Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 441 November 14, 1940

A clear moonlit night provides ideal conditions for Operation Moonlight Sonata, a major Luftwaffe raid on the ancient industrial city of Coventry in the English Midlands. At 7.20 PM, 13 Heinkel He-111 bombers (of Kampfgruppe 100) drop marker flares to illuminate the city. 437 He-111s (of Luftflotte 3) follow, flying multiple sorties in small groups all night and returning to bases in France to reload. They drop 450 tons of high explosive bombs (to damage water mains and crater roads, hindering firefighting efforts), 50 parachute mines (to blast off rooftops over a wide area) and 36,000 incendiary bombs (to ignite the old wood timbered buildings). RAF night fighters lack radar and are ineffective; only 1 He11 is shot down by anti-aircraft fire. The raid is a devastating success, destroying 60,000 buildings (including the cathedral), killing 600 civilians and injuring 1000 more. German propaganda gloats, using the term “Coventrate” for the strategy of leveling British cities. It is a strategy that will come back to haunt Germany.

German bombers raid Alexandria, Egypt, sinking Egyptian steamer Zamzam.

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