Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Monday, 23 August 2010 11:05 UK
Should the air raid siren sound in November?
Coventry Blitz
To many still living in the city, the siren is a painful sound

On 14 November 2010, it will be 70 years since the Coventry Blitz.

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire has been asking, is it right to mark the occasion by sounding the air raid siren on the night of the anniversary.

The idea to sound the siren on the evening in November would be part of a series of events throughout the city.

However, for many, the sound is still something many cannot bear to hear. The Breakfast show with Tim and Marian asked for your opinions.

'It's distressing to me'

Speaking both with those who lived through the blitz and with those who are too young to remember, the idea was received with mixed feelings.

Marjorie from Gibbett Hill, who used to shelter in Corporation Street, and even lived down there for three months because of an unexploded bomb in chapel street, shared her concerns: "I don't want to hear it. It's distressing to me. It doesn't bring back happy memories.

"It's a very sad time... And to me, to hear the sirens means we have to go down the shelter. It upsets me. When I hear the sirens, I think how many people are going to lose their lives.

She also shared her happier memory of that time: "Cadbury used to come on a Friday night and that was the highlight of our week. They used to bring us drinking chocolate, which was fabulous. That was a happy time, I used to look forward to that."

Sheltering
For some, the siren brings back memories of sheltering underground

Marjorie also remembers that while in Corporation Street, the nearby river Sherbourne flooded their shelter at one point.

'The sirens would be a poignant reminder'

Elaine, who's also against the idea, texted the studio: "Spare a thought for us who lived through it. That sound makes my blood run cold to this day."

However, some believe that the younger generation need to be reminded of their history and realise what went on in their city in 1940.

One person who got in touch with Tim and Marian via Twitter said: "I think the eerie sound of the sirens would be a poignant reminder. The sound evokes a sense of dread and expectation."

And some residents, who have shared their memories of the blitz for our 70 stories for 70 years series, said: "I think it's very important that the people should realise what people went through because we wouldn't want them to ever go through it again."

While another said: "It's part of our history.. We don't forget what's happened in our past history... Why should we forget our more recent history."

Your thoughts

How would you feel about the sirens going off during the night of 14 November? Share your thoughts with us for this page, and we will also pass them on to Coventry City Council:

Comments

I think the siren should sound in November - providing the majority of 70+ agree.. I understand it may cause distress and bring back unhappy memories to those who lived through the blitz, but I feel my generation and the younger generation should experience the shrill wail of the sirens...

I recently took my daughters to the Coventry Transport Museum, where they have a small exhibition which includes a darkened bomb site with sirens and a tiny bomb shelter, it really did make the talk of war hit home!

Walking around Coventry War Memorial Park over the summer also raised lots of questions about the men and women who died in the war and the Coventry Blitz, so sounding the siren in memory of 70 years past would be a memory for us all to share.

J. Hartley, Coventry

....

It is my belief that the sounding of the air raid warning siren on the anniversary of the Coventry Blitz in November 1940 is of great significance to the citizens of Coventry who were there at that time, also to those who have made Coventry their home city in the ensuing years. As a lad of five at that time, I lived in Stoke Heath, Coventry, close to the Morris Engine works and remember that night well, despite my young age.

First and foremost is the fact that these sirens would sound in the memory of those who died and were injured during the 1940 blitz. Secondly it could be as a tribute to all those who served and survived during that raid, e.g. firemen, police, doctors, nurses ambulance crews, air raid wardens and the like.

Finally it could also serve as a reminder that such atrocities should never be allowed to happen again. May I suggest a two minutes silence immediately after the air warning has been sounded followed by the sounding of the all clear siren.

Perhaps BBC Coventry & Warwickshire would care to broadcast this event at 7pm on the evening of 14 November, (the approximate time at which the Blitz started).

Finally would it not be possible for this action to happen on 14 November each year, Lest We Forget?

J R Brown

....

As long as it is the 'all clear' that sounds I would have no objection. I am old enough to remember the blood curdling 'alert'. When I hear it in films etc it brings back bad memories. The all clear is an altogether different matter. It was what we were waiting for. For information, the alert was an undulating sound whilst the all clear was a continuous note.

I was given to understand by, my late father, that the all clear was not sounded on 15 November 1940 due to the destruction of the power supplies. Is this in fact true?

Arthur Davis

....

I appreciate the comments from those who would find it disturbing, especially if they suffered a lot of tragedy as a result of the bombing raids during the Second World War. However, we MUST NOT forget those who lived and fought through the war, and also the Great War (1914-1918).

Sadly, because it is so long since people in Coventry (and the rest of Great Britain), apart from those who have served in active war zones since the Second World War, I don't quite think it would have the impact on our younger generations, quite as it might be hoped.

This is not the fault of our younger, or even older generations. It is a sign of the times, where conflict zones are reasonably contained elsewhere!

I'm fifty, and even I cannot fully appreciate the atrocities that our older generations went through. I can only lend an understanding and respect for what it might have been like.

Apart from those who have served in active war zones and lived through the war years, our younger generations, who only have really heard and read about war zones on foreign soil, will not fully appreciate the horrific moments around the blitz and other raids, or even battles out in the war zones.

But I repeat, we MUST NOT forget those who lived and fought through the war, and also the Great War (1914-1918), along with subsequent wars, wherever they may have been.

Mike

........

I was 11, and on the night of the 14th, with my parents staying with relatives in Green Lane. We spent the first hours under the stairs, then during a lull we dashed down the avenue to a neighbour's shelter. I remember the brilliant moonlight, the crunch of glass under my feet. Next morning my parents and I set out for home in Swan Lane.

No buses, so we walked. I recall standing at the bottom of Hertford Street, looking up at the devastation. We made detours because of unexploded bombs, eventually got close to Swan lane, wondering if our house would still be there. Finally we turned the last corner, our home was still standing, just one broken window. My parents said nothing, I've often wondered what their thoughts were on that morning. So yes, sound the sirens and let us remember all those who worked to save lives and buildings on that night.

As a footnote. In 1978 I visited the uncle who I was with on that night, he having emigrated to Canada. We talked about the 14th and he said I had helped to keep him sane because I insisted on him helping me with my maths homework - fractions!

Joan Warner

........

The sound of the siren was a horrifying sound for the people of Coventry, London, and Dresden. I think it should be sounded for the purpose of remembrance, and for pride. It was the spirit of the people of Coventry that raised the phoenix from the flames after the blitz, and gave us one of the greatest manufacturing centres in the world. We must not forget what happened here, as we must not forget the horrors of the holocaust, but no matter how painful it is to look back on those events, we must learn from our history.

I was born in Coventry and I am very proud of its heritage. When the sirens sound on the 14 November and our children turn to us and ask us what is that sound, we must tell them what happened here with pride. Emotions will be high, old memories will resurface, but we must learn from man's inhumanity man. I would relish the opportunity to pay my resects to the people of Coventry who suffered in the blitz, as well celebrating how those same people who against all odds rebuilt our city out of the rubble.

The people of Coventry overcame the hardships that were thrust upon then in 1940, we could all do with some of that spirit once again. This event will serve to remind us of just how great this city really is. Remembrance by its very nature is a solemn thing, it will open old wounds for some, it is to those people that I would like to pay my respects in 2010.

John Gate

........

I am 32-years old and wasn't born when the blitz happened. I do however have an enormous amount of respect for the people who lived through it, and those who lost their lives. As a mother of three who lives in Nuneaton, which also suffered in WWII, I think it is a great idea to sound the sirens. My 11-year old did a school project last year on the war and although my knowledge is limited, she understood the importance of remembrance, and was shocked at some of the things that happened to ordinary people. The thought of hiding under the stairs with three children while bombs are dropping all around terrifies me, or running down the street to a public shelter, not knowing if we will make it to see the morning. I have visited the ruins of the cathedral many times over my 32-years and it always makes me sit and think about what it must have been like back then. We are very lucky now, and we need to appreciate the people who gave their lives for us. So I say sound the siren! Don't ever let us forget.

Loraine in Nuneaton

........

I was in Deptford, SE London during the Blitz and the doodlebug raids and it was the alert siren that sent us scurrying down into the Anderson shelter. Then we listened anxiously for the reassurance of the all clear sign so we could venture out again. So by means, sound the siren, but make sure it is the all clear.

James Underwood

........

My mother and aunt went to the memorial service to mark the 50th anniversary of the Blitz in Manchester Cathedral 20 years ago. They and their younger brother had lost their parents and six brothers and sisters when they were 17, 15 and 11-years old on 22 December 1940 when a bomb demolished their house, and in fact the whole street. My mother and her brother were buried in the rubble for 17 hours.

At the service, on hearing the siren, they were extremely distressed and wished the organisers had not felt the need to be theatrical. They went to the service to respect their lost family and mourn their loss, not to be subjected to a cruel heart-stopping reminder of the terror they experienced.

Nowadays we know about post-traumatic stress. The generation who survived the Blitz in all the towns and cities did not have counselling, they just had to cope as best they could and grow their lives around the loss.

Sounding a siren, I feel, is a thoughtless dramatic act. Please consider the now elderly bereaved survivors and spare them the trauma of opening up wounds which they have lived their lives overcoming. Commemoration of the blitz requires a memorial service not a dramatic spectacular. People are still suffering seventy years on, please respect their dignity,

Carole Worley





BEYOND THE BLITZ

Beyond The Blitz - Photo: BBC Coventry & Warwickshire/Coventry History Centre Beyond The Blitz: 1940 - 2010
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire are marking the 70th anniversary of the Coventry Blitz with their series Beyond The Blitz
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We have created a special gallery showing parts of Coventry from before the war while merging in the scene from 2010
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IN VIDEO AND AUDIO
Michael Logan A journey to Dresden

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