April 21, 2015 6.09 pm This story is over 103 months old

Historic ceremony for commemorative Lincoln floral mosaic

Mosaic in bloom: The commemorative Operation Manna floral mosaic at Lincoln Cathedral has been unveiled.

A floral mosaic gifted to International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) by the Dutch Government is in full bloom, and was unveiled in Lincoln today.

The mosaic, designed in commemoration of the 1945 Operation Manna, was created by internationally renowned designer Jan Guldemond.

It was planted alongside a special ceremony in September 2014 which brought together nations from all corners of the world.

A crowd of honoured guests, including 20 veterans of Bomber Command, attended the unveiling of the display on April 21 on the East Lawn of Lincoln Cathedral.

Operation Manna was the first humanitarian food aid drop and took place over the West of Holland from April 29, 1945.

At that time western Holland had lost 20,000 people through starvation and a further 980,000 were classed as malnourished.

This was as a result of Nazi retaliation, including blockades of food supplies, for the rail workers strike in 1944 in support of Operation Market Garden, which included the Battle of Arnhem.

The winter of 1944/45 was extremely severe and this compounded their suffering.

Lancasters from Bomber Command stations 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 May 8.

Some four recipients of the food aid also attended the event, which marked the largest gathering of Operation Manna veterans for some 20 years.

A painting, commissioned by the Government of the Royal Netherlands, was signed by all the veterans, recipients and international guests.

The picture was then presented by Mrs Coby van Riel, a recipient, to Mr Frank Tolley, a veteran, to demonstrate the gratitude felt by the people of Holland to those that saved them from starvation.

The Very Reverend Philip Buckler, Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, led a service of thanksgiving with the Bishop of Lincoln, and The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson, gave the blessing.

Nicky Barr, Project Director of IBCC, said: “We are delighted to be able to unveil this important mosaic in the presence of so many of the men who took part in those vital food drops.

“It is also key that we are to be joined, once again, by the Defence Attachés from so many countries, reflecting our core mission of recognition, remembrance and reconciliation.

“We are enormously grateful to the Kingdom of the Royal Netherlands for their fantastic support of the project.”