Blitz Story Archive, part 7

This is an archive of true stories about life in Coventry during the Blitz, as told by survivors and by the friends and families of victims. I would like to add as many Blitz memories as possible to this archive, in order to preserve history for future education, and to honour the memories of those who were killed by the bombing raids.

If you have any interesting memories or family stories of wartime Coventry or the Blitz please email them to met and I shall be happy to add them to my site. Any wartime snapshots would also be much appreciated.

Blitz memory from Ruth Kennedy.

My mother's two brothers, Denis and Edward Brown, were killed on the same night during the Blitz.

Denis and Eddie Brown

Denis and Eddie Brown

The story told by my mother is that Denis was fire watching when he received a direct hit. His younger brother Eddie went looking for him, borrowing his step-brother's (Harry's) bicycle to do so. Harry warned him to make sure nothing happened to the bike.

Eddie went to Stoney Stanford Swimming Baths, where he had heard that the survivors had been taken. He left the bike outside and went in to the Baths, which itself then received a direct hit. So both brothers were killed on the same night - but I believe the bike was unharmed.

Mum was away at school at the time (The Birmingham Royal Institute for the Blind, which had been evacuated to Bockleton Manor) and so was not told of her brothers' deaths until she got home at Christmas.

Denis (on the left) was quieter and slimmer, with dark hair and loose curls. Eddie was livelier and more solidly built, with tight curls.

Gilbert John Griffiths

Gilbert John Griffiths (Assistant Engineer - Post Office Coventry) was awarded the George Medal for bravery during the Coventry Blitz.

Gilbert John Griffiths

Gilbert John Griffiths

Gilbert was off duty that night, however he bravely cycled the 1.5 miles from his home during very heavy bombing. Once there he assisted his colleagues William John Williams O.B.E and John William Wilkins O.B.E in restoring communications which had been severed, and maintained them throughout the bombing. This helped bring outside help to Coventry much quicker.

When the fire finally reached their building, Gilbert and his colleagues fought the fire themselves. William collapsed from smoke inhalation and had be carried to safety by Gilbert and John. When fire again threatened the office they managed to contact the Fire Brigade who saved the building. It was vital during the raid to maintain communication for civil defence purposes and this was only achieved because of the bravery of Gilbert and his colleagues.

This blitz story was kindly brought to my attention by Gilbert's niece Mary.

Additional facts from Gilbert's daughter, Iris Griffiths

As a thirteen year old at the time I well recall that every time the sirens went in the evening or night, throughout the war, without fail my father would leave home and walk to his office, only returning after the all clear sounded. Of course I didn't question this at the time and took the procedure as normal.

The morning after the raid my mother and I walked to his office to ascertain if he had survived, Although there was an unexploded bomb in the street we were allowed past the cordon and were thankful to meet him.

Both my mother and I were able to see his presentation at Buckingham Palace. A few years ago I donated my father’s George medal to the Herbert Museum in Coventry together with a copy of the Coventry Evening Telegraph which contains a report of the award.

The Blitz An Illustrated History by Gavin Mortimer

The winter of 1940-41 was the season of the Blitz. From St Paul's Cathedral to the East End, from the very heart of the capital to the cities of the Midlands, throughout the length and breadth of the land the bombs rained down as Germany attempted to bludgeon Britain into submission. As the civilian populations below cowered in their shelters or manned the fire services there could be no doubt that this was an island under siege.

This book weaves together these incredible images with newspaper articles, diary entries and first-hand accounts to create a compelling chronological account of Britain's darkest and most difficult period in her long history.