Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

‘After 36 operations and a mid-air collision, I made it to the end of the war’

November 11, 2014
Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Lancaster bomber flight engineer Warrant Officer Harry Parkins recalls his role in the world’s first humanitarian aid mission more than seven decades earlier with remarkable candour and detail.

On April 29, 1945, Bomber Command dropped tons of food over the west of Holland to alleviate the suffering of three million people. A million were officially classified as starving.

Over the next 10 days, Harry was involved in six special missions from RAF Fiskerton, east of Lincoln. It was part of Operation Manna, which saw US Air Forces and RAF aircraft parachute more than 12,000 tons of vital food supplies into the stricken area.

“After 36 operations with 630 Squadron out of East Kirkby with a New Zealand and Australian crew, I made it to the end of the war and even survived a mid-air collision with another Lancaster,” he said.

It was while he was training new flight engineers in early 1945 that Pilot Officer ‘Chips’ Fry begged him to go to RAF Fiskerton back on operations.

So he did three more with 576 Squadron before the first of six flights to Walkenburg, Delft and Rotterdam, dropping food.

He said: “Because the German troops were also starving, we could also see them and heard later that they’d also been taking up the bags of flour. Some had burst on the huge poles the distrusting Germans erected in the fields to stop us landing.”

Post-war, after meeting his future wife Mavis in her native Lincoln soon after, he chose to stay on in the county.

Now living on Trafalgar Court, Mr and Mrs Parkins – who have a son, daughter and two grand-daughters – had a shock last week when their phone rang.

“On Tuesday I got a phone call from Mrs Ella Howlett, who was in tears.

“She was thanking me and the crew for dropping the food which saved her life and many others. She was a girl in Holland and said many of her friends and family died. She was only 16-years-old at the time. And in 1948 she married her husband who was a soldier and came to live in England.

“It was a very emotional call because her family survived even though they had been eating tulip bulbs and making stew out of potato peelings.”

His 630 Squadron crew at East Kirkby held the record for the longest Lancaster mission – more than 2,000 miles over the Alps to Munich on April 24, 1944. The aircraft ran out of fuel on landing back at base 10 hours 25 minutes later.”

The final airlift on VE Day meant that Harry and his pals could pack up and go home – eventually.

But it was not before he was involved in repatriation flights for Allied prisoners-of-war held in camps in Brussels and Italy – during which he had a chance encounter with his uncle Len, whom he had not seen since boyhood.

Originally published Lincolnshire Echo, republished on Medium

street theatre Israeli Apartheid Wall

November 12, 2010

During the 8th International Action Week against the Israeli Apartheid Wall an anti-Apartheid Wall caravan is touring around the Netherlands. A local solidarity group in Utrecht performed a tableau vivant, showing the effect of walls and checkpoints on daily life of Palestinians.

The Wall is illegal according to international law and MUST be dismantled!

Israel boots activists out over standing up for Palestinians

Bethlehem Hidden from View


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