The Baedeker Raids took place in World War Two, and were raids by the Luftwaffe on numerous cities in Britain in retaliation for the British bombing of Lubeck and Cologne. The raids got their name as the cities were chosen from the Baedeker Guide, a tourist guide to historic Britain, and it was thought that damaging these important cultural cities would damage the British morale.
My city, York was one of those chosen, I am doing some reseach into the raids here and there are some fascinating stories!
Unopposed for much of the York raid, the German aircrews dive-bombed ordinary streets, strafing them with machine gun fire. The assault had greater aims than to terrorise the civilian population and lower morale, however. The Luftwaffe bombarded strategic targets – the railway line, the station, the Carriage Works, the airfield. York Minster was not touched.
More than 70 German planes were involved in the raid: Junkers, Heinkels and Dorniers. Allied planes shot down four enemy aircraft. Beginning at 2.30am and finishing 90 minutes later – although the official all-clear was not given until 4.46am – the raid left 92 people dead and hundreds injured.
Across the city there were scenes of devastation. Houses were destroyed, schools wrecked, the Guildhall and St Martin-le-Grand Church on Coney Street burnt out. The Bar Convent had collapsed, killing five nuns. Pavements were littered with rubble and shattered glass. Huge craters scarred the streets and Clifton airfield.
Here are pictures of the Guildhall ablaze, the ruins of York station, the Convent and an ordinary house;