Coventry marks 70th anniversary of WWII Blitz

Image caption,
An air raid siren was sounded at Coventry Cathedral

The 70th anniversary of the Coventry Blitz has been marked in the city.

It saw one of Britain's largest raids of World War II on 14 November, 1940. About 1,200 people died in raids that destroyed most of Coventry city centre.

A remembrance service at Coventry Cathedral earlier was attended by dignitaries including the German ambassador and the Mayor of Dresden.

A civic service was later held at the cathedral and an air-raid siren sounded within the building.

Canon David Porter, from Coventry Cathedral, said marking the raid was important.

"We are really taking this opportunity to both help those who have memories from that night but also to help a new generation appreciate what happened," he said.

"And also show the challenges that we face today in terms of making peace in our world."

Seventy years ago sirens began to sound just after 1900 GMT and the Luftwaffe dropped thousands of tonnes of bombs in a bid to destroy Coventry's industrial strength.

The raid continued until dawn and bombs destroyed the ancient cathedral, hospitals, schools and the tram system.

Centre for reconciliation

Residents were asked by the city council if they wanted the siren sounded during commemorations.

Image caption,
Hundreds of people were killed

Coventry's Lord Mayor Brian Kelsey said the views of people who had experienced the bombings first hand had been taken into account.

Speaking earlier, he said: "They [sirens] will mark the beginning and end of a two-minutes' silence at 7.15pm and will only be heard around the cathedral and not across the city."

Coventry Cathedral was rebuilt and has become recognised as a world centre for reconciliation.

At the morning service, the Mayor of Dresden Helma Orosz represented her German city, where tens of thousands of people were killed during a two-day raid by Allied bomber forces in February 1945.

Ms Orosz said through an interpreter that it was "very important" for her to be at the Coventry ceremony because the cities had shared a common fate and now must stand side by side in the spirit of reconciliation.

Remembrance Sunday Services were also held across the city.

The 87ft (26-metre) monument in War Memorial Park was cleaned and repaired ahead of services.

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