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16 October 2014
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The Belfast Blitz

Few people believed there was much chance of Belfast being bombed. They were very wrong.

Belfast Blitz

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Easter Tuesday, 15 April 1941:
180 German bombers fly over the Irish sea
  
   
 
10.40pm :
Sirens sound. Ground crews man anti-aircraft guns. Hurricanes take to the skies to defend Belfast
   
Hundreds of flares illuminate the night sky
 
   
 
Crowds flock to the safety of shelters + into the hills around Belfast
   
Incendiaries, high explosive bombs and parachute mines rain down on the city. Full force falls on residential areas north of the city centre: New Lodge, Lower Shankill and Antrim Road
 
   
 
76 landmines drift down attached to parachutes intending to tear apart the concrete and steel factories. Over half fall in residential areas: Vandyk Gardens and Veryan Gardens are decimated - over 130 homes are destroyed
   
York Street Mill is sliced in two. As it collapses it crushes 42 houses and damages 21 others
 
   
 
Hundreds of terrified residents flee down the Whitewell Road looking for shelter but finding none. 170 are injured, 46 fatally
   
Midnight:
Two parachute mines fall near Buncrana Road, Derry killing 15 people and leaving 150 homeless
 
   
 
1am:
Newtownards Aerodrome is targeted. 10 guards are killed. 14 bombs hit Bangor killing 5 and injuring 35
   
Bombs continue to fall in Belfast. A shelter in Percy St is hit, killing 30 people
 
   
 
1.45am:
Bomb takes out Central telephone exchange. Belfast loses contact with anti-aircraft operations control
   
Without the advice of the ops room Belfast's anti-aircraft guns fall silent for fear of hitting "friendly" Hurricanes. Unaware Fighter Command had already withdrawn the Hurricanes
 
   
 
Belfast endures 2 hours of Luftwaffe attacks without fighting back or being defended
   
140 fires rage through Belfast spreading into conflagrations
 
   
 
4.15:
John McDermott phones Sir Basil Brooke to ask permission to request fire engines from Eire
   
4.35am:
De Valera agrees to send fire tenders to North
 
   
 
6.45:
70 men + 13 fire engines from Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Drogheda and Dundalk speed Northwards
   
Dawn breaks but fires rage on and the death toll mounts
 
   
 
City morgue is unable to cope. The dead are laid out in Falls Road, Public Baths and St Georges Market
   
21 April:
The unclaimed bodies are buried in mass graves at the City and Milltown cemeteries
 
   
 
Over 900 people perished under the onslaught of 203 metric tons of bombs and 800 fire bomb canisters
   
German propagandist, Lord Haw Haw, boasts: "The Fuhrer will give you time to bury your dead before the next attack..Tuesday was only a sample
 

See timeline for third raid

See the other sections in this article:

Your Responses

Maurice C Anderson - Feb '07
Interesting article! I was a 3 yr old boy living with my young parents, Billy & Annie Anderson, on Dhu Varren Parade in the Woodvale area of North Belfast. I remember getting a big chocolate Easter egg that year, about the size of a soccer ball, with little yellow chicks on top. During the raids, my parents grabbed me and we crushed under the dining room table!
Next morning, after the 'all clear', I found my egg was shattered in tiny pieces! Nearby houses were flattened and the residents killed.
Some weeks later, my dad loaded up a small lorry with our possessions and we moved out to a little gate lodge at the Rathmore Estate in Dunmurry. (we lived there for the next 18 years!) During the war years, the large mansion on the estate was used by 'Shorts' as their 'Drawing Offices' and other buildings were used by the military. In 1946 they all moved out and the mansion became 'Sacred Heart of Mary Convent and St Anne's chapel started nearby. I remember my protestant parents having many a friendly chat over a cup of tea with the local priest, Father McGee... St Anne's High School has taken over the former estate.
Ah, the war years...as a 69 yr old Canadian now living in Toronto, I will never forget those days!

Rachael Newberry - May '06
G ood website very useful.

 

 

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