Liverpool Blitz: Liverpool's thousands war of dead

Millions of people were killed during the Second World War. Many died while fighting for their country or in the merchant navy, but many civilians at home were also killed - people who had nothing to do with the actual fighting of the war.

The remains of St. Nicholas' church
The remains of Liverpool parish church, St. Nicholas'. 20/21 December 1940
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For the relatives of those who died on active service, the first they knew was usually the arrival of an official telegram. Details were often sketchy. Some heard more news from further telegrams or from the dead man's comrades. Unfortunately, many knew nothing more than their loved one was killed or missing in action.

At home, thousands died following attacks by German bombers. Many remained unidentified, either because of their horrific injuries or because their whole family had been killed at once. Others died in accidents caused by the blackout.

During the May Blitz alone 1,741 people lost their lives on Merseyside. Many were killed in fires and collapsed buildings caused by the bombing. However one of the worst civilian incidents of the war occurred later that year on 29 November 1941 at the Durning Road communal shelter in Edge Hill. 166 men, women and children were killed and many more injured when a parachute bomb landed directly on the shelter. Boiling water from the heating system, gas and rubble filled the shelter and fires above ground made rescue almost impossible.

Durning Road Technical School after an air attack
The scene at Durning Road Technical School following an air attack in November 1940
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On the night of 5 May 1941, an incendiary bomb hit St Luke's church on Leece/Berry Street in Liverpool city centre. The resulting fire completely gutted the building. It has never been restored and the building has become a monument to all those who lost their lives during the attacks on the city.

On 13 May 1941 a funeral was held at Anfield cemetery for 550 unidentified victims of the Blitz.


Visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website. It lists Liverpool's civilians who lost their lives in the Second World War.




Marion Browne talks about learning that school friends have been killed.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)