Some blitz statistics
ists of cold, hard statistics can never be the best way to portray such an horrific event as the blitz on Coventry. However, it can sometimes be convenient to see the facts and figures laid out, so that events can be more easily understood.
Statistics for 14th-15th November 1940:
- 1pm approx. - German radio beam activity detected, although final direction of beam not yet set.
- 3pm approx. - the Radio Counter-Measures headquarters informs the R.A.F. that the X-Gerat beams appear to have been aligned on Coventry. Nobody in Coventry was warned of this probability.
- 6:17pm - the first wave of bombers (Heinkel 111's of Kampfgruppe 100) crossed the English coast at Dorset. At this point not exactly following the radio beam for fear of detection and interception.
- 6:50pm - first message received in Coventry that a raid was on the way.
- 7:07pm - official "Air Raid Message Yellow" signal, which meant "Raiders approaching your area".
- 7:10pm - official "Air Raid Message Red" signal - Sirens sounded.
- 7:10pm - before the sirens finish wailing, the first incendiary bombs start dropping.
- 7:40pm - incendiaries reported to have landed on the cathedral roofs.
- 8pm - 240 fires already reported around the city.
- 8:30pm - many telephone and telegraph wires broken, making communication very difficult.
- 11pm - water dries up for those trying to save the cathedral. Provost Howard and the fire-fighting team sit and watch helplessly as it burns down.
- Around 11:45pm - according to the Observer Corps Plotting Centre, the raid had "reached its height".
- 12 midnight - the bombs are still coming down.
- 1am - still the bombs are falling.
- 2am - and still more bombs keep coming down.
- 3am - yet more bombs drop on Coventry.
- 4am - the raid still goes on.
- 5am - hard to believe, but the Germans are still returning to drop more bombs.
- 6am - and the raid isn't quite over yet....
(I know the above lines appear to be repeating a bit, but I'm trying to get the message across that for hour after hour, the people of Coventry faced a non-stop stream of absolute terror, and just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, still more total destruction and death rained down relentlessly from the moonlit sky above.)
- 6:16am - the "Raiders Passed" signal finally reaches Coventry.
The railways around Coventry suffered over 100 incidents of bomb damage, but were soon back in action.
- 522 German bombers took off from France.
- 21 bombers made a diversionary raid on London, 22 more laid mines on the Thames.
- 449 bombers (according to German records) actually reached Coventry.
- 1 enemy aircraft officially shot down by anti-aircraft guns. Another claimed but not confirmed.
- 135 sorties flown by defence aircraft, only two actually opened fire on bombers, but none shot down.
- 881 canisters containing a total of around 30,000 incendiaries were dropped.
- 64 light capacity flare-bombs were dropped.
- Between 1,200 & 1,600 high explosives and oil bombs, totalling 503 tons, were dropped.
- The high explosives contained a mixture of between 50kg and 500kg in weight.
- Among the HE's were around 50 parachute mines (also known as land-mines) weighing 1,000kg each.
- 568 confirmed killed.*
- 863 seriously wounded.
- 393 injured.
This total crept up during the following weeks as several of the seriously wounded died from their injuries. The total figure has never been able to be accurately quoted due to the actual number of people in Coventry that night being uncertain. Many of the people assumed dead had simply left the city for safer accommodation, and many killed were unknown people who had come into Coventry for various reasons.
Although higher total casualties had been seen in London, the relatively smaller population in Coventry meant that each person had actually stood a 60% higher risk of being killed in Coventry that night, than the average anywhere else in the UK during the war.
Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital was not a safe place for a casualties, including a captured German air-crew member, who admitted being "very frightened" by the raid.
- 79 public air-raid shelters were available.
- 33,000 people could be accommodated in these shelters.
- 14 shelters received damage; 11 of these had to be abandoned.
Housing & property damage
- 2,306 houses destroyed or required demolition.
- 5,930 houses required evacuation while repairs were done.
- 41,500 houses suffered some damage.
- 624 shops destroyed.
- 111 out of 180 factories damaged, 75 of them destroyed - many minor businesses make up these figures.
- 28 hotels, 80 garages & 121 offices destroyed.
- The trams and tramlines in Coventry were too badly damaged and never ran again. (There had been plans to phase the tram system out within a few years anyway, but this event brought it to a definite close.)
- From the fleet of 181 buses: -
- Six buses were totally destroyed.
- 13 buses required major rebuilding.
- 34 buses received major damage.
- 103 buses had windows broken.
General statistics concerning Coventry's air-raids:
Housing & property rebuilding
- An average of 532 houses per day were being repaired during the first few weeks after the November raid.
- 16,048 houses had been repaired by 28th December 1940.
- Approx. 28,000 homes had been restored by 30th January 1941 - about two thirds of the damaged number.
Population & evacuation
- Official local and government figures for Coventry's population in 1940 vary wildly, and range from 190,000 to 250,000. The official Home Office figure is quoted at 238,400.
- Between 50,000 & 100,000 of these were staying outside Coventry around the time of the November raid.
- 3,000 homeless people had to be dealt with by the authorities after November.
- 4,187 school places were made unavailable by the damage.
Overall air-raid statistics
- The first bombs of the war dropped in the vicinity of Coventry were 5 dropped on Ansty Aerodrome, 25 June 1940. No casualties.
- The first Coventry civilian casualties of the war were on the 27th June - 16 killed in Hillfields.
- Coventry people were kept awake by 373 siren alerts between June 1940 and August 1942.
- 41 actual raids took place between these dates.
- The final air-raid for Coventry was on the 3rd August 1942, on Stoke Heath.
- A total of around 1,250 Coventry people were killed in air-raids.
- Over 80% of all these fatalities came from just three raids - those of November 14th 1940 and 8th & 10th April 1941.
- After the two big raids of April 1941, there were no more than 6 fatalities in any single raid.
Please note: The above figures were compiled from several sources, and no two lists of figures agree exactly with each other. Accurate statistics appear to be an extremely difficult thing to achieve, especially in such difficult circumstances as were the case at that time. Most of the statistics, however, can be considered 'close enough' to give a good indication of the problems faced during and after the blitz.