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The Liverpool Blitz

Liverpool was one of the heaviest targets
outside London during World War II. The German's intention was to close off the ports of Liverpool and effectively cut off Britain's main artery for supplies. Liverpool heard the dreaded air raid   sirens over 500 times with bombs dropped on the city on no less than 79 occasions. As a result of the air raids on Merseyside, 3,966 Merseyside civilians were killed between August 1940 and January 1942 and more than 3,000 seriously injured,  More than 11,000 homes were completely destroyed and over 150,000 damaged .Hitler threw everything he could at Merseyside during the Second World War, huge areas of the city were destroyed, but Hitler could not destroy the spirit of the people.
The death toll in Liverpool was twice that of any other British port. In 14 raids on Liverpool and Bootle alone 3,100 tonnes of high explosives were dropped. Over the eight days and nights of the May Blitz 100,000 house were destroyed or damaged on the Liverpool side of the river alone, in one week alone 41,000 people in Liverpool had to be found temporary accommodation because their homes had been destroyed.

Merseyside was the most important port in Britain outside London during the Second World War. It was a vital route for military equipment and supplies to the country, and so the ‘Western Approaches Command’ headquarters were transferred from Plymouth to Merseyside in February 1941. The headquarters were based deep underground beneath the Exchange Buildings. Western Approaches Command received intelligence information from the Admiralty and the Air Ministry, and was responsible for protecting supply ships as they entered the port. The docks were also home to important munitions factories and naval ‘U-boat hunters’ were stationed at Bootle. Heavy bombing had immobilised London’s port facilities, and so the Mersey became even more important to the British war effort. The Luftwaffe (German air force) therefore began to target Merseyside.

Photo courtesy of  Ian D B see more photographs on the link at the bottom of the page

Damage to buildings in the  City was Extensive

Scala Lime Street 1941 bombing

A parachute mine destroyed Waterloo Dock warehouse 20/21 December 1940

While fighting these attacks and keeping the country's supply line open, the people of Liverpool tried to lead normal lives: going to work, looking after families, shopping, going out, even though large parts of the City were destroyed.

An emergency static water supply reservoir constructed in Liverpool during the Blitz. The water is contained in the basement of a building destroyed by a bombing raid. This one is in Paradise Street and you Can see Bunneys Church Street Store in the Background.

Today one of the most vivid symbols of the Liverpool Blitz is the burnt outer shell of St Luke's Church, located in the city centre, which was destroyed by an incendiary bomb on 5 May 1941. The church was gutted during the firebombing but remained standing and, in its prominent position in the city, was a stark reminder of what Liverpool and the surrounding area had endured. It eventually became a garden of remembrance to commemorate the thousands of local men, women and children who died as a result of the bombing of their city and region.

I wonder if they’ll come to-night!
The round moon rolls in silvery light,
No sound throbs on the windless air.
For, though I tremble to confess,
I never feel more cheerfulness
Than when the German raiders fly
Like bees across the cloudless sky.
And neither pity, pain, nor terror
Will ever wean me from my error.
For oh, to hear the mad guns go,
And watch the starry night aglow
With radiance of crackling fires
And the white searchlight’s quivering spires!
For sure, such splendour doth assuage
The very cannon of its rage!

My neighbour plays a violin,
Shredding sweet silver down the din
And songs for fears to dwindle in.
But the houses shake; and the dogs wake.
They growl, they bark for warrior joy,
And seek the airmen to annoy.
Up go their tails into the air,
They gnash their teeth, and their eyes glare.
But on those cruel raiders sail,
Regardless of each quivering tail.
And one gun has a booming note,
Another has a cold in throat;
And some are mellow, and some hoarse,
And some sound sobbing with remorse;
Quite four or five ring musical,
And others very keen to kill.

You’d say that twenty champagne corks
Were popping in the city walks.
You’d say that drunken men in scores
Were smashing glass and slamming doors.
You’d say a twanging banjo string
Had snapped in twain with hammering.
You’d say that wild orchestral fellows
Were banging God’s Throne with their cellos.
A wail, a crash, like steel trays falling,
And a wind upon the Common–calling.
And over us a sound of humming
–Of hornets or bad bees a-bumming!
A devilish, strident, hoarse, discordant
Whirring of dark fliers mordant.

My soul stands still and sweats with fear.
But the Heavenly stars, all shimmering,
Dance in a giddy whirl and sing.
And other stars, of the Earth, shake sheer
From the mouths of the black guns thundering.
‘Tis like some ruining harmony
I heard in Berlin on the Spree
The day they played the Valkyrie.
Kind Heaven will comfort my wracked wits
Before I’m blown to little bits.

Poem by Herbert Edward Palmer


Ian DB on Flickr

Merseyside War Years Then and Now Daniel K Longman

Liverpool Blitzed 70 Years On By Neil Holmes

Merseyside Blitzed By Neil Holmes

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