Piccadilly ablaze during the night raid of 23 December 1940.
Piccadilly ablaze during the night raid of 23 December 1940.
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Heaviest Bombing of the Manchester Blitz, known as the 'Christmas Blitz'

The Manchester Blitz (also known as 'the Christmas Blitz') was the heavy bombing of the city of Manchester and its surrounding areas in England during the Second World War by the Nazi German Luftwaffe. Manchester was an important inland port and industrial city during the war, located in North West England; Trafford Park in neighbouring Stretford was a major centre of war production.

Air raids began in August 1940 and in September 1940 the Palace Theatre on Oxford Street was bombed. The heaviest bombing raids occurred on the nights of 22/23 and 23/24 December 1940, killing an estimated 684 people and injuring 2,364. Manchester Cathedral, the Royal Exchange and the Free Trade Hall were among the large buildings damaged. On the night of 22/23 December, 270 aircraft dropped 272 tons of high explosive and 1,032 incendiary bombs; on the second night, 171 aircraft dropped another 195 tons of high explosive and 893 incendiaries. After the bombings, Nazi propaganda declared that the entire city had been burned to the ground.

Many people in Manchester had long been prepared for a German offensive on the city, but by 1940 as Britain still remained safe many Mancunians began to feel it wouldn’t happen to them.

After neighbouring Liverpool was hit on December 21 and 22 1940 it was inevitable that Manchester would not escape. On the December 22 the German Luftwaffe began their onslaught on Manchester in one of the fiercest raids of the Blitz.