From Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

Operation Chow Down

As World War II was winding down, the starvation situation was acute in many parts of Holland. The B-17 fleet, based in Snetterton Heath, England, was designated to drop parcels of food rations in the soccer fields of The Hague, in an action called “Operation Chow Down.” All armament was removed from the planes, with the understanding that the remaining German troops should fire no shots on the aircraft. Run after run was made with bomb bay doors wide open to disperse heavy food supplies. Skimming low over the fields, the B-17s dropped their food “bombs” while the hungry survivors scrambled below to seek a share of the needed nourishment. After so many months of empty bellies, the bundles left the field immediately. On the final run of the program, the grateful receivers had fashioned a gigantic display on the raised dike at the end of the field, their most prized tulip plants spelling out in vivid color the words “THANKS YANKS.”

Richard Oakley

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