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The First Night of the Belfast Blitz

by Big Yellow Bus

Contributed by 
Big Yellow Bus
People in story: 
Pat Dykes
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 November 2004

This story was input by Robbie Meredith of BBC Northern Ireland's 'Big Yellow Bus' on behalf of Pat Dykes, the author. The author understands and accepts the terms and conditions of the site.

I can remember the first night bombs fell on Belfast. My father had passed away not long before, so it was a traumatic year for us as a family. We lived just off the Grosvenor Road near the centre of Belfast, and when we heard the sirens we left the house to go to the air raid shelters, which were in the fields near Roden Street.

It was a terrifying experience, but the shelters were very basic, so we just came home and sheltered as a family as best we could in the house. We gathered close and held each other - me, my mother and my brothers and sisters. We had the blackout curtains in the house and everything, but we were still terrified. We tried to shelter under the staircase as we thought that it might be the safest place in the house.

It was a strange experience the next day. It was all anyone in the street talked about, but although the bombing was going on at night, people tried to live as normally as possible during the day, going about their normal business, getting on with their lives. Myself and my two older brothers tried to support our mother by trying to make sure that my younger brother and sisters were as calm as possible.

The war was difficult for us all. As I was fifteen I stayed in Belfast with my mother to go to work, but my younger brother and sisters were evacuated to the country. It's difficult to explain now just what it was like living in the city at the time. The bombing didn't happen nightly, but for a year or two you went to bed not knowing what might happen during the night.

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