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For sale: West Wickham cottage with a humanitarian history

2 Manna Cottages at Wratting Common ANL-150710-104048001
2 Manna Cottages at Wratting Common ANL-150710-104048001

A cottage named after its location’s part in a humanitarian relief operation at the end of World War II is up for sale.

Number two Manna Cottages on the edge of Wratting Common airfield, near West Wickham, is one of a pair whose names were changed from Brickyard Cottages to recall the airfield’s central part in the 1945 Operation Manna.

The operation saw Bomber Command drop 7,000 tons of food to civilians facing famine in the west Netherlands between the end of April and the start of May 1945. After the food was dropped the Dutch used inedible tulip bulbs to spell out ‘Many Thanks’ on the ground.

At the time the area of Holland was still in German hands, but Nazi forces there were isolated because the Allies had advanced into Germany. The Germans had also flooded the fields to stop airborne landings.

A memorial now stands at the former airfield to mark the site’s contribution to the war.

The cottage is now in the market with Mullock Wells for £377,500.

Sara Garnett, who has lived in the cottage for 22 years said, “Knowing the history of this area has made living here very special. When I bought this house the builder who had done the work created a collage about Manna Cottages.

“In the centre of his piece he included a tapestry canvas sewn by one of the people saved by the food parcels, who had subsequently come to live in West Wickham as an adult.”

Wratting Common airfield was originally named West Wickham airfield but was confused with the town of the same name in Kent so was changed.

The airstrip has now been ploughed up and all that remains of the site is an aircraft hangar used as a warehouse, Nissen huts and concrete hard standing.

Sally Smales from Mullucks Wells said, “This cottage has clearly made a wonderful home, close to a village with a strong community.”

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