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The 1941 Blitz and other wartime memories from Coventry

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posted on 2024-06-05, 20:12 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor brought a Westminster clock, which was a present to their parents on their wedding day in 1939. They lived in Holbrook Lane, Coventry. In the 14/11/1941 Blitz, the house was partially destroyed by a land mine. The father recovered the clock from the back of the fireplace. He cleaned it all out, and it has continued to work ever since, though there are still traces of soot in it; the contributor still uses it.

The father worked at the Dunlop as an engineer. The contributor's family was from Northampton. During the November 1941 Blitz, the father was in Northampton and could see the red sky from there.

During the Blitz, the old A45 was diverted and they had to do a big detour which took so long. The contributor's mother worked in the city centre, and travelled home on the bus in the evenings. When the air raid sirens sounded, passengers were told to get off the bus. Their mother got off, and there was an explosion. An air raid warden came up from behind, and landed on top of her; if he hadn't done so, she wouldn't have lived.

The father's aunt lived in New Zealand. She sent a letter to the parents at Holbrook Lane, but it couldn't be delivered. It was returned with the note 'HOUSE BOMBED - RTS'. On the third attempt, they were relocated and received the letter.

Thirty years ago, the contributor went on holiday with his wife, and met a couple called Jock and Molly. When Jock realised they were from Coventry, he told them a story about the 1941 Blitz. Jock was working in the City Treasurer's Office in Birmingham. He arrived back in Coventry as air raid sirens were starting to sound. He parked his car in Priory Street, then returned to the Council House as he was ARP warden. He survived the night and the following morning, he found that all the paint on his car had been burnt off, though there was no other damage, despite craters in the road (later refilled). He then drove it away with no paint.

A friend of the contributor's mother, Vera, worked at the General Post Office on Hertford Street, and was also there on the 1941 bombing. When the sirens sounded, she was unable to return home. She sheltered in a basement below the building, and was allowed out the following morning. She lived in the Cheylesmore area. When she came out of the post office building, she walked down the road to find a burning bridge that she had to pass underneath. She made a detour around the outskirts to get home, but found that her home had been destroyed.

The contributor lived on Friars Road in Coventry until the 1950s, and can still remember bomb damage and burnt out houses in the city centre, particularly around St Patrick's Road. He used to play on bombsites.

The cathedral was consecrated in May 1962. The contributor worked in the city centre and, on a lunch break, he came to Broadgate. A photographer took a photo without permission. They paid 10 shillings for it. It was to be posted, and they received the photo in an envelope in September.


Person who shared the story/items

Peter Roberts

Type of submission

Shared at Coventry Cathedral, Warwickshire on 9 September 2023.

Record ID

111718 | COV028