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Moonlight Sonata - Introduction

Coventry's long history has been shaped by many events, some bringing prosperity; others misfortune. Two particular events have, however, had the most dire consequences; the first being the dissolution of the monasteries of the 16th century; and more recently, during World War Two, the air-raid which the Germans named Operation Moonlight Sonata - but which we in Coventry were more familiar with as "The Blitz".

Our Old Cathedral in ruins. This particular air raid was far more indiscriminate and inhumane than anything our city had ever experienced, and although London had already suffered more bombs and casualties during the previous few months of WWII, it was the concentration of the raid on our relatively small town centre that brought this horrific attack on Coventry to the immediate attention of the whole world. The publicity itself was a break from convention; the results of such an attack were usually kept quiet. However, the Ministry of Information chose this occasion to make use of the press to expose the senseless brutality of the Nazis. The reporting of the destruction of so many homes, and especially the cathedral, soon brought scorn on the enemy from all quarters of the civilised world.

The night of Thursday 14th November 1940, though, was all about Coventry, its people, and how they dealt with it. The next few pages will look at the many aspects of how it deeply affected our city - and how, if it hadn't been for an unfortunate error, the raid might even have been foiled.

Information for this section was taken principally from the following books: -
  • Air Raid - Norman Longmate
  • Most Secret War - R. V. Jones
  • Coventry at War - David McGrory
  • The City we Loved - Coventry Corporation
  • Moonlight Sonata - Tim Lewis
  • Ruined and Rebuilt - Provost R. T. Howard
  • Coventry Under Fire - Reverend G. W. Clitheroe
  • A Night in Little Park Street - J. B. Shelton
  • Coventry at War - Alton Douglas

Despite the devastation of the attack on Coventry that November night, the event was clearly a catalyst for inspiration in later years, and I'm pleased to be able to present here such inspired material....

  • Songwriter, Greg Harper, has composed a moving ballad about this tragic night, and it can be heard by following this link to November Sky.
  • Mike Cooper has also composed a great song, and you can hear it being sung by Nigel Cuff via this link to Moonlight Sonata.
  • Neville Macaulife has also written a beautiful poem called Coventry Rose.
  • For a progressive album written especially for the Blitz, visit The Sonata of Coventry Cathedral by Robert Green; release date 14th November 2014.
  • In conjunction with Robert Green's album release, historian David McGrory made two short videos explaining the Blitz and its aftermath.

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This page last updated on 29th December 2014