During 1941 the Luftwaffe and it’s bombers targeted Belfast for Blitzkrieg. With it’s extensive ship building and munitions industry the city was considered worthy of attention. Unfortunately for it’s residents the authorities had considered Belfast at low risk from attack and hence the defences were minimal. Over 900 people died in the first raid on 15th April and a further 150 died in the raid on 4th May. Outside of London the April bombing saw the heaviest loss of life of any single raid on the UK during the second world war. My Grandparents were Belfast folk and lived through those terrible nights of fear, death and destruction.  

A few months ago I rediscovered something I had stowed away in our attic for quite a few years. When I was about 10 I wrote a small project about the Belfast Blitz for school and I interviewed my Grandparents about it. My Grandmother Mardie remembered hurriedly escaping to Cave Hill (a prominent landmark in North Belfast) and watching the carnage play out below her. My Grandfather Davy recalled the shock of running through streets strewn with debris and large gaps where the houses ought to have been. At the end of our discussion he got up and walked to the spare room and starting rummaging around. He came back with a small rusty object and gave it to me saying I could keep it and use it as an exhibit for the project. I have it to this day – the tail fin from a Nazi incendiary bomb that fell in North Belfast during April 1941. Now it sits on our sideboard upturned and holding a tea light.  

Every time I light it, I remember Mardie and Davy, long since departed this world. I remember with sadness the life tragically cut short during the Belfast Blitz and by the ravages of war. And…. I am reminded of that verse from Isaiah 2 “They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore”. 

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