One of the most devastating air attacks of World War II occurred 75 years ago tonight, with the bombing of Coventry, November 14, 1940.
The city, with a population of about 238,000, was an industrial center, with residential areas interspersed amongst the factories. That night, in an operation code named Operation Mondscheinsonate (Moonlight Sonata), 515 German bombers took off to destroy the city’s industrial capacity. The 36 anti-aircraft guns protecting the city managed to shoot down only one bomber. One of the first waves of incindiary bombing started over 200 fires, and also destroyed much of the telephone network, making command of the fire brigades nearly impossible. Damage to water mains also made it impossible to fight many of the fires.
4300 homes were destroyed, with about two thirds of the city’s buildings suffering damage. Much of the city’s center was destroyed, and over a third of the city’s factories were put totally out of commission.
Over five hundred were killed in the raid, with over a thousand injured.
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Also on this day in history: One hundred years ago today, November 14, 1915, Booker T. Washington died. Born into slavery in Virginia in 1856, Washington rose to prominence, serving as head of the Tuskegee Institute. Among those he led was George Washington Carver, whom he hired in 1896. Washington was the first African-American to be invited to the White House, by President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1901.