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The Manchester Blitz (also known as the Christmas Blitz) was the heavy bombing of the city of Manchester and its surrounding areas in North West England during the Second World War by the Nazi German Luftwaffe. Manchester was an important inland port and industrial city during the war, and Trafford Park in neighbouring Stretford was a major centre of war production.
Air raids began in August 1940, and in September 1940 the Palace Theatre on Oxford Street was bombed. The heaviest raids occurred on the nights of 22/23 and 23/24 December 1940, killing an estimated 684 people and injuring 2,364. Manchester Cathedral, the Royal Exchange and the Free Trade Hall were among the large buildings damaged. On the night of 22/23 December, 270 aircraft dropped 272 tons of high explosive and 1,032 incendiary bombs; on the second night, 171 aircraft dropped another 195 tons of high explosive and 893 incendiaries. After the bombings, Nazi propaganda declared that the entire city had been burned to the ground.
Neighbouring Salford and Stretford were also badly damaged by the bombing. It is estimated that over 215 people were killed and 910 injured in Salford, and over 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Seventy-three were killed in Stretford, and many more were injured. The following month Old Trafford was hit during an air raid that lasted 3 hours. In June 1941 German bombs damaged the original Salford Royal Hospital on Chapel Street (A6), killing 14 nurses.
On 11 March 1941, Old Trafford football stadium, the home of Manchester United F.C., was hit by a bomb aimed at the industrial complex of Trafford Park, wrecking the pitch and demolishing the stands. The stadium was rebuilt after the end of the war and re-opened in 1949, until which time United played at Manchester City's Maine Road.
In June 1941, German bombs damaged the police headquarters. Manchester continued to be bombed by the Luftwaffe throughout the war, and was in some danger of being hit by V-1 flying bombs. On Christmas Eve 1944 the Germans launched flying bombs at Manchester; the attack failed but 27 people in neighbouring Oldham were killed by a stray bomb. The city was beyond the range of the V-2 rockets.