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This time their aiming point was to be the Midlands ¿ more particularly, the city in Britain's industrial heartland that may well have cost Germany victory in the Battle of Britain.It was in Coventry, with its plethora of vital aircraft factories, that Rolls-Royce engines had been stripped and re-conditioned to give the Spitfires and Hurricanes their vital edge in the decisive dogfights that summer.A new play, which premiered at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, says so.
Firemen, Home Guardsmen, anyone who was able, rushed at the flames with buckets and stirrup pumps, but their efforts were soon overwhelmed.
Five hundred tons of explosives, 33,000 incendiary bombs and dozens of parachute mines were dropped onto the compact city centre with its half-timbered houses and winding lanes and the surrounding factories and houses.
In less than a fifth of a square mile, 60,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged. Thereafter, "Koventriert" ¿ "Coventry-ed" ¿ was the word the Germans used for annihilating a city with sheer firepower. Or, at the very least, could its population of up to 300,000 have been warned that their homes and their lives were in danger and allowed to evacuate to safety?
On the night of a full moon, Sergeant Werner Handorf, a 24-year-old pilot from Berlin, eased his fully-laden Junkers Ju 88 bomber off the runway and up into the sky.
He had 1,000lb of high explosives in the hold and twice as much in racks along the wings.
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