Thursday, 14 November 1940
By Frederick Taylor
Published by Bloomsbury; Distributed in Australia by Allen & Unwin
RRP $35.00 in hardcover, 368pp
On the evening of Thursday, 14 November 1940, a 400 strong, heavy-laden mass of German bombers departed their base on the south coast of Brittany in France, heading for the English Midlands city of Coventry. What followed was an eleven hour night of destruction resulting in hundreds of casualties and widespread damage to the city, and in particular, to the many factories engaged in the war production.
This attack on Coventry was the first real example of a civilian population being specifically targeted in a war situation.
As Fredrick Taylor writes in his introduction, “the attack raised the central issue: how much damage to civilian as well as military targets could be inflicted, on what scale, and how indiscriminately, without the supposed legitimacy of such a military method coming into question … In this process, the national protection of civilians – always a somewhat dubious proposition – was inevitably all but abandoned”.
The bombing of Coventry heralded a wave of such attacks on London and on Coventry again but the repercussions for the German civilian population were to be immense. The subsequent Allied attacks on Berlin and Dresden in 1944-45 were on an unimaginable scale.
Respected author Ian Thomson has written a lengthy review of this book in The Spectator. You can read the review here online.
BUYING OPTIONS: If you are located in Australia and interested in buying this book, the best place to go is the distributor Allen & Unwin – at this link where it is $35.00. I mention this because other sites have the US edition for sale at a higher price, whereas Allen & Unwin has the UK edition.