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2010 UK Airshows : REVIEW

RAFA Dutch Day, Sussexdown

Programme CoverBetween the 25th April and 5th May 1945, the Royal Air Forces Bomber Command were engaged in "Operation Manna." The operation saw Lancasters from several squadrons dropping food and provisions in the Den Haag and Rotterdam areas in the Netherlands which had been cut off by the German invasions. The United States Army Air Force were also involved in supply drops under their own operation "Chow Hound." Each year, the Royal Air Forces Association branch in Amsterdam says thank you to the RAF by providing a small, but very special flying over the Sussexdown Care Home in Sussex.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

In early 1945, the Den Haag and Rotterdam areas had been cut off by the German invasion and the situation for three million Dutch civilians had become desperate. Follows pleas from the Prince Berhard, a truce between the Allies and German was negotiated to allow bombers from the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force to drop supplies to the population. Both Operation Manna and Chow Hound lasted until the end of the war.

Each year, the Royal Air Forces Association Amsterdam Branch says thank you to the RAF with a special event at Sussexdown - "Dutch Day." Sussexdown used to the Royal Air Forces Association own care home, but is now run by Care South. It does retain very strong links with the RAF and RAFA.

Invited Guests, which included Dame Vera Lynn gathered for the short flying displays and lunch. Sadly, the weather this year was very uncooperative with low cloud bases and showers shrouding the South Downs for much for the morning. This meant the displays from ARCo's two seat Spitfire flown by Rod Dean and Thunderprop's Harvard were cancelled as they could get through the murk in time.

Justyn Gorman in his Extra 300L from near-by Shoreham did managed to make it to Sussexdown having waited for the worst of the weather to clear. Justyn performed a flat display under the cloud making uses of the sporadic breaks to punch in some vertical figures.

Shortly after the Extra, the Edambusters arrived over Sussexdown in a mixture of different General Aviation types. The team made a number of passes over Sussexdown though the "Edam Bomber" did manage to undershoot his aiming when releasing the cheeses peppering one of the neighbour’s gardens with BabyBel! They were returned to Sussexdown later in the afternoon by the bemused neighbour! !

Summing up the event, display organiser Malcolm Mason MBE added "We always look forward to this special day which means a lot to our Branch members in Amsterdam. In the early eighties Dame Vera Lynn was appointed a Commander in the Order of Orange Nassau, one of the very few non Dutch nationals to receive this royal honour and she has continued to support us to this day. We also would like to thank Care South for helping make this important day the success it is."

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