Air Commodore Andrew James Wray Geddes (31 July 1906 – 15 December 1988) was the senior Royal Air Force officer during World War II who led the planning for Operation Manna, the air drop of food supplies to the starving population of the Netherlands.
Geddes was born in India, the son of Major Malcolm Henry Burdett Geddes,an Indian Army Officer. He soon returned to England with his mother and much later graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich and joined the Royal Artillery in 1926.
Geddes began his military career in the Army before being seconded to the RAF in 1928. He trained at RAF Sealand before joining No. 4 Squadron RAF at RAF Farnborough flying the Bristol F.2 Fighter and later the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas.
In 1932, he rejoined the Royal Artillery but was again seconded to the RAF in 1935, this time as a Flight Commander with No. 2 Squadron RAF at RAF Manston. By 1938, Geddes was to Squadron Commander.
He had an active role in the planning of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Shortly after the landing on 6 June 1944, Geddes flew a Mustang over the invasion beaches taking some of the first pictures of the invasion.
Although Geddes retained his Army commission (reaching the rank of Major in 1943), he spent all of World War II in the RAF. He finally fully transferred to the RAF in 1945.
From 1 April 1943 until VE-Day Air Commodore Geddes was responsible for the Operations and Plans of the Second Tactical Air Force RAF. In the spring of 1945 he was responsible for the organising of Operation Manna; the dropping of food and other essentials to the starving Dutch population still the occupied areas of the Netherlands.
The first food drops began on 29 April 1945, even though no formal treaty had been signed between the Allies and Germans. That day over 240 Lancaster's flew at low level to drop 535 tons of food at six designated places in the west of the Netherlands agreed with Germans.
In case the Allies were trying to use the drop for military purposes (for example dropping paratroopers or arms for partisans), the Germans sent anti-aircraft guns to four of the locations. Local Dutch organising committees then set up a plan to collect the air drops and distribute the food.
Geddes retired from the RAF on 29 September 1954 with the rank of Air Commodore and worked in local government.CBE – 1946 (OBE – 1 Jan 1941)
DSO – 11 Jun 1943
Mentioned in Despatches – 1 Jan 1945 & 14 Jun 1945
Legion of Merit (Cdr) – 9 Oct 1945