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Looking Back: the Raisin Bombers0
By - Posted 4th July, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a… plummeting Mars Bar?!
I promise I haven’t finally lost it (let’s face it, I lost it years ago, but that’s a story for another time) – but you’ll have to read the whole article to find out what on earth I’m talking about..

Here’s a little piece of history for you all to impress your friends and family with today. (Perhaps this would have gone better under a “Real World Happenedings” banner but unfortunately we don’t have one – probably because that’s not even a word…) Anyway, whether you’re interested in history or not, this story is undeniably heartwarming and fully restores my faith in humanity so here I am sharing the joy.

First of all, I hope (like, really really hope) I can safely assume that every reader has heard of the Cold War between the Western Allies (primarily Britain, France and the USA) and the USSR (Russia) when each country owned a section of Germany after World War II. Perhaps one of the most tense points of the Cold War was the Berlin Blockade which lasted just over a year from 1948 to 1949, where the USSR blocked off almost all transport systems (train lines, rivers, etc.) into Western-occupied Berlin, hoping to force Britain, the US and France out of Berlin so they could control it for themselves. If you’d like to read more about the Berlin Blockade, I suggest you brush up either here or here before continuing with the story.

So I can finally start to discuss the actual point of my article: a little group of American pilots nicknamed the ‘Raisin Bombers’ (Rosinenbomber) who flew in supplies by airlift to West Berlin. One pilot named Gail Halvorsen noticed that the children trapped in West Berlin used to stand on the hilltops near to where he landed his plane to watch the pilots risk their lives to keep the citizens of West Berlin alive. However, it got him thinking about how bad rationing would be in Berlin at the time and how children would only be receiving the minimum to keep them alive (because, despite there being nearly 300,000
flights made to Berlin in 13 months, there were still a lot of people needing to be fed!). So Halvorsen started to buy chocolate bars from America and attach them to handkerchiefs before he set off on his flight to Berlin, so when he flew over the children he could throw the chocolate out and they could catch it.

The idea became popular in America, where everyone pitied the children trapped down in West Berlin, and soon the news spread to American children. They hatched a plan to send their own chocolate and sweets for the week to the pilots who would take them out to Berlin and distribute them to the children on the hilltops, as their sweet rations for the week could be the only treat a child in Berlin would get to see in six months. So the Raisin Bombers became hugely popular among German children (for obvious reasons; they were getting chocolate) but also among American children who liked to think that something as insignificant as a bar of chocolate could brighten up the life of another child.

Whether you have a heart for history or not, I love stories like this that put a little smile on my face!

Do you have any heartwarming stories of your own? Click ‘Read More and Comment’ below or continue the discussion here!

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