An estimated 568 people were killed in the raid (the exact figure was never precisely confirmed), with another 863 badly injured and 393 sustaining lesser injuries. Given the intensity of the raid, casualties were limited by the fact that a large number of Coventrians "trekked" out of the city at night to sleep in nearby towns or villages following the earlier air raids. Also, people who took to air raid shelters suffered very little death or injury. Out of 79 public air raid shelters holding 33,000 people, very few had been destroyed.

    The raid reached such a new and severe level of destruction that Joseph Goebbels later used the term coventriert ("coventried") when describing similar levels of destruction of other enemy towns. During the raid, the Germans dropped about 500 tonnes of high explosives, including 50 parachute air-mines, of which 20 were incendiary petroleum mines, and 36,000 incendiary bombs.

Rumors have swirled for decades that the UK Government knew about the bombing having just recently cracked the German codes, and let the bombing happen so as to not tip off the Germans

    But was Sir Winston really such a utilitarian - the philosophical term given to those who strive to bring about the greatest gain for the greatest number, even though that means making painful sacrifices?

    Or is the explanation far more mundane than the conspiracy theorists believe - that Mr Churchill and his advisors were just as much in the dark about the Germans' Operation Moonlight Sonata as the people who spent the night cowering in their shelters?

posted by francopoli: 248 days ago