Flypasts over Holland

Extracts from the Squadron’s Record Book

18th April 1946

On 18th April, it was announced that the squadron had been selected to fly a formation of 7 aircraft over various towns in Holland on April 29th in celebration of the first anniversary of the food dropping operation (Operation Manna) carried out by Bomber Command and USAAF in 1945.

The seventh aircraft in formation is to break away after flying over Queen Wilhelmina’s Palace at Soestdijk and drop a bouquet of red, white and blue and orange flowers on Soesterberg Airfield, together with a letter to Her Majesty from the Chief of Air Staff.

29th April 1946

The weather today was just about as bad as it could be for the proposed formation flying to Holland.

The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command who was to have flown in the leading aircraft of the formation, did not therefore arrive and under almost hazardous conditions, only one aircraft took off for Holland at 11.30 hours. The aircraft was captained by Squadron Leader Harris and the passengers included the Station Commander, Group Captain Collard, Mr Winant (BBC Correspondent) and Mr Van Eyke (London Reporter for a Dutch newspaper).

A broadcast was made from the aircraft to receiving devices in Holland, and the container released on time at 13.00 hours. A static line from the aircraft to the parachute of the container failed to open it. Weather conditions prevented the aircraft from returning to this country; it therefore landed at Schiphol Aerodrome near Amsterdam.

The crew was subsequently asked to give a recorded interview about the operation because the Dutch Broadcasting Authorities failed to properly record the broadcast from the air.

The whole operation seems to have been doomed to failure from the start by continuing list of unavoidable mishaps.

4th May 1946

On 4th May, twelve aircraft left in formation to give a demonstration of formation flying over Dutch towns and cities on this day of celebrations in Holland. This day is set aside by the Dutch as their official day of Liberation.

The cities were crowded with processions and the whole country looked most happy with the fields of tulips in full bloom.

The trip was most successful and compensated for the disappointment felt when the formation could not fly on 29th April. Messages of congratulations have been received from Holland and some good photographs of the formation were taken from the roof of the British Embassy in the Hague

Photographs courtesy of Michael Bullen