When Germans Didn’t Fire On Allied Bombers – Operation Manna / Chowhound 1945 Wwii
An interesting truce took place at the end of WWII when germans agreed to let allied bombers pass to bring humanitarian aid to the Netherlands.
One of the interesting and not well knows operation of WWII took place over the Netherlands in between April and May 1945 when British Lancaster and American B-17 bombers dropped food parcels instead of bombs for the starving Dutch population over the German occupied Netherlands with the acquiescence of the German forces..
Over the winter of 1944 the Dutch people suffered from a harsh winter and lack of food leading to an estimated 20.000 civilian deaths. Prince Bernhard of Netherlands appealed to the allied Supreme commander Dwight D. Eisenhower for help, but Eisenhower did not have the authority to negotiate with the Germans. Prince Bernhardt turned directly to Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt to ask for permission. There was a concern that any negotiations between the western allies and germans would raise Stalin’s suspicion fearing to be double cossed, because of this a russian representative had to be present at the negotiation.
On 23 April 1945 the plan eventually was authorized and an agreement was reached with Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart and a team of german officers that the participating aricraft will not be fired upon on certain air corridors over the Netherlands.
The Germans in case of foul play placed anti aricraft guns around the drop sites, so they can act if the food drops would turn out to be paratroopers. They also took samples of the food rations, to be sure the allies dont drop sabotage equipemtn or weapons.
The British Operation was called Operation Manna, and the first Lancaster bomber to test the flight route took off on 29 April 1945 and despite that the ceasefire was only signed next day delivered it’s cargo and returned successful. Over the following weeks the Lancasters flew 3156 sorties in different sized groups. The nervous aircrews had to fly very low and slow for the safety of the parcels as the cargo did not have parachutes at an altitude of 120-150meters and do so over the German guns…which honoring their part of the cease fire stayed silent.
Operation Chowhound on the american side started on 1st of May and the B-17s of Third air division flew 2268 sorties delivering around 4000 tons of cargo.