On the evening of Wednesday 14 November 1940 began the most severe bombing to hit Coventry during the Second World War. This raid represented a new kind of air warfare, one which sacrificed any immediate military goals and instead focused on obliterating all aspects of city life. By playing down the fact that Coventry was an industrial city and key centre for British armaments, and therefore a fair target, attention was drawn to the destruction of an ancient historic town and the total indifference of the bombers to civilian casualties, in this way the systematic bombing of this city was successfully exploited by the British by several means. Initially the media used reports and horrific images to tip American opinion away from isolationism and in favour of help for Britain. Also, while the politicians and military establishment were furiously condemning this raid in public, they were busily appreciating the effectiveness of this method. Finally, the German tactics provided not only a blueprint for obliteration but also allowed the Allied forces to justify later bombing raids of Germany which resulted in over half a million victims, many of whom were civilians. Frederick Taylor draws upon numerous sources to reveal the true repercussions of the bombing of Coventry in November 1940. He teases out the truth behind the persistent rumours and conspiracy theories that Coventry may have been left undefended to protect Britain's knowledge of the enigma codes. This major work of history assesses this significant turning point in modern warfare, considers how it affected Britains status in the war, and looks at whether this attack really could provide justification for the horror of Dresden, 1945.
Frederick Taylor was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School, and read History and Modern Languages at Oxford, and did postgraduate work at Sussex University. He lives in Cornwall.