Ships searchlights during the Plymouth Blitz.
Ships searchlights during the Plymouth Blitz.

The Royal Navy is set to join commemorations for the 80th Anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz by shining searchlights from vessels in Devonport and Plymouth Sound into the sky, this Monday 26 April at 9pm. This echoes back to how Royal Navy ships used their searchlights to scan the sky for Nazi bombers during World War Two. People are also being asked to join the Navy by shining their torches at their doors in an act of remembrance.


2021 is the 80th Anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz, in which the city was targeted by the Luftwaffe as a major naval port, home to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and as a base to units of the Army and the Royal Air Force.  During the 59 bombing attacks, 1,174 civilians were killed and 4,448 injured.

Luke Pollard MP, who chairs the anniversary campaign, said:

The Royal Navy is helping bring the Blitz 80 anniversary events to a close with a reconstruction of the searchlights their predecessors would have shone into the sky above Plymouth to detect Nazi bombers. The anniversary month has helped retell the stories of Plymouth during the horrors of the Blitz. We rightly remember those who died in uniform as a city, and the Blitz80 events have helped us rediscover and retell the stories of ordinary Plymothians during the Blitz. Please join the searchlight event in a COVID-safe way if you can to remember those we lost as a city and to look forward to a brighter future of friendship with former foes.

Heather Roche, the niece of Fireman Leslie G. Tibbs who was there during the Blitz, said:

By remembering our six volunteer Firemen from Saltash on 22 April and the Royal Navy at their Searchlight display we also hold in our hearts the many people from around the world who came to the aid of Plymouth and its environs during the Blitz when help was so desperately needed.

Chris Robinson, local Plymouth historian said:

When it came to the Blitz the destruction that rained down on the City took no account of age or fitness, as whole families were wiped out, the maternity unit of the hospital destroyed and the city devastated.  Plymouth’s uniqueness today is largely a legacy of that devastation and the searchlight and torchlight gestures will hopefully serve as a timely reminder of the horrors of yesteryear and help us steer a path to an enduring peace.

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