Blitz was a horror without parallel in Belfast's history

In this newspaper today we have four pages of reports, as well as more on this page, about the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz.

Saturday, 16th April 2016, 1:11 am
Updated Saturday, 16th April 2016, 1:54 am
Morning View

We carried two pages on it yesterday and will have another two pages on it on Monday.

We could, however, have filled the paper day after day with blitz recollections if there had not been constraints on space and the ability of reporters to allocate the time to it. Because the German raids were an event without any remotely comparable parallel in the history of Belfast.

This newspaper has been based in the city since 1737 and has covered everything of note that has happened in it since then, during which it has grown from being a settlement of less than 10,000 people to a greater city of 500,000 residents. Yet the most notable trauma to hit the city happened in four nights in April and May 1941, when half of the then housing stock was damaged or ruined (56,000 properties affected).

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The trauma was such that almost everyone who was old enough to have a memory (which means that about everyone now alive who is over the age of about 80) remembers it, as our compilation of recollections has demonstrated clearly.

When military deaths are added to the total, more than 1,000 people died in the blitz. To put this in perspective, it is almost as many people killed in one urban area in four nights as the 1,100 killed across all of Northern Ireland in the three worst years of the Troubles combined (1972, 1974 and 1977).

No wonder tens of thousands of people took to the hills in a blind panic. This terror came out of the blue. Prior to April 7 1941, Belfast felt safe and out of range for the Germans.

The UK faces huge issues at the moment from mass migration to terrorism to separatism to decisions such as Brexit. But the problems are trifling compared to those that faced the Province (and indeed the wider world) in 1941.

We can only give thanks for our relative good fortune and remember those who died in the blitz horror, many of them soon forgotten in the chaos and scale of deaths.