Belfast Blitz

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Rescue workers searching through rubble after an air raid on Belfast AIR RAID DAMAGE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 1939-1945 - H 9476.jpg
Rescue workers searching through rubble after an air raid on Belfast

The Belfast Blitz consisted of four German air raids on strategic targets in the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, in April and May 1941 during World War II, causing high casualties. The first was on the night of 78 April 1941, a small attack which probably took place only to test Belfast's defences. The next took place on Easter Tuesday, 15 April 1941. Two hundred bombers of the Luftwaffe attacked military and manufacturing targets in the city of Belfast. Some 900 people died as a result of the bombing and 1,500 were injured. High explosive bombs predominated in this raid. Apart from those on London, this was the greatest loss of life in any night raid during the Blitz. [1] [2]

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is a port city in the United Kingdom and the capital city of Northern Ireland, on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second largest on the island of Ireland. It had a population of 333,871 in 2015.

Northern Ireland Part of the United Kingdom lying in the north-east of the island of Ireland, created 1921

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population. Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in some areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts to resolve disagreements between the two governments".

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

The third raid on Belfast took place over the evening and morning of 45 May 1941; 150 were killed. Incendiary bombs predominated in this raid. The fourth and final Belfast raid took place on the following night, 56 May. In total over 1,300 houses were demolished, some 5,000 badly damaged, nearly 30,000 slightly damaged while 20,000 required "first aid repairs". [3]

Background

As the UK was preparing for the conflict, the factories and shipyards of Belfast were gearing up. Belfast made a considerable contribution towards the Allied war effort, producing many naval ships, aircraft and munitions; therefore, the city was deemed a suitable bombing target by the Luftwaffe. Meanwhile, unlike Northern Ireland, the Irish Free State was no longer part of the UK. Under the leadership of Éamon de Valera, it had declared its neutrality during the Second World War. Although it arrested German spies that its police and military intelligence services caught, the state never broke off diplomatic relations with Axis nations: the German Legation in Dublin remained open throughout the war. [4]

Factory facility where goods are made, or processed

A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial site, usually consisting of buildings and machinery, or more commonly a complex having several buildings, where workers manufacture goods or operate machines processing one product into another.

Shipyard place where ships are repaired and built

A shipyard is a place where ships are built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial construction. The terms are routinely used interchangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.

Éamon de Valera Irish statesman, longest-serving Head of Government of Ireland, later 3rd President; Republican and conservative

Éamon de Valera was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. His political career spanned over half a century, from 1917 to 1973; he served several terms as head of government and head of state. He also led the introduction of the Constitution of Ireland.

Government

The Government of Northern Ireland lacked the will, energy and capacity to cope with a major crisis when it came. James Craig, Lord Craigavon, had been Prime Minister of Northern Ireland since its inception in 1921 up until his death in 1940. His death (along with preceding ill-health) came at a bad time and arguably inadvertently caused a leadership vacuum. Richard Dawson Bates, was the Home Affairs Minister. Sir Basil Brooke, the Minister of Agriculture, was the only active minister. He successfully busied himself with the task of making Northern Ireland a major supplier of food to Britain in her time of need. [5]

James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon British politician

James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, PC, PC (NI) DL, was a prominent Irish unionist politician, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He was created a baronet in 1918 and raised to the Peerage in 1927.

Basil Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough Northern Irish politician

Basil Stanlake Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough,, styled as Sir Basil Brooke, 5th Baronet from 1907–52, was an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) politician who became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in May 1943, holding office until March 1963.

John Clarke MacDermott, the Minister of Public Security, after the first bombing, initiated the "Hiram Plan" to evacuate the city and to return Belfast to 'normality' as quickly as possible. [6] It was MacDermott who sent a telegram to de Valera seeking assistance. There was unease with the complacent attitude of the government, which led to resignations:

John Clarke MacDermott, Baron MacDermott, MC, PC, PC (NI) was a Northern Irish politician and lawyer who was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland from 1951 to 1971.

Telegraphy long distance transmission of textual/symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object

Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual or symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas pigeon post is not.

John Edmond Warnock PC(NI) KC was an Irish barrister and politician.

Chief Whip position

The Chief Whip is a political office in some legislatures whose task is to administer the whipping system that tries to ensure that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires.

Craigavon died on 24 November 1940. He was succeeded by John Miller Andrews, then 69 years old, who was no more capable of dealing with the situation than his predecessor. On 28 April 1943, six members of the Government threatened to resign, forcing him from office. He was replaced by 54 year old Sir Basil Brooke on 1 May. [9]

Manufacturing facilities

War materials and food were sent by sea from Belfast to Britain, some under the protection of the neutral Irish tricolour. The M.V. Munster, for example, operated by the Belfast Steamship Company, plied between Belfast and Liverpool under the tricolour, until she hit a mine and was sunk outside Liverpool. [12]

Preparation

Sir James Craig, Viscount Craigavon,
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland until his death in 1940. HMSO image James Craig Viscount Craigavon.jpg
Sir James Craig, Viscount Craigavon,
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland until his death in 1940. HMSO image

Government preparation

There was little preparation for the conflict with Germany. [13] However at the time Lord Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland since its inception in 1921, said: "Ulster is ready when we get the word and always will be." He was asked, in the N.I. parliament: "if the government realized 'that these fast bombers can come to Northern Ireland in two and three quarter hours' ". His reply was: "We here today are in a state of war and we are prepared with the rest of the United Kingdom and Empire to face all the responsibilities that imposes on the Ulster people. There is no slacking in our loyalty."

Dawson Bates, the Home Affairs Minister, apparently refused to reply to army correspondence and when the Ministry of Home Affairs was informed by imperial defence experts in 1939 that Belfast was regarded as "a very definite German objective", little was done outside providing shelters in the Harbour area. [14]

Air-raid shelters

Belfast, the city with the highest population density had the lowest proportion of air-raid shelters. Prior to the "Belfast Blitz" there were only 200 public shelters, although 4,000 households had built their own shelters. No searchlights were set up, as they had only arrived on 10 April. There were no night-fighters. On the night of the raid, no Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft took to the air. There were only 22 anti-aircraft guns, six light, and sixteen heavy. On the night, only seven were operated for a short time. There was no smokescreen ability. There were some barrage balloons. These air-raid shelters were Anderson shelters. They were sheets of corrugated galvanised iron covered in earth. Since most casualties were caused by falling masonry rather than by blast, they provided effective shelter for those who had them.

Children

Few children had been successfully evacuated. The "Hiram Plan" initiated by Dawson Bates, the Home Affairs Minister, had failed to materialise. Fewer than 4,000 women and children were evacuated. There were still 80,000 more in Belfast. Even the children of soldiers had not been evacuated, with calamitous results when the married quarters of Victoria Barracks received a direct hit.

German preparation

From papers recovered after the war, we know of a Luftwaffe reconnaissance flight over Belfast on 30 November 1940. The Germans established that Belfast was defended by only seven anti-aircraft batteries, which made it the most poorly defended city in the United Kingdom. From their photographs, they identified suitable targets:

John Miller Andrews
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1940-43. HMSO image Johnmillerandrews.jpg
John Miller Andrews
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1940-43. HMSO image

Earlier raids

There had been a number of small bombings, probably by planes that missed their targets over the River Clyde in Glasgow or the cities of the northwest of England. On 24 March 1941, John MacDermott, Minister for Security, wrote to Prime Minister John Andrews, expressing his concerns that Belfast was so poorly protected: "Up to now we have escaped attack. So had Clydeside until recently. Clydeside got its blitz during the period of the last moon. There [is] ground for thinking that the ... enemy could not easily reach Belfast in force except during a period of moonlight. The period of the next moon from say the 7th to the 16th of April may well bring our turn." MacDermott would be proved right.

The first deliberate raid took place on the night of 7 April. (Some authors count this as the second raid of four). It targeted the docks. Neighbouring residential areas were also hit. Six Heinkel He 111 bombers, from Kampfgruppe 26, flying at 7,000 feet (2,100 m), dropped incendiaries, high explosive and parachute-mines. By British mainland blitz standards, casualties were light. Thirteen lost their lives, including a soldier killed when an anti-aircraft gun, at the Balmoral show-grounds, misfired. The most significant loss was a 4.5-acre (1.8 ha) factory floor for manufacturing the fuselages of Short Stirling bombers. The Royal Air Force announced that Squadron Leader J.W.C. Simpson shot down one of the Heinkels over Downpatrick. The Luftwaffe crews returned to their base in Northern France and reported that Belfast's defences were, "inferior in quality, scanty and insufficient". This raid overall causing relatively little damage but a lot was revealed about Belfast's inadequate defences.

Easter Tuesday Blitz

William Joyce (known as "Lord Haw-Haw") announced in radio broadcasts from Hamburg that there will be "Easter eggs for Belfast".

Junkers Ju-88 Junkers Ju88.jpg
Junkers Ju-88

On Easter Tuesday, 15 April 1941, spectators watching a football match at Windsor Park noticed a lone Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88 aircraft circling overhead. [15]

That evening over 150 bombers left their bases in northern France and the Netherlands and headed for Belfast. There were Heinkel He 111s, Junkers Ju 88s and Dorniers. At 10:40 pm the air raid sirens sounded. Accounts differ as to when flares were dropped to light up the city. The first attack was against the city's waterworks, which had been attacked in the previous raid. High explosives were dropped. Initially it was thought that the Germans had mistaken this reservoir for the harbour and shipyards, where many ships, including HMS Ark Royal were being repaired. However that attack was not an error. Three vessels nearing completion at Harland and Wolff's were hit as was its power station. Wave after wave of bombers dropped their incendiaries, high explosives and land-mines. When incendiaries were dropped, the city burned as water pressure was too low for effective firefighting.

Public buildings destroyed or badly damaged included Belfast City Hall's Banqueting Hall, the Ulster Hospital for Women and Children and Ballymacarrett library, (the last two being located on Templemore Avenue). Strand Public Elementary school, the LMS railway station, the adjacent Midland Hotel on York Road, and Salisbury Avenue tram depot were all hit. Churches destroyed or wrecked included Macrory Memorial Presbyterian in Duncairn Gardens; Duncairn Methodist, Castleton Presbyterian on York Road; St Silas's on the Oldpark Road; St James's on the Antrim Road; Newington Presbyterian on Limestone Road; Crumlin Road Presbyterian; Holy Trinity on Clifton Street and Clifton Street Presbyterian; York Street Presbyterian and York Street Non-Subscribing Presbyterian; Newtownards Road Methodist and Rosemary Street Presbyterian (the last of which was not rebuilt).

Streets heavily bombed in the city centre included High Street, Ann Street, Callender Street, Chichester Street, Castle Street, Tomb Street, Bridge Street (effectively obliterated), Rosemary Street, Waring Street, North Street, Victoria Street, Donegall Street, York Street, Gloucester Street, and East Bridge Street. In the east of the city, Westbourne and Newcastle Streets on the Newtownards Road, Thorndyke Street off the Albertbridge Road and Ravenscroft Avenue were destroyed or damaged. In the west and north of the city, streets heavily bombed included Percy Street, York Park, York Crescent, Eglinton Street, Carlisle Street, Ballyclare, Ballycastle and Ballynure Streets off the Oldpark Road; Southport Street, Walton Street, Antrim Road, Annadale Street, Cliftonville Road, Hillman Street, Atlantic Avenue, Hallidays Road, Hughenden Avenue, Sunningdale Park, Shandarragh Park, and Whitewell Road. Burke Street which ran between Annadale and Dawson streets in the New Lodge area, was completely wiped off the map with all its 20 houses flattened and all of the occupants killed. [16]

There was no opposition. In the mistaken belief that they might damage RAF fighters, the anti-aircraft batteries ceased firing. But the RAF had not responded. The bombs continued to fall until 5 am.

Fifty-five thousand houses were damaged leaving 100,000 temporarily homeless. Outside of London, with some 900 dead, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during the Blitz. [17] A stray bomber attacked Derry, killing 15. Another attacked Bangor, killing five. By 4 am the entire city seemed to be in flames. At 4:15 am John MacDermott, the Minister of Public Security, managed to contact Basil Brooke (then Agriculture Minister), seeking permission to seek help from the Irish government. Brooke noted in his diary "I gave him authority as it is obviously a question of expediency". Since 1:45 am all telephones had been cut. Fortunately, the railway telegraphy link between Belfast and Dublin was still operational. The telegram was sent at 4:35 am,[ citation needed ] asking the Irish Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera for assistance. [18]

Human cost

Over 900 lives were lost, 1,500 people were injured, 400 of them seriously. Fifty-thousand houses, more than half the houses in the city, were damaged. Eleven churches, two hospitals and two schools were destroyed. These figures are based on newspaper reports of the time, personal recollections and other primary sources, such as:-
Jimmy Doherty, an air raid warden (who later served in London during the V1 and V2 blitz), who wrote a book on the Belfast blitz;
Emma Duffin, a nurse at the Queen’s University Hospital, (who previously served during the Great War), who kept a diary;
and Major Seán O'Sullivan, who produced a detailed report for the Dublin government. There are other diarists and narratives. Brian Barton of Queen's University, Belfast, has written most on this topic. [19] There is an eye-witness account from John Potter online.

Instructions

There were few bomb shelters. An air raid shelter on Hallidays Road received a direct hit, killing all those in it. Many people who were dug out of the rubble alive had taken shelter underneath their stairs and were fortunate that their homes had not received a direct hit or caught fire. In the New Lodge area people had taken refuge in a mill. Tragically 35 were crushed to death when the mill wall collapsed. In another building, the York Street Mill, one of its massive sidewalls collapsed on to Sussex and Vere Streets, killing all those who remained in their homes.

Major O'Sullivan reported that "In the heavily 'blitzed' areas people ran panic-stricken into the streets and made for the open country. As many were caught in the open by blast and secondary missiles, the enormous number of casualties can be readily accounted for. It is perhaps true that many saved their lives running but I am afraid a much greater number lost them or became casualties."

That night almost 300 people, many from the Protestant Shankill area, took refuge in the Clonard Monastery in the Catholic Falls Road. The crypt under the sanctuary and the cellar under the working sacristy had been fitted out and opened to the public as an air-raid shelter. Prayers were said and hymns sung by the mainly Protestant women and children during the bombing.

Mortuary

The mortuary services had emergency plans to deal with only 200 bodies. 150 corpses remained in the Falls Road baths for three days before they were buried in a mass grave, with 123 still unidentified. Two hundred and fifty-five corpses were laid out in St George's Market. Many bodies and body parts could not be identified. [20] Mass graves for the unclaimed bodies were dug in the Milltown and Belfast City Cemeteries.

Nurse Emma Duffin

Nurse Emma Duffin, who had served in World War I, contrasted death in that conflict with what she saw:

(Great War casualties) had died in hospital beds, their eyes had been reverently closed, their hands crossed to their breasts. Death had to a certain extent been ... made decent. It was solemn, tragic, dignified, but here it was grotesque, repulsive, horrible. No attendant nurse had soothed the last moments of these victims; no gentle reverent hand had closed their eyes or crossed their hands. With tangled hair, staring eyes, clutching hands, contorted limbs, their grey-green faces covered with dust, they lay, bundled into the coffins, half-shrouded in rugs or blankets, or an occasional sheet, still wearing their dirty, torn twisted garments. Death should be dignified, peaceful; Hitler had made even death grotesque. I felt outraged, I should have felt sympathy, grief, but instead feelings of revulsion and disgust assailed me.

Major Seán O'Sullivan

Major Seán O'Sullivan reported on the intensity of the bombing in some areas, such as the Antrim Road, where bombs "fell within fifteen to twenty yards of one another." The most heavily bombed area was that which lay between York Street and the Antrim Road, north of the city centre. O'Sullivan felt that the whole civil defence sector was utterly overwhelmed. Heavy jacks were unavailable. He described some distressing consequences, such as how "in one case the leg and arm of a child had to be amputated before it could be extricated." [ citation needed ]

In his opinion, the greatest want was the lack of hospital facilities. He went to the Mater Hospital at 2 pm, nine hours after the raid ended, to find the street with a traffic jam of ambulances waiting to admit their casualties. He spoke with Professor Flynn, (Theodore Thomson Flynn, an Australian based at the Mater Hospital and father of actor Errol Flynn), head of the casualty service for the city, who told him of "casualties due to shock, blast and secondary missiles, such as glass, stones, pieces of piping, etc." O'Sullivan reported: "There were many terrible mutilations among both living and dead – heads crushed, ghastly abdominal and face wounds, penetration by beams, mangled and crushed limbs etc.". His report concluded with: "a second Belfast would be too horrible to contemplate". [19]

Refugees

Two hundred and twenty thousand people fled from the city. Many "arrived in Fermanagh having nothing with them only night shirts". Ten thousand "officially" crossed the border. Over 500 received care from the Irish Red Cross in Dublin. The town of Dromara saw its population increase from 500 to 2,500. In Newtownards, Bangor, Larne, Carrickfergus, Lisburn and Antrim many thousands of Belfast citizens took refuge either with friends or strangers. [ citation needed ]

Major O'Sullivan reported on a:

continuous trek to railway stations. The refugees looked dazed and horror stricken and many had neglected to bring more than a few belongings... Any and every means of exit from the city was availed of and the final destination appeared to be a matter of indifference.

Train after train and bus after bus were filled with those next in line. At nightfall the Northern Counties Station was packed from platform gates to entrance gates and still refugees were coming along in a steady stream from the surrounding streets ... Open military lorries were finally put into service and even expectant mothers and mothers with young children were put into these in the rather heavy drizzle that lasted throughout the evening. On the 17th I heard that hundreds who either could not get away or could not leave for other reasons simply went out into the fields and remained in the open all night with whatever they could take in the way of covering.

Moya Woodside [21] noted in her diary: "Evacuation is taking on panic proportions. Roads out of town are still one stream of cars, with mattresses and bedding tied on top. Everything on wheels is being pressed into service. People are leaving from all parts of town and not only from the bombed areas. Where they are going, what they will find to eat when they get there, nobody knows."

Dawson Bates informed the Cabinet of rack-renting of barns, and over thirty people per house in some areas. [22]

Newspaper reaction

The Irish Times editorial on 17 April:

Humanity knows no borders, no politics, no differences of religious belief. Yesterday for once the people of Ireland were united under the shadow of a national blow. Has it taken bursting bombs to remind the people of this little country that they have common tradition, a common genius and a common home? Yesterday the hand of good-fellowship was reached across the Border. Men from the South worked with men from the North in the universal cause of the relief of suffering.

Aftermath

Southern reaction

By 6 am, within two hours of the request for assistance, 71 firemen with 13 fire tenders from Dundalk, Drogheda, Dublin, and Dún Laoghaire were on their way to cross the Irish border to assist their Belfast colleagues. In each station volunteers were asked for, as it was beyond their normal duties. In every instance, all stepped forward. They remained for three days, until they were sent back by the Northern Ireland government. By then 250 firemen from Clydeside had arrived.

Taoiseach Éamon de Valera formally protested to Berlin. [23] He followed up with his "they are our people" speech, made in Castlebar, County Mayo, on Sunday 20 April 1941 (Quoted in the Dundalk Democrat dated Saturday 26 April 1941):

In the past, and probably in the present, too, a number of them did not see eye to eye with us politically, but they are our people we are one and the same people and their sorrows in the present instance are also our sorrows; and I want to say to them that any help we can give to them in the present time we will give to them whole-heartedly, believing that were the circumstances reversed they would also give us their help whole-heartedly ...

Frank Aiken, the Irish Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures was in Boston, Massachusetts at the time. He gave an interview saying: "the people of Belfast are Irish people too". [24]

German response

Initial German radio broadcasts celebrated the raid. A Luftwaffe pilot gave this description "We were in exceptional good humour knowing that we were going for a new target, one of England's last hiding places. Wherever Churchill is hiding his war material we will go ... Belfast is as worthy a target as Coventry, Birmingham, Bristol or Glasgow." William Joyce "Lord Haw-Haw" announced that "The Führer will give you time to bury your dead before the next attack ... Tuesday was only a sample." However Belfast was not mentioned again by the Nazis. After the war, instructions from Joseph Goebbels were discovered ordering it not to be mentioned. It would appear that Adolf Hitler, in view of de Valera's negative reaction, was concerned that de Valera and Irish American politicians might encourage the United States to enter the war. [ citation needed ]

Eduard Hempel, the German Minister to Ireland, visited the Irish Ministry for External Affairs to offer sympathy and attempt an explanation. J.P. Walshe, assistant secretary, recorded that Hempel was "clearly distressed by the news of the severe raid on Belfast and especially of the number of civilian casualties." He stated that "he would once more tell his government how he felt about the matter and he would ask them to confine the operations to military objectives as far as it was humanly possible. He believed that this was being done already but it was inevitable that a certain number of civilian lives should be lost in the course of heavy bombing from the air".

Recriminations

The government was blamed by some for inadequate precautions. Tommy Henderson, an Independent Unionist MP in the House of Commons of Northern Ireland, summed up the feeling when he invited the Minister of Home Affairs to Hannahstown and the Falls Road, saying "The Catholics and the Protestants are going up there mixed and they are talking to one another. They are sleeping in the same sheugh (ditch), below the same tree or in the same barn. They all say the same thing, that the government is no good."

A map showing the location of Belfast Lough Belfast-Lough-2.png
A map showing the location of Belfast Lough

US journalist Ben Robertson reported that at night Dublin was the only city without a blackout between New York and Moscow, and between Lisbon and Sweden and that German bombers often flew overhead to check their bearings using its lights, angering the British. [25] One widespread criticism was that the Germans located Belfast by heading for Dublin and following the railway lines north. In The Blitz: Belfast in the War Years, Brian Barton wrote: "Government Ministers felt with justification, that the Germans were able to use the unblacked out lights in the south to guide them to their targets in the North." Barton insisted that Belfast was "too far north" to use radio guidance. [ citation needed ]

Other writers, such as Tony Gray in The Lost Years state that the Germans did follow their radio guidance beams. Several accounts point out that Belfast, standing at the end of the long inlet of Belfast Lough, would be easily located. Another claim was that the Catholic population in general and the IRA in particular guided the bombers. Barton wrote: "the Catholic population was much more strongly opposed to conscription, was inclined to sympathise with Germany", "...there were suspicions that the Germans were assisted in identifying targets, held by the Unionist population." This view was probably influenced by the decision of the IRA Army Council to support Germany. However they were not in a position to communicate with the Germans, and information recovered from Germany after the war showed that the planning of the blitz was based entirely on German aerial reconnaissance. [ citation needed ]

Firemen return south

After three days, sometime after 6 pm, the fire crews from south of the border began taking up their hoses and ladders to head for home. By then most of the major fires were under control and the firemen from Clydeside and other British cities were arriving. Some had received food, others were famished. All were exhausted. Two of the crews received refreshments in Banbridge; others were entertained in the Ancient Order of Hibernians hall in Newry. In 1995 on the fiftieth anniversary of the ending of the Second World War an invitation was received by the Dublin Fire Brigade for any survivors of that time to attend a function at Hillsborough Castle and meet Prince Charles. Only four were known still to be alive; one, Tom Coleman, attended to receive recognition for his colleagues' solidarity at such a critical time. [ citation needed ]

Second major raid

Soldiers clearing rubble after the May air raid The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-1945 H9464.jpg
Soldiers clearing rubble after the May air raid

There was a second massive air raid on Belfast on Sunday 45 May 1941, three weeks after that of Easter Tuesday. Around 1 am, Luftwaffe bombers flew over the city, concentrating their attack on the Harbour Estate and Queen's Island. Nearby residential areas in east Belfast were also hit when "203 metric tonnes of high explosive bombs, 80 land mines attached to parachutes, and 800 firebomb canisters containing 96,000 incendiary bombs" [16] were dropped. Over 150 people lost their lives in what became known as the 'Fire Blitz'.

Casualties were lower than at Easter, partly because the sirens had sounded at 11.45 pm while the Luftwaffe attacked more cautiously from a greater height. St George's Church in High Street was damaged by fire. Again the Irish emergency services crossed the border, this time without waiting for an invitation.

See also

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The Nottingham Blitz was an attack by the Nazi German Luftwaffe on Nottingham during the night of 8–9 May 1941.

Swansea Blitz

The Swansea Blitz was the heavy and sustained bombing of Swansea by the German Luftwaffe from 19 to 21 February 1941. A total of 230 people were killed and 397 were injured. Swansea was selected by the Germans as a legitimate strategic target due to its importance as a port and docks and the oil refinery just beyond, and its destruction was key to Nazi German war efforts as part of their strategic bombing campaign aimed at crippling coal export and demoralising civilians and emergency services.

Bath Blitz

The term Bath Blitz refers to the air raids by the German Luftwaffe on the British city of Bath, Somerset, during World War II.

Leeds Blitz

The Leeds Blitz comprised nine air raids on the city of Leeds, the United Kingdom's third largest city, by the Nazi German Luftwaffe. The heaviest raid took place on the night of 14/15 March 1941, affecting the city centre, Beeston, Bramley and Armley. The city was subjected to other raids during the Second World War, but they were relatively minor; only the March 1941 raid caused widespread damage, including to the city's museum and its artefacts.

The Newcastle Blitz refers to the strategic bombing of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England by the Nazi German Luftwaffe during the second world war. Close to 400 people were killed between July 1940 and December 1941 during bombing raids on the city.

References

  1. BBC (11 April 2001). "The Belfast blitz is remembered". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2015. On 16 April 1941 Belfast was devastated as it bore the worst air raid of any city outside London […] It was one of the largest German strike forces used to date in the war and the Luftwaffe was heading for a city later described as the most poorly defended in the United Kingdom.
  2. Belfast Central Library. "Memories of the Belfast Blitz". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2015. No city, save London, suffered more loss of life in one night’s raid on the United Kingdom.
  3. Barton, Brian, The Belfast Blitz: The City in the War Years (2015) p. 397.
  4. Keogh, Dermot. "Eamon de Valera and Hitler: An Analysis of International Reaction to the Visit to the German Minister, May 1945" (PDF). Irish Studies in International Affairs. 1 (3): 69–92. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  5. Jonathan Bardon. "Extracts from an article, "The Belfast Blitz, 1941"". BELFAST BLITZ. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  6. "Historical Topics Series 2 The Belfast Blitz" (PDF). BELFAST BLITZ. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  7. BBC Radio Ulster. "Your Place and Mine - The Belfast Blitz". The Belfast Blitz. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  8. http://www.election.demon.co.uk/stormont/biographies.html
  9. "NORTHERN IRELAND GETS NEW PREMIER". The New York Times . 2 May 1943. Retrieved 23 January 2015. resigned after criticism from his own Unionist party with regard to the government's unemployment policy.
  10. http://navalhistory.flixco.info/H/63949/8330/a0.htm
  11. "Belfast Blitz: The night death and destruction rained down on city". Belfast Telegraph. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2015. Belfast shipyards also built or converted at least 3,000 naval vessels, repaired more than 22,000 and launched 140 merchant ships
  12. "Munster". Commemorative Brochure. Maritime Institute of Ireland . Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  13. Barton, Brian (1989). The Blitz: Belfast in the War Years. Belfast: Blackstaff Press. p. 27. ISBN   978-0-85640-426-9. Preparing for war ... ... Progress in Northern Ireland was minimal
  14. Barton, Brian, The Belfast Blitz: The City in the War Years 2015, p. 41-2.
  15. Peter Hughes. "The most unprotected city in the UK". BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  16. 1 2 Bombs on Belfast, The Blitz 1941, Foreword Dr Ian Adamson (Colourpoint Books, 2011)
  17. Wills, (2007). That Neutral Island, page 213.
  18. "Hidden Heroes of the Belfast Blitz". rte.ie. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  19. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-05.
  20. Barton, (1995). Northern Ireland in the Second World War, page 46.
  21. Muldowney, Mary (2010). "Woman in Wartime: The Mass-Observation Diary of Moya Woodside". The Irish Review (1986-) (42): 58–71. JSTOR   20750128.
  22. Barton, (1995). Northern Ireland in the Second World War, page 49.
  23. "The Dublin Bombing". Dáil Debates, Volume 83. Dáil Éireann. 5 June 1941. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012.
  24. Tom Geraghty; Trevor Whitehead (2004). The Dublin Fire Brigade. Dublin: Dublin City Council. p. 229. ISBN   978-0946841714.
  25. Ingersoll, Ralph (1940). Report on England, November 1940. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 194.

Sources