Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry

By Allan W. Kurki | Go to book overview

2 Coventry Before the Raid

EARLY COVENTRY

The city of Coventry is located in the central part of England in Warwickshire in the West Midlands. The Midlands, which are comprised of ten other shires in addition to Warwickshire, has for centuries represented the industrial muscle of England. This region has sometimes been referred to as Britain's prosperous midriff. Coventry is situated on the Sherbourne River and is 85 miles northwest of London and 17 miles southeast of Birmingham. The city adjoins the southern tip of the East Warwickshire coal field and covers an area of 37 square miles.

The name Coventry comes from its Anglo-Saxon roots and means "Cofa's Tree," which might have been a landmark or an object of worship planted at a crossroads in the Midlands. During Roman times three major roads were built through this area, and coin finds suggest that there may have been a minor trade route through Coventry. 1

Recorded history of Coventry begins in 1016 when the Saxon nunnery of St. Osburga was sacked by the Danes. In 1043, Earl Leofric of Mercia and his wife Lady Godiva (Godgifu) founded a Benedictine monastery in Coventry. Over the centuries the story of Lady Godiva's famous ride naked through the streets of Coventry has helped popularize the city. Although the story is of questionable historical accuracy, it has nevertheless been kept alive by celebrations and processions depicting the event which have been held from 1678 to the present century. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Coventry replaced Lichfield and Chester as the center of a large diocese. The diocese and its great abbey prospered until destroyed in 1539 at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.

Ranulf, Earl of Chester, granted Coventry a charter in about 1150, and in 1345 Edward III incorporated the area that had already begun sending two members to Parliament in 1295. This charter granted by Edward III was the first of its kind, and it authorized the annual election of a mayor and bailiffs and represented the start of

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Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Glossary of Abbreviations, Codenames, and Terms Used in the Text xv
  • Part I - Overview 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Coventry Before the Raid 9
  • 3 - The Raid in Brief 15
  • Part II - The German Air Force (GAF) 21
  • 4 - Gaf Development and Strategy 23
  • 5 - The Bombers and Ordnance of the Gaf 29
  • 6 - The Flying Beams 39
  • Part III - The RAF and the Battle of Britain 47
  • 7 - Raf Fighters and British Defenses 49
  • 8 - Ultra and British Electronic Countermeasures 63
  • 9 - The Battle of Britain 71
  • Part IV - The Coventry Raid 87
  • 10 - Coventry's Defenses 89
  • 11 - Advance Knowledge About the Raid 97
  • 12 - Operation Cold Water 103
  • 13 - The Raid: Operation Moonlight Sonata 109
  • Part V - The Aftermath 121
  • 14 - The Results of the Raid 123
  • 15 - Public Reaction to the Raid 129
  • Appendix A Luftwaffe 3 Bombing Report of Coventry Raid 147
  • Appendix C - U.S. Army Military Attache's Report on the Coventry Raid 153
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 179
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