Ann Evans’ home city of Coventry commemorates a very important – yet terrible time in the City’s history, 14th November 1940 – The Coventry Blitz.

 

Pic Destroyed Coventry Cathedral Copyright IWM

Destroyed Coventry Cathedral Copyright IWM

It has been 80 years since that night when Germany bombed Coventry in the single most concentrated attack on a British city in the Second World War.  Afterwards Nazi propagandists came up with a new word – coventrieren – meaning to raze a city to the ground.

 

Pic Peace and Reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral Photo taken prior to Covid by Rob Tysall

Peace and Reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral Photo taken prior to Covid by Rob Tysall

Coventry’s citizens, which included my own parents although then not married, and other relatives, endured 11 hours of continuous bombing by some 500 Luftwaffe bombers. Codenamed ‘Moonlight Sonata’ their intention was to destroy the factories manufacturing weapons and ammunitions for the war effort. They dropped 500 tons of high explosives, 30,000 incendiaries, 50 landmines and 20 oil mines. They also tried out a new weapon – the exploding incendiary.

 

Pic Replicas of the beams found after the Blitz in the form of a cross Photo by Rob Tysall

Replicas of the beams found after the Blitz in the form of a cross Photo by Rob Tysall

Some 554 men, women and children lost their lives that night and hundreds more were injured. Over half the houses in the city were damaged or destroyed, three-quarters of the city’s factories plus hundreds of shops and historic landmarks all fell to the onslaught. The medieval church of St Michael was destroyed – the only English Cathedral to be destroyed in the Second World War, although its walls, some of its stained-glass windows and the tower survived. King George VI is said to have wept as he stood amidst the ruins surveying the destruction. Winston Churchill also visited the Cathedral. One of the poignant moments however was the fact that two beams had fallen in the shape of a cross. Replicas of these stand in the ruins to this day.

 

Pic Coventry Cathedral Photo by Rob Tysall

Coventry Cathedral Photo by Rob Tysall

The Blitz caused tremendous damage and heartbreak, but it didn’t destroy the spirit of the Coventry people who rallied together to get through the devastation. The very next day, the cathedral provost Richard T Howard declared that a new cathedral would be built alongside the ruins. By 1947 Coventry, as it continued to re-build, had adopted its first German twin city, Kiel. Dresden followed in 1956. In 1962 the new cathedral was consecrated by H.M Queen Elizabeth II. Coventry is now recognised globally as a City of Peace and Reconciliation.

Discover more of Coventry’s great history: https://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/

To donate to the Poppy Appeal. Go to:  https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/