"Coventry was an accidental success . . ."
Luftwaffe General Adolf Galland
The First and the Last, p. 48
It is amazing how much misinformation still exists about Operation Moonlight Sonata, the German bombing of Coventry, England, in November of 1940. Many contemporary World War II history enthusiasts, for example, probably know three "facts" about this massive November 14/15, 1940 Luftwaffe air raid on the city of Coventry. They know that on that night thousands of German high-explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on Coventry and that these bombs essentially wiped out the entire city. They know that the historic and world-famous Coventry Cathedral was completely destroyed in the bombing. And perhaps most significantly they believe that British intelligence and Prime Minister Winston Churchill had days of advance warning about the raid but did not allow officials to be notified for fear the Germans would be alerted that their supposedly top secret Enigma code had been broken.
These widely held views are certainly interesting "facts," but ironically only one of these is correct and even that one is only partially accurate. It is true that the beautiful Coventry Cathedral, St. Michael's, was largely destroyed that night; however, the burned out shell of the old cathedral is today incorporated very dramatically and effectively into the overall design of the new cathedral. Thus, in a very practical sense, it could be said that even that historic old structure really was not completely lost in the bombing. As for the city being wiped out as a result of that bombing, this too is clearly an exaggeration. While it is true that Coventry sustained major damage during that all-night raid, it most certainly was not wiped out. As a matter of fact, within a very few days of the raid, Coventry was again producing the war armaments for which it was noted.