RAF PLAYS SANTA CLAUS TO DUTCH CHILDREN
RAF PLAYS SANTA CLAUS TO DUTCH CHILDRENPosted on Thursday 1st December 2016
The support given to the occupied Netherlands by the Royal Air Force during
World War 2 is well known. While Dutch citizens were starving in the last stages
of the war the RAF regularly dropped parcels of food and other comforts which
helped this brave nation to survive and are remembered in Holland to this day.
Some elderly citizens who were children during the war will also remember the
Christmas of 1941 when the RAF became Santa Claus to Dutch children.
The principal Christmas celebration in the Netherlands is held on 6th December
when, according to their traditions, Sinterklaas (Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas)
comes to Holland and parades through a Dutch city. He arrives the night before
with his servants, the Zwaarte Pieten, Black Peters, who keep a record of which
children have been good during the previous year and which have been bad. The
children leave out clogs beside the hearth on the night of the 5th and the Black
Peters come down the chimney and leave presents in the clogs of the good children.
The bad children are put in the Black Peter’s sack and taken to Spain for a year,
where Sinterklaas lives, to learn how to behave.
If the children leave some hay and carrots in their clog, Sinterklaas’s horse, who
pulls his sleigh over the rooftops during the night, will leave them some sweets in
exchange. On the approach to St. Nicholas’s Day in 1941, it was decided that the
RAF should take over this duty.
It was winter and Bomber Command’s activities were very light in view of the
weather. On the night of the 5th visibility was down to zero and the operation had
to be postponed. It was the same the following night and it was not until the 8th
that the weather had lifted sufficiently for the mission to proceed. A scratch crew
comprising Sergeant Thompson, Pilot Officer Barrett, Warrant Officer Binns, and
Flight Sergeants Whittaker, Brownlow and Ollar took off at 4 am on the morning
of the 9th and dropped thousands of packets of Pascall sweets over the
Netherlands – a slightly late, but nonetheless very welcome gift from Sinterklaas.
The back of the packet shows a Black Peter giving Adolf Hitler a good thrashing
with a birch while a terrified Mussolini, his head poking out of Black Peter’s bag,
awaits his turn. The front of the packets showed St Nicholas with one of his Black
Peters flying in an RAF fighter and throwing out sweets for the children. This is
one of the unusual activities undertaken by the RAF described in a new book on
Bomber Command “The Night Hunter’s Prey” by Iain Gordon, published by Pen
and Sword Aviation and available through all good bookshops.
ST. NICHOLAS'S EVE 1941
Throw something in my shoe.
Throw bombs at the Krauts,
But scatter sweets in Holland.
HERE COME THE AIRCRAFT . . .
Here come the aircraft from
Bringing many bombs, Germany
Promptly to fall on German soil
Soon be gone should this be
Sender: St. Nicholas
SCATTERED BY THE RAF
SURPRISE FOR HITLER
See the moon shining through
Friends, hear the wild roar!
The RAF has returned once
To rule the airs, watch how they
Our hearts beat in expectation,
Who gets the cake, who the
Hitler started this confrontation,
But it will be he who gets the
Sender: St. Nicholas
c/o The RAF
The Night Hunter’s Prey
(Hardback - 272 pages)
by Iain Gordon
This is the story of two airmen – an RAF Rear Gunner and a Luftwaffe Pilot.
Alexander Ollar was raised in the Highlands of Scotland. He became an exceptional sporting shot and volunteered as an RAF Air Gunner in 1939. Helmut Lent enrolled for pilot training in the Luftwaffe as soon as he was old enough. Both were men of integrity and honour.
Alec completed his first tour of 34 operations with 115 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal by the King.…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...
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