London, Coventry, Aberdeen, Belfast, Liverpool, Birmingham, Hull, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Southampton. All key British cities of military value during WWII, and all cities that were almost bombed out of existence by the Luftwaffe. But while the Blitz’s constant bombing buckled the country’s resolve and munitions, it didn’t break it.
Stories of these raids are well documented, each city earning badges of honour for their incredible bravery and resistance in the face of the raging fire. But one city’s story is seldom told… until now. One of the UK’s most popular presenters, Nick Knowles, takes a trip to the beautiful city of Bath to find out exactly what happened during the war; events that are often overlooked by outsiders, but never forgotten by the locals.
The so-called Baedeker raids on the city of Bath took place between April and June 1942 and were the German response to the Allied bombing of Lübeck. They were thought to have been planned using the eponymous Baedeker travel guide to attack English cities of historical importance, and to wreak revenge for the Allied-produced firestorms throughout their own country. The Baedeker raids ushered in a new and terrifying approach to blitzing the enemy – cities were no longer targeted because of their military value; the Nazis wanted to inflict as much damage on ordinary people as possible.
Nick will meet locals like Harry Hemmings, Anne Salter and Doreen Williams who lived through the raids. Harry was just 14-years-old at the time of the bombings that came completely out of the blue – until now the German attacks had concentrated on cities and for them to attack smaller, historic towns was an unexpected twist in the war.
During the raids it was not just the devastation of the bombs that horrified the people of Bath but the sheer cruelty of the German pilots who, once their bombs were dropped, would return to fire their machine guns at the fire crews desperately trying to put out the flames that would cause the real damage. Harry knew he had to do his part, and so lied about his age to enrol as a messenger boy to lead fire crews to put out the fires.
The Nazis’ assault on Bath may have been forgotten by many, but now it’s time to bring it back into sharp focus.