Operation Chowhound: The plan to save starving Dutch civilians during World War 2

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Operation Chowhound
The most risky, most glorious US Bomber Mission of WWII
By Stephen Dando-Collins

Published by MacMillan www.panmacmillan.com.au
RRP $32.99 in hardback
ISBN 9781137279637

Stephen Dando-Collins describes Operation Chowhound as the ‘remarkable and heroic precedent’ for the successful Berlin Airlift three years later. It was an outstandingly successful humanitarian mission.

With the 70th anniversary of the operation this year, this book brings to light the details of how this operation came about and the people behind its implementation.

Between May 1 and May 8, 1945, 2,268 military units flown by the USAAF, dropped food to 3.5 million starving Dutch civilians in German-occupied Holland.

It took considerable courage to fly on Operation Chowhound, as American aircrews never knew when the Germans might open fire on them or if Luftwaffe fighters might jump them. Flying at 400 feet, barely above the tree tops, with guns pointed directly at them, they would have no chance to bail out if their B-17s were hit-and yet, over eight days, 120,000 German troops kept their word, and never fired on the American bombers.

As they flew, grateful Dutch civilians spelled out “Thanks Boys” in the tulip fields below. Many Americans who flew in Operation Chowhound would claim it was the best thing they did in the war. Subsequently it was estimated that around 25,000 Dutch died of malnutrition through the ‘Hunger Winter’ of 1944-45.

Listen to an interview here with Stephen Dando-Collins talking about his book.

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