Staff and residents at Care South’s Sussexdown care home in Storrington welcomed some very special guests to the home earlier this week, when the home hosted a reunion lunch to commemorate Dutch Day and Operation Manna.
The event, organised by the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Amsterdam Branch, remembered Operations Manna and Chowhound, food aid flights organised by the Allies in response to the severe food shortages in Holland during the German occupation.
On April 29 1945, 3,100 flights were made by RAF Bomber Command and 2,200 by the US Army Air Force, dropping 11,000 tonnes of food to desperate Dutch citizens.
This year’s reunion luncheon was attended by a large number of RAFA branch members and guests, including special guests John Oliver Lancaster, a 96 year old ex-WWII Bomber Pilot and former Test Pilot, and Sarah Waugh, Overseas Director for RAFA.
The home also welcomed representatives from the RAFA Amsterdam Committee, RAFA Shoreham Air Show and Shoreham Airport, Dutch Days sponsors, pilots and aircraft owners and RAFA members from local branches.
Heather Rogers, manager at Care South’s Sussexdown care home, said: “We are honoured to host the RAFA Dutch Day reunion. We are very proud of our strong links to the RAF and our local RAFA branches provide a lot of support and fundraising for Sussexdown.
“We are delighted that we have been able to help them by hosting this commemoration lunch. Our residents really enjoyed meeting and talking to the RAFA representatives and sharing their memories of the Second World War.”
Malcolm Mason MBE, branch chairman at RAFA Amsterdam, added: “The Amsterdam Branch is especially grateful to Dickie Dore, the chef at Sussexdown for preparing the lunch, and to Heather Rogers, for her kind permission to host the lunch at Sussexdown.
“Many of the people attending today have contributed to the great success of Dutch Days over the years. It was a very special day.”
In 1972, the RAFA Amsterdam Branch organised its first Dutch Day celebrations at Sussexdown.
From a simple beginning, with a small reception, this grew into a major event for residents and staff and included a lunch and air show, attended many times by Dame Vera Lynn. The annual Dutch Day commemorations ran until 2011.
Report and picture contributed by Steph Muir.