St Paul’s Cathedral shrouded in smoke. Packed tube stations. Shattered boulevards and lives littering the streets. London 1940.
The term ‘Blitz’ often conjures up a very specific image of wartime London. But the capital was not the only city to be the victim of air raids.
During World War II, Hitler recognised the sheer importance of Manchester as a contributor to the British War effort. Not only was it a port of significant use, but its industrial base was also a major facet of the British war effort; with munitions and artillery factories churning out masses of desperately needed equipment.
The term Manchester Blitz (also dubbed the ‘Christmas Blitz’) largely refers to the nights between 22nd-24th of December. Over two nights, bombers from elite Luftwaffe regiments engaged in strafing runs of Manchester, Salford & Stretford, with a total of 684 dead and 2364 wounded.
The method in which the bombing runs were conducted is indicative of Hitler’s desire to destroy as much of the strategically important infrastructure of the city as possible. This differs from the psychological element that characterised the more well known Blitz of London.
Landmarks familiar to both students and natives of Manchester, including the Cathedral, the City Hall and the Smithfield Market were severely damaged and in some cases utterly destroyed. The area most affected by the bombing was Salford where more than 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 215 people died over the two hellish days. Perhaps the most surprising fact about this chaotic episode is the lack of knowledge surrounding the event.
Although accumulating far fewer casualties than those of London, it was nonetheless a trying time in the history of the city which we call home.