Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry

By Allan W. Kurki | Go to book overview

13
The Raid: Operation Moonlight Sonata

It has often been stated that the November 14 Coventry raid was in retaliation for the RAF's bombing of Munich on November 8/9. It is clear, however, that years before the Munich raid, the Germans had already included Coventry as one of their prime, intended, target areas in England. An analysis of prewar German target manuals indicates that long before World War II even started the Germans had identified many specific military targets in Coventry. The Germans may have used Munich as a pretext, but Coventry was marked as a prime bombing candidate by the Luftwaffe well before the RAF's Munich raid.

The Germans identified at least thirty-five separate industrial plants or public utility sites in the city as specific bombing targets for their Luftwaffe. 1 They had also identified twenty-eight targets in Wolverhampton and eighty-eight in Birmingham. These sites were carefully catalogued and classified by the Germans into specific bombing objectives. Each bombing target in Great Britain was first identified by the letters GB and then by a two-field code consisting of three to four numbers. The first field in the code was a two-digit designation indicating the group, that is, the type of industry that each target represented. Group 84, for example, stood for electrical machinery manufacturers. The second field in the code was a unique, one-or two-digit number assigned to each particular target. For example, the designation GB 7322 represented the following target: GB = target in Great Britain, 73 = automobile parts manufacturer, and 22 = British Piston Ring Company in Coventry. Each of these separate targets was transferred to an aerial reconnaissance map that could then be used as a specific bombing target. Table 13.1 lists the thirty-five individual targets in Coventry as they were identified in the German records. Map 13.1 shows a typical GAF target map, in this case target GB 737, which represented the Standard Motor Company Ltd. plant in Coventry.

The official German State Archives, the Bundesarchiv, which includes the military archives, are located in Freiburg, Germany. The staff of the Bundesarchiv have been extremely cooperative in sharing the information in their files regarding

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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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