Baedeker Raids on York
The Baedeker Raids took place in World War Two, and were raids by the German air force on numerous cities in Britain in retaliation for the British bombing of Lubeck and Cologne. The raids got their name as the cities were chosen from the Baedeker Guide, a tourist guide to historic Britain, and it was thought that damaging these important cultural cities would damage the British morale.
Raids on British cities as part of the Luftwaffe bombings were primarily Exeter, Bath, Norwich, York and Canterbury. The bombings in York took place on the 28th April 1942, and were aimed to cause destruction to the centre of the city. The York authorities had seen that Exeter, Bath and Norwich had already been bombed, and were partly expecting a similar air raid in York, so had been able to take some extra precautions. The bombings started in the morning at around 2.30am and lasted for nearly two hours, with nearly one hundred dead and many more injured.
In the raids, the largest building casualty was the Guildhall. Also badly damaged was the church of St Martin le Grand, the old Rowntree’s warehouse on North Street, numerous Georgian houses, there was minor damage to many buildings such as the Yorkshire Museum, and buildings such as the Mansion House and the Assembly Rooms were saved only by the alert fire-watchers.
The damage to the Guildhall was visited soon after the bombings by the Princess Royal, and the building was rebuilt after the War, keeping as much as possible of the original building.