THE people of Southampton found themselves in the front line of battle during the Second World War for what must have seemed like an eternity

German bombers hit Southampton hard and cruelly delivered death and destruction to the local communities.

Loved ones were killed, homes destroyed and familiar areas razed to the ground.

But despite these testing times of grief and hardship, the people remained unbowed.

Determination, courage, and – above all – an obstinate will to carry on and see the war through, were the order of the day 80 years ago.

Southampton, with its docks and natural harbour,factories,military installations and geographically important position in defending the nation was crucial to the war effort – a fact that had not escaped the German high command in Berlin.

After its defeat in the skies over the south coast during the Battle of Britain, a frustrated Third Reich decided on a different tactic by trying to break the spirit of Britain’s civilian population with a blitzkrieg of bombing.

Although there had been earlier raids, the most savage attack on Southampton came on the nights of November 30 and December 1, 1940.

The weekend of heavy bombing left 137 people dead (of a total of 637 air raid fatalities for the whole war) and some 1,169 homes in ruins.

Landmark premises like Pirelli’s, the Ordnance Survey office, the Daily Echo building and the General Motors factory were wrecked too.

Main churches like St Mary’s, St Luke’s, Holyrood, St James’s and All Saints were also destroyed.

The town and its people were left shocked and unsure of their surroundings, much of which was levelled in the air raids.

The Daily Echo played a significant role during those dark days by keeping people informed, rallying enthusiasm, and – by the very fact of appearing every day, without missing an edition – proving that life would go on despite the odds.

Through a special 52-page commemorative book, the Daily Echo recalls the courage, tenacity, and sheer doggedness of Southampton and its people of eight decades ago and the legacy from that time which has shaped the city of today.

The Blitz of Southampton Remembered can be purchased for £2.95 from selected shops across the region or for £4 ordered online, which includes postage and packaging, at or by phone on 0800 731 4900.