Liverpool, Bootle and Wirral were the most heavily bombed areas of the country outside of London, due to its importance in the British war effort. The government was desperate to hide from the Germans just how much damage they had wreaked on the ports and so reports on the bombing of the area were deliberately kept low-key. Over 4,000 Liverpudlians and Merseysiders lost their lives during the blitz, twice the number killed in Birmingham and even three times that of Coventry. London, by comparison had suffered 30,000 deaths by the end of the war.
Liverpool, Bootle and the Wallasey Pool were strategically important locations during the Second World War for numerous reasons. Its large ports on the River Mersey on the West Coast of England meant that the Atlantic Ocean, and therefore the United States, was easily accessible. This would prove to be a key part in the British participation in the Battle of the Atlantic with Liverpool's and the Wirral's ports being used for import and export of goods as well as naval ships from several nations being stationed there. Over 90% of all the war material brought into Britain from abroad, some 75 million tons, passed through its eleven miles of quays.
Evacuation of children at the start of the war in September 1939 was a pre-emptive measure. The evacuations were organised by Liverpool Corporation and though some children were transported to smaller towns nearby, many went to far more rural areas in North Wales and Cheshire.
Air raid attacks became heavier towards the end of 1940 and Liverpool and Wirral had suffered over 300 air raids by the end of the year. 365 people were killed between December 20 and December 22, often due to direct hits on air raid shelters. One in Durning Road was destroyed with the loss of 166 lives and in the north of the city, 40 died when a bomb struck railway arches on Bentinck Street, where local people were sheltering.
The bombing decreased in severity after the new year and in the early part of 1941.
The first bomb landed upon Wallasey "over the water" from Liverpool on the Wirral in Cheshire, at 10:15 pm on the 1st of May. The peak of the bombing occurred from May 1 to May 7 1941. It involved 681 Luftwaffe bombers. Half of the docks were put out of action, with 1,741 people being killed whilst 1,154 people injured. Many more were made homeless. 2,315 high explosive bombs and 119 other explosives such as incendiaries were dropped.
One incident occurred on May 3 when the SS Malakand, berthed in the Huskisson Dock, was struck by a bomb which set it on fire. Despite valiant efforts by the fire brigade to extinguish the flames, the ship's cargo of 1,000 tons of bombs exploded. The blast destroyed the dock itself and caused a huge amount of damage to the surrounding quays. The explosion was so violent that some pieces of the ship's hull plating were blasted into a park over a mile away.
Bootle, to the north of the city suffered the most appalling damage and loss of life. Whole swathes of streets simply disappeared and today, street maps of the district show huge grassed over areas in an otherwise densely populated area.
Today one of the most vivid symbols of the Liverpool Blitz in the city is the burnt outer shell of St Luke's Church which was destroyed by an incendiary bomb on May 5 1941. The church was gutted but remained standing and, in its prominent position in the city, was a stark reminder of what Liverpool and Merseyside had endured. It eventually became a garden of remembrance to commemorate the thousands of local men, women and children who died as a result of the bombing of their city and region.
Of the Blitz City's Spirit; Jane Gallagher Speaks to Two Survivors of the Liverpool Blitz, as Anew Exhibition Reminds Us of the City's Darkest Hour
Jul 12, 2003; Byline: Jane Gallagher THE ink has faded on Florence Lucas's dog-eared school certificate,issued more than 60 years ago. A...
It's Important Not to Hide the Raw Truth; Nearly 4,000 People Died in the Liverpool Blitz. Laura Davis Meets a Photographer Marking the 70th Anniversary of Luftwaffe Raids
May 26, 2010; Byline: Laura Davis IT'S peaceful on the beach today - only the crashing of the waves and the whipping of the wind to disturb the...