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The Blitz - 14th November 1940

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Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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1 of 327  Mon 5th Jul 2010 12:10pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:1043

This topic will be specifically about the big 14th November raid, known by all as simply "The Blitz". For more general chat about Coventry and Warwickshire in the Second World War, please try this thread: Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
Siobhan Harrison
Whoberley
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2 of 327  Mon 5th Jul 2010 2:46pm  
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I am a producer at BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. I thought members on this board may be interested in getting involved or spreading the word about our 70th anniversary of Coventry Blitz commemorative programming. 14 November 2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the Blitz that devastated Coventry and its cathedral. As part of a series of events on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, we would like to hear your memories and stories of the time. We aim to collect 70 stories for 70 years. All stories will be pre-recorded and copies will be given to The Herbert Museum & Archive History Centre to form part of the city archives. We would also like to see your photographs of old Coventry and any other interesting archive material you may have. Nearer the date, there will be features on air and on our website. If you have something you would like to share with us, please call 02476 551000 or email the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire website Along with your story, please include your name, telephone number and email address. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/coventry/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8759000/8759091.stm
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
Suitably Chastised
Where the Teacher can see me
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3 of 327  Tue 15th Nov 2011 7:47pm  
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Stood outside the ruins of the old cathedral last night at around 10.30 and tried to imagine what the scene must have been like 71 years ago. Doesn't bear thinking about.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
morgana
the secret garden
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4 of 327  Tue 15th Nov 2011 8:32pm  
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Yes it makes you wonder doesn't it how horrific it was, I'm surprised it has so much still standing, at present some of it's failing to uphold itself so I've heard on examining for restorations they said they found some treasure, did you find any??? Lol they said they will reveal to the public what treasure they have found but didn't say when. Wave
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
InnisRoad
Hessle
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5 of 327  Wed 16th Nov 2011 8:16am  
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On 15th Nov 2011 7:47pm, Suitably Chastised said: Stood outside the ruins of the old cathedral last night at around 10.30 and tried to imagine what the scene must have been like 71 years ago. Doesn't bear thinking about.
Remember, it was incendiary damage that destroyed it. So the stonework would not have suffered from blast damage. Holy Trinity was also hit, but the vicar had organised fire watch and defence precautions, so they were able to extinguish the fires before they could take hold. I believe he was somewhat critical of the cathedral staff because they had failed to do the same. Sad
Regards Innis Road

The Blitz - 14th November 1940
morgana
the secret garden
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6 of 327  Wed 16th Nov 2011 10:35am  
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Thank you for that information InnisRoad, I didn't realise it was incendiary bombs that had done the damage. Yes I read about Holy Trinity being hit and the precautions the vicar took shame about the cathedral though. Wave
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
K
Somewhere
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7 of 327  Wed 16th Nov 2011 12:19pm  
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A bit more info, folks Wave The problem with the cathedral was that incendiaries easily penetrated the lead on the roof, then stuck inside the woodwork below. Whilst sand was the recommended way to put 'em out, it was useless once the bomb had disappeared under the lead; and with the burst water mains, there was no other way to win the losing battle. Heat, of course, also damages the stonework - it's a miracle that it didn't bring the tower down. This was particularly true in Dresden. After the bombing, during which we dropped 300,000 incendiaries on that city, the famous domed Frauenkirche was still standing, seemingly untouched. Roughly two days later, it collapsed in a great heap of shattered stonework; the heat, which it's said could be felt in the aircraft 13,000 feet up, had caused so many fractures in the stone. And it stayed in that heap until after the Berlin Wall came down. It is, of course, now fully restored, with Coventry's help. The same thing happened to many other of the burned out shells of the baroque houses in Dresden, and the Communists simply dynamited them, thus destroying any chance at the time of restoring any of them. (Some are now to be reconstituted)
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
Elizabeth
Dudley
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8 of 327  Wed 30th Nov 2011 6:18pm  
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Is there any information about ambulance drivers on the night of the blitz? Family story says that my late father (Robert Walker)and other ambulance drivers were seconded to Coventry the night BEFORE the Blitz. He was based at Kidderminster Ambulance Station. It is said that he told my mother he couldn't tell her where he was going but that he would be a few days and wouldn't be in touch with her. Their second son was just 12 days old. It also said that he was to be presented with a bravery medal by the King but declined it as he preferred to go home. Might there be truth in this intriguing story?

Question

Elizabeth M

The Blitz - 14th November 1940
K
Somewhere
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9 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 1:10pm  
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Well, there has long been a conspiracy theory about Churchill knowing where the attack would be, but letting it happen unchallenged, because (a) it would expose our ability to decipher German codes, and (b) Coventry was to be sacrificed for propaganda reasons. There have been TV programmes debunking the theory; but, given what I've read about Churchill in recent years, I wouldn't put (b) past him! If your family story is correct, it would certainly give credence to the target being known in advance, wouldn't it? Given this country's governments over the years having a strong predilection to secrecy - even the full government information relating to the death of Edith Cavell in 1915 is still not released to the public - our generation is unlikely to ever find out the truth. And of course, a lot of records relating to WWII in particular were destroyed immediately after the war ended.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
dutchman
Spon End
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10 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 2:23pm  
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It was common knowledge a town 'somewhere in the West Midlands' was going to be bombed that night. Many people fled the city taking their keys with them which made the job of fighting fires more difficult than it would otherwise have been. There was also a crack Polish night fighter squadron based at Baginton but they were refused take-off clearance for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
K
Somewhere
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11 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 3:31pm  
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Well, as I said, I wouldn't have put anything past Churchill. I - and most of us, I guess - was brought up to believe the propaganda, making him out to be some kind of saint. Two books that I read in the last year tell a different story: "Castles of Steel" by Robert Massie (the story of the naval battles of WWI) "Admirals" by Andrew Lambert. (Life stories and careers of our most important admirals through history) If anyone is interested in the subject matter, these are excellent books by eminent historians, and I can highly recommend them.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
dutchman
Spon End
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12 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 4:07pm  
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On 1st Dec 2011 3:31pm, KeithLeslie said: Well, as I said, I wouldn't have put anything past Churchill. I - and most of us, I guess - was brought up to believe the propaganda, making him out to be some kind of saint.
He's practically a God where I come from! Smile
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
K
Somewhere
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13 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 5:08pm  
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I'd suggest that you read those two books then! Thumbs up
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
Adrian
UK
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14 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 5:51pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:191

Saint or not, without him, we would have certainly lost the war. A great pity that recent politicians lack the same guts that he had.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940
K
Somewhere
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15 of 327  Thu 1st Dec 2011 6:51pm  
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As PM, he was a leader, and an effective orator. But he was always reckless; when Asquith's government fell in 1916, Bonar Law only agreed to a coalition if he were moved to a job, and I quote, "where he couldn't do any more damage". He was given the job, as I remember, of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He had a major part in the unnecessary loss of a lot of lives in WWI (his leaving his post to take the almost untrained newly formed Naval Division to Antwerp to try to defend it, whilst he was First Lord of the Admiralty; the Dardanelles, and Gallipoli; failing to install anti-submarine and anti-surface raider defences at Scapa Flow; ordering Admiral Cradock to attack a much superior force at Coronel.) However, as a field commander in France after he left the government he did very well, but that isn't quite what was wanted of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The thing he couldn't bring himself not to do in WWII was meddle in what was properly the preserve of military officers; he wanted to be both leader and at the sharp end - again - and no-one can be both. I suspect that, as the youngest son, he always felt that he had something to prove, a not uncommon trait.
The Blitz - 14th November 1940

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