By the beginning of 1945 the population of the Netherlands, still under German occupation, was starving. The British Air Ministry was ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to prepare a plan to deliver supplies by air to the Dutch. The plan was called Operation Manna.
On 29 April RAF Bomber Command Lancasters, flying at very low levels, began dropping food from their bomb bays. The mission was not without risk as no formal agreement had been reached with Germans not to shoot down the British aircraft. However, the bomber crews only occasionally experienced small arms fire against them. On that first day of Operation Manna 242 Lancasters crossed the North Sea to the Netherlands and dropped 526 tonnes of food. On the following day a ceasefire was officially agreed with the Germans and 484 Lancasters dropped 1,005 tonnes.
From 1 May, B17 bombers of the United States Army Air Force joined the operation, the Americans calling their mission Operation Chowhound. The liberation of the Netherlands took place on 5 May but the air drops continued until VE Day (8 May) because of logistic problems on the ground.
A 1990 COMMEMORATIVE PLATE CELEBRATING OPERATION MANNA 45 YEARS BEFORE IS DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL