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15 October 2014
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Messines Park, Londonderry is bombed

by BBC Radio Foyle

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Contributed by 
BBC Radio Foyle
People in story: 
Georgie Hunt
Location of story: 
Derry, Northern ireland
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A7897297
Contributed on: 
19 December 2005

Derry only suffered one bombing raid in 6 years of war - which was remarkable given the strategic importance of the city during the war. The battle of the Atlantic was co-ordinted from the port city but on the night the lnd mines dropped on messines - it was a sad night

I was over 40 years in Messines Park.
Apparently it was a German aircraft flew over. It was a landmine he dropped. And if it had fallen in the soft part of the gardens, it wouldn’t have done so much damage. But it hit the tarred road. Right in the Buncrana road, it was. Where Collins’ pub was. The house, it was a block of 4. They were all blocks of 2, but these was 4 in the bottom. And the man and his daughter was killed in this one, and the man next door was out in the garden, watching the plane. And he was killed. And then the next family — father and mother and the young child, I think it might have been 4 in there. And the next family, a father and mother and young baby and a boy was killed. But then, we didn’t know that had happened. Because we had a Legion Hall, a British legion Hall there. And it was turned into a canteen, because the British Army was up in Belmount. There was no houses there, it was Army huts. And you had Springtown was a camp for the Americans.
And the women came up and cooked a meal for them at nights, and they had a fire to come in and sit by, and they had the billiards and darts. And they used to have wee dances. And that Easter Tuesday, there was a dance that night til 1am. And my mother always did her spring cleaning the Easter Monday-Tuesday. I was working, for we were off the 2 days. And we were cleaning our house from top to bottom. Mattresses was took downstairs and put in the garden. What for, I just don’t know. Had to be all took back in again. And we were tired. To get out that night, cycle up to the dance. And we were having the grandest time. I’ll never forget it. They were playing “The Grand Old Duke of York”.
We were doing that dance, and all of a sudden this big bang, and all the dust was all coming down from the roof. No lights or nothing. Everybody screamed. We didn’t know what it was. We’d have never thought it was a bomb. There was panic with everybody in the dark. And the next thing, there was a rattling at the door. It was my father, he had come up to get us. And we come up - the bottom of our street was on fire. The gas had gone up. All the curtains in the windows, we never had a window left. No doors. We had nothing. No water, no gas, no light. No power we had to stay light that all night til the morning. And the Red Cross came round, with tea and all in the morning for us. And then we had to go over to the Waterside, over to the country to my aunt to sleep for a couple of nights. We couldn’t sleep in our own bed, because everything was glass.
It was quite a night. It was a very sad night, all that loss of life and we knew them so well. The people that lost their lives. It’s amazing.
My mother was there, and my younger brother. In fact, she was standing out in the garden. She could have been killed. If you’d have seen the pieces of shrapnel that was lying in our garden — we should have kept them as souvenirs. You didn’t then think in that way.

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