One Belfast Blitz survivor who survived a Nazi bomb has recounted a bizarre tale of loss on the anniversary of the raid which wrecked her home.
After a plaque unveiling at St George’s Market to victims of the blitz on Friday, a ceremony of remembrance was held at the Northern Ireland War Memorial – essentially a museum in Talbot Street in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.
A wreath was laid to the dead, as well as a posy of flowers, and the names of the 960 civilian victims were displayed on a screen.
One of those present was Esther Fyffe, 83 and from north Belfast.
She had brought with her a bizarre memento of a bombing – a collection of coins, melded together by heat, recovered by her family from their house in Harcourt Drive, near to the Waterworks in north Belfast, after it literally fall apart around them.
At the time of the blitz she was aged eight.
“My dad found them when he was going through the rubble of the house,” she said.
“They were under and old washing machine that didn’t burn.”
Asked if they got anything else out of the wreckage, she said: “We didn’t have anything [else] from the house at all. We had to start from scratch. We lost everything.”
When the siren had started on April 15, she, her mother and brother had sheltered under the stairs.
Her brother Roy, aged four, screamed because there was no light, and so instead they took refuge below a table where her mother read to them to keep them calm.
“The next thing, the house just collapsed round us,” she said.
She climbed out of the rubble, went in to the street, and shouted for help.
She saw a man she presumes was an air raid warden, because she remembered him having a tin hat, and told him: “Help my mummy!”
“In he came, and managed to get my mother out,” she said.
“But she was left with half a dress because part of it was left behind in the rubble.”
Her brother and mother survived the bomb.
Asked what her over-riding feeling was on the anniversary, she said: “Just really thankful to be out and to be alive after it all.”
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