Canterbury Blitz


Bombing was an ever-present danger during the Second World War and there is a real Morrison shelter visitors can enter, as well as displays about wartime shortages.

The most devastating bombing raid was one of several on landmark cities that are known as the ‘Baedeker Blitz’, since places highlighted in the Baedeker tourist guide were targeted. Just after midnight on 1 June 1942 German bombers attacked Canterbury, dropping about 10,000 incendiary bombs. Such firebombs caused more destruction than high explosive ones. When they hit the ground the magnesium or phosphorus inside ignited, melting the aluminium casing and starting a small intense blaze.

Firewatchers at Canterbury Cathedral saved the building by throwing hundreds of firebombs from the roof into the Precincts below. The incendiaries could be sprayed with water and covered with sand until extinguished. Where access to incendiary bombs was difficult they caused fires that rapidly burned out of control. Lives were lost and great damage caused, with areas of Canterbury flattened.

Newsreel footage, wartime photographs, stories and surviving artefacts commemorate the event, and the brave men and women who saved the city and Cathedral from destruction.


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Canterbury Heritage Museum
Stour Street, CT1 2NR

Phone: 01227 475202




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