Almost Hidden History

Belfast Telegraph Explanation Plaque - © Bernd Biege 2014
Belfast Telegraph Explanation Plaque - © Bernd Biege 2014

Passing the offices of the “Belfast Telegraph“, you might just notice that there are some irregularities in the stonework. Scars. And then walk on, without a second thought. After all, it is a city centre building, old, in a city were bombs went off. Signs of troubled times, maybe, of the “Troubles”? Or just old age?

Slight Damage at the Belfast Telegraph - © Bernd Biege 2014
Slight Damage at the Belfast Telegraph – © Bernd Biege 2014

Only if you take a closer look, you will spot a rather small plaque explaining the damage. And you will learn that it came from above … courtesy of the Luftwaffe.

Belfast Telegraph Explanation Plaque - © Bernd Biege 2014
Belfast Telegraph Explanation Plaque – © Bernd Biege 2014

It is somehow strange … while everybody knows about Coventry and the “London Blitz” … the “Belfast Blitz” is almost forgotten.

“Belfast Blitz” – the name stands for the German air raids on the capital of Northern Ireland, as a major centre of industry and home of important shipyards, the city was a prime target during the Second World War. And the victim of German air raids, despite the very complicated logistics and navigational problems. Two devastating attacks on Belfast in April and May 1941 by Luftwaffe bombers became known as the “Belfast Blitz” proper.

The first of these attacks took place on the night of Easter Tuesday, on April 15th, 1941. About two hundred Luftwaffe bombers attacked Belfast in this raid, leading to casualties of around 900 dead and a further 1,500 injured. Making the attack the largest single loss of life during an air raid on the United Kingdom outside of London. Structural damage was, as you may expect, severe. And especially so in civilian areas, with about half of all Belfast houses either damaged or destroyed.

The second large-scale raid on Belfast followed on the night of Sunday, May 4th, 1941. In this, 150 more humans were killed. Other victims of the air raids, albeit indirectly, were many animals in Belfast Zoo … shot to prevent them escaping and roaming the streets.

A small reminder of history … and without any bitterness, but celebrating the “Keep Calm & Carry On” spirit of the times. Of course, in the much more politically correct Republic of Ireland, one would not name the Germans. Might harm tourism. But that is another story …

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