“By 1941 Belfast was making a hugely significant contribution to the British war effort, which did not go unnoticed by the Garmans. During the war Belfast built 140 ships, ten per cent of the merchant shipping of the United Kingdom. The city and province also manufactured guns, tanks, ammunition, aircraft (including 1,500 heavy bombers), two million parachutes, 90% of the shirts required by the armed forces and one-third of the ropes required by the War Office. All this made Belfast a glaringly obvious target for the Germans. The Luftwaffe made several attacks on Belfast with including an attack by 180 bombers on the night of 15/16 April 1941. The principal targets were the shipyard and the aircraft factory in east Belfast. East Belfast in general and Thorndyke Street in particular, as you can see from the mural did not not escape the attention of the German bombers. Across Belfast 745 civilians were killed, 420 were seriously injured and more than 1,000 less seriously. April and May 1941 an estimated 56,000 houses were damaged, some 100,000 people were made temporarily homeless and a further 15,000 were deprived of their homes completely.” The Thorndyke Street casualties listed are Hamilton Irvine, Hamilton McClements Junior, Hamilton McClements, Agnes McClements, Thomas William Bleakley, May Wherry, John Wherry. “Also killed in the Thorndyke Street air raid shelter were ARP wardens Joseph Bell (Lord St), Phares Hill Welsh (Paxton St Post 419).” With the emblems of Gertrude Star Flute Band and Parkinson Accordion Band.
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Copyright © 2005, 2007 Peter Moloney