Many nations have come together for a floral planting ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral to pay tribute to Lincolnshire’s part in the Dutch humanitarian aid mission, Operation Manna.
As the cathedral bells chimed 2pm on September 25, around 60 distinguished guests, volunteers and spectators gathered on the East Lawn to set 40,000 bulbs.
The floral mosaic was gifted to the city of Lincoln by the Dutch government, and was the result of local and international support.
The 10m x 10m floral tribute, which is hoped to be in full bloom by the 70th anniversary of Operation Manna in April 2015, was designed by internationally renowned floral designer Jan Guldemond.
The design, which is made up of Dutch bulbs and tulips, depicts Lancaster Bombers as they drop parachutes of food from the sky.
The planting team were assisted by 10 children from Lincoln Minster School who learnt how to plant bulbs, their design and the reason for the mosaic.
The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust were joined by The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Laetitia van den Assam as they helped set the bulbs.
Representatives from allied nations attended the ceremony, including Holland, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Poland.
Also attending was the world’s leading Operation Manner expert Hans Onderwater, who relived the story of the World War I events, thanking the Lincolnshire veteran Bernie Harris, who helped rescue his parents during the war.
Britain’s Bomber Command fleet flew from RAF bases in Lincolnshire on April 29, 1945 to come to the aid of three million people in the west of Holland, who were starving.
Lancasters from Bomber Command stations across Lincolnshire were involved in the Operation and saw 3,100 flights dropping nearly 7,000 tons of food aid over the area in ten days.
On May 1 the US Air Force joined with Operation Chowhound flying an additional 2,200 aid flights before Nazi Germany’s surrender on the 8th May.
The Ambassador of the Kindom of the Netherlands, Laetitia van den Assam, said: “Today is very important for us as we are coming up to the 70th anniversary of Operation Manna and the Dutch remain absolutely committed to making sure that the memory of what was achieved by the British at that time is remembered and honoured.
“This wonderful field of bulbs will flower in April right before the 70th anniversary, and it’s going to be a tremendous living memorial to all those who contributed and took huge risks. We will not forget.”
Chairman of the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust, and Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Tony Worth, said: “It’s wonderful to have so many different representatives from so many different countries.
“We are in the process of reconciliation and commemoration and we hope that that will be depicted with the International Bomber Command Memorial Centre.”
Emma Morris (10) from Lincoln Minster School said: “I feel really honoured to have the chance to do this and it makes me proud to be from Lincolnshire. Planting the bulbs was very exciting and it was good to meet so many important people.”
The Mayor of Lincoln, Councillor Brent Chalesworth said: “What this event does show is how close we are to the people of Holland and it brings to light some very important parts of our history.”