at Island Farm Special Camp 11.