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The Blitz on Coventry

On 14th November 1940, the Luftwaffe launched the most devastating bombing raid so far on Britain. Up until then, the attacks had been concentrated on London and the airfields of Southern England. This time the target was Coventry, deep in the heart of the country.

In a 12-hour blitz, the Luftwaffe dropped thousands of tons of bombs. Three-quarters of the city centre was devastated, including the ancient cathedral. The Nazis coined a phrase – ‘to Coventrate’ – to describe the intense destruction.

It was a baptism of fire for Coventry and Britain. For years, the government feared that aerial bombardment could destroy civilian morale. In Coventry, those fears were tested, and in the immediate aftermath of the blitz the evidence was not encouraging. Panic and hysteria gripped the city, and half of Coventry’s population fled. However, within weeks – and contrary to all expectations – the city revived. Factories were once again, turning out aircraft parts which would be used to avenge the attack on Coventry.

The RAF studied the Nazi techniques and perfected the art of ‘Coventration’. In Cologne, Essen, Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin. The Nazis ultimately reaped the whirlwind, as described by Air Marshall Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, that they had sown in their devastating attack on Coventry.

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