The first air raid strike in York during took place on 11th August 1940, when 69 houses were damaged, one of just 11 air strikes which took place on York during the Second World War.
As part of the German raids on historic British cities, also known as the Baedeker Raids, York was targeted, with a major raid on 29th April 1942. In this raid 71 people were killed, including five sisters at St. Mary’s Convent in Micklegate. The Guildhall was also badly damaged, and St. Martin-le-Grand Church on Coney Street caught fire and was partially destroyed. The church was later partially rebuilt in the 1960s and a memorial in the church reads “1939 – 1945, Father Forgive”, with a decision made to also mention the men who served in the German Air Force in the Book of Remembrance.
Betty’s Cafe was popular amongst foreign airmen, primarily from the United States and Canada, and in the basement of this cafe there is “Betty’s Mirror” where the servicemen scratched their name onto one of their large mirrors. This well-known local cafe is still open and the mirror is still intact.
There are a number of war memorials marking the loss of life, including at Acomb Green on Station Road, at Dean’s Park and at Heslington Hall.