The Raid in Brief
Word coined by the Germans after the raid to signify something that is totally destroyed.
By the middle of November 1940, the citizens of Coventry had already become veterans of the Luftwaffe's bombing of England. The city was first bombed by the GAF on August 18, and between October 12 and November 12, for example, there had been a total of seventeen air raids on the city (Chapter 16). The city's residents had become accustomed to the air raid sirens, the blackouts, and the destruction caused by the bombings. The glare of searchlights, the silhouettes of barrage balloons fastened to the ends of long steel cables, and the roar of anti-aircraft guns were by then an all too familiar sight and sound. Air Raid Warden duties and Fire Watch details had become familiar volunteer assignments for many Coventry residents. By November 14, 1940, the war had become very real and personal to most citizens of the city.
The evening of Thursday, November 14, 1940 began as a beautiful, clear moonlit night over Coventry. For several weeks British intelligence, both from the interrogation of GAF flight personnel shot down over England as well as from the interception and decoding of Luftwaffe radio communications, had begun to suspect that the Germans were planning a major series of air raids on the Midlands (Chapter 8). German Target 53, Coventry, was potentially identified as one of these targets. By November 12, Birmingham and Wolverhampton were also identified as two other potential German targets in the Midlands. By 15:00 hours on the afternoon of November 14, 1940, British radio operators were able to pinpoint that the German navigadonal/bombing beams, called X-Verfahren (Chapter 6) were intersecting over Coventry. RAF defenses were notified, and a previously developed British counterplan called operation Cold Water (Chapter 12) was put into effect.