Recollections of Operation Manna by Rear Gunner Alistair Lamb :
This highly successful operation perpetuated by RAF Bomber Command gave life and hope to the 3.5 millions of starving Dutch people held in the German occupied area of West Holland. A total of 2,835 Lancasters and 124 Mosquito flights were made, dropping 6,672 tons of food up to 8th May 1945 when the Germans surrendered. I was a member of 15 Squadron, my Pilot was Flying Officer Jack Darlow and I was the Rear Gunner for his crew. Jack now resides in Australia (although he is French) and my Navigator was Alf Porter. Alf and I have both visited our skipper in Australia. We carried out our first food-dropping operation on 30th April 1945 over Rotterdam and the flight time was 2 hours 45 minutes. The second flight was to The Hague on 2nd May 1945, flight time 2 hours 35 minutes. The third operation was to Valkenburg on 7th May 1945, the flight time being 2 hours 45 minutes. The Lancaster aircraft on the first trip was LS-P NG364, on the other trips we flew Lancaster LS-Z 4K765 our own aircraft. LS-P joined 15 Squadron on 25/11/44 survived the war, and went back to Avro in October 1945. LS-Z joined 15 Squadron in Feb 1945, also survived the war being S.O.C in October 1946. On the Rotterdam trip on 30/4/45, the load was flour, cheese, dried egg, peas, carrots & cigarettes. The drop area was 2 1/2 miles N.E. Rotterdam centre, it was a well-concentrated drop, with no congestion over the drop zone. Large numbers of women and children were in the drop zone despite the fact that the Germans had threatened to shoot those who had gathered to collect food. The marker flares had set fire to a house North of a square of water. The second trip to The Hague on 2/5/45 was a very good drop with no congestion of aircraft. The load was the same as the previous drop of 30/4/45. The drop Zone was a Sports Track 2 miles North of the Hague centre. Load and conditions on the third drop were similar to the earlier trips. In the Rotterdam area, British and Dutch flags were in greater evidence than the other trips. Less number of Germans observed here than in other sorties. We were never above 500 feet, and mostly at 50 feet flying over Holland, so it was easy to observe all the activity on the ground. The Dutch people gave us a tremendous reception as we flew overhead, and we saw lots of Allied flags (banned until now) being waved along with the now famous V sign. It was a great thrill to fly only 500 feet all the way from England uninterrupted, and only 50 feet above Holland. These operations were completed before the Germans finally surrendered, and to my knowledge no aircraft were fired at. What a wonderful way to end one's operational flying - although we had to wait until August 1945 to see peace at last.