Coventry Blitz – The 75th Anniversary

Highlighted by the discovery of a WW2 bomb during Freshers week, the shadow of Coventry’s ‘darkest hour’ still hangs over the city. 75 years ago, on November 14th 1940, over 30,000 incendiary bombs struck Coventry in a terrifying eleven-hour onslaught.

Broadgate in Coventry city centre following the Coventry Blitz of 14/15 November 1940.

Officially called ‘Operation moonlight sonata’ but known locally as ‘The blitz’, the air raid was indiscriminate and caused mass damage to the city, destroying landmarks and homes and killing hundreds of innocent citizens.

By the time the attack was over, 75% of all buildings in the city were destroyed; 33% of all factories were destroyed and 50% of all homes. [..]The bombing of Coventry was seen as the biggest test of British resolve up to this stage of the Blitz

Children searching for books among the ruins of their school in Coventry after a night raid, 10 April 1941.

It may seem odd that such an event is ‘celebrated’, but Coventry is extremely proud of its recovery from the blitz, and the subsequent attacks on the city. Our history includes many inspirational stories, each documenting the camaraderie, support and forgiveness shown by Coventry’s citizens – even in the face of such destruction and loss.

The legacy of Coventry as a ‘city of peace and reconciliation’ began that year, when the Provost of the cathedral urged people not to seek revenge, but to forgive, not only the Germans, but all humanity for the scourge of war.

After the war, he initiated reconciliation links with cities in Germany, starting with Dresden, where thousands had died in the firebombing of that city by the Allied forces. Successive provosts of the Cathedral have continued and expanded on that reconciliation work, organising joint British-German work projects, youth exchanges and many other peace-related programmes.

A wrecked bus stands among a scene of devastation in the centre of Coventry
A wrecked bus stands among a scene of devastation in the centre of Coventry

Coventry prides itself on being the ‘city of peace and reconciliation’, a title achieved through creating partnerships with places that have also suffered the ravage of war, including two German cities. Now Coventry has become known as ‘a powerful symbol worldwide for peace and reconciliation because of the way people dealt with the tragedy of the event.’ There are several events planned to commemorate the night of the blitz and the city’s journey over the following 75 years. These include…

Saturday 14 November

  • The Friends of the Park invite you to join them for an afternoon of song and companionship in the Visitor Centre. Tea and biscuits provided.
    2pm – 4pm War Memorial Park
  • Be part of the Human Chain of Light and Peace. Help create a giant Human Chain of Peace and Light in the city centre, finishing at the Cathedral. Each person attending will carry a light along the chain to symbolise communities joining together in a universal message of remembering the past but looking to the future. Bring your torch or mobile phone to light up the square. 6.30pm University Square

Sunday 15 November

  • The Lord Mayor invites Coventry Blitz survivors to help remember and reflect on an important milestone for the city. Lunch is available and nostalgic music will be performed by Sara Spade. 1pm – 3pm St Mary’s Guildhall. If you would like a free ticket please contact the Lord Mayor’s office on 024 7683 3100 or via e-mail.
  • Join the Lord Mayor and Bishop of Coventry for a special Civic Service of Commemoration to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry. 7pm Coventry Cathedral, please be seated by 6.45pm. To find out more contact Lord Mayor’s office on 024 7683 3100 or via e-mail.

*event information sourced from Coventry City Council
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