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Joshua Mulholland's War Childhood in Belfast

by Big Yellow Bus

Contributed by 
Big Yellow Bus
People in story: 
Joshua Mulholland
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
25 January 2005

This story was input by Campbell Lawley of BBC Northern Ireland's 'Big Yellow Bus' on behalf of Joss Mulholland, the author. The author understands and accepts the terms and conditions of the site.

I was born in 1932 and was about seven years old when I heard the news that war had broken out. We thought it a bit of a joke and at our age were running about playing we’re at war and we’re going to shoot the Germans, we’ll beat the Germans. Little did we know what we were in for. When rationing came out it was desperate, we were only allowed a so many sweets a week. My mother could only eat good butter and not margarine, and as the allowance was only two ounces a week this was saved for my mother. We even took the cream off the top of milk and made our own butter.
When the bombings came it was much harder, you never knew when you would get a nights sleep. I lived in Hanover Street and one night during the blitz the air raid sirens went off late. As we heard a bang we ran out in to Hanover Street and I was standing looking down Unity Street with people running towards us and the housing falling down on top of them. The sirens then started and we ran down to the air raid shelter and we were only there about five minutes when the fire wardens came looking for the key of our house as an incendiary bomb had gone right through the roof of our house and destroyed it.
There were six in our family and luckily for us my Grandfather lived in the same street and he took us in to live with him and an aunt. Later my aunt got married to a solider from the Royal Ulster Rifles and she moved into accommodation in the army camp.
The blitz in and around Carlisle Circus where I lived caused an awful lot of devastation. Trinity Church was bombed one night and at the back of us Eglinton and Carlisle Street was practically wiped out, with a torpedo they reckoned. I remember standing watching them digging people out of the rubble.
At the corner of Jackson and Hudson Street there was a margarine factory that got bombed. Walking around the area after the factory had been bombed the streets were like glass with all the melted margarine and we were slipping all over the place. We used to go down to the air raid shelter at Gallagher’s and stay all night, some nights we would go down even if there was no raid. I remember one night during a raid we came out of the house and my young brother who had been sitting on the window sill was missing. My Mother was in a state as we thought he was lost. What had happened was that during raids some people used to take to the hills beyond the Falls area and someone had lifted him to go with them.
I got a job delivering papers on the Antrim Road with John Crispen. We delivered papers as far up as the Lansdowne Road. There were a lot of British and American service personnel living in houses around there and we used to get sweets off the Americans and when we got back to our street the other kids would ask us where we got the chocolate bars because you just couldn’t get sweets. We also got oranges from them which were hard to come by.
I remember I use to deliver papers to Sir Harry Mulholland’s house on the Somerton Road. He had a big orchard with soft apples. The wasps used to eat at the apples and he used to give me bags of the apples which I took home to cut out the bits the wasps had been at. The apples were beautiful and it was a luxury to get them.
I used to go to Whitla Street school, but it was bombed the same night as Trinity Church and I was moved to St Enoch’s. In 1943 they asked school children to collect books for our troops. They gave out ranks to each school child depending on the amount of books you collected. You started off as a Lance Corporal and could get right up to field Marshall. As I was delivering papers up and around the Antrim Road I was able to collect lots of books from the people of that area and it wasn’t long before I achieved the rank of Field Marshall. As far as I can remember I was the only Field Marshal from St Enoch’s school.
After the war there was a party held in the Ulster Hall Belfast for the Field marshals and we got presented with certificates.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - hanover street

Posted on: 03 January 2006 by jimmymiff

my mother is from hanover street her name was mary rooney she was the only girl inthe family.She had four brothers/jim ,patrick,micheal & bernard. Iread joss mullholland"sbit about hanover street and i would like too know if he knew her and my uncles.

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