Liverpool was probably the most important wartime mercantile port, the destination of many convoys from America. It was also easy to locate by air, with the lights of Dublin burning across the Irish Sea. It had already received much attention from the Luftwaffe. On the night of the 28th November one direct hit on a shelter at Durning Street had killed at least 166 people, see Liverpool Remembrance.
There were intense raids on Liverpool on the nights of the 21st and 22nd December, killing an estimated 345 people. The Home Security Situation report for the week recorded:
The Liverpool area was strongly attacked on the night of the 20th-21st December, and an even more severe attack followed the next night, when a concentration appears to have been made on the Docks area. On the night 22nd-23rd, some bombs were again dropped in Liverpool, Bootle and Birkenhead.
(a) Docks.—Damage to warehouses and storage sheds at the Docks has been serious, with considerable losses—the latest estimate of which has not as yet been made—of tobacco, cotton and timber. Substantial damage to shipping has also been reported, two ships being sunk and ten others damaged. Although nine docks suffered various degrees of damage and seventeen berths are stated to be out of commission, it is reported that, generally speaking, the working of the Port has not been seriously affected.
(b) Industry.—Serious damage was done to food-factories, production being stopped at Spiller’s Flour Mills and Paul Bros. Flour Mills, both at Birkenhead, while Hutehinson’s Flour Mills were also damaged. Considerable damage was also done at Tate and Lyle’s sugar refinery. Seven other key points, including the Wallasey Gas Works, were hit, but no serious damage resulted.
(c) Public Services.—Damage to main services was considerable, electricity in particular suffering by a fire at the Highfield Street sub-station.
(d) Communications.—Altogether 15 hits were registered in the railway system, the cumulative effect of which reacted seriously on the working of the lines, while tranrvray services and road traffic were badly dislocated, particularly in the centre of the city.
See TNA CAB/66/14/22