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A sculpture commemorating Operation Manna, the RAF’s relief flights over the Netherlands, has been unveiled at the International Bomber Command Centre.
According to the Lincolnbased centre, Operation Manna had a major impact and has never been forgotten by the Dutch. However they suggest this major humanitarian operation is little known in Britain and, unable to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Manna last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, it instead commissioned a memorial sculpture that was unveiled on June 5.
In late spring 1945, 33 RAF bomber squadrons dropped more than 7,000 tons of food supplies into German-occupied parts of the Netherlands, flying below 500ft to deliver the food without parachutes. A similar operation, Chowhound, was undertaken by the USAAF.
Famine had gripped the unliberated Netherlands following German reprisals against civilians, rail strikes and the flooding and repurposing of terrain (and requisition of all fuel) for military use. The bitter ‘Hongerwinter’ then froze rivers and canals, preventing easy transport, while cold and starvation claimed more than 20,000 lives. The affected areas included Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht –a total of some 3.5m people – and the humanitarian mission came after an appeal by Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard.