What Was The Damage And What Caused It?
There are a number of sources of information about what was bombed and what the damage was, but they do not match exactly. Similarly, there are different estimates of the types of bomb used and the numbers of them, and these show differences too.
The count of the number of bombs will never be exact. Apart from the loss of the first raid records, there would have been some failures to report bombs that fell. It is known that some High Explosive bombs fell into the River Avon and sunk into the mud beneath without exploding. Because there was no explosion, there was no visible damage, so it is not known exactly how many there were, or what size they were. Unexploded bombs in the streets were made safe by Bomb Disposal teams. They counted how many they dealt with (a total of 83) but did not record the size of these bombs. Some residents have claimed that Bomb Disposal teams dug for some unexploded bombs but did not find them.
It is thought that not all residents reported the incendiaries that fell into gardens or other open spaces and burned out without causing damage.
It is virtually impossible, 60 years or so after the event, to completely reconcile such differences. Bath's Civil Defence organisation tried to keep records as incidents were reported to them, but their headquarters was hit on the first night and all their records of the incidents in the first raid were destroyed. They tried to recover the total figures as accurately as they could, but the separate figures of what had happened in which raid on the first night were never reconstructed.
The Ministry of Home Security collected information immediately after the raids, assembling information from many local reporting points. These figures included estimates of the size of each bomb, based on the amount of damage that they caused. However, their estimates of unexploded bombs do not match the numbers dealt with by the Bomb Disposal Squad, and their count of bombs depended on all reporting points having accurate figures amidst the chaos of the immediate aftermath when fires still burned and roads were blocked by rubble or unexploded bombs. They marked the bombs reported to them on their maps, but these locations were marked according to the street addresses given, rather than pinpointing exact positions. Some locations they did not find, because they did not have the latest map, and some streets built just before the war were not shown. Clearly, they did not go away with exact figures. However, the figures that they did collect have survived in Government archives and have informed the calculations on this web site.
After the war, records from the German Air Force were made available to historians. These included reconnaissance photographs and details of what bombs were loaded on which planes. Because some of these planes dropped their bombs over Bristol and Chippenham and some of the villages surrounding Bath, it is clear that not every bomb intended for Bath landed there. What we don't know is which planes went astray, so we can't say for sure how many of the bombs, loaded into planes according to the Luftwaffe records, did not land on Bath.
After the raids, the Bath City Engineer's Department conducted a survey of all damaged buildings, and marked on the map where each bomb landed, but made no estimate of the size of the bomb, and there is some evidence that where two bombs landed close together, only one crater was recorded. The map does not clearly distinguish between High Explosive bombs and Incendiaries that destroyed buildings. The reports that the City Engineer submitted to Bath City Council have survived in the Guildhall archives and have informed this web site.
There was no exact count of the number of bombs that fell. But when all this information was analysed together, as it has been in the years since the war, it was possible to estimate fairly accurately what bombs fell on Bath. In the Bomb Types section are detailed facts and figures about the bombs.
The majority of bombs dropped were either 500Kg or 250Kg, and these two sizes made up three quarters of the high explosive bombs that fell on Bath.
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