With the stories of his excited father ringing in his ears, Bas Opdenkelder took it upon himself to do something unique during Dutch Heritage Month.
The Grimsby resident donated a rate print which depicts “Operation Manna” in motion.
From April 29, 1945 to the end of World War II in Europe on VE Day, May 8, 1945, Avro Lancasters from the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force participated in ‘Operation Manna’ dropping a total of over 11,000 tons of food – with no parachutes – into the still-not-liberated western part of The Netherlands. Civilians were in danger of starvation with the Dutch famine still gripping the area.
“The Germans knew that the war was lost. ‘Operation Manna’ not only saved lives but it gave hope and the feeling that the war would soon be over,” said Opdenkelder, who relates a story his father told him many times.
“It was a pleasure to do this and, with the history of my father telling us about that time, the excitement of receiving food from the sky from these low flying Lancaster guys was awesome to hear.”
“My grandfather got a package of real butter and, with the adrenaline of receiving that package, ate that real butter creating him not feeling to well after that. I had to hear about that several times when I was a young boy growing up in Rotterdam.”
Aside from Bas’s father, Johan being present along the river De Rotte, so too was artist Jan van de Weg.
The drops had such an effect on van de Weg that he made a large pen drawing of the scene. Johan acquired one of the original prints of the drawing in 1945 and the print was passed on to Bas after he died.
Bas, now publisher of ‘De Nederlandse COURANT’, the Dutch-Canadian newspaper, presented his father’s ‘Operation Manna’ print to Erin Napier, curator of the Warplane Heritage Museum with WWII Lancaster crew veteran Fred Davies along side.
The donation was part of a ceremony at the Royal Botanicals Gardens following a ’Dutch Heritage Month’ function of the Netherlands Luncheon Club with Fred Eisenberger, the Dutch-Canadian mayor of Hamilton as the keynote speaker.