The RUSI of NSW Badge
 Search this Site

 Search the Library Catalogue

The Royal United Services Institute of New South Wales

Use the button top right to donate much needed funds to the The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW. 

The Flying Grocer

By: Rupert Guineness (950/35703)
Publisher: Random House Australia ISBN: 978-1-74166-531-4

In May 1945 a Lancaster bomber flew so perilously low over the fields and viaducts of German-occupied Holland that the crew could see the happiness on the faces of the starving people below. On their return from dropping lifesaving food supplies over Rotterdam, a small parcel of cigarettes with a note bearing the Australian pilot's name and home address fell from the rear-gunner's position and landed at the feet of a group of locals. Then the pilot dipped his wings in the traditional airman's salute and flew away back to England.

A Dutch girl picked up the note, and the letter of thanks she wrote to the 'flying grocer' sparked a lifelong correspondence and friendship between two people from very different worlds.

This is the story of Operation Manna, one of the greatest humanitarian missions ever undertaken in modern war, to rescue the starving people of Holland in the dying days of World War II - yet one which went largely unrecognised. It is estimated that after the famine that struck the country in the winter of 1944-45, known as 'the Hunger Winter', more than three million lives were saved by the food parcels delivered by men who only days before had been unloading bombs over Germany.

Using letters, interviews and diary extracts, Rupert Guinness weaves together the tales of a teenage Dutch girl whose house had been occupied by Nazi soldiers, and the pilot of an Australian Lancaster crew based at Binbrook in northern England. A moving true story of how lives can touch in the most unusual circumstances, The Flying Grocer records a fine and proud moment in Australian military history.

August 2007

PO Box 844, DARLINGHURST NSW 1300; Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park South, SYDNEY NSW; Telephone: +61 (0)2 8262 2922; Email:
Open 1000h to 1500h Monday to Friday and at other times by appointment (Phone: 8262 2922) GETTING TO THE INSTITUTE
The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies New South Wales Incorporated - ABN 80 724 654 162