The Genoa Blitz

14/01/2016 09:26

Written by Rosie Whitehouse

The British naval bombardment of Genoa in February 1941 sank or damaged 20 warships, killing 144 people and wounding 272. The state-controlled Italian press attempted to cover up what had happened but the local paper, Il Secolo XIX, broke ranks, publishing a collective letter accusing the Fascist authorities of cheating the people, which fuelled the anger felt in the city.

The bombing of Genoa in October 1941 showed for the first time how close the home front was to collapse. Areas with no bomb shelters saw popular revolts, and protesters, mainly women, forced their way into the private shelters of the upper classes by throwing stones. At the end of 1942, such protests became more widespread and hundreds of families were living in the tunnels in the city centre. During a particularly rainy period, one overcrowded shelter flooded causing scenes of panic, which soon turned into angry protests against the war.

From the very first bombing operations in Italy, RAF planes crossing the Alps were welcomed by the sight of Milan and Genoa fully illuminated. Non-compliance with the blackout was common.

This video might just give an idea of what it was like to be in Genoa during the Second World War.

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