Monday, November 14, 2011

Coventry: Nov. 14, 1940

Veterans Day was just a few days ago, a day to remember and pay our respects to the men and women of our military. Today, November 14, 2011 is the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Coventry, England during WWII. Today also is a day to remember our veterans as well as the civilians who also bear the brunt of war.
Coventry Cathedral after the November, 1940 blitz

These are the facts...

The bombing of Coventry was remarkable for its destruction as well as the sheer scope of the event in simple and practical terms: the hours the bombing continued, the tonnage of explosives dropped, the rubble that the city was reduced to and, of course, the lives that were lost or destroyed as a result of the bombing. 

With these pictures and the chronology of the bombing of Coventry, pays its respects:

At 1 p.m. on Nov. 14, 1941, a German radio beam was detected. No one knew where the beam was headed or precisely what it meant.

At 3 p.m., the Royal Air Force is notified that the German radio beam seems to be headed for Coventry. Coventry receives its first message at 6:50 p.m. At 7:07, the raid alert for approaching enemy is given. At 7:10 p.m., the signal for "Raiders approaching your area" is given. At 7:10, the first sirens begin and the first bombs start to fall.

The bombs fell all night, apparently reaching their fullest at 11:45 p.m. It was not until 6:16 a.m. on the morning of November 15 that the all clear signal was given.
Coventry days after the blitz. (Photo: Getty Images)

Records confirm that 522 German bombers took off from France. Some flew a diversionary mission to London. Some 881 canisters of explosives were dropped on Coventry. These canisters contained 30,000 incendiary devices. Approximately 503 tons of explosives were dropped on Coventry.

The number of dead is far less than the casualties from the London blitz; however, Coventry had a much smaller population. It is estimated that if you were in Coventry, your chances of dying from the bombing were 60% greater than anywhere else in England at any other time during the war.

According to, the actual casualties from the Coventry bombing are as follows: 568 were confirmed killed. 863 seriously wounded.  393 injured.

"Although higher total casualties had been seen in London, the relatively smaller population in Coventry meant that each person had actually stood a 60% higher risk of being killed in Coventry that night, than the average anywhere else in the UK during the war." (

A WWII RAF pilot with his plane (Photo: Allposters)
Coventry had 79 public air raid shelters. These shelters could accommodate 33,000 people. Of these shelters, nearly half were damaged. Eleven of the 33 damaged shelters were beyond repair. There were 3,000 homeless people that were now homeless after this raid.

These numbers are just one way of looking at the heartbreak of war and the courage of the human spirit to survive.

The video below is part of a BBC series on the bombing of Coventry.

BBC Timewatch

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1 comment:

  1. Being an SEO Coventry agency we like to know the history of the city we are based in and this blog was both informative and shocking. Can't believe the chances of dying from the bombing was 60%!