Operation Chowhound

DiSpirito was a waist gunner and radio-operator on the B-17 called the Maiden Prayer/I'll be Around. He was drafted in July 1943. At the time of the Chowhound missions this boy from Brooklyn New York was a twenty-year old sergeant.

The crew from the Maiden Prayer/I'll be Around was just like Bernie Behrman's crew part of the 390th Bomb Group. They left on the first of May from the Airfield near Framlingham and their target too was airport Valkenburg.

 On the days Ralph flew Chowhound missions the sky was clear and it was nice weather.
Ralph saw windmills, canals and tulip fields on his way to Valkenburg. Of these it are the tulip fields that he recalls best. The fields had all different colors and looked beautiful. During the briefing prior to the first food drop the military leaders of the 390th pointed out the importance of the food drops, but this was done in typical military fashion and did not show much emotion about it. In spite of the absence of emotion Ralph and his crew were very aware of the fact that they were doing important work.

For Claude Hall (390th Bomb Group) this this mission to Valkenburg was his first mission over enemy territory. He was actually part of the ground crew. On the three food drop missions he flew he acted as waist gunner. Claude saw ration boxes land in nearby channels. He also saw that this didn't stop the Dutch that had to gather the food. They simply dove after the parcels and tried to retrieve them from the water.

After a mission of approximately four to five hours all bombers of the USAAF returned safely to their bases in England. The first day of operation Chowhound was a success. 396 American bombers had dropped 704 tons of food. The fear that the Germans would not stick to the truce had been unfounded. The crews looked forward to another missions over Holland.

Operation Manna had continued in the meanwhile. 492 Lancasters had taken off from fields in England that morning. The British crews knew what to expect that day and again flew with great enthusiasm. The RAF dropped 1113 tons of food on this day.

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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."