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Belfast Blitz – a sea of fire the like of which we’d never seen

Brigid Pegnam at the 73rd Anniversary of the Belfast Blitz at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Belfast City Centre.

Brigid Pegnam at the 73rd Anniversary of the Belfast Blitz at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Belfast City Centre.

A memorial wreath was laid to the victims of the Belfast Blitz yesterday, 73 years after Nazi bombs began raining down.

The commemoration was attended by dozens of guests, including some from the Royal British Legion and survivors of the atrocities.

The Luftwaffe launched three attacks on the city, of which the ones on April 15 and May 4, 1941, were the most devastating.

In the first attack, around 160 German aircraft were diverted from their planned target of Clydebank to strike the industrial heart of Ulster.

CT Hogg, the 76-year-old chairman of Belfast’s NI War Memorial, said the city was woefully under-prepared, with no emergency supplies of water and enough bomb shelters for just a quarter of the city.

The first raid alone saw 29,000 incendiary devices and 200 tonnes of explosives dropped onto the city, and was so extreme that 13 fire crews from south of the Irish border even came up to help.

The second raid was worse still, and yesterday’s gathering was told that one German airman recalled: “We stared into a sea of fire, the like of which we’d never seen before.”

Mr Hogg said: “The main message of today is a thankful remembrance of the quiet determination with which the citizenry of Belfast carried on irrespective of the bombing.”

By the time the German airforce had finished, more than 1,000 were dead, and 15,000 made homeless.

Belfast-born Brigid Pegnam, 83, was in Dublin at the time of the blitz, and lost an aunt and sister in the carnage.

Her sister, Philomena Henry, 82, remained in the city, describing the events simply as “terrifying”.

For a video on the event, see: www.newsletter.co.uk

 

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