Poignant service remembers the victims of the Baedeker Raids in Norwich
- Credit: Ian Burt
In April 1942 Norwich was changed forever when the German Luftwaffe attacked our city with an assault that claimed the lives of more than 200 people and saw many streets reduced to rubble.
And todaySaturday, 75 years on, the victims of the Baedeker Raids were remembered in a poignant service held at the Baedeker Gardens in Earlham Cemetery, where more than 100 of those who lost their lives are laid to rest.
Among those who gathered to pay their respects were standard bearers and members of the Norfolk & Norwich Combined Ex-services Association. the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Marion Maxwell, and the Sheriff of Norwich, Richard Marks.
Rev Robert Avery, vicar of St Peter Mancroft Church, led the service.
He spoke of how in the Second World War the total number of civilians killed actually outnumbered the total number of service personnel killed.
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'Very rightly and properly we focus on those who gave their lives fighting in our armed forces every year, we do that at remembrance time and on other significant anniversary occasions...but it is also very important that we remember those civilians who were killed on occasions like this, 75 years on,' Rev Avery said.
'The sacrifices that they made during a time of war, the contribution that they made to the winning and the giving of peace were no less vital.'
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He said that in Norwich 340 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured as a result of bombing raids during the Second World War, and that three quarters of these casualties were due to the Baedeker Raids in April 1942.
He spoke of how the city suffered greatly, with many homes, shops, department stores, churches and other buildings also lost or damaged.
He paid tribute to how the spirit of the time and the resilience of the city was 'quite remarkable,' before reading from an account of the time by 'Ossy' Osbiston, a member of the rescue service, who dealt with the aftermath of a bombing on Chapelfield Gardens.
After the standards were lowered, Stephen Freeman-Pannett, from the Norfolk & Norwich Combined Ex-services Association, laid a wreath and the Lord Mayor laid some flowers before those gathered fell silent in remembrance and prayers concluded the service.
ABOUT THE BAEDEKER RAIDS IN NORWICH
The Baedeker Raids were named after the tourist guide to Britain which the Germans reputedly used to choose their target cities for the raids.
On Monday, April 27, 1942, for more than two hours, the Luftwaffe pounded Norwich, dropping about 185 heavy bombs, weighing more than 50 tons.
Official records say 162 people were killed and nearly 600 others badly hurt. Hundreds more were left homeless as many streets were reduced to rubble. At almost the same time on the following Wednesday the bombers returned and, according to official figures, 69 people died and nearly 90 people were badly injured. A smaller raid also took place on the Thursday.
Norwich's main landmarks - the cathedrals, the castle, St Peter Mancroft, City Hall and the Guildhall - miraculously survived the raids, but many homes were lost and public buildings, corner shops, department stores (including Curls) and factories (including Caley's) were destroyed or damaged along with churches and public houses.