Plymouth Blitz 80th Anniversary

Commemorating the Plymouth Blitz on its 80th Anniversary.

The Nazi German air offensive over Britain during the Second World War – known as the Blitz – reduced many towns and cities, livelihoods and homes, to rubble. The city of Plymouth was one such city that suffered extensively from the German air raids, with the first Luftwaffe bombs dropping in 1940 and lasting until 1944. 1941 was a turning point for the city, when incessant air raids early in the year collapsed much of Plymouth city’s skyline to piles of bricks and mortar. The death toll was great, and the city’s population plummeted from fatalities and evacuations. Throughout the war, Plymouth City Police, in conjunction with other emergency services, continued their duty of protecting the communities of Plymouth, as best they could, in the face of national war. They expanded their workforce, employed women on a scale not previously seen to carry out essential and oftentimes high-risk tasks, and adapted to the changing nature of crime through the war, all the while attempting to keep public morale from suffering any more. A number of policemen left to serve on the frontline in Europe, and in total 18 members of the Plymouth City Police lost their lives to the war effort.

On this 80th anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz, the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall are running a special online exhibition – Voices of the Plymouth Blitz – to commemorate the extraordinary efforts of the city and its Police during the Second World War. We will be sharing a story series between 20th March – 29th April 2021, focused on the first-hand experiences derived from unpublished memoirs of two police personnel who worked and lived through the Plymouth Blitz. Through their eyes, we are taken on a journey of understanding what it was like to experience the Blitz not just as individuals, but as individuals with a public duty.

Stories will be shared that examine the annual reports published by Plymouth City Police during the height of the Plymouth Blitz, to gauge how the police as a whole responded to the strains of war. A photo exhibition chronicling the changing landscape of the city will also be shared, to offer a view of the before and after effects of the air raids.

Series Schedule

We are privileged to be able to share a snippet of history, of a time that saw great suffering but great wartime spirit, too. Indeed, it could be said that this sense of solidarity laid the foundations for Plymouth’s strong and unique identity today. We hope you join us in exploring this history on the 80th anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz.

Words by Miranda Stevens