Friday, 13 November 2015

Remembering the Blitz ......... the Coventry Post Box

The Coventry Post Box
In the great sweep of history it is often the little things that get overlooked or lost.

Most were everyday objects which were so commonplace at the time they were given no significance and yet they can have powerful links to the past.

Only yesterday we came across Dad’s wartime ration book dated 1947-48 with a selection of yellow, magenta olive and crimson coupons most of which were unused.

Like most people I am familiar with war time rationing  which stretched on into the years after the last world war but had never bothered to understand exactly how the system worked and in particular the different colours.

That said there will be someone who can help and I rather think I will be returning to the story.

Broadgate, Coventry, November 16, 1940
All of which is really a lead into this Post Office letter box, which belongs to my old friend David Harrop.

Like many of the items from David’s collection this one has a very personal story.

It was salvaged from the ruins of of a building in Coventry after the night the city was blitzed during the Second World War.

Coventry had been a target for enemy action from the August of 1940 into November experiencing seventeen small raids, all of which were a prelude to the main attack on November 14 which began that evening and reached its climax around midnight.

The raid was heavily concentrated in the city centre most of which was destroyed.

On display at the Remembrance Lodge
In that one night more than 4.300 homes were destroyed and around two-thirds of the city’s buildings damaged.

There were with an estimated 568 people killed and 863 badly injured.

More raids followed but the November 14th attack assumed a special significance even leading the Germans to use the term coventriert ("coventried") when describing similar levels of destruction of other enemy towns.*

I suppose the survival of the post box is quite remarkable mirrored by the story of the one unscathed after the IRA bomb in Manchester in 1996 and is a reminder of how those little things play a part in recreating the past.

The pillar box is on permanent display in the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery along with many other items from David Harrop’s collection.

Picture; the Coventry post box, 2015 from the collection of David Harrop, and Broadgate in Coventry city centre November 16, 1940, from the collections of the Imperial War Museums

*Coventry Blitz,

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