Plymouth was heavily bombed during the Blitz in 1940-41, and as a major naval port it was a prime target for German bombers. As a result of its strategic importance, the city was hit by a number of small but devastating raids, and as a result more than 1,180 civilians were killed. The city suffered major damage, losing its historic Guildhall and major shopping areas.

The Blitz affected several cities in the UK, including Plymouth, Southampton, and Exeter. Other cities targeted included Cardiff, Portsmouth, Bath, Birmingham, and Coventry. In addition to the cities above, factories and transportation lines were hit in many areas.

A bomb-damaged house on the Trelawney Estate, Peverell, Plymouth, 1st November 1940.

The first air raid on Plymouth took place on 8 August 1940. It was accompanied by a blackout, intended to make German night bombers more difficult to target. The city was also surrounded by air raid sirens. People were ordered to stay under cover until the sirens sounded for two minutes. After two minutes, the signal was given that the raiders had passed, and the city was once again safe.

A great column of smoke billowing upward from a fire started at Plymouth, Southwest England, in November 1940, as a result of a Luftwaffe bombing raid.

In November 1940, the Germans bombarded the city several times. The Avonmouth docks and aircraft factories were targeted. The most horrific raid took place on 24 November 1940, when the German bombers dropped up to 12,500 tons of high explosives and incendiaries on the city. Some 53 workers died in the BSA works.

Fore Street, Devonport, Plymouth. After an air raid during The Blitz in World War Two. To the right you can see the remains of Hocking Piano Shop. Frederick Hocking founded the pianoforte and music dealership in Fore Street, Devonport. 23rd April 1941.

Plymouth suffered heavy bombing in 1941 and was home to the historic Naval Yard, Devonport. The port was a strategic target for the enemy and the Blitz lasted nearly three years. During the Blitz, the town's port became a target for German bombers, and 25,000 bombs were dropped on the Docklands area alone.

Although the number of civilian deaths and casualties was lower than the Blitz on London, the citizens of this city still faced great danger, many performing heroic acts to help their city. One such civilian was. Dr. AJ 'Mac' McNairn.

The report of Dr McNairn's actions printed in the London Gazette on 21st May 1941.

Her brave actions led to her being awarded the George Medal (just one level below the George Cross) one of only 68 female recipients of this award to date.

Tired-looking firemen rest after hanging a Union Jack on a lamppost after a two-night attack the city of Plymouth, Devon during the Blitz.

Royston Leonard /

Bateman's corner before and after

Batemans' corner photographed in 1939 and after the Luftwaffe struck in 1941.

The Plymouth Blitz in 1941 |

Bomb damage in Plymouth city centre.

Aftermath of an air raid on Old Town Street, Plymouth. 21st April 1941.

Further reading