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Echoes of the Coventry Blitz (Paperback)

P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Social History WWII > The Blitz

By Gerry van Tonder
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 199
Illustrations: 200
ISBN: 9781526709677
Published: 6th August 2018



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‘Smoke rises in the City of Three Spires, the smouldering remnant of the Nazi hate. Coventry and England will remember and repay’.
From August 1940, Hitler’s Luftwaffe mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed cities and towns in Britain. The historic West Midlands city of Coventry did not escape the carnage as, night after night, high-explosive and incendiary bombs rained down on the hapless production centre of cars, munitions and aero engines.

Today, the iconic shell of Coventry’s once majestic medieval cathedral offers a silent memorial of remembrance to that dreadful night. For the city’s residents of now, it is a poignant echo of a violent and destructive part of their history.

With carefully selected photographs, Gerry van Tonder tells the story of Coventry’s blitz through a series of ‘ghost’ photographs, where historic wartime images are blended with their modern counterpart to create a fascinating window in to Coventry’s past. Also drawing from contemporary press accounts of the Coventry Blitz, this book presents a totally unique comparative insight into the Nazi bombing of Coventry in the Second World War.

All six chapters include personal stories of those people caught up in the various attacks, and are a powerful testament to the indiscriminate effect of bombing of towns and cities in war time. The use of area bombing by all the main nations involved in the Second World War remains a controversial issue. This book does not touch on the political aspects, but provides a very useful commentary on the subject in relation to one city, and the people who lived and worked there.

British Military History, Rob Palmer

What a super book! There have been many written on the subject of the blitz on Coventry, but this one by Gerry van Tonder comes from another angle and is refreshingly different. We're treated to a "bombing map" showing the concentration of the German bombardment, and I like the way the photos combine old and new shots to give context for the modern day reader who would've been unaware of the location of many of the older photos in isolation. Altogether this is a book that adds to our knowledge of the past and is well worth a read by anyone with an interest either in Coventry's history, or indeed the Second World War itself.

Robert Orland

About Gerry van Tonder

Gerry van Tonder was born in Zimbabwe and came to Britain in 1999. He is a full-time historian and a published author. Specializing in military history, Gerry has authored Rhodesian Combined Forces Roll of Honour, 1966–1981; Book of Remembrance: Rhodesia Native Regiment and Rhodesian African Rifles; North of the Red Line (South African Defence Force’s border war), and the co-authored definitive Rhodesia Regiment, 1899–1981, a copy of which he presented to the regiment’s former colonel-in-chief, Her Majesty the Queen. Gerry has also written on British local history, including Derby in 50 Buildings, Chesterfield’s Military Heritage and Mansfield Through Time. He recently started with a series of Cold War titles and Echoes of the Coventry Blitz.

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