Bath City

Remembering the 417 people killed in the Bath Blitz on its 80th anniversary Bath City News

For most people, April 25 and April 26 may seem like any other day. But exactly 80 years ago, in 1942, something happened that left an indelible mark on Bath: The Bath Blitz.

During these two days, 417 people were killed, 1,000 others were injured and more than 19,000 buildings were affected.

Bath was the subject of numerous warnings of air raids during the Blitz, the German night bombing offensive against British cities, as raiders flew overhead en route to nearby Bristol which was heavily bombed throughout the period , and several bombs fell on Bath in 1940 and 1941.

READ MORE: City prepares to mark 80th anniversary of Bath Blitz

Yet the city remained largely untouched until April 1942 and the start of the Baedeker Blitz, mounted in response to the effectiveness of the RAF bombing offensive in March 1942, which resulted in the destruction of the city of Lübeck .

Now 80 years late, Bath still remembers its Blitz and in honor of the milestone anniversary, several commemorative events are planned this weekend. But what happened all those years ago?

Some of the damage caused during the Bath Blitz (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary/Twitter)

Saturday, April 25, 1942. By all accounts, a warm, sunny spring day, with the promise of a moonlit night to follow.

In Europe, North Africa and the Far East, the Second World War is raging. Britain had suffered, in the bombings of London and major cities like Coventry, Southampton and Bristol.

Bath had watched the bombardment of Bristol from afar, as the night sky lit up with flashes of explosive and incendiary bombs raining down on its neighbour. But until that night Bath itself had seen little of the war. It was a tourist town, not a military target.

More than 400 people died in the Bath Blitz

Then came the Baedeker raids. In March, the RAF bombed the historic German city of Lübeck. Its cathedral and its old half-timbered town center have been destroyed. Submarine and aircraft factories in Rostock, a Baltic port, had also been targeted.

Baedeker was the name of a famous German travel guide. It is widely believed, but not at all certain, that Nazi planners used it to select historic towns in Britain for retaliatory raids: on Exeter, Norwich, York, Canterbury and Bath.

Over the weekend and up to Monday morning there were three raids on the town. Bath was only an hour and a half flight from Luftwaffe airfields in northern France and was only lightly defended.

Police during the Bath Blitz (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary/Twitter)

The first raid took place an hour and a half before midnight on April 25. The bombers returned to their airfields, refueled, and returned for another attack at about half past four on Sunday morning.

The third and final attack took place shortly after midnight on the morning of Monday, April 27. This time there was no second raid. But Bath had been permanently scarred.

Historic buildings such as the Royal Crescent suffered significant damage. The meeting rooms, restored to their Georgian glory a few years earlier, were a burned-out shell. Bath Abbey’s east window, the west lantern, has been smashed.

A direct hit on Second Avenue, Oldfield Park, destroyed 20 homes. But the human cost was even more terrible. The final balance of the two nights of the Bath Blitz is 417 people.

Firefighters put out a blaze in Bath after the blitz (Image: Daily Mirror)

Some 1,500 people have found temporary accommodation in Civil Protection rest centres. Thousands more were moved – after the first raids some became “Trekkers”, moving to Englishcombe, Batheaston and Newton St Loe fields to avoid further attacks.

The bombers did not return, but Bath and its citizens had to remember – and mourn the dead.

How to learn more about the Bath Blitz

Through painstaking research, Bath Heritage Watchdog has compiled a nearly complete list of everyone who died in the Bath Blitz.

BHW has listed the names and compiled the personal memories of those who have been through it all.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-22 23:27:00

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