I at age 3 along with my Mother 2 brothers and
sister were left homeless after a bomb hit our house
my Mother was hurt and taken to the hospital,us children
ranging in age from 3to 8 were left on our own and wandered
the street, until we were picked up by some US soldiers
and taken to a refugee camp ,where we stayed until 1944
until my Mother died ,my father was in the fire service
at the time . we were fostered to an elderly couple
in Portadown, I was very sick and was admitted to Belfast
Chidrens hospital for almost 2 years ,recovering from
My Father was not heard from .
I have no idea which street we lived on my name is Colin
,my brothers were Barry, Brian and sister was Stella,
my Mothers name was Agnes ,here family were the Galweys
from Portadown, and I have just in the past couple of
years found some relatives. If you have any information
that you can share, would be most happy
- C Lewis
Both my grandparents an aunt and two uncles, young
children at the time, were killed in the Percy Street
raid. My father and his younger sister surived. Can
anyone give me any information about them. Their names
are William and Mary Guy daughter Doreen sons Percy
and Sidney. My parents did not meet until four years
later and my father rarely talked about them. I would
be grateful if anyone can tell me anything about them.
- Doreen Beare
"My great grandmother, Mary Jane Mells, was
killed in the Percy street air raid shelter. My father,
William Mells , stayed in his grandmothers house, granny
Thomson, in Beverly st. His father, William, was an
air raid warden. Does anybody have any info?"
- Stephen Mells
"People often ask if
you can remember where you were when J.F. Kennedy was
assassinated. I can - in a pub in Hampstead, London
around 7.20pm. Similarly, I can remember when Chamberlain
announced the beginning of WW2. I was standing on a
hilly, stoney path called Laurel Hill just off the Ballynahinch/Drumbo
Road in in the very rural Carryduff of the day. We lived
in an unpicturesque damp thatched cottage that belonged
to a farmer called Jim `King' Kelly. My father was unemployed.
We had a battery/accumulator wireless (to call it a
radio was to be sophisticated then) and he had just
heard it on the news. His only comment was that a war
might bring jobs. It did. Fast forward and we are now
living in a better house near the Killynure Road/Ballynahinch
Road. My father is working in the shipyard again. Soon
afterwards he is bringing home reports of having seen
German reconnaissance planes over the shipyard and of
a particular one sweeping so low over the Musgrave Channel
Road that he saw the pilot. Then the air raids started
and a large part of the shipyard was damaged and one
night he brought back home part of the green silk cord
belonging to a parachute that had slowly let down a
mine to devastate one of the gantries. The nightshift
Fire Watch had seen the parachute descending and thought
it was German pilot bailing out so one of them ran towards
it with the idea of capturing him and was killed by
I wondered if the plane that did that had flown
over our house. My mother was about to give birth in
1941 when I was nine years old. My father had called
the midwife from Comber by knocking up Mr Anderson,
who owned a quarry nearby, and asking to use his phone.
By this time we could hear the German planes passing
overhead. Shortly afterwards there were seven explosions
as a plane dropped its bombs on Belfast. My sisters
and me were allowed out of bed to look at the glow over
Belfast, seven miles away. When the midwife arrived
she said the planes were dropping - what she called
- flaming onions on Comber. Flares. My father tried
to assure her that they wouldn't waste bombs on Comber
as it was too small. This really annoyed her. Even at
that age I thought this must be the bravest woman I
had ever met - she had come all the way in her Austin
Seven in the pitch black by narrow secondary roads with
blackout shields on the headlamps that only threw out
a pencil-thick light. My father and I was told by the
midwife to stand outside the house while the birth took
place. Standing outside in the chilly air we could hear
the German bombers going overhead quite clearly. The
engines slowly gave off a high note followed by a low
note much like the petrol-driven Belfast to Ballynahinch
bus climbing what used to be called The-Three-Mile-Hill
that ran from Newtownbreda to Purdysburn. Their flight
seemed just as leisurely. The rumours later was that
the RAF fighter pilots had been at a party and were
too drunk to intercept them. People seemed to prefer
that improbable version rather than feel they weren't
being protected. My father thought that if the bombers
were challenged they might drop their bombs anywhere
in order to lighten the plane and escape. On Carryduff?...
My three young sisters were allowed to stay indoors.
It was a still birth and the midwife took the dead baby
away with her.
On the second German air raid a couple of weeks
later one ack-ack gun was firing at the planes from
the Killynure Road/Ballynahinch Road junction. That
was fifty yards from where we lived. The house shook
with each shell fired and slates came sliding off the
roof. My father, with the cheek of the devil, went out
to tell the gun crew they shouldn't be so near the houses
but he was soon back saying a revolver had been pointed
at him. No German planes had been brought down. The
only causalilty of the shelling was a shipyard joiner
my father knew. He had come out to the front door to
watch and was killed by a piece of shrapnel falling
to earth from one of the shells from the ack-ack gun.
During the next few weeks during the night you
would hear the sound of feet in the still air. It would
grow louder and louder. Hundreds, maybe thousands of
people, including children, were walking the roads out
of Belfast and looking for places to stay the night.
Our house was crammed full of people for weeks on end.
Some people were even camping in our garden. The ditches
nearby had whole families clinging to each other for
warmth. After that the evacuation of children to the
countryside began. Whole buses of them passed our door
continuously with the children holding souvenirs of
the raids - bomb parts, heavy German plane machine-gun
shells. The Northern Ireland Transport Board were short
of buses so they borrowed numbers of them from England.
It was a novelty to ride in a blue Yorkshire bus for
example. Others had Blackpool and other English cities
written on the sides. It made us feel like cosmopolitans.
Air raid precautions were practised in Belfast
after that. One was the burning of hundreds of barrels
of tar mixed with oil and branches of trees. That was
to make a smokescreen to blot out targets the German
pilots wanted to see. But the smoke blotted out the
most of the Ormeau Road during daylight. There was a
huge pall of smoke over the city for days afterwards.
As children we watched it from a distance from our school
in Clontonacally which was on high ground. We also saw
a few barrage balloons riding the skies over the city.
This was supposed to stop German planes from coming
down too low. Of course it was all too late and besides
most people knew it was easy enough for a plane to machine-gun
a balloon. At our school we had lectures and drills
on what to do if enemy planes appeared over our school
- hug the walls and make for the air raid shelter. Then
there were the gasmasks to be worn in case of poisinous
gas being dropped. To wear them for five minutes was
to suffer suffocation. Anyway, as children, we entered
into the spirit of things and devised war games of our
own. Climbing trees with stones to bomb one another
was one game. We devised dozens of them. In our innocence
war could be fun."
- Wilson John Haire
"As a wee boy of six, I along with my father
Big John and my brother Billy lived in my grandmothers
house, in Templemore Avenue off the Newtownards Road.
On the night of the 3rd raid we took off for the hills
up Castlereagh Road. Our house was devastated along
with the public library across the street and several
streets beyond that.
Ironically, my Aunt & Uncle, Madge & Jim
Beattie, along with their three kids, Wee Jim, Anna
and Lil, who had taken over our old house, on Tamar
Street off Dee Street, in 1938 after my mothers death,
all went into a shelter along with another family. A
land mine landed nearby and exploded. All the females
survived and all the males died as a result of the blast.
After this lot our family was evacuated to relatives
in Carryduff, then to Bangor and finally back to East
Belfast in 1945."
- John Shannon.
(Retired and living in Toronto, Canada)
"My father was a curate,at this
time,in East Belfast,and he told me of his parish being
almost destroyed with the first bombing raids,and also
of taking shelter under the kitchen table............most
of his parishoners ran into open fields and spent the
night in ditches."
- Carol Griffith
"My Parents came from the Whitewell
area which suffered badly during the blitz, and as a
young boy I remember my Father telling me about seeing
parachute mines dropping around the Throne Hospital.
My friends and I used to play in this huge crater just
behind the hospital, not realising it had been made
by one of the mines! I've often wondered if the crater
is sill there."
Tuesday 1941, school was closed for the Easter holiday
and we children were free to play all day at the various
street games which were so popular at that time. No
one I knew went away for holidays at Easter and especially
not now when war was raging throughout Europe."
- Ruth McCart
Read Ruth's full story...
grandmother told me that an incendiary bomb fell across
the road from her house in Mashona Street (East Belfast).
Luckily (for her and me) it didn't go off - my father
hadn't even been born by that stage!
- Alan McBride
the raids over belfast we had to run to the falls park
or dunville park in the middle of the night. I was 9
years old and you knew deep down that something terrible
was going to happen. We would have to hurry and get
dressed and once my mother turned and went back home
to get her fox fur collar. we also took cover in clonard
monastry and i to hear the monks singing in the distance,
very moving and haunting sounds whilst the bombs dropped
am the only surviving member of my family who lived
through the Percy Street raid. My father, Thomas Harvey,
was killed and received the Defence Medal. My mother
and aunt were wounded, our house destroyed. My mother
was allowed out of the hospital (in borrowed clothes)
to bury my father. I was 5 years old when he was killed.
- Mildred Thompson
regiment was stationed at the Pollock dock in Belfast.
We were sited between the Harland & Wolff Shipyard and
the "Ark Royal" aircraft carrier, which was in dock
for repair. During the night of the Belfast Blitz the
loud throbbing of a great number of aircraft overhead
- Frank Johnston (Royal Artillery)
Read Frank's full story...
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