Hal Province

Hal was an enlisted bombardier during World War 2.  He flew on a B-17 called the Purty Chili. He arrived in England on January 8th 1945. He stayed six months overseas at the airbase Mendelsham in Suffolk. He and his crew were part of the 319th Squadron, 34th Bomb Group. The two Chowhound missions in which Hal participated were on the same days as Robert Miller's missions. Hal says that the Chowhound missions were even more exiting then the nineteen combat-missions that he had flown before the "mercy-missions".

Hal Province and his wife at the commemoration of manna/chowhound in 2000We were very excited about the drops. Please recall that the Germans were still occupying Holland when the drops begun. We had to fly LOW to the targets of the drops, to be able to drop the food without damaging it. We were told to carry NO AMMUNITION for our guns and we had to stay within a strictly defined corridor while over Holland for our approach and away from the target area. I recall seeing German flags on many buildings as
we approached the target for the drop. I saw German soldiers standing guard at railroad bridges over canals. We approached the target area at less than 400 feet above the ground. At that altitude we could see the people on the ground quite clearly. For the drop we had to lower our flaps and wheels in order to slow down the aircraft. The target area was open ground just outside of Utrecht.

Our load on this first food drop was cardboard cartons of 10-in-1 rations which were the standard rations for the American soldiers. The ten-in-one  had enough food to provide ten meals to one man. The cartons were quite dense and some crashed through roofs of apartment houses when the dropping aircraft wasn't where it should be. I saw boxes hit a green house and also saw boxes fall into nearby canals. There were no parachutes attached to the load, just free-falling boxes.

We were not only excited about the food drops we were also scared. We had been flying over Holland at altitudes of 15.000 to 20.000 feet on our way to targets in Germany and all of a sudden we were asked to fly at 400 feet, while the German soldiers were still manning the 88mm and 105mm flak guns near the corridor we had to fly through.

The Purty Chili, the aircraft of Hal Province.

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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."