The War and Me – Oral History Update

The War and Me – Oral History Update

With Michael Burns taking over as our ‘The War and Me’ Oral History Project Co-ordinator in November 2019, 27 interviews have since been recorded from across Northern Ireland. These even included six wonderful interviews captured in a single day at Fortwilliam Fold in North Belfast.

Michael’s first interview was with Billy Hanvey (W&M40) who grew up at Galwally House in Belfast. He related his memories of fire watching with his father during the Belfast Blitz and how the windows reflected the fires and shook with each bomb dropped. Billy was also the youngest member of D Company, 3rd Belfast Battalion, Ulster Home Guard and recalled practice drills in the Castlereagh Hills and operating the anti-aircraft gun at Grey Point Fort during training- even though they didn’t manage to hit their target!

W&M40 Interviewee Billy Hanvey

One of the most recent interviews was with Eleanor McFadzean (W&M62) who recalled her youth in Lisburn and seeing the refugees from Belfast who had lost their homes in the Blitz queuing at the local school for support. Eleanor also told us of her father, who was in charge of evacuation of some of the 3,000 Gibraltarians who lived out the war in Counties Antrim & Londonderry. When they left after the war her father went out to Gibraltar and brought back a fruit basket with tropical delights Eleanor had only read about in Arabian Nights!

W&M62 Interviewee Eleanor McFadzean

This latest batch of interviews cover a range of topics that all emphasise the role of Northern Ireland in the Second World War whether told through the eyes of children, veterans or members of wartime services. These are just some of the stories we have had the privilege to collect and add to our accredited museum collection.

Although physical interviews have been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our work has not stopped and we continue to transcribe and research stories. Indeed, we have recently had a number of written accounts submitted from the children of war brides in America and Canada and are utilising technology to host interviews over the internet via Skype.

If you or someone you know wants to be interviewed, they can submit a written testimony, call 07588634847 or email projects@niwarmemorial.org.

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