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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Memories of Belfast

by Libraries

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Thomas Mageean.
Location of story: 
Northern Ireland
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 February 2004

The day war was declared I was an alter boy in church. And I remember seeing the newspaper headlines saying “War Declared”. I didn’t see the start of the war as an exciting time, but instead a time when I feared for mine and my family’s lives. News was broadcast all the time with special news broadcasts on the radio. The public were kept informed by the newspapers.

I remember the Blitz very well… the first night I was very excited, the skies would be filled with the sound of German bombers and the sky would be lit up with the flashes from the bombs being dropped. But immediately my excitement was replaced with fear as I saw the full extent of the damage the bombers caused. It was an eerie sight to see Belfast burning with flames. One I’ll never forget. People were frightened and some moved from the city to the country in the weeks that followed. I was going on a train to Ardglass and it was packed with people trying to get away. I was born and bred in the Short Strand. I later moved to London and then the U.S.A. I now live in North Belfast.

I use to listen to Hitler’s speeches on the radio; I couldn’t understand the German language but I understood the ferocity of the German voice. One day German planes were flying above Belfast skies and the planes made a Nazi swastika sign with the smoke, almost as if they were marking their territory .

Times may have moved on and some people forget what happened. They don’t realise what the people in Northern Ireland experienced during the war. I may have moved on to a new life but the memories will always stay with me of those days in Belfast.

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