Harland and Wolff built 140 warships, including 6 aircraft carriers. Short and Harland delivered 1,200 Sterling bombers and 125 Sunderland flying boats. Factories turned out millions of shells and uniforms.
It was inevitable that Belfast would come under enemy attack. Three air raids were carried out by the Luftwaffe in 1941.
The first raid on 7/8 April 1941 by 8 bombers destroyed the aircraft fuselage factory and damaged the docks. The second raid on Easter Tuesday 15/16 April 1941 by 180 bombers lasted 5 hours. 673 bombs and 29,000 incendiaries fell mainly on residential areas in the docklands. The third raid on 4/5 May 1941 by 204 bombers lasted 3 hours. Some 237 tons of high explosive and 96,000 incendiaries fell on the city and the docks.
Belfast was not prepared for these attacks. There were insufficient anti-aircraft guns and shelters. The results were devastating. One thousand people died and half the housing
stock was damaged.
Visit the museum on Talbot Street to view the display about the Belfast Blitz. You can view a scrolling list of the names of those who were killed and also listen to audio recordings of people recalling their memories of the raids in April and May 1941.
There are also three artworks in the exhibition relating to the Belfast Blitz.
The Blitz Memorial is by the Ulster born sculptress, Carolyn Mulholland. The large bronze sculpture is a memorial to the men, women and children who died in the Blitz on Belfast in 1941. Each year around the anniversary of the Easter Tuesday Raid a wreath of flowers is laid at the memorial.
April Showers Bring Forth May Flowers by Diane McCormick.
This ceramic artwork on the exterior curved wall of the gallery depicts falling bombs transforming into flax flowers. The bombs relate to the Blitz and allude to the poppies falling from the ceilings at Festivals of Remembrance. The flax flowers record the Dig for Victory campaign which encouraged the growth of flax. They also symbolise the resilience of the people in war and their determination to flourish after the devastation.
This bronze sculpture by John Sherlock was unveiled in 2009. It is a half life size model of a mother guiding her child through the ruins of Belfast on the morning after the blitz. The woman is wearing the dress of a mill worker, while the child is wearing a tea dress and clutching her teddy bear. A copy of the following morning’s Northern Whig lies on the cobbled street amid the debris and pools of water.