October 22nd, 2016

75 years on from the Coventry Blitz – The Observer looks back

75 years on from the Coventry Blitz – The Observer looks back 75 years on from the Coventry Blitz – The Observer looks back

ON the night of November 14, 1940, people across Warwick district saw the skies aglow over neighbouring Coventry.

It was the night of the Coventry Blitz when nearly 450 German bombers dropped 500 tonnes of bombs on Coventry – changing the face of the city forever, and although Hitler did not know it at the time, also the course of the Second World War.

The nation rallied behind Winston Churchill and the British ‘bulldog spirit’ was born.

This weekend, the people of Coventry and Warwickshire will reflect and remember the events of that fateful night as they mark the 75th anniversary of the raid.

It was Hitler’s revenge for an RAF attack on Munich, and Coventry was targeted as the industrial city was a major munitions manufacturer.

Nearly 600 people were killed during the relentless bombing and over 1,200 people left seriously injured.

Seven people lost their lives in Leamington after a German plane accidently dropped a string of six bombs over the town.

The statue of Queen Victoria outside Leamington Town Hall was even moved one inch on its plinth – though it remained standing.

The first wave of German bombers crossed the Dorset coast just after 6.15pm and hit Coventry for the first time that night shortly after 7pm.

For the next 11 hours, Coventry was crumbled into a city of rubble, remains and lost memories.

Incoming bombers could see Coventry light up the British sky from as far as Dover – a true sign of how large this attack was.

Despite the best efforts of anti-aircraft gunners on the ground, only one German plane was shot down that night.

When people emerged from their homes, or what was left of them, they found their city had been flattened by the force of the Lufftwaffe

The Coventry Blitz to this day remains the most prolific attack on a British city.

There were 17 smaller raids on Coventry during the Battle of Britain between August and October 1940, during which around 198 tons of bombs fell.

But while the bombs may have destroyed their homes and their city, it did not destroy the spirit of its people.

Visit www.coventry.gov.uk/events for details of events commemorating the 75th anniversary.