Tag Archives: The Hague

Operation ‘Manna’

The message 'Many Thanks' spelt out in tulips. released from copyright by Ian Dunster

The message ‘Many Thanks’ spelt out in tulips.
released from copyright by Ian Dunster

Prior to writing the post about the Sinclair crew today, I was already aware of the Operation ‘Manna’ flights that the Squadron flew at the end of the war to drop much needed supplies to the Dutch People, and in particular Delft and the Hague. As I have mentioned at the bottom of that post, whilst searching for information I came across OperationManna a site created by Eric Heijink. For those of you unfamiliar with the RAF’s Operation ‘Manna’ and the equivalent USAF ‘Chowhound’ ops, I refer to our good friend Wikipedia;

By early 1945, the situation was growing desperate for the three million or more Dutch still under German control. Prince Bernhard appealed directly to Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Eisenhower did not have the authority to negotiate a truce with the Germans. While the prince got permission from Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eisenhower had Air Commodore Andrew Geddes begin planning immediately. On 23 April, authorization was given by the Chief of Staff, George Marshall.

Allied agents negotiated with Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart and a team of German officers. Among the participants were the future Canadian writer Farley Mowat and the German commander-in-chief, General Blaskowitz. It was agreed that the participating airplanes would not be fired upon within specified air corridors.

Operation Manna

The British operation started first. It was named after the food which was miraculously provided to the Israelites in the Book of Exodus. The planning of the whole operation was done first by the Royal Air Force.

The first of the two RAF Avro Lancasters chosen for the test flight, the morning of April 29, 1945, was nicknamed “Bad Penny,” as in the expression: “a bad penny always turns up”. This bomber, with a crew of seven young men (five from Ontario, Canada, including pilot Robert Upcott of Windsor, Ontario), took off in bad weather despite the fact that the Germans had not yet agreed to a ceasefire. (Seyss-Inquart would do so the next day.) Bad Penny had to fly low, down to 50 feet (15 m), over German guns, but succeeded in dropping her precious cargo and returned to base.

Operation Manna then began in earnest.British aircraft from Groups 1, 3, and 8, consisting of 145 Mosquitoes and 3,156 Lancaster bombers, took part, flying between them a total of 3,298 sorties. These bombers were used to dropping bombs from 6,000 metres (20,000 ft), but this time they had to do their job from a height of 150 metres (490 ft), some even flying as low as 120 metres (390 ft), as the cargo did not have parachutes. The drop zones, marked by Mosquitoes from Squadrons 105 and 109 using Oboe, were: Leiden (Valkenburg airfield), The Hague (Duindigt horse race course and Ypenburg airfield), Rotterdam (Waalhaven airfield and Kralingsche Plas) and Gouda. Bomber Command delivered a total 6,680 tons of food.

Operation Chowhound

On the American side, ten bomb groups of the US Third Air Division flew 2268 sorties beginning 1 May, delivering a total of 4000 tons. 400 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers of the United States Army Air Forces dropped 800 tons of K-rations during May 1–3, on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Once again, I find myself musing about the irony and timing of things – Bob had left the Squadron before the end of the war and the ‘Manna’ flights, but my wife is an interior designer for a large Swedish furniture company that is predominantly blue and yellow – said company used to have their main planning office in Delft – I spent countless weekends strolling round Delft, ignorant of what my Father had done in the war, ignorant of a Squadron called 75(NZ) and ignorant of the plight of the Dutch people after the war and an operation by the RAF called ‘Manna’…….

Viewing the Effects of Bombing

A shocking image of Clogne Cathedral, showing the devastation caused to it by allied bombing.© Jimmy Wood collection.

A shocking image of Cologne Cathedral, showing the devastation caused to it by allied bombing.
© Jimmy Wood collection.

After finishing War Ops, the Banks crew flew 4 ‘Mana’ flights – dropping food over Holland, and 3 prisoner repatriation flights from Juvincourt in France. They then went on a flight that is described in the Squadron ORB as ‘Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive’. In Jimmy’s logbook it is described as ‘BADEKER’

View this page from Jimmy’s logbook here

Coincidentally and many thanks to Martyn for spotting this, his uncle, part of the Meharry crew also flew on this raid – though strangely, the ORB lists them flying the day before…..

View Reuben’s log page here

I had not seen this name before – so thought I would do a little research;

from wikipedia;
“The Baedeker raids were conducted by the German Luftwaffe Luftflotte 3 in two periods between April and June 1942. They targeted strategically relatively unimportant but picturesque cities in England. The cities were reputedly selected from the German Baedeker Tourist Guide to Britain, meeting the criterion of having been awarded three stars (for their historical significance), hence the English name for the raids. Baron Gustav Braun von Stumm, a German propagandist is reported to have said on 24 April 1942 following the first attack, “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide.”

The ‘BADEKER’ op flown by the Bank’s crew and another aircraft captained by F/O Douglas Fairbairn crossed Germany, flying over Walcheren, Munchen-Gladbach, Cologne, Wuppertal, Solingen, Hamm, Munster, Dortmund, Essen, Duisberg, Wesel and the Hague.

jimmy wood  001 12 essen krupps

Krupps works – Essen  jimmy wood  001 16  Cologne