Henry Cervantes

"The agreement with the German area commander required that we stay under 500-feet, remain within strictly mandated corridors, and not carry gunners aboard our B-17s. No one felt any better when our pre-mission briefer added, "Anyone fired upon will receive credit for a combat mission." The modified bomb bays were loaded with boxes of ten-in-one rations and on May 3rd we flew our first mission. We went in at wave-top level, hopped over the dykes, and skimmed by telephone poles in an effort to stay as low as possible. German flaks batteries where everywhere and we kept a wary eye at the gunners who squinted at us like duck hunters waiting for the season to open.

Early May is tulip time in Holland and despite the ugly scars of war, carpets of blazing colors dotted the countryside. Joyful women and children were everywhere. Some waved American and Dutch flags at us while others pointed to messages in open fields that read, "Thank You Boys," and the like.

10-in-1 rations Near Amsterdam we "bombed" an open field centered with a white cross that appeared to be fashioned from bed sheets. Below us, it was a free-for-all as civilians with German soldiers among them could be seen scrambling for boxes as even more of the 50-pound missiles showered down. On May 5th, we repeated our performance over Bergen and were again treated to the heartwarming sight of mothers hugging their children as they pointed to the big grins on our faces."

Although, I flew 26 combat missions over Germany, among all of my wartime experiences those three missions are among my most treasured memories.

Henry Cervantes, Lt. Colonel USAF (Retired).

The Manna Monument at Terbregge

At the exact spot of one of the dropzones overlooking the freeway at Terbregge is the Manna monument located. It symbolizes the belly of an allied bomber filled with food parcels. The monument has been the central location of the Manna / Chowhound commemorations since its unveilling in 2006. One year later the Air Commodore Geddes footpath was opened next to the memorial.

Diary of Norman Coats

May 3 - "Another mercy mission to Holland. We went deeper into Holland today. Very low altitude. I believe I must have waved at everyone in Holland. It is really a shame the ocean being turned into Holland. The great fields of tulips are beautiful. They had, "Thank You" spelled out with rocks. They could see me waving at them because they would point each others attention to it. Some of them had American flags waving them."