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16 October 2014
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The Belfast Blitz

I am the only surviving member of my family who lived through the Percy Street raid...

Belfast Blitz

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"It is in our family memory that in the week Before The Blitz Hitler had made a Statement on The Radio that He would Bomb Belfast etc . Our mother Believed Hitler and directly Got The suitcase Packed it and with all of Us five childer got on the 110 Bus from Smithfield till Duffs Corner Ardboe Tyrone . Heading for her fathers Thatched Cottage on The Western Shores of Lough Neagh, we were lifted by Matt Naill in his Black Car at Drumany Corner and thence till our Kilkay Home.

We were welcomed by My Grandfather and Uncle Barney most warmly. I do remember So. We stayed In evacuation till March Year 1945. Returning on a very frosty day, so cold I believe that there has not been as cold a day Since. My maternal Grandfather had ten and a half acres of land and two acres of wild shore to the water edge. Our Elders fished some on this great lake to supplement food and the small farm income. We were most happy there and on the way to Mullanhoe School we saw The American Soldiers on the Cluntoe Airfield. The British War Department had previously seized my Fathers 18 Acres of Land and Homestead along with some 35 other Family Farms and Homesteads. All razed and hedges and all. They used our collective families stone walls as foundation for the runways for the airplanes.

Daddy stayed in Belfast delivering food etc to small corner shops. He worked for a one horse firm. He visited us at The week ends by same bus. Our house was in the Half Bap Enclave. Edward Street, which was bombed all around but not directly. The germans killed my Father's horse and fatally wounded a black mare. A policeman had to shoot her in the head, dead . Three other horses got loose and there were many horses running free for several days thereafter in Belfast. They were stabled behind hector street what was blasted. Later, in the year 1951 we moved to the Newington Area. I own The old Homestead and The land. We are all growed up and scattered all over." -
Brian F. Hannon

"I was born in Limerick in July 1939. In 1941 I was staying with my granny in Trim in Co. Meath, I wasn't yet two years old.

One evening I heard a very loud droning noise outside the house. I asked granny what that was. "Oh!" she said "That's the German bombers going to bomb Belfast. They have already bombed Dublin. Come on. I'll show you."

So we went outside onto the street. She pointed to a dark cloud in the sky, which was in the direction from which the noise was coming. "The noise is going to get louder and the sky darker" she said.

And sure enough it did. When the noise was at its greatest, the cloud was over our heads. The pale blue sky was clear but for this dark patch.

As I gazed upwards I noticed that the cloud was made up of many, many tiny black crosses. They were very far up and I would now describe them as being the shape of the little metal crosses that used to hold the wick in the sanctuary lap burning in the church.

I can still feel that sense of fear that I had but realise that granny seemed full of confidence that we would not be bombed. This was a lady who abhorred war because her own husband, my grandfather, was killed in the Dardanelles in the Great War, as a British soldier. " - Gerry Kingston

"I was eleven years old when the Blitz arrived on Belfast. Living in the outskirts of the city, we were spared the terrors of actually being bombed-out and in any case my parents naturally sheltered me from the real horrors. Reading this report brings home to me the real-life terror that I was spared - though it was terrifying still, hearing and feeling the bombing and gunfire, it seemed to us that this war was someone else's. By the time I was allowed into the city, things had been fairly well cleared up - only the 'Bomb-Sites' leaving their calling card." - Gerry Hanna

"My dad was a wee boy (b. 1939) when this happened. My granddad was the bomb shelter warden (Jerry Donovan) up the Antrim Road. They had been living in Cranburn St. That house was bombed and Granny got another and was just getting ready to move in when that one was bombed. They used to bring in a mattress to the shelter for my uncle Paul who was an invalid. There was my granddad, my granny, uncle Paul, Aunt Alice, Aunt Chrissie, my daddy and granny was pregnant with Aunt Josephine. The night before the shelter got bombed, my granny's relatives came down from the country and took the family back with them. The next night the shelter was destroyed and everyone killed. I managed to get a photo book called "Bombs over Belfast" and they had a picture of the bomb shelter. So much destruction. My aunts have told me stories about it. I'll have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and get them down for posterity. They remember the events very vividly. There's also a book, Post 182, I believe that goes on about it and they refer (not by name) to my granddad."
- Mary Kathleen Donovan Springowski

"As a small boy, I remember sitting on my Mothers knee in the airaid shelter, situated in Tower St., just off Beechfield St., on the night the "Mines" came down, we were VERY lucky, as the other part of Tower & Westbourne Streets & Templemore Ave., were devastated, with MANY families killed in THEIR airaid shelters, there was "burlap" curtains for doors, which blew in, & of course everyone started to panic & cry, scream etc., my uncle "Herbie", who was a Volinteer Firefighter, was up in the "atic" sleeping, & slept through the raid, I think he must have been so exhausted, he "DIDN'T EVEN HEAR THE WHOLE RAID, of course he was awakened afterwards, & he went to "work" immediately, I remember "MY" uncle Herbie with pride, he looked so "Brialliant" in his Firefighters Uniform, those three Streets were later termed "The wreckage" by all the local kids for many years later, they then built a water tank, between Tower St., & Westbourne Street, we kids used to "Swim" in it, untill we got caught, and recieved a thorough "Spanking"."
- James (Jim) Robinson (Toman family)

"I was working at the Victoria Yard during this period. I was a rivet heater or 'heater boy' as we were called then. I was fifteen years old and can recall the devastation the Air raids caused to the Shipyard and Aircraft Factory and the incendiary bombs landing in the street and our back yard and downtown Belfast on fire. I remember how well we all survived those difficult times and how my Mother worked in a factory and kept our home a happy place while my Father was in the Army."

- Sam Lyttle
Carlsbad. California

"My mother took me and my brother Ken to the Zoo the day of the Easter raid. I remember the keepers arranging to destroy the big cats in case they were released by bomb damage. On the way home from Hazelwood, watched a single bomber flying up the lough towards H & W and dropping mines in daylight."
- Reg Milliken

"Although the war was in it's second year, Easter 1941 had passed peacefully for the Hughes family living in Dunluce Avenue in what was known as "the most unprotected city in the United Kingdom" because Belfast was well ouside the range of the Luftwaffe.
- Peter Hughes
Read Peter's full story...

" We sat underneath the stairs while the bombs exploded all around us. Mother, my sister Audrey 8, I was 13. Father was a R.U.C. constable on duty in the York Street area. THE EARTH SHOOK.
- Irvine Jones

" I could hear the roof shaking... Then there was quietness and we could hear the all-clear."
- William McCready

"I thought of Madrid and how the Spanish people had neither defences nor the sympathy of the outside world. Well now it was our turn!"
- Moya Woodside

"There were no landmarks on the way up; we reached our destination by following the telephone lines."
- Southern Fireman

"At the top of Duncairn Gardens there had been a direct hit on a shelter. As we passed the dead and injured were being brought out."
- Nellie Bell

"I don't think any of us noticed the dawn, for in a sense it had never been night."
- Joseph Tomelty

"It was not normal fire-fighting. You had to fight the fires from the street. They were burning so intensely it was impossible to get access to buildings."
- Jimmy Mackey, Fireman

I was aged just four and a half at the time of the first air raid on Belfast, I then lived with my family at No 11 Whitewell Drive, just off the Whitewell Rd at Greencastle and that our house was badly damaged. Of course my memories are those of a tiny tot and are sketchy to say the least. I recall that a block of shops with flats on top was totally destroyed, along with the people in them on the Serpentine Rd. I also recall that a B17 bomber ploughed into the Cave hill and exploded in thick fog with the loss of all the air crew. The Belfast Telegraph ran a photo of an infant, still in it's cot, hanging out of what was left of a first floor bedroom somewhere in Belfast. Some years later in Brisbane Australia my late elder brother Jim asked me did I recall who the child was and straight away I said 'Hugh Dockerty' [not sure of the spelling]. During the blitz my family was evacuated to the once stately home of a Miss Bryson on the Doak Rd near Ballymena, I have fond memories ! of that period in the country side. After the War we moved to No 11 Oregon St which is just off the Crumlin Rd, I attended Edenderry Intermediate Secondery School before migrating with my family to Brisbane on the old P&O liner Mooltam in 1951.
Lawrence Shaw

I have been told that 13 relations of my mother's family Mrs Annie Glover (nee Collins) were killed in one of these raids on Belfast. I was evacuated to Mahee island in 1941 and watched a raid from there as the German bombers flew overhead towards Scrabo Tower ann onto Belfast. It is a pity there does not appear to be an honorary list of those killed in these raids. Seeing so many records have been lost in Ireland over the centenary's it would be a great help to those who are trying to find their roots and relations in that beautiful Isle across the Irish Sea.
John Glover

My grandfather came from Carryduff and when my father and aunt were living in East Belfast during the second world war, they used to sleep either at Carryduff (where my great grandfather was a farmer) or at Dundonald (where my father's aunt lived) in order to be as safe as possible.


My mother lived in the Shore Road area of Belfast and her house was bombed during the blitz. Afterwards she discovered that many families slept on Cave Hill as they thought it was safer there than in the city.
C Jones

Your stories are really touching and i'm sorry for all you loses my thoughts are with you xxxxxx

I remember the "Blitz" well - was around five at the time. I lived on the Crumlin Road. My father was in the army, and overseas. My mother and brother Eddie and myself were evacuated to Fermanagh, where we spent six happy months in a lovely big farm house before we came back - I had to start school! Our infant school was to be in Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church, which took a direct hit and ended in rubble - so we were housed in another Church Hall in Geoffrey Street. Those were wonderful days. I remember every Primary School Teacher I ever had - and boy were they dedicated teachers. Moving on to the "big school" - Edenderry Intermediate was a wonderful experience, all new and shiny and wonderful teachers,too. Anybody remember Mr. Hawthorne, Principal or my favourite teacher of all time, Mr. Malone?
Bette McDowell (nee Dinsmore)


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