Swansea was selected as a legitimate target due to its importance as a port and docks and the oil refinery just beyond and its destruction was key to Nazi German war efforts as part of their strategic bombing campaign aimed at crippling coal export and demoralising civilians and emergency services.
The first air raid on Swansea was early on the morning of 27 June 1940, at 3.30 am. On the last night of the '3 nights blitz', the air raid sirens sounded at 7.50 pm - the start of a raid that lasted for five hours.
Incendiary bombs as well as high explosives were dropped over Swansea and the town centre was engulfed in flames. The 17th century grammar school that had stood on Mount Pleasant Hill since 1851 and was the alma mater of Dylan Thomas, Roy Jenkins and Bryan Phillips, took a direct hit and was severely damaged. The science laboratories, gymnasium and workshops survived however and, in keeping with the spirit of the time, teaching was soon resumed for older boys by using rooms in what had been the headmaster's house. Younger boys were relocated to a nearby vacant 'deaf-and-dumb' school building which had evacuated its pupils to the country. This hurriedly improvised arrangement endured until 1949. The headmaster, J. Gray Morgan, was largely responsible for this effort to avoid disrupted schooling but never received appropriate recognition. Hundreds of residents were killed or injured that night and the glow of the fires was seen 75 miles way in Fishguard.
Under The Stairs is a folk song written by Huw Pudner and Chris Hastings. Its subject is the bombing raid on Swansea and the birth of a baby 'under the stairs' during the middle of the raid. 535660
- Swansea Blitz feature on Youtube
- Memories of a female Warden of the blitz (BBC Wales)
- Scars of the blitz remain (BBC Wales)
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