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UXO City Guide
Home Office Bombing Statistics for Coventry

Record of German Ordnance dropped on the County Borough of Coventry

High Explosive Bombs (All types)


Parachute Mines


Oil Bombs


Phosphorus Bombs


Fire Pots


Pilotless Aircraft (V-1)


Long-range Rocket Bombs (V-2)


Weapons Total


Area Acreage


Number of items per 1,000 acres


Why was Coventry targeted and bombed in WWII?

Beginning in the Victorian period, Coventry established itself as one of the country’s most industrious manufacturing hubs, and by the 1930’s was home to the majority of Britain’s automotive industry. During wartime, these companies were tasked with the production of military vehicles and equipment, a fact that German military intelligence foresaw.

As such, a number of key areas and factories within the city were designated as strategic bombing targets for the Luftwaffe.

Luftwaffe target photography of Coventry.

Home Office Bombing Statistics for Coventry

Details obtained from the official Home Office bombing statistics, indicates the quantity and type of bombs that fell on the County Borough of Coventry during WWII (excluding incendiary bombs).

A total of 3,425 recorded bombs fell on the County Borough of Coventry, equating to 179 items of ordnance per 1,000 acres.

Major bombing raids in Coventry

RAF Ansty, to the east of Coventry was the first area to be bombed on the 25th June 1940, whilst the first main raid on the city was in August 1940. Sporadic raids continued until 14th November 1940, when the first and most destructive concentrated raid took place. Codenamed Operation Mondscheinsonate (Moonlight Sonata), this raid was intended to destroy Coventry’s industrial heart, targeting the main automotive and manufacturing works in the city.

This raid was one of the first that utilised radar navigation, which combined with the scale of the raid made it especially accurate and devastating – it was the single most concentrated raid on a British city during WWII.

During this one raid, over 4,300 homes were destroyed, and overall two-thirds of the cities buildings sustained some degree of damage. The most notable casualties were the medieval cathedral, Daimler factory, Humber Hillman factory and the Alfred Herbert machine works in Coventry.

Coventry Cathedral after a bombing raid – 11th October, 1941.
The Radford Daimler Factory following the main raid – 14th November, 1940.

Throughout the war, Coventry sustained some of the worst damage per square mile of any British city. The 41 air raids comprising the ‘Coventry Blitz’ claimed some 1,236 casualties, over 41,000 damaged or destroyed properties and 111 of 180 factories were damaged – including 75 which were completely destroyed.

Perhaps the most heavily bombed single structure in Coventry was the Daimler Factory in Radford, which during WWII was engaged in war work, manufacturing armoured cars, aircraft engines and small arms – including the famous Bren Light Machinegun1.

Over the course of the war the factory was struck by 150 HE bombs, three Parachute Mines, 17 delayed action bombs and numerous incendiaries. As a result, the factory was out of action for a number of periods during the war, with production moved to other ‘shadow factories’ outside of the city to ensure its important work could continue.

By the end of 1941, the Radford site was so heavily damaged that production of the Daimler Dingo and Daimler Armoured car was moved to the BSA plant in Birmingham.

To record the bombing, the City Architects Office produced a number of bomb survey maps and war damage reports, which (as seen below) roughly indicate the areas within the city that were bombed or sustained bomb damage.

Luftwaffe Target Mapping showing the Radford Daimler Factory as a target.
Coventry Bomb Survey Mapping, circles indicate bomb strikes.

Unfortunately, these records only cover the two largest raids, meaning that records for a number of other raids are not available. As such, the bomb damage records for Coventry tend to be mixed. While inner city areas are well covered for the most part, records for the suburbs are lacking and sometimes do not provide any coverage at all.

City Architects War Damage Report.
1946 Coventry Reconstruction Map (Red Areas are Destroyed).

Can UXO still pose a risk to construction projects in Coventry?

The primary potential risk from UXO in Coventry is from items of German air-delivered ordnance, which failed to function as designed. Approximately 10% of munitions deployed during WWII failed to detonate, and whilst efforts were made during, and after the war to locate and make UXBs safe, not all items were discovered. This is evidenced by the regular, on-going discoveries of UXO during construction-related intrusive ground works across the UK – not just in Coventry.

Occasionally items of British explosive ordnance are also encountered within inner city areas, including Coventry. In Coventry’s case, the city was defended by a ring of static AA defences as well as a number of mobile AA batteries that rotated around parks and open areas of the city to avoid being targeted.

These AA batteries would have been in constant action during these raids, and as such a volume of AA shells would have been fired over Coventry’s skies, some of which may not have functioned as intended.

I am about to start a project in Coventry, what should I do?

Developers and ground workers should consider this potential before intrusive works are planned, through either a Preliminary UXO Risk Assessment or Detailed UXO Risk Assessment. This is the first stage in our UXO risk mitigation strategy and should be undertaken as early in a project lifecycle as possible in accordance with CIRIA C681 guidelines

It is important that where a viable risk is identified, it is effectively and appropriately mitigated to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). However, it is equally important that UXO risk mitigation measures are not implemented when they are not needed.

While there is certainly potential to encounter UXO during construction projects in Coventry, it does not mean that UXO will pose a risk to all projects. Just because a site is located in Coventry does not mean there is automatically a ‘high’ risk of encountering UXO. It really does depend on the specific location of the site being developed.

A well-researched UXO Risk Assessment will take into account location specific factors – was the actual site footprint affected by bombing, what damage was sustained, what was the site used for, how much would it have been accessed, what were the ground conditions present etc.

It should also consider what has happened post-war – how much development has occurred, to what depths have excavations taken place and so on. This will allow an assessment of the likelihood that UXO could have fallen on site, gone unnoticed and potentially still remain in situ.

Recent UXO discoveries in Coventry

Since the war, many items of UXO have been discovered across multiple cities within the UK, with Coventry no exception. Below are some examples of recent UXO incidents or discoveries that have been reported inn national or local press.

A suspected WWII bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion after it was discovered in woodland in Warwickshire, May 2023 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-65657082

The local bomb squad rushed to a residential street in Coventry after reports of an unexploded WWII shell found by a magnet fisherman, August 2022 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/bomb-squad-called-busy-street-24718601

West Midlands Police were called after a suspected WWII shell was found in the canal off Leicester Causeway, Coventry, June 2022 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/controlled-explosion-coventry-park-bomb-24207022

Coventry family discover WWII 1KG Incendiary bomb in back garden after dismantling shed, March 2021 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-family-discover-ww2-bomb-20112015

A WWII shell was discovered at a block of flats in Coventry, July 2018 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/bomb-squad-coventry-ww2-shell-14922388

An unexploded 1,000 kg WWII bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion after it was first discovered on a building site in Paradise Street, September 2015 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/huge-world-war-two-bomb-10112097

Shocked builders dug up an unexploded WWII Incendiary bomb as they were working on a family’s new conservatory, July 2013 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/workmen-whack-unexploded-wwii-bomb-4861877

UXO incidents reported in Coventry between 2001 and 2015 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/blitz-city-11-word-war-10110424

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