University of Oxford
9af4b3cd04544da8ff658f1e90d397776b0a275e.jpg (1.11 MB)

Coventry's Air Raids: A First-Hand Account

Download (1.11 MB)
online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 20:12 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor was born in the town of Nuneaton on the 30th of August 1934. He shared a memory of a bombing raid on Coventry during the Second World War. At the time he lived in a village called Caldecott, located outside of Nuneaton. He caught the bus to visit his grandma, who lived on Earls Road in Nuneaton and spent the day there. As they went to catch the bus in the early evening, the air raid sounded. When the air raid sounded, he recalled, everything stopped. His grandad led them to the Anderson Shelter in his grandparent's garden. He could hear the bombing from the shelter and spent the night in there. After all clear was sounded, he and his grandparents went upstairs in the house. He recalled that Nuneaton was about eight miles from Coventry, making the bright image all the more striking. They all looked out of the front bedroom window, in the direction of Coventry, and his grandad said, "My God. That's Coventry burning."

The day after the bombing, his family moved to Coventry because his stepfather worked at Courtaulds Factory in Little Health. During the war, his stepfather made parachutes. The contributor emphasised that normality continued despite the war. His older cousin, Leslie Charles Allto, served in the RAF and fought in the Battle of Britain as a pilot. He recalled that his older cousin was based in Biggin Holl and fondly remembered him comforting the contributor's grandmother and his mother during an air raid, when he was home on leave.

Moreover, the contributor recalled a memory from the war when a government inspector arrived and requisitioned accommodation at their home in Foal's Hill Road, Coventry. Two American soldiers were billeted with the family in the buildup to D-Day. He recalled that the American troops brought food such as powdered egg, which the family ate, and marmalade in a tin, which the contributor had never seen in a tin before! The American troops used to give him sweets. One of the American soldiers' mothers wrote a letter to the family after the war thanking them, and this letter is now with the Coventry Archive.


Item list and details

1. A letter from the police to the contributor's grandma, warning her for keeping a light on

Person the story/items relate to

Edmund Gary Breakwell

Person who shared the story/items

Edmund Gary Breakwell

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Coventry Cathedral, Warwickshire on 9 September 2023.

Record ID

96330 | COV004