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Bomber Command veterans visit Holland to commemorate Operation Manna

Earlier this month, Second World War Bomber Command veterans, Jack Cook and Tom Rogers were accompanied by Jim Dooley and Mark Montgomery, as guests of honour, joining an international service at the Memorial of Tolerance in Haalen, Holland.

The service commemorated 75 years since that region of the country was liberated from Nazi occupation.

Memorial Of Tolerance Visit

Jack, 94, signed up to join the RAF on his 18th birthday in August 1943.

He was a wireless operator on Lancasters and took part in the 10-day mission known as "Operation Manna" dropping food supplies to millions of Dutch civilians who were starving, following a period known as "The Hunger Winter of 1945" that preceded the rest of Holland's liberation.

Tom, 93, lied about his age to join the RAF when he was just 17. He was a rear gunner on Lancasters with 207 Squadron based at RAF Spilsby in Lincolnshire, taking part in raids over Munich, Dresden and Bergen.

As the name of the memorial suggests, it acknowledges the sacrifices made by all involved in the wartime conflict. Tom and Jack were joined in the proceedings by Luftwaffe flying ace, Walter Rehling.

Once sworn enemies, the three airmen united as guests of honour at the service where Jack laid a wreath on behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Memorial Of Tolerance Visit

Included in the schedule was a visit to a local memorial raised at the site of a crashed Lancaster. The trio of veterans also visited a local school.

This gave up to 100 children the opportunity to talk with veterans about their wartime experiences and the sacrifices they and their colleagues made in order to bring freedom to the Dutch people during World War II.

Memorial Of Tolerance Visit

Bomber Command Memorial Director of Fundraising, Jim Dooley, said: "It was an honour and very emotive to see Jack, Tom and Walter together in Holland, as they shared tears together over comrades who never came home.

"The veterans were also able to spend some time educating the younger generations about the true cost of freedom, it was a scene that gives us all hope for peace in the future."

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