Coventry, Great Britain, November 18, 1940
Yesterday, this was the beautiful, historic town of Coventry. Now, after a night of flaming terror, it presents this appalling picture of devastation. A city laid waste by the insensate fury of total war. Obviously the Nazis have abandoned even a pretense of bombing only military objectives. The raid has rained seventy thousand incendiary bombs on the city indiscriminately, spreading death in street and home. Burnt-out busses line the way where Lady Godiva once rode to save her people. Today, only the grim reaper rides abroad in Coventry, claiming a thousand victims. All that remains of Saint Michael's Cathedral, world-famed landmark, are a charred shell and bomb-scarred spire, pointing skyward like an accusing finger. The rest of the fifteenth-century masterpiece of Gothic architecture is a mass of rubble, blasted beyond recognition. Mute indictment of modern savagery. Civilization in the Year of Our Lord, 1940. To this desolation comes King George, with sympathy and inspiration for the stricken community. Despite the loss of homes and loved ones, the courageous townsfolk show their ruler that Coventry, like London, can take it.
On the night of November 14-15, 1940, almost 500 German bombers attacked the British industrial city of Coventry in central England. The bombers dropped 150,000 incendiary bombs and more than 500 tons of high explosives. The air raid destroyed much of the city center, including 12 armament factories and the historic Saint Michael's Cathedral. This footage shows scenes from the aftermath of the attack. The bombing of Coventry came to symbolize, to Britain, the ruthlessness of modern air warfare.
UCLA Film and Television Archive