This weekend will see Coventry come together in diverse and fitting ways to mark the momentous anniversary of the infamous Coventry Blitz.
Saturday, 14 November will mark 80 years since Luftwaffe bombs dropped down on the Coventry, destroying factories, homes and businesses; killing many hundreds of innocent people; and, most famously, causing the partial destruction of the Cathedral Church of St Michael.
Despite a second national lockdown preventing planned physical events from going ahead, many organisations in the city will be instead broadcasting virtual services to commemorate the event.
Ahead of the day itself, Colleen Fletcher MP secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, giving her and her local colleagues the chance to themselves commemorate the 80th anniversary on our behalf in the country’s legislative seat of power.
Closer to home, Coventry Cathedral will be broadcasting a live service on Saturday, featuring a special message from the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Ann Lucas, digitally on the Cathedral’s website.
The Belgrade Theatre will be showcasing a filmed performance of their classic wartime play One Night in November from 2013, available to watch from home from Saturday until the end of the month for £10.
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, in partnership with the Transport Museum, will themselves be showcasing a film called Remembering the Coventry Blitz. It premieres on Saturday at 7pm on YouTube and features oral history records, diary entries and photographs from Coventry Archives.
An hour later at 8pm, the Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation will be premiering their new video the Blitz Relived, featuring the words of Coventry people who lived through the Blitz, spoken by Coventry people.
Friday, the eve of the 80th anniversary, will see local author Steve Gay celebrate the timely launch of his “evocative” debut novel The Birds That Do Not Sing, a story told through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy on the day after the bombing campaign on Coventry, inspired by the author’s own long-told family tales.
Steve commented, “there is still a rich oral history living around us, but the generation with first-hand memories of the war is slipping away. I hope this story will cause readers to explore their own family history, to unearth the stories
and cherish them before they are gone forever.”
Though in-person events cannot be held this weekend, there is no doubt Coventry will still find ways to come together to commemorate the night of 14 November, 1940.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Ann Lucas, recently spoke to the importance that “we pass on the memories and teachings of this event to our younger generations […] as we get further away from the event and sadly lose people who experienced it first-hand.”
She also expressed her “deep disappointment” that the pandemic has meant plans to mark the day had to be cancelled.