- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Robert Forsyth
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 December 2003
As the war was drawing to a close and the Allied Army was driving North through Holland they adopted a technique of surrounding but bypassing towns occupied by the Germans, rather than fighting street by street through them, but it inevitably resulted in the already short supplies in those towns being reduced to starvation level for the civilian population.
On the 5th May 1945 the RAF was asked to drop food supplies to Rotterdam, having agreed an arrangement with the Germans that our aircraft would be assured a safe passage.
Since great accuracy was required to drop on a particular spot the RAF Pathfinder Squadrons were asked to lead the way and No 156 Squadron at Upwood, whose motto was "WE light the way" were called upon for this particular mission. In Lancaster bombers we were more used to dropping bombs in the dark of night at a height of 18,000 feet but this operation was to be carried out at 400ft well within sight of the German troops on the ground.
It was an unnerving experience to be flying virtually over the rooftops of Rotterdam and seeing columns of German soldiers marching along the streets but we could also see delighted civilians waving from the roofs of their houses as we made our way to the dropping zone on the edge of the town. So much so that I personally made up my modest sweet ration which we got for each flight and making it into a kind of parachute using my handkerchief and a bit of string and threw it out of the window in the hope that some child would be lucky that day.
I am sure that the people of the town were delighted and it certainly left us with a felling of great satisfaction
On the anniversary one year later we flew over the palace of Princess Juliana in tight formation and dropped flowers to commemorate the occasion
201802 F/O Robert Forsyth
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