From the moment the air raid sirens sounded on the morning of September 3, 1939, Brighton and Hove was on the front line of the Second World War.

Until early 1944, high explosive bombs, incendiaries and land mines rained down on the city. Scores of innocent civilians lost their lives.

Yet throughout all the carnage the spirit of the people was never broken. The city endured great hardship because it knew the cause was right.

Bill Gardner finds out the stories behind we recall the terrifying years when Brighton and Hove faced its sternest test – and provide a map which shows where the bombs fell.

NO ONE was safe from the deadly bombs that showered down on Brighton and Hove during the Blitz.

Nearly 200 men, women and children lost their lives 1940 and 1944 as Nazi warplanes waged a campaign of terror.

Bombers regularly dropped their payloads onto the city while fighter planes strafed the streets with machine gun fire.

Three attacks in particular became notorious for the devastation they left behind.

The first was on the Odeon cinema in Kemp Town on the afternoon of September 14, 1940, when a single raider scored a direct hit.

Families had gathered to watch the afternoon matinee when the bomb crashed through the roof and exploded near the screen.

There were 53 deaths that day, including many children.

George Aitchison wrote later in the book Brighton and Hove in Battledress of that terrible autumn: “Not many nights were unbroken by the crash of bombs, the cry of the injured and the rush of rescuers.

“Flying low by day, the raiders would suddenly appear as a wave would rise in a choppy sea, drop their bombs in the hope of hitting something vital, serve round and be out of sight almost as their bombs exploded.”

In March 1943, a bomb hit the child welfare centre at Sussex Street, killing three children and injuring expectant mothers.

Two months later, 25 German planes attacked Brighton at noon, dropping bombs and machine gunning people in the streets, including children on their way home from school.

There were 24 deaths including two boys and two policemen.

Brighton suffered 56 raids between July 1940 and March 1944. Official records show 381 high-explosive bombs were dropped, killing 198 people, seriously injuring 357 and slightly injuring 433.

Around 200 buildings were destroyed and 15,000 damaged.

In Hove, 89 bombs and three parachute mines were dropped, killing 19 people and seriously injuring 153.

These official figures cannot convey the terror and anguish experienced by those who lived through the war years.

Among the buildings damaged during the war were Preston Barracks, Tamplin’s brewery in Brighton, shops in Western Road, Hove, schools at Whitehawk, the railway works, Preston parish church and Hannington’s department store.

Another bomb hit a gasholder at Black Rock, sending spectacular flames more than 300 feet into the sky.

See The Argus's maps showing where the bombs fell across Brighton and Hove during the war.