Echuca resident Ron Pell received a medal from the Dutch Government for dropping food parcels into the Netherlands during World War II.MONIQUE PRESTON December 21, 2012 4:54am
Echuca resident Ron Pell received a medal from the Netherlands Government for dropping food parcels into Netherlands during World War II.
Sixty-seven years ago, Ron Pell was involved in dropping food parcels over war-ravaged Holland.
On Wednesday, the Echuca resident finally received a medal from the Dutch government for his efforts.
Mr Pell is now one of only two Australians to receive the ‘Dutch Medal of Remembrance Thank You Liberators’ medal.
His flying crew of seven flew 23 bombing missions over Germany for two or three months from July 1944.
However, they were also involved in five missions to fly over the Netherlands, dropping food parcels to starving citizens.
With one flight to Rotterdam, one to The Hague and three to Juvincourt, his crew joined others from the Royal Air Force Bomber Command with strict instructions of a time to take off and a height to fly at.
While most of their other flights had been high in the sky, Mr Pell said the food drops saw them having to fly about 45m above the ground to ensure their five tonnes of cargo would safely land on the ground, with areas such as fields used to make the drops.
Negotiations had taken place with the Germans to allow the food drops to take place, with a ceasefire of sorts declared for them.
After his other missions, where there had been constant threats of attacks from the enemy, Mr Pell said the food drops were ‘‘just like a Sunday drive in the park’’.
‘‘The Germans were on the coastline manning the guns,’’ he said.
‘‘They were 150 to 200 feet (45 to 60m) away. I wondered what they thought of seeing our Lancasters (planes) and they couldn’t shoot.
‘‘When we were nearing the drop area, we had to drop just over roof height.’’
Height and speed were crucial factors in dropping the food parcels with minimal damage, as a lack of silk meant they had to be dropped without a parachute.
While Dutch civilians were kept off the ovals or fields where the drops were made — instead the Dutch authorities made the pick-ups and then distributed the food among the country’s citizens — Mr Pell can still remember seeing them during his missions.
‘‘They were all out waving sheets and towels,’’ he said, referring to the ground crew as the planes came in close to their drop targets.
It was Mr Pell’s job to direct the pilot onto the target and then press the button that would release the hessian-wrapped parcels.
Mr Pell first heard of the Dutch medal when he went to London in June for the unveiling of a memorial to the 55,000 airmen who fought and died during the war.
‘‘While there, I saw a chap sitting in a wheelchair wearing a medal I had not seen before,’’ he said.
‘‘He told me it was for dropping food to Holland.’’
When Mr Pell returned to Australia he contacted Member for Rodney Paul Weller’s office and later received a phonecall from a member of the Dutch Embassy in Canberra, who organised the medal and a certificate.
Unable to get to Canberra to receive the medal, Mr Pell was instead presented it by Dr Stone as a representative of the Federal Government.
Mr Pell was pleased to have received the medal.
‘‘I’m very proud to have it. I had no idea there’d been only two awarded (in Australia). I didn’t do anything special. I just did my job,’’ he said.
The committal hearing into the 1983 murder of Shepparton teenager Michelle Buckingham is expected to finish today.
The Yarrawonga Chronicle and Travel and Cruise Yarrawonga are offering shoppers a chance to win an incredible cruise package this summer.
Last week Victorian Collections passed a major milestone, with the 50000th historical object record from the state’s heritage collections uploaded to the site.
Echuca-Moama Search and Rescue members Steve Huntley, Kirsty Read, Ray Rowe and Peter Reid have been recognised for their role following an industrial accident earlier this year.
Rochester Secondary College student Georgia Mundie will perform at an Equitana exhibition in Melbourne.
Fourteen parties and 37 candidates will contest the Northern Victoria Region for the Victorian upper house at the November 29 election, with the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) claiming the top billing on the ballot paper.
Playgroup of the Month for November.
Andrew Richardson and Matt Jackson have been appointed co-coaches of Finley's senior football side.
Coliban Water has confirmed sewer connections in Heathcote would not happen until the completion of a feasibility study.
Runners from the Sri Chinmoy Peace Oneness-Home Peace Run visit local students to share message of goodwill.
Deniliquin’s Luke Harrington is hoping to start a horse riding club for people with a disability.
South African course builder Brian Lavery, now based in Melbourne, set a testing track for the Hunter Group World Cup Showjumping Qualifier on Saturday that brought some of the sport’s big names undone.
Scott Upston had a decorated career as a paralympic coach before moving to Benalla this year.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.