Seventy years ago, Exeter was given its first taste of the start of the Exeter blitz. You could say the initial air raids on the 23rd and 25th April were a rehearsal for the final attack on May 4th. In all more than 265 people in the city lost their lives.
The Exeter Blitz Project has recorded the eye witness accounts of more than 20 survivors. One woman in her nineties, Vera from Topsham, recalled how she went looking for her sister's husband (who was a warden) in the ruins of the city centre. It was the same day as a visit by King George. The Queen spotted her looking and called The King over who said he was sorry for her. Vera remembers his stammer.
The survivors were all ordinary people living through extraordinary times . They all expressed shock at the immediate aftermath and many were saddened by the loss of some of the cities finest buildings including Deller's tea room. Many feel the spirit in which communities pulled together has been lost since the war. You can read more about the blitz of 1942 here.
The attacks on Exeter in April were said to be the first of the Baedeker raids, named after the German tourist guidebook which named Exeter as one of England's finest cities alongside Bath, Canterbury and Norwich which suffered similar bombardments.
The accounts have been recorded for a play to be performed at the Bikeshed theatre from 2nd May for two weeks. A documentary will also be produced at a later date as many of the accounts were filmed by a production company.