Cardiff and the Blitz

January 2nd 1941. Cardiff. 6.37pm. The dull sound of an air-aid siren echoes across the city.

When the all clear came 10 hours later, 150 people lay dead, with a further 427 injured and nearly 350 homes demolished. The Luftwaffe had done their worst. 71 years on it is still remembered.

Click on this image to view the BBC video

Click on this image to view the BBC video

Last year BBC Wales ran a series of stories commemorating the events not only of that one fateful night, but of all the air attacks on Cardiff during the Second World War. In nearly four years 355 people were killed as more than 2,100 bombs caused havoc.

No part of the city escaped unscathed with Grangetown, Riverside, Llandaf, Cathays and Roath all badly affected. You can see the devastation in these pictures.

BBC News correspondent Steve Duffy spoke to three men who survived the ordeal. John Williams aged 14, Ken Lloyd aged 12 and Trevor Tucker who was 6 tell their account of the night of the 2nd. Read their stories here.

Keith Matheson was 13 years old on that night. He remembers being taken by his father to the air raid raid shelter at 73 Wyndham Street, Riverside.

“Bombs continued to fall and later my father had just popped down into the shelter to check on us when we heard a flapping sound and then a dull thud. “Sounds like a dud,” said my father. Immediately after, there was a massive explosion – it was a land mine which had landed yards from our shelter.”

Click here to read his full account.

Click on the image to hear the accounts of three men who lived the Cardiff Blitz

Click on the image to hear the accounts of three men who lived the Cardiff Blitz

World War II TodayThe story of Leonard Attwell, a schoolboy in the city at the time is told  by BBC People’s War and is re-told by World War II Today.

“I remember vividly the night in January 1941 when Cardiff was bombed. I lived in Jubilee Street, Grangetown, which was adjacent to the Canton Loco Sheds the target sought by the bombers. It was the early hours of January 3rd (my brother’s birthday) that bombs and Landmines rained down on us. I was eight years old.”

World War II Today lets you follow the war as it happened seventy years ago. It has a post for virtually everyday of the War and focuses on individual incidents and experiences of those who lived it.

“We were in the Anderson Shelter which my father had built half submerged in the back garden, with several feet of soil over the top. He had also built bunks in the shelter and fitted a sand-bag shielded door to the front of the shelter. It was a bitterly cold January night that my mother, father, brother and I huddled together in the shelter. Just thinking of that night brings back the whistle of the bombs falling and the terrible explosions that followed.”

But Cardiff wasn’t the only place in Wales to be bombed from above.

Air Raid Casualties in Wales

Air Raid Casualties in Wales

Over a 1,000 people lost their lives across Wales. Newport, Pembrokeshire and Flintshire among others were all targeted, with Swansea bearing the brunt of the attacks. In the last episode of the series, the BBC’s Story of Wales traced the history of the Swansea Blitz.

Click on the image to view the clip

Click on the image to view the clip

“This is where I lived during the blitz, 41 Gwynfair Road. It was completely lit up like fairyland with incendiaries and bombs. I’ll never forget it. It’s a thing that somebody would never forget if you experienced it. It was terrible” – Brian Legg.


If you want to discover more about Wales during the Second World War visit the Swansea Bay 1940s Museum.


2 thoughts on “Cardiff and the Blitz

  1. Pingback: 2nd January 1941: Cardiff Blitzed

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s