Witnessing the war: The Bristol Blitz

A UWE Bristol Regional History Centre talk exploring how Bristolians responded to the threat and realities of aerial attacks.

Eighty years ago, on the evening of Sunday 24 November 1940, the first major air raid on Bristol devastated large areas of the city.

Over 200 people were killed and thousands of buildings and homes were destroyed by German bombers during the Bristol Blitz. The impact of this and subsequent raids is well documented at Bristol Archives.

Shipping inspector, Leonard Putnam, wrote that sky was lit up by parachute flares that guided in relays of bomber planes. Schoolteacher, Margaret Cane, described buildings left to burn when there was no water to extinguish the fires. Rare colour film shows the city's emergency response alongside civilian life in wartime, while bomb damage was starkly documented by press photographer, Jim Facey.

This talk explored archive sources that capture the scale of destruction and how Bristolians responded to the threat and realities of aerial attacks.

Speaker: Allie Dillon, City Archivist for Bristol City Council. 

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