Manna From Heaven-Ending the Dutch famine

The title of this blog does not refer to the verse in the bible in the book of Exodus chapter 16 verse 15:”And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”

But I do think it must have been the inspiration for the allied forces in April 1945.

In September 1944, trains in the Netherlands ground to a halt. Dutch railway workers were hoping that a strike could stop the transport of Nazi troops, helping the advancing Allied forces.

But the Allied campaign named ‘Market Garden’ had failed, and the Nazis punished the Netherlands by blocking food supplies, plunging the northern part of the country into famine. By the time the Netherlands was liberated in May 1945, more than 20,000 people had died of starvation.

77 years ago, on April 29.1945, one of the first major humanitarian operations carried out by air forces took place over the Netherlands. Following the failed attempt to secure the vital bridge over the River Rhine at Arnhem in September 1944, the portion of the Netherlands north of the river remained firmly in German hands. With resources stripped by the occupying forces and one of the harshest winters on record, Dutch civilians faced starvation as 1945 dawned. The Dutch Government in exile pleaded with the Allies to help and by April 1945, a plan was in place.

Air Commodore Andrew Geddes, whose job was Operations and Plans at 2nd Tactical Air Force, was summoned to Eisenhower’s Headquarters on 17th April to be told that he must plan for feeding 3,500,000 Dutch souls from the air, commencing in 10 days’ time. There were no parachutes available for dropping supplies, therefore Geddes should plan for low-level free drops and assume that the German troops on the ground would grant safe conduct for the flights. The operation was to be called ‘Operation Manna’

The RAF carried out over 3,000 sorties, dropping the supplies at low level without parachutes.The Americans carried out around 2,000. In all around 11,000 tonnes of food were dropped by the Allies over Holland, for the loss of three aircraft (two in a collision, one with engine trouble). While some German soldiers fired on them, fortunately none were shot down.

The first of the two RAF Avro Lancasters chosen for the test flight, the morning of 29 April 1945, was nicknamed Bad Penny, as in the expression: “a bad penny always turns up”. This bomber, with a crew of seven young men (five from Ontario, Canada, including pilot Robert Upcott of Windsor, Ontario), took off in bad weather despite the fact that the Germans had not yet agreed to a ceasefire. (Seyss-Inquart would do so the next day.) Bad Penny had to fly low, down to 50 feet (15 m), over German guns, but succeeded in dropping her cargo and returning to her airfield.

Pathfinder Lancaster pilot Richard Bolt later recalled in an interview:

“Like other pathfinders I led a heap of Lancasters into Holland to drop food in Operation ‘Manna’. The Dutch were starving and the war hadn’t quite finished. The Germans weren’t fussed about us feeding the Dutch so there was no opposition. I had a simple task – I just had to put a big red marker in the middle of Valkenburg airfield outside The Hague and 100 Lancasters came in and dropped potatoes and food of all kinds to the starving Dutch. So that was satisfying. There were lots of us doing the same thing.”

Food packs included tinned items, dried food, tea and coffee and chocolate. After much testing of different packaging, hessian sacks were used, some of which were sourced from the US Army.

The ceasefire was signed on the 30th April. Operation Chowhound, the US Army Air Forces aid drop, started on the 1st May and delivered a further 4,000 tons of food. This was followed, on the 2nd May, with a ground based relief mission, Operation Faust. It is estimated that these drops saved nearly a million Dutch people from starvation.

Although it saved many from starvation, the Dutch famine had effects long after the war.

The Dutch Hunger Winter has proved unique in unexpected ways. Due to its sudden start and abrupt end , it became an unplanned experiment in human health. Pregnant women, it was discovered, were uniquely vulnerable, and the children they gave birth to have been influenced by famine throughout their lives.

When they became adults, they ended up a few pounds heavier than average. In middle age, they had higher levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. They also experienced higher rates of such conditions as obesity, diabetes and schizophrenia.

By the time they reached old age, those risks had taken a measurable toll, according to the research of L.H. Lumey, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. In 2013, he and his colleagues reviewed death records of hundreds of thousands of Dutch people born in the mid-1940s.

They found that the people who had been in utero during the famine — known as the Dutch Hunger Winter cohort, died at a higher rate than people born before or afterward.

sources

Manna from heaven

https://www.airforcemuseum.co.nz/blog/remembering-operation-manna-1945/

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The German actor who was ordered to shoot American soldiers, but refused.

too far

September 17,1944 saw the start of “Operation Market Garden” a failed allied operation during WWII, which had dire consequences for the Dutch population.

However this blog is not about that but about the movie made about ‘Operation Market Garden@ a star studded movie made in 1977 directed by Richard Attenborough, with the title ‘A Bridge too Far’

bridge

More specifically about one of the actors in the movie.

Hardy Krüger played Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl Ludwig, the name of his character was fictitious. It was in fact based on Heinz Harmel, CO of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg, but he did not want his name to be mentioned in the film.

Hamel

Hardy Krüger was born Eberhard Krüger in Wedding in the borough of Berlin on April 12 1928. His parents were enthusiastic Nazis.

When he was age 13 Hardy enrolled in an Adolf Hitler School, which was a NSDAP boarding school and joined the Hitler Youth.

When he was  15, Hardy made his film début in a German picture, “The Young Eagles”.

eagles

His acting career was interrupted though, when he was conscripted into the German Wehrmacht in 1944 at age 16.

In March 1945, he was assigned to the 38th SS Division Nibelungen where he was drawn into heavy fighting. The 16-year-old Krüger was ordered to eliminate a group of American soldiers. When he refused, he was sentenced to death for cowardice, but another SS officer stopped the order. The incident opened his eyes to what Nazism really was.

Hardy related how he “hated the uniform.” During the filming of A Bridge Too Far , he wore a top-coat over his S.S. uniform between takes so as not to remind himself of his childhood in Germany during WWII.

Hardy

In the TV mini series War and Remembrance televised in 1988/1989 he played Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

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Sources

German Wikipedia

IMDb

 

 

 

The effects of Operation Market Garden are still being felt today.

Garden

Operation Market Garden started on September 17 1944. It was supposed to end the war in the Netherlands.But the operation failed, as a result the war was prolonged for several months,compounded with one of the severest winters on record it resulted in a famine for the northern provinces.

POW

But there was more,as a form of reprisal the Germans started stealing everything valuable they could find. although Market Garden failed the Germans knew the war was coming to an end and they would be on the losing side.

Dr J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem, stored 6 works of art in a bank vault for safekeeping during the Second World War.

Dr

One of the pieces was a painting called The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt The paintings were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis plundered the town.Although the instructions were given not to loot the banks a German officer called Temmler paid no attention to those instructions.

Even Himmler had warned about Temmler, he said he would bring disrespect to the Nazi party, killing millions was okay, but stealing art was disrespectful.

The painting then made a bit of a mysterious journey. In 1971 was acquired by the property  Harold Samuel,  it had  painting reappeared on the Swiss art market ,a few decades after the war, where Harold Samuel bought it

Harold Samuel  bequeathed the painting to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe uncovered the history of the painting and discovered the rightful owners. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the daughter of Dr van Gelder,she is now aged 97.

It was returned to her in November 2017.

The painting went  on auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018, and was sold for estimated value 1.6 Million Pounds Sterling.

oyster meal

 

 

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Sources

BBC

Sotheby’s

The Supply Chain Management Principles during Market Garden

self16

 

This may seem a strange title for a WWII related subject but in fact it is probably more appropriate then you’d expect.

One of the definitions of Supply Chain Management  is “the management of the flow of goods and services,involves the movement and storage of raw materials, of work-in-process inventory, and of finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption”

Replace the word “consumption” with “action” or “combat” and you can apply the principle of Supply Chain management to Operation Market Garden or a great number of other operations during WWII.

c45382ffa9b95bdbc7e1e7fbb3f7f507

 

The reason why I chose Market Garden is twofold. Firstly because it had a great effect on the country I was born in.Secondly It was the largest airborne operation up to that point and is one of the best recorded mistakes by the allied forces.

800px-waves_of_paratroops_land_in_holland

Planning is key to successful supply chain demand and the forecast demand needs to be as accurate as possible. Given the situation and the time this was always going to be a problem.

operation-market-garden-wallpaper

Among the controversial aspects of the plan was the necessity that all the main bridges be taken. The terrain was also ill-suited for the mission of XXX Corps.Brereton had ordered that the bridges along XXX Corps’ route should be captured with “thunderclap surprise“.It is therefore surprising in retrospect that the plans placed so little emphasis on capturing the important bridges immediately with forces dropped directly on them. In the case of Veghel and Grave where this was done, the bridges were captured with only a few shots being fired.

 

The decision to drop the 82nd Airborne Division on the Groesbeek Heights, several kilometres from the Nijmegen Bridge, has been questioned because it resulted in a long delay in its capture.

800px-market-garden_-_nijmegen_and_the_bridge

In Supply Chain management terms this is deemed to be a “bottleneck”The Bottleneck is the drum (schedule) that controls the throughput of the entire system.In this case the Nijmegen Bridge had become the bottleneck and the speed of the operation was going to be determined by the situation around the Nijmegen Bridge.

Browning and Gavin considered holding a defensive blocking position on the ridge a prerequisite for holding the highway corridor. Gavin generally favoured accepting the higher initial casualties involved in dropping as close to objectives as possible in the belief that distant drop zones would result in lower chances of success. With the 82nd responsible for holding the centre of the salient, he and Browning decided the ridge must take priority. Combined with the 1st Airborne Division’s delays within Arnhem, which left the Arnhem bridge open to traffic until 20:00, the Germans were given vital hours to reinforce their hold on the bridge.

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As part of the planning you have to look at all options and pick the best option available to you,based on statistics and parameters available to ensure the best possible throughput.

Arnhem bridge was not the only Rhine crossing. Had the Market Garden planners realized that a ferry was available at Driel, the British might have secured that instead of the Arnhem bridge. Being a shorter distance away from their western drop and landing zones, the 1st Parachute Brigade could have concentrated to hold the Oosterbeek heights, instead of one battalion farther away at the road bridge; in this case, Arnhem was “one bridge too far”.

pic_drielferry

Allied Airborne Units
  Killed in action
or died of wounds
Captured or
missing
Safely
withdrawn
  Total
1st Airborne 1,174 5,903 1,892 8,969
Glider Pilot Regiment 219 511 532 1,262
Polish Brigade 92 111 1,486 1,689
Total 1,485 6,525 3,910  
 
Other Allied losses
  Killed in action
or died of wounds
Captured or missing
RAF 368 79
Royal Army Service Corps 79 44
IX Troop Carrier Command 27 6
XXX Corps 25 200
Total 499 329
 
 

It is amazing to think that a simple excersize in Supply Chain management could have turned Operation Market Garden into a success, of course the term Supply Chain management was only invented in the 1980’s but not withstanding that, proper planning and forecasting could have avoided the many losses and the famine that ensued afterwards.

I did not think I could link my field of studies ‘Supply Chain Management and Production Control’ with my interest for WWII.

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