Bombing was an ever-present danger during the Second World War (1939 to 1945).
The most devastating bombing raid on Canterbury was known as the ‘Baedeker Blitz’. These were a series of attacks by the Luftwaffe, the Nazi air force, targeting English cities chosen for their cultural and/or historical significance. The name of the raids is a reference to the popular travel guides of the time, with a spokesman for the German Foreign Office reportedly saying, “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide”.
Just after midnight on 1 June 1942 German bombers attacked Canterbury, dropping about 10,000 incendiary bombs. Such firebombs caused more destruction than high explosive ones. When they hit the ground the magnesium or phosphorus inside ignited, melting the aluminium casing and starting a small intense blaze. This resulted in great damage throughout the city, and many lives were lost.
The Second World War gallery reflects on the effects of the war, with first-hand stories, newsreels and surviving artefacts which serve to commemorate this momentous event and the brave men and women who saved the city from destruction.
MUST SEE: Teddy, who was evacuated from Canterbury with its owner, young Jennifer Keen, in September 1940.
Jennifer, aged 6, was evacuated from Canterbury West Station with her mother and grandparents as invasion threatened. Waiting for the evacuation train, Jennifer fell asleep in a pram cuddling Teddy, and was photographed by a Kentish Gazette photographer. The photograph, which also captured her evacuation suitcase, is now on display in the gallery.
Period World War Two (1939 to 1945)
Location Canterbury, Kent
Find me in Second World War and Canterbury Blitz, Canterbury Heritage Museum