Unique color photo of American food falling over Rotterdam discovered

There was fear among the young American pilots when they took off from England on May 1, 1945. Via the North Sea and Goeree-Overflakkee, they flew diagonally upwards towards Rotterdam, over Kralingse Plas to Terbregge. Their bombers filled with packed lunches – with milk powder, chocolate, margarine, dried meat. Above Terbregge, just north of Rotterdam at an altitude of about 120 meters, they had to unload everything at a drop-off point. 284 tons of food that day of 155 U.S. bombers.

There were risks in the operation ‘Chowhound‘- which stands for’ frozen ‘or’ frozen ‘. The question was whether the Germans, who still occupied Rotterdam, would let the Allies do their work. “They flew indefinitely: very low and slow,” says Rob Noordhoek, curator at Museum Rotterdam. “Normally they fly at great heights, with fighter jets involved. If the Germans shot now, they would not have a chance. Then they were seated ducks

The bomb hatches open

Noordhoek recently discovered this “amazing color photograph”, posted above, of a formation of American B-17 bombers over Kralingen. Color images from that time are exceptional, he says. He found them in the digital image archive at the Imperial War Museums, one of approximately 15,000 prints and slides from the author and historian Roger Freeman’s original collection, now in possession of the British Museum. The plane can be seen with the landing gear down and the bomb hatches open, heading towards the sales area at Terbregge.

Until recently, the image was not associated with Rotterdam. The information that came with the image in the archive indicated that it was’a Dutch city‘went – Noordhoek soon recognized Rotterdam. He can feel on the four rows of houses with flat roofs at the bottom of the picture. “Before the war, it was a pretty modern way of building. Open strips, for good insulation. Quite unusual at the time. “He knew that Jaffa in Kralingen – as can be seen in the picture – was one of the first neighborhoods where this way was built.

Food drops may have been more emotionally charged than the liberation itself

Rob Noordhoek Museum Rotterdam

Noordhoek knows the area well, he often cycled here and saw several famous places. The old slaughterhouse plot with white buildings and storage space, a little to the left of the center – now mainly houses. Jordbanen, now the athletics club PAC. The water in Boezem and Boezemlaan.

The houses further down in the sun are Crooswijk. The large area of ​​greenery, just below the planes, is Crooswijk General Cemetery. And the beginning of Kralingse Plas is seen at the bottom right. “What you just do not see, at the bottom of the picture, is the new apartment along Kralingse Plaslaan, one of the first gallery apartments in the Netherlands.”

Many Rotterdammers stand on the ground, according to another color photo taken in almost the same place – this comes from the collection of Hans Onderwater, authority for food aid from the Allies in 1945.

Food falling off a British plane, with waving Rotterdammere on the roof of the apartment along Kralingse Plaslaan. This is almost the same place where the picture of American bombers was taken.
Collection Hans Onderwater

hungry winter

“As the delivery area approached, I saw thousands of people,” an American pilot is quoted as saying in the book. Destination Rotterdam (2018). “On the street, hanging from the windows and on balconies and flat roofs. I saw a sea of ​​white colors. The Dutch waved all the white textiles they could quickly find. Bed linen, handkerchiefs, handkerchiefs, towels, I even saw an American flag. “Perhaps the food drops were even more emotional than the liberation itself,” says Noordhoek.

During the famine winter, from 1944 to 1945, many people died of malnutrition, also in Rotterdam. An ‘sour detail’, says Noordhoek, is that it took a long time before the food actually reached the population. “It was first collected in central locations to prevent theft and abuse and was not distributed until after the liberation, around 13 May. A well-intentioned measure, but it must have required sacrifices because it took so long. ”

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