Radio Operator Remembers
The 101ST Squadron
Lancaster bomber during Operation Manna, the food
drop over German occupied Holland in the spring of 1945.
Two Lancasters were chosen for the test flight
into Holland. An Australian pilot named Collett was detailed
to fly one Lancaster and Canadian R.F. Upcott from Windsor,
Ontario was to fly Bad Penny, the other.
Unfortunately, before we could get airborne,
severe weather moved in to delay the operation. Three times
we went to the aircraft expecting a slight break in the weather.
Each time to see the trip cancelled. Finally, early on the
morning of April 29, 1945, weather still minimal, we got the
Weather still bad over England. The Lancaster
was popping in and out of heavy clouds when an American Flying
Fortress appeared on the starboard wing on a collision course.
Fortunately he chose to pull as we dived, missing a crash
We flew this trip at an extremely low altitude,
as very low seemed the safest way to get passed the German
guns. No pact had been signed. We were going in only British
Over the continent, the sky cleared, both planes
could now see each other and got together, with R. Upcott’s
plane leading the way. Navigation was strictly map reading
but we had been well briefed as to landmarks such as chimneys
and churches. Finding the big red cross was easy but looking
down several gun barrels was uncomfortable. Two loads of food
were released and two Lancasters hustled back to the Dutch
coast, now, breathing a little easier.
On our return to our base and knowing that the
trip had been successful, “Operation Manna” was
activated. The major operation began about 12:30 pm that day.
Alerted by radio messages that food was coming, thousands
of Dutch citizens came out to cheer the 250+ bombers that
flew over throughout the day. We appreciated the waving Dutch
and English flags on later food drops but on that first trip
in, few people knew we were coming.
Someone else in Bomber Command had experience
with food-drop methods but it was IOI Squadron that got the
job of going in to test the German reactions. Every crew on
that first day’s trip thought they might get shot at.
None of them were aware that two planes had gone on a trial
run, without Pathfinder Crews going ahead to mark the drop
sites with smoke flares.
After a few days, Germany finally signed a pact
not to defend that specific track used by the food-dropping
aircraft. After which, the American Flying Fortresses joined
the operation, which they called “Chowhound.”
It was an experience that the crew will always
Stan Jones, Radio Operator, Bad Penny
Operation Manna / Chowhound
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