THE BIGGEST concentrated attack on British soil during the second war took place on the night of November 14, 1940 – a date that will forever be engraved in the memory of the people of Coventry.
Over 500 hundreds lives were lost and hundreds more were left injured the city was burnt to rubble following a brutal attack by the German Luftwaffe 76 years ago.
Over 500 tons of explosives and around 33,000 incendiary bombs and parachutes were dropped as part of operation ‘Moonlight Sonata’.
The bombing lasted for 13 hours and what before had been one of the best preserved city centres in the whole of Europe had been completely wiped out.
The damage was so severe that one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates, Joseph Goebbels, coined the phrase ‘Coventried’, which was used to describe enemy towns that were burnt to the ground.
Of all the historic buildings that lost their battle with the bombs and flames, it was the city’s Cathedral that would remain a lasting symbol of the devastating attack after St Michael’s Cathedral was destroyed.
Along with many factories that were producing important machinery for the war effort, the Germans also targeted two hospitals, two churches, hotels, clubs, cinemas, public-shelters, public swimming baths, a police station and a post office.
So bad was the damage that King George VI visited the city to see the devastation for himself and the following week a mass burial took place.
A new Cathedral now stands by the ruins which remain firmly nestled in the heart of the city centre.
The Blitz remains embedded into the history and DNA of the city and due to the spirit in which Coventry people dealt with the tragedy of the event, the city has become a powerful symbol worldwide for peace and reconciliation.
June Hirst –
“The minute the siren went off I fell into my mother’s arms and just shook from end to end.
“They tried to comfort me always but it never worked and it was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever experienced in my life as the danger was
right above you.
“You could hear the bombs dropping down and it was just awful.”
Roger Kerby –
“The heavy drone of the engines struck terror into my heart even at that early age.
“Later I was taken into the garden to stare at what appeared to be the sky on fire.
“I could feel the heat and could hear a pattering noise on the roof of the house which turned out be shrapnel from the bombs bursting five miles away.”
Edna West –
“As we drove up the Foleshill Road the pipes were up in the air with water gushing out of them, I could never have dreamt of such a mess that the place was in.
“People were walking about with belongings under their arms – I thought it was another world. It was terrifying.
“There was nothing really left of Coventry in the centre. “We then drove by the cathedral and you could’ve wept, it was just a wall standing – I’ve never seen anything like it since.”