Wednesday, June 16, 2021

First airborne humanitarian mission to be honoured at IBCC

On Saturday 5th June, a new sculpture will be unveiled at the multi award winning, International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC), Lincoln.

The piece, which has been designed and built by artist Phil Neal, honours Operation Manna, a lifesaving operation by Bomber Command that took place in late Spring 1945.

At that time, the west of the Netherlands was subject to severe reprisals by the Nazi force following train strikes in support of Operation Market Garden, which included the Battle of Arnhem.

Food was scarce and over 20,000 people had died of starvation with a further 980,000 at risk and classed as malnourished. This was further compounded by the severe winter of 1944/45, becoming known as the Hongerwinter.

After an appeal from Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard, Bomber Command came to the rescue launching Operation Manna.

They dropped almost 7,000 tons of food aid over the area, in 3,300 sorties carried out in Lancasters and Mosquitos from 33 Squadrons.

This operation had a major impact and has never been forgotten by the Dutch.  However, in the UK, this major humanitarian operation is little known.

In later years the operation was used as a blueprint for the Berlin Airlift, another major humanitarian mission.

The sculpture has been built with the support of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The event will include a flypast by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

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