Coventry Blitz

As late as 1920 the city was being described as one of the best preserved mediaeval towns in Europe, but within 12 years the ancient streets were beginning to be cleared. The 'car city' could no longer support a mediaeval street pattern and the Luftwaffe just accelerated what had already begun.

On 14 November 1940 Coventry was subjected to the single most concentrated attack on a British city in the Second World War. Lasting 11 hours, the raid damaged or destroyed 43,000 homes, along with the great medieval church of - the only British cathedral to be destroyed in the war.

The raid by over 500 German bombers aimed to destroy Coventry's industrial strength, a key part of the country's war effort. It killed 1,200 people, destroyed thousands of homes and changed the face of our historic city forever. The term 'Coventrated' was used by the Germans to describe similar levels of destruction on other towns and cities following the attack. Further air raids took place in 1941.

After the war, Coventry worked hard to build a city of peace and reconciliation. Coventry first twinned with Stalingrad (Volgograd) a city that had experienced a similar fate and later with Dresden in Germany. The rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, has become recognised as a world centre for reconciliation.

Coventry Blitz 50th and 60th commemorations

As a city we have recognised the last two major anniversaries in 1990 and 2000 with events. In 1990 Coventry welcomed the late Queen Mother to the city for a special service of commemoration at the Cathedral. This was followed by a public event in Broadgate. In 2000 a smaller scale public event was held in Broadgate.

Coventry Blitz 70th commemorations

Civic service and an evening of Reflection and Commemoration  

A special commemoration of the bombing of Coventry on 14 November 1940 was held in the cathedral ruins. It ended with a special act of reflection at the same time as the air raid sirens had first sounded and the destruction of the city began.

The Cathedral and Ruins remained open until midnight. At regular intervals throughout the evening local choirs, poets and artists lead short reflections in the new cathedral, and there was a light display in the Ruins.

Coventry Blitz 75th commemorations

For many people living in Coventry, the Blitz will remain forever etched on their memories. 75 years after that terrible, tragic and cruel night hundreds of people gathered to mark its anniversary.

For many who lived through the Blitz, although time has moved on their memories are still crystal clear. The sounds, the smells, the pain of that night still vivid, still clear: it will be a poignant moment to reflect on the experiences of a night that the city will never forget.

On Saturday 14 November Coventry marked the 75th anniversary of the Blitz.

Coventry has become a powerful symbol worldwide for peace and reconciliation because of the way people dealt with the tragedy of the event.

On the evening of Saturday 14 November, the city created a giant Human Chain of Peace and Light in the city centre, finishing at the Cathedral.

Each person attending carried a light along the chain to symbolise communities joining together in a universal message of remembering the past but looking to the future.

The inspiration for the Human Chain came from Dresden where a similar event takes place annually and attracts thousands of people from across the country.

Councillor Ann Lucas, Leader of Coventry City Council, said that every year the anniversary of the Blitz becomes more significant. "It's incredibly important," she explained. "With each passing year the relevance of the human tragedy of the event and how Coventry rallied to become the city of peace and reconciliation grows in significance."

The Blitz 75th commemorations programme also offered a range of events, activities and opportunities to mark the anniversary with Coventry Cathedral holding a special one-off concert on the Saturday night with the St Michael's Singers performing Mozart's Requiem and Solemn Vespers with the Parliament Choir and the English Symphony Orchestra.

The Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral added: "As a Cathedral famous for its role worldwide in promoting peace and reconciliation, it's also great to be able to build on the many examples of good work."

An annual global peace forum was held in Coventry from Wednesday 11 November to Friday 13 November featuring leading figures from across the world.

Coventry Blitz 80th commemorations

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the Coventry Blitz 80th commemorations took place online.