It seems clear that the mercy missions were of great emotional value to all parties involved. The veterans that dropped the food had definitely established something great. There is no doubt that they helped to save the lives of thousands. Who wouldn't be proud of such an accomplishment?
The Dutch of coarse were very grateful for the food they received. However it wasn't just the food that these bombers delivered. It was the start of a new era. The bombers brought hope and freedom.
Some of the aircrews got in touch with the Dutch that had received the food almost immediately after the war. The crew of Haven Damar (390BG) was one of these. Paul Laubacher, the radio operator of this crew remembers that the crew made a special package from their own rations. The package contained bubble gum and other sorts of candy. It also contained the names and addresses of the crew-members. The Dutch family that found the package in their backyard wrote the men to thank them for the food. This was the beginning of a correspondence between the Dutch family and the aircrew that still continues after fifty-five years.
Remembrance postal card from 1945, depicting an aircraft of the 385th BG dropping food over Schiphol on the 2nd May 1945. You can find much more memorabilia of the food drop missions on this page.
The 'mercy mission' commemorations in Holland
Surprisingly enough it was not until 1983 that the idea was materialized to invite a group of veterans of the Commonwealth Air forces over to Holland to commemorate the mercy missions.
The idea for a reunion of "Manna-veterans" came from former Sgt.Ted Leaviss. He wanted to organize a little get-together in a pub in England. He tried to locate other veterans through an advertisement in Air Mail, an aviator's magazine. This was in 1979.
The Dutch historian Hans Onderwater saw the advertisement. He contacted Ted Leaviss and convinced him to have the reunion in Holland.
The following years were filled with planning for this first reunion. The Food and Freedom association was founded, sponsors were sought and contacts were made.