In April 1945 the plight of the Dutch was desperate. Large tracts of land in Holland had been rendered unproductive because of flooding and communications to some areas had become impossible. Even the German occupiers admitted the serious plight of the people and acknowledged their own inability to do anything about it. The RAF managed to negotiate with the Germans that there would be no opposition to Allied food-carrying aircraft in an operation called ‘MANNA’ – named after the food that miraculously appeared for the Israelites in the book of Exodus.
During the operation, Bomber Command Lancasters delivered 6,680 tons of food including aircrew rations of chocolate and boiled sweets wrapped into bundles dropped by the bomber crews. They attached these tiny bundles to home-made parachutes and dropped them into gardens and streets. Some of the packages bore the message, ‘Vot Hot Kind’ (for the children).
The operation lasted from 29 April until 8 May 1945 and required the bomber pilots to fly at much lower levels than they were used to, with some drops made as low as 400 feet above the ground. Included in the food dropped was this tin of ‘welfare’ biscuits produced by the Huntley and Palmers Company, Reading. This tin, packed in July 1944, was dropped to the Dutch during Operation Manna and was donated to the Museum in 2011 by the Royal Air Forces Association, Amsterdam Branch, Holland. The tin still contains its biscuits!
THE HUNTLEY AND PALMERS’ BISCUIT TIN IS DISPLAYED IN THE OPERATION MANNA EXHIBITION IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL