Dropping the food

On the 29th of April the food drops started. This first day would be a decisive day for the whole operation. 242 Lancaster's, the four-engine bombers of the RAF, flew that day to six different drop-zones in Holland. Together they would drop almost 535 tons of food on the first day.

As little as Seyss-Inquart and the Wehrmacht were completely trusted by Sheaf, just as little trusted Seyss-Inquart Sheaf. The Germans decided that anti-aircraft guns would be placed near the four food drop sites. That way they could react immediately if it turned out that the Allied aircrafts dropped paratroopers instead of food. SD'ers (The German military police (author)) would take samples of the dropped packages to verify if it was indeed food that was dropped and not guns or other sabotage utilities. (Translated from L. De Jong page, 1293)

When it became clear that the food could be expected on the 28th the Dutch authorities that arranged the distribution of the food had a lot of work to do. With a day's notice they had to arrange crews that had to gather the food from the fields. This was not a small operation. For example at Terbregge, the only drop zone were horse-drawn carts couldn't enter the field, it was necessary to have a crew of four thousand men ready to carry the food from the field by hand. On the other fields the crews were a bit smaller, but still a huge number to arrange on a day's notice. The air-defense crews were used and the personnel of several large companies were recruited.

The Dutch authorities anticipated that people might get wounded by falling food. Louwes therefore had arranged that a First Aid post was installed near every drop zone.

The truce that had to be the base for the whole operation had not yet been reached when the bombers took off on that first day.

Here is the story of the pilot of the first bomber to drop food over Holland.


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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."