November 14, 1940: The Luftwaffe heavily bombs the town of Coventry.
Coventry was one of the cities most targeted during the Blitz - by the end of the eight-month German assault, it was nearly obliterated. In the early months of the bombings, however, most of the attacks on the city were small raids- London and Birmingham boasted far higher death tolls.
(German bombers over London)
But on November 14, 1940, 515 German bombers carried out Operation Mondscheinsonate (Moonlight Sonata), a focused raid on Coventry with the aim to destroy its factories and industrial infrastructure - the result would be far more devastating.
The Coventry Blitz began in the evening. The first bombs disabled basic electricity, water, and roads. The second wave of bombs set fire to the Coventry Cathedral, which spread throughout the center of the city; with the water system knocked out, the fire was free to burn- and to destroy. The attack, which ran through the entire night, destroyed or heavily damaged 60,000 buildings and killed nearly 600 people.
The damage done to Coventry was so destructive that the city lent to its name to the term “coventrate”, used by the Germans to describe similarly destructive bombings.