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Swansea in the Blitz

image depicting Churchill Visits Blitzed Town

The Three Nights Blitz was the heavy and sustained bombing of Swansea on 19 February - 21 February 1941.

Swansea's port area and the oil refinery just beyond were major targets for the aircraft of the Luftwaffe, as the Nazis wanted to hamper coal exports and demoralise the residents of the town. 

The first bombing of Swansea had been on 27 June 1940 and was the start of 44 attacks. Ironically, the Three Nights Blitz in February 1941 and numerous other bombing sorties over the town left the docks and industries virtually unscathed but the town centre was completely obliterated.

The Luftwaffe unleashed 1273 high explosive bombs and 56,000 incendiary devices to devastate an area of 41 acres, using target maps based on aerial reconnaissance photographs. 857 properties were destroyed, 11,000 properties were damaged. 230 people were killed, 409 were injured.

Although Swansea had sustained casualties as a result of Luftwaffe attacks prior to this, the sustained bombardment over 72 hours was unique outside London.

Surprisingly, some of Swansea's oldest buildings, the Castle, Swansea Museum, and the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery survived but the town's commercial heart was razed and the Ben Evans department store, which seemed to have supplied everyone with everything for upward of fifty years, was flattened.

Swansea Libraries collected memories of the WW2 from residents, and these can be seen on on the BBC website, including seeing bombers overhead and Swansea ablaze, wardens' memories of the bomb that hit Swansea Museum, and trying to get people into shelters.

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