AN EXHIBITION created to mark the 80th anniversary of the ‘Leicester Blitz’ has returned to the city’s Newarke Houses Museum.
The city was bombed several times in 1940 and 1941, but the raid on the night of 19-20 November 1940 was by far the worst – with 108 people losing their lives.
The exhibition – which opened on March 5 – documents that night in detail, through objects, pictures, paintings and personal stories of the damage that was done.
It also shows how Leicester prepared for all the other air raids and explains what happened on those dreadful nights, often in the words of those who were there.
Many of the items on display – including rare uniform and paper artefacts used by the city’s Air Raid Precautions (ARP) services – have been loaned to Leicester Museums & Galleries by local historian Austin J. Ruddy.
“The exhibition reveals the extraordinary heroism of the ARP and other emergency services, whose remarkable stories had largely been forgotten for over 70 years,” he said.
“Many worthy deeds shine through the darkness of the Blitz and deserve to be told – and they are in this poignant exhibition.”
“The exhibition commemorates the ordinary people that suffered during the war – those whose homes were bombed, the civilians and the volunteers in ARP (the Air Raid Precautions), and the women’s voluntary service – volunteers that helped the official police and the military to deal with that situation and rescue people,” added Cllr Susan Barton, local historian and Leicester City Councillor, who met with the Leicester Times.
“One of the cases shows a series of letters which I discovered a couple of years ago – just before the lockdown and they are written between members of an ordinary Leicester family, where a young girl of 15 was out on ‘Blitz night’, she continued.
“She’d been to night-school and was on her way back and an incendiary bomb fell just near where she was passing on the corner of Charles Street.”
Deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “More than 80 years ago, this city faced the bombs of the Luftwaffe, with dozens of people losing their lives and many more losing their homes and their livelihoods.
“Today, the people of Ukraine are bravely resisting the might of the Russian military. The horrors of war have sadly not gone away.
“This exhibition reminds us to learn from history and to think of those who suffered in Leicester in 1940 – but as we remember them, our thoughts will also be with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
The exhibition was due to open on the 80th anniversary of the raid in November 2020, but had to be postponed due to COVID restrictions. It finally had a brief two-week run at Newarke Houses last summer.
The free exhibition, entitled The Leicester Blitz – the German Air Raid on Leicester, 19-20 November 1940 will be available to view until May 22.