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