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Special service at Earlham Cemetery remembers those who lost their lives in the Baedeker Raids

PUBLISHED: 13:05 28 April 2012

The Lord Mayor, Jenny Lay, and Sheriff of Norwich, Chris Higgins, lay flowers during the service to mark the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker Raids, at Earlham Cemetery. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Lord Mayor, Jenny Lay, and Sheriff of Norwich, Chris Higgins, lay flowers during the service to mark the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker Raids, at Earlham Cemetery. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Those who lost their lives when Norwich came under attack from the German Luftwaffe seventy years ago were remembered at a special service marking the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker Raids.

More than 200 people were killed in the April 1942 German assault on the city which changed the face of Norwich forever.

A special garden of remembrance in Earlham Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 100 of those who died, and it was here people gathered this morning for a service led by Canon Peter Nokes, vicar of Norwich’s St Peter Mancroft Church.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich Jenny Lay and the Sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins were among the scores of people to attend, and music in the service was performed by members of the Norwich Citadel Band.

At the service Canon Nokes said: “The second world war wasn’t a campaign far away fought by heroes and knights.

“It was a war where everybody was vulnerable.

“It was the first war resulting in more civilian than military deaths. Worldwide, some 27 million civilians died as against 21 million from the military.”

He said during the war some 340 people died as a result of bombings in Norwich and over a thousand people were injured, and he said the city was particularly hard hit during the Baedeker Raids of April 1942.

“But, we are not here this morning to dwell on statistics; rather we meet to remember that each one of those statistics is associated with immeasurable human suffering and pain,” he said.

“The memorial tablets in this garden of remembrance represent the loss of life of people of all ages - many young children, whose lives had hardly begun.

“Those deaths represent families irrevocably torn apart.

“And, so, we meet this morning to remember the civilians of this city who lost their lives through enemy air raids on Norwich during the second world war and to remember their families and friends, recalling in particular those remembered in this garden from the traumatic events of 1942.”

The Baedeker Raids were named after the tourist guide to Britain which the Germans reputedly used to choose their target cities for the raids.

On Monday, April 27, 1942, for more than two hours, the Luftwaffe pounded Norwich, and official records say 162 people were killed and nearly 600 others badly hurt.

At almost the same time on the following Wednesday the bombers returned and, according to official figures, 69 people died and nearly 90 people were badly injured. A smaller raid also took place on the Thursday.

By some miracle, Norwich’s main landmarks – the cathedrals, the castle, St Peter Mancroft and City Hall – survived the raids, but much of the city was changed forever.

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