Then came the first of May. The English had flown two days without incidents when the Americans joined in. The Americans could have been considered latecomers in this operation. This was of course not without a reason. The airfields of the Eighth Air force were located closer to the East coast than the airfields of Bomber Command. Ground fog had forced the Americans to wait until the first of May, before they could join the RAF's efforts to help the Dutch civilians. The Americans started operation Chowhound with almost four hundred B-17's, which doubled the amount of food dropped on one day.
It didn't matter much to the American pilots that their English colleagues had preceded them the two days before. When they boarded their Flying Fortresses at daybreak on the first of May, most of them did not know that they were not the first to test the Allied-German truce that had finally been signed on the 30th of April. Even if they had known that the Germans had not fired on the English, this would still be no guarantee that they would behave in the same way towards the Americans.
The first day truly was, as the following eyewitnesses accounts will underline, an exciting day for all the American Bomber crews. Many things were new to them, the low altitude, the slow speed and the cargo, enough elements to give you the shivers even if you considered yourself a veteran, after having flown twenty, or thirty combat-missions in enemy territory. These elements have to be taken together with the excitement over the cease-fire. Now let's take a look and see for ourselves how the former bomber-crews of the Chowhound missions look back on that first day in May.