POTD – Percy Street Mural













Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz when 200+ Luftwaffe bombers attacked the virtually defenceless Belfast resulting in the loss of over 900 lives.


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  • dwatch

    Excellent piece of history from the year i was born. Nazi Bombs did not discriminate between killing 900 Catholics & Prods. Unknown to me, fire engines came up from the ROI to help during the blitz on Belfast. That contradicts some street stories we heard as kids growing up in East Belfast. One story told was that Éamon de Valera was sympathetic to Hitler during WW2 so he ordered all the lights to be left on in the ROI so as to direct the Luftwaffe north towards Belfast.

  • I did some research for this and other murals up the Shankill. One of the most surprising things i found was that the crypt at Clonard was used as a shelter by folks from both the Shankill and the Falls.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    There was some story about the fire chief in Belfast completly losing it (understandable) and hiding under the table in the fire station at the height of the bombing.

    A few weeks later (31st May) Dublin (North wall) was bombed – maybe they hear about the fire engines in Belfast.

    from Wiki.

    “There was a later raid on Belfast on 4 May; it was confined to the docks and shipyards. Again the Irish emergency services crossed the border, this time without waiting for an invitation. On 31 May 1941 German bombers bombed neutral Dublin.”

  • andnowwhat

    My Mum (from the New Lodge) and my dad (from Carrick Hill) used to tell me about the blitz. It sounded as scary as hell.

  • pippakin

    The good thing is that as bad as the troubles have been, they were never as bad that.

    Good to see commemorations taking place.

  • A bit of history (facts shamelessly lifted from Jonathan Bardon):

    The belief among the Unionist politicians (and shared in the wider community) was that Northern Ireland was protected by distance from direct aerial attack. Hence Craigavon’s empty boast of 1938: “Ulster is ready when we get the word and always will be”. In reality, Westminster left Northern Ireland to its own devices over ARP, and Belfast was the least well protected UK city.

    In that light, Edmond Warnock, parliamentary secretary at Home Affairs told the Stormont Cabinet (19 June 1939):

    An attack on Northern Ireland would involve a flight of over a thousand miles. For aeroplanes of the bombing type, loaded, this is a very big undertaking … the enemy aeroplanes must twice pass through the active gun, searchlight and aeroplane defences of Great Britain … it is possible that we might escape attack.

    What changed the arithmetic was the German conquest of France. With that, it was a direct flight from Brittany and Normandy straight up the Irish Sea.

    Warnock reconsidered, resiled, was rebuffed — and resigned, declaring the Unionist government had been slack, dilatory, and apathetic.

    Craigavon (a sick man) went into self-preservation society mode, and nominated John MacDermott as public security minister.It took MacDermott some time to get up to speed. There is his submission to Andrews (24 March 1941) which listed the deficiencies of the NI provisions, which included:

    Up to now we have escaped attack. So had Clydeside until recently. Clydeside got its blitz during the period of the last moon. There are certain technical reasons which probably give us reason for thinking that at the present 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 us our turn.

    To be fair, the lack of ARP wasn’t entirely the fault of the febrile Craigavon and his clique. It was only on 10 April 1941 that searchlights were deployed; and the Mk I Hurricanes of 245 Squadron at Aldergrove had no night-fighting capacity.

    Where the Craigavon government clearly was derelict in its duties was that evacuation procedures had not been properly established, and there was a blatant non-provision of air-raid shelters. Much of the carnage of the Belfast Blitz (Crumlin Road baths were drained to serve as a temporary body-pit: others were laid out in St George’s Market) was because there were shelter places for barely a fifth of the population.

    Where and when shelters were provided, they were effective: the land-mine dropped at Oxford and Bridge streets took out the utilities, including the main telephone exchange — thereby cutting off direct communications to London, to 13 Group, Fighter Command (in Newcastle), and to Dublin. It left a huge crater: only two of the 100+ in the nearby shelter were hurt.

    Early in the raid of Easter Tuesday pumps and firemen were requested from Glasgow, Liverpool and Preston. Thewy were obviously not going to arrive soon. At 4.15 am MacDermott ‘phoned Brooke (the local exchange was still working) to request permission to ask for help from the South. Brooke OK’d this, and at 4.35 am the GNR telegraph carried the message. De Valera was wakened, and instantly approved the sending of support. The 70 firemen, on thirteen engines, from Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Dundalk and Drogheda were all volunteers.

    Other bombers hit Derry with two land-mines, killing fifteen, the airfield at Newtownards with ten killed, and Bangor with a further five deaths.

    They tell me that the young aren’t interested in history. This episode has overlapping horror and heroism. It’s all down to how you tell ’em.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    How the boy Dev saved the North from the Germans

    from WIKI

    “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 ambassador called to the Irish Ministry for External Affairs, to offer sympathy and attempt an explanation. J.P. Walshe, assistant secretary, recorded that the German 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”.

  • New Blue

    I used to love listening to my granny telling me stories of the the Blitz – I was five or six, she had great pride in telling me that my grandad was in one of the anti-aircraft teams ‘up on the mountain’.

  • babyface finlayson

    There is a good wee exhibition on in Central Library. Worth a look. I think the Linen Hall also has one, but I haven’t seen it.