The second world war saw waves of German planes bombing huge areas of UK cities. After London, Liverpool was the worst hit area in the country. This is because Liverpool was a major shipping port and very important to the British war effort. The Liverpool docks brought in food and materials vital to the country.
When war broke out in 1939, thousands of Liverpool children were evacuated to the safety of nearby North Wales. Over the course of 1940, Liverpool suffered 300 raids by German bombers, huge parts of the city were destroyed, and many wonderful buildings were lost forever.
The devastation was worse still during May 1941 when there was a huge attack by over 600 German planes. This bombing raid is now known as ‘The Blitz’ (from the German word blitzkrieg meaning ‘lightening war’) nearly 2000 Liverpool people were killed in one week alone and many more than this were left homeless and injured.
As well as being a major shipping port and navy base, Liverpool was also home to the headquarters of the Western Approaches Command – A strategic base for the Navy to plan the Battle of the Atlantic Sea. Captain Frederic John Walker masterminded the Atlantic sea battles from Liverpool, and his command destroyed 20 German U-Boats. A statue can be found at the Liverpool’s Pier Head in his honour.
For everyday people the war meant terrible hardship – unimaginable for us today. With food in short supply, food rationing was introduced, with families only being allowed certain small amounts of food per week. This lasted for 10 years! Even the football league stopped - with no matches played for 6 years. During the bombing raids families would be forced to take refuge in an air-raid shelter, usually in their garden, but many did not have this ‘luxury’.
Despite being the worst period in Liverpool’s history, the War brought people together in a way that perhaps wouldn't happen today. Winston Churchill himself commented after the Liverpool Blitz that “I see the damage done by the enemy attacks but I also see the spirit of an unconquered people.”
By a strange twist of history, Hilter's brother himself lived in Liverpool before the war and it is believed that the young Adolf Hitler himself visited the city once and had a pint in the Poste House pub on Cumberland Street.
See our collection of Liverpool Blitz photos
Read more about Liverpool during the Second World War
Liverpool Spirit of The Blitz
Liverpool Blitz timeline
Finest Hour – Contains audio files of Liverpool Blitz memories
BBC People’s War – huge bank of audio files and recollections
Liverpool Museums Liverpool Blitz interactive site
Liverpool in the Blitz
Western approaches – Liverpool Headquarters
Timbo’s Liverpool Blitz
BBC - Children’s life during the war
Hitler living in Liverpool