2021 is the 80th anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz, which killed 1,174 people and injured a further 4,448.
59 bombing attacks were carried out by the Nazi Luftwaffe on Plymouth over the Second World War, but it was 5 raids in early 1941 that had the biggest effect on the city. The attacks made Plymouth one of the most heavily bombed cities in Britain during WWII.
The city is running a programme of special events to remember and pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the Blitz. The itinerary for the programme can be found below.
Commenting on the matter, Luke Pollard, who leads the organisation of the events programme, said:
“During this time of national crisis, it is more important than ever to remember the Plymouth Blitz and the spirit that saw our city through that dark time. 80 years on we are faced with an invisible foe in the form of Coronavirus and the same spirit of rising again. Just as Plymouth got through the Blitz and the horrors of war, to rebuild, we will do that with this virus.
“I invite everyone in Plymouth to remember this anniversary, be proud of our city’s past and hopeful about the future true to the essence familiar to Plymothians eighty years ago embodied in the Resurgam spirit.”
Itinerary for the Blitz 80 Commemoration Programme
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Chris Mavin, will be giving a speech with the Bishop of Plymouth, to provide a blessing and lay a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Plymouth at the Resurgam door. You will be able to view this from 20 March here.
The Marine Biological Association (MBA) will be commemorating the bombing of the MBA in 1941 on their social media platforms with stories, pictures and a fantastic video from their Director, Professor Willie Wilson. You can find out more here.
Devon and Cornwall Police, in partnership with the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, will be paying tribute to the voices of the Plymouth Blitz through an online exhibition. This will be available on the DC Policing Museum website here from 20 March.
From 20 March there will be a blog on the Box website telling the story of the Westminster Hotel air raid of March 1941. You can find this here.
From midday you will be able to virtually join the Minster Church of St Andrew for an online service to commemorate all those who bravely defended Plymouth and who died in the Blitz 80 years ago. This service will be available to watch on the St Andrew’s YouTube Channel.
At 7.30pm there will be a live reading on Luke’s Facebook page of the first commission of Plymouth Laureate of Words, Laura Horton. This is called “Roll out Plymouth” and is a beautifully pertinent short story inspired by Plymouth Blitz. You can also read the story for yourself here. Laura is a playwright and prose writer, and her laureateship marks the first time the role has been offered to a writer from a genre other than poetry.
‘Eye Spy a War Hero’ – An interactive event for children aged 5-12 at Weston Mill Cemetery, taking place at 2pm (fully compliant with the latest COVID-19 restrictions). Pre-booking is essential, and you can find out more here. This will take place again on 15 April at 10am if you miss out on this one.
‘Eye Spy a War Hero’ with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – An interactive in-person event for children aged 5-12 at Weston Mill Cemetery, taking place at 2pm (fully compliant with the latest COVID-19 restrictions). Pre-booking is essential, and you can find out more here. Also taking place on 12 April at 2pm.
Plymouth Blitz walking tour at Efford Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This is an in-person (COVID-19 restrictions compliant) event, taking place at 2pm. It is suitable for people over 11 years old, and pre-booking is essential. You can find out more here.
At 7pm there will be a University of Plymouth Zoom talk to coincide with the beginning of the April heavy bombing raids, with two papers. This will be live-streamed directly to their YouTube channel.
At 11am there will be a socially distanced commemoration at St. Stephens Church, Saltash for the 6 auxiliary firemen lost on that date in 1941, now buried in Saltash. Attendees will include the Bishop of St. Germans and Plymouth’s Lord Mayor. You can find out more about the background to this event here.
The University of Plymouth are organising a small, socially distanced ceremony of remembrance for the Portland Square Air Raid Shelter disaster anniversary. It will be live-streamed to the public on social media. Keep up to date on the University of Plymouth History Facebook page and YouTube channel, which also have some fantastic informative posts on Plymouth Blitz 80.
The Fire Service are organising a small socially distanced event displaying the new Fire Service Red Plaque at Greenbank Fire Station, which commemorates fallen firefighters. They have spent a significant amount of time and research uncovering names and putting them together onto the plaque, which is a fantastic way to commemorate these heroes. More information on the plaque can be found out here.
Remembrance Service in the Dockyard 26 Apr 1045 -1115 (attendance: Senior Naval Officers from Devonport, Heads of Babcock, Industrial and non-industrial Unions, Serco, MOD Police and MGS).
Special livestream at 7.30pm on Luke’s Facebook page here, where he will be joined by The Cathedral School of St Mary in presenting letters from Ambassadors and High Commissioners from countries who supported Plymouth during the Blitz period to the Lord Mayor of Plymouth. Find out more here.
Doorstep activity supported by the Royal Navy: Ships in the dockyard and in the Sound will shine their search lights up into the sky on Monday 26 Apr at 2100 for 30 minutes. We would like to encourage the people of Plymouth to take part by standing on their doorsteps and shine torches. They will also ask all commercial boats in the Sound to shine their search lights.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Cornish casualties of the 1941 Blitz – online event at 7pm. Find out more here.
Events still to look out for, and other commemorative efforts:
- Plymouth Citybus will be sharing a number of astonishing pictures from the Blitz, as part of the #PlymouthBlitz80 commemoration, showing the destruction and devastation that the bombing caused to their Milehouse depot. These will be shared on Twitter and Facebook.
- Plymouth University have shared a 30-page pack on the Blitz to school stakeholders across the city, to assist in discussing the events in lessons.
- There are resource packs on the Box website for schools.
Plymouth City Council have a website with more information on each organisation involved and online information and resources, which you can access here.
Make sure you discuss and share the commemoration events on social media, using the hashtag #PlymouthBlitz80.