The Norwich Blitz in photos

Norwich Blitz Bomb damage in City Road Dated: 30th

Norwich Blitz bomb damage in City Road. Dated: 30th April 1941 - Credit: Archant Library

We often hear of cathedrals and other landmarks across the country which were bombed during the Second World War but there is little mention of Norwich being a front line city where hundreds of people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Many more lost their homes as the bombs dropped on residential streets…causing heartache and misery.

While the two cathedrals, the castle, the new city hall and the ancient guildhall were spared, the rest of the city was not. It was blitzed, with the worst two nights being at the end of April in 1942.

NORWICH BLITZ. Oak Street bomb damage. Dated: 27th April 1

Oak Street bomb damage. Dated: 27th April 1942 - Credit: Archant Library

There was death and destruction all around as smoke rose into the air and houses, churches, shops, pubs  and work places were burning and crumbling.

The worst attacks were the bloody Baedeker Raids – named after the German travel guide – carried out by the Luftwaffe as a reprisal to the bombing of Lubeck and Rostock in Germany.

It was 80 years ago when around 230 people were killed and many more injured as the bombs dropped.

The city would never look the same again.

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The brilliant photographer George Swain, wrote in his book Norwich Under Fire many years ago: “I have  often met people from other parts of the country who had not heard that Norwich had been bombed at all, much less blitzed, and they have been greatly surprised to see the damaged areas.”

“And it was not only the blitz, long before  London had even heard a bomb, Norwich was a frequent target. In the first year of war, sirens daily, and many times at night, gave notice that we were in the front line,” wrote George, who often risked his own life to take  pictures.

““I knew Londoners, staying here, who said that they were glad to get home for week-ends and get some sleep,” said George.

NORWICH BLITZ. The bombed out remains of the Clover Leaf Bar

NORWICH BLITZ. The bombed out remains of the Clover Leaf Bar on the cornner of St Giles Street and Upper Goat Lane Dated: April 1942 - Credit: Archant Library

Caernarvon Road bomb damage. In the background stands St Thomas' Church on Earlham Road which was later gutted by firebombs.

Norwich Blitz. Caernarvon Road bomb damage. In the background stands St Thomas' Church on Earlham Road which was later gutted by firebombs. Dated: 29th April 1942 - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Blitz Cadge Close bomb damage. Dated: 8th Ma

Norwich Blitz. Cadge Close bomb damage. Dated: 8th May 1942 - Credit: Archant Library

He recalled how raiders singly or two or three at a time flew high over our Norfolk coast and swooped down on us, sometimes dropping a bomb or two, and sometimes machine-gunning a street or playground.

“Shoppers in St Stephens or Magdalen Street or the Market Place, startled by a roar overhead, looked up to see the long back shape of a Dornier or a Heinkel streaking across the city. The sight was familiar long before any of us had ever set eyes on a friendly Fortress or Liberator,” he wrote.

In the very first of these tip-and-run raids, on July 9, 1940, 26 men and women were killed and many more injured.

Their names were shown on a notice board in the Norwich Public Library, but all the rest of the country learned from the official report was that there had been some bombing in East Anglia.

NORWICH BLITZ. looking along St Stephens towards Red Lion

NORWICH BLITZ. looking along St Stephens towards Red Lion Street. Dated: April 1942 - Credit: Archant Library

The facts, released by the Civil Defence Organisation, after the war speak for themselves.

Norwich had the highest air raid casualties in Eastern England.

1940: killed  60. Injured – 190.

1941: killed 21. Injured -104

1942: (year of the Blitz): killed 258. Injured – 784.

1943: killed – one. Injured - 14.

During the war more than 30,000 city homes had been destroyed or damaged and large parts of the city centre were in ruins.

Share your memories

We must never forget and we are proud to be publishing a special supplement in April to remember all those who died in the Baedeker Raids 80 years ago….and  others who lost their lives during the Second World War in the city and county.

Today we are reaching out to you, our readers, who lived through those years or have special memories of family or friends during the war.

We want to hear from you. Your memories are important and should be preserved for future generations.

And we must not forget all those who stepped forward to help others. Often mothers with no homes, no possessions and hungry and frightened children to care for.

I look forward to hearing from you at derek.james2013@gmail.com