FOR MOST of Britain Coventry is a symbol of the devastation of the Second World War and the cliché portrait of the devastated city and it’s cathedral have been documented in a variety of TV specials.
The BBC’s ‘Bombing of Coventry’ however explored the personal tragedies and harrowing experiences of the night of the 14th of November 1940 from the residents who were forced to shelter from the Luftwaffe’s systematic destruction of the city.
Dramatic reconstructions and archive footage illustrated the panic and sheer devastation of the bombing. It was the accounts from local people however that really personalised the tragedy. Many of the accounts were from those who were only children at the time experiencing the fear from within the shelters; recollections of the night from a local policeman as he uncovered bodies from the rubble and others reliving that night were distressing reminders of the personal tragedies.
The programme provided a very narrow view of the war as a whole, which painted a picture of the war from Coventry’s point of view. Footage taken by the Luftwaffe during the attacks shows the entire city alight and details of the attack explained why the damage to the city was so excessive.
The documentary dealt with a personal element of the bombings, which is so often lost in the history books. It considered the overall moral of the citizens at the time and explored the government’s response to devastation and the connection the city seemed to lose following the attacks.
Footage of Coventry as it is now against footage from before the bombings showed just how much the city was changed over night and how for those alive at the time have an entirely different perspective of the city and its people than those who walk around it everyday.
The events of that night have now become a part of our shared heritage but the documentary reminds you of the devastation of war and how there are people that are still brought close to tears when remembering the drone of the German bombers overhead.