Thursday, 21 November 1940

This post is part of a series post-blogging the Blitz of 1940-41 and the Baedeker Blitz of 1942. See here and here for introductions to the series, and here, here and here for conclusions.

Daily Mirror, 21 November 1940, 1

I was going to end this section of the post-blog with yesterday's post, but who could resist a front page like this? It's so emotive and manipulative. The scene itself is tragic enough: the mass burial and funeral of 172 men, women and children killed in the blitz on Coventry last Thursday night. Another seventy will be buried today. But to that the Daily Mirror adds (1) portentous capitalisation ('the Tragedy of Coventry'); (2) a rousing declaration ('WE SHALL REMEMBER!') combined with a graphic of Coventry in flames; (3) the archaic insults ('HUNS RAID', 'the Hun's massacre'). There's more on page 7, along with photographs of the open grave, and on the back page. The Mirror is milking Coventry for all it's worth. And who knows, maybe it's worth a lot.

Daily Express, 21 November 1940, 1

The Daily Express, by contrast, has a feel-good story on its front page -- that is if the increased ability to bomb Germany makes you feel good. The US Army is immediately giving up twenty-six of its coveted 'Flying Fortress' bombers to the RAF. Another twenty, now under construction, are to be delivered by 1 March 1941: a black day for German barrels.

These twenty are being equipped with the famed Sperry bombsight, said to be capable of aiming a bomb "into a barrel from 10,000."

And the Express would presumably consider this a feel-good story. In its editorial, which chiefly discusses the problem of the night bomber (again), it says (4) that part of the answer is that

Germany must be paid back in fill and overflowing measure for every bomb on this country.

Harold Jaffa of Norwich will also be glad to hear of the coming of the Fortresses. In a letter to the Express, he quotes Hilde Marchant's story describing the sentiments of the bombed in Coventry 'the morning after its Guernica bombing': '"Bomb back and bomb hard.'" He believes her account over that of a BBC correspondent who reported the following night that 'Coventry did not want reprisals':

But, of course, the people of Coventry, as well as the people of every other bombed city in this country, want the Germans to be bombed back. Not one shred more mercy, not one bomb less than they give to us.

is a new phrase for the Nazi papers. Show Germans what it means before they add it to their military textbooks.

The editorial explains that 'Coventrating' is 'a word they invented from the devastation of Coventry when they boasted of the "demolition technique" of the Luftwaffe.' So which German city will be the first to be Coventrated?

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3 thoughts on “Thursday, 21 November 1940

  1. Don

    "We wanted to bomb them all to hell!"

    Those are the words of a woman [now], who as a 10y.o. girl [then] was bombed out of Coventry along with her family.

    I had suggested in email correspondence that, the lot of the German nightfighter crews and their adversaries in RAF Bomber Command was essentially the same. Both were young men serving their countries and doing what they believed/knew was right. My correspondent wasn't impressed by this perspective.

    "... bomb them all to hell".

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