News

Horrific hit-list marks the blitz

Belfast’s War Memorial Gallery will shortly be displaying a vivid and extremely poignant memorial to the German Luftwaffe’s terrible blitz on Belfast in 1941.

During two major bombing raids and a third smaller attack, an estimated 1,000 people lost their lives as hundreds of tons of deadly explosives and countless thousands of incendiaries devastated the city’s streets, buildings and the shipyard quays.

Many homes, shops and manufacturing works around the Lagan were demolished and several ships were sunk. A copy of the original Ordnance Survey map used by Hitler’s air crews to target their lethal bombardment is on show in the gallery from April 15.
The Stadtplan von Belfast measures 110cm by 70cm and is overprinted with a German hit list of important targets. Outlined and highlighted in red marker pen on the faded, patched together document are the Luftwaffe’s principal objectives (Einzelobjekte) including the docks, railway stations, reservoirs and the Victoria Barracks.

German pilots and navigators, peering through their goggles at Stormont (Parlamentsgebäude undo Ministerien) and the City Hall (Stadthalle), must have wondered while they released their bombs on the shipyard (Werft von Harland and Wolff) how a German surname became associated with such a strategic enemy target! Did a finger pause momentarily on a bomb-release button?

Museum Curator Ciaran Elizabeth Doran told me: “The original map was found in Gatow airfield in Berlin by the RAF when they arrived there in 1945.”

From her wealth of local cartographical knowledge, Ciaran Elizabeth picked out a pickle factory near the Stranmillis roundabout.

The 72nd anniversary of the blitz will be marked by the laying of a wreath on the War Memorial in 21 Talbot Street (beside Belfast Cathedral) at 11am on Monday. Members of the public, and anyone with family memories of the blitz, are invited to attend the short ceremony, and to see the map which will be on view to the public for at least a month.

If readers have any memeories or passed-on accounts of the blitz that they’d like to share on Roamer’s page, please send them to the address below.

Reproduced from the Belfast Newsletter, Friday 12th of April 2013.

Belfast Newletter Article: Horrific hit-list marks the blitz

Belfast Newletter Article: Horrific hit-list marks the blitz

 

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Ordnance Survey map of Belfast

A copy of the Ordnance Survey map of Belfast used by the Luftwaffe for the blitz in 1941, will be on display to the public in the War Memorial Gallery from April 15.

The large map (110cm by 70cm) is overprinted in German. Outlined in red are the principle targets, including the docks, railway stations, reservoirs and Victoria Barracks.

Luftwaffe map of Belfast 1941

Luftwaffe map of Belfast 1941

Welcoming the latest acquisition, the Curator, Ciaran Elizabeth Doran, said:

‘‘The map was found in Gatow air field in Berlin by the RAF when they arrived in 1945.’’

The 72nd anniversary of the blitz on Belfast will be marked by the laying of a wreath of flowers on the Blitz War Memorial in 21 Talbot Street (beside Belfast Cathedral) at 11.00 am on Monday April 15. The wreath will be laid by Lieutenant Colonel C T Hogg, chairman of the NI War Memorial.

Members of the public, and anyone with family memories of the Easter Tuesday blitz, are invited to attend the ceremony.

The Curator was interviewed by Seamus McKee on the subject as part of the Radio Ulster  Evening Extra programme on 9th April 2013.

An excerpt of the Radio Ulster Evening Extra programme broadcast on 9th April 2013 features an interview with the Curator and Seamus McKee on this topic.

The map has been made available through Scenicni.

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Easter Closing

We are closed Friday 29th March, Monday the 1st of April and Tuesday 2nd April. The gallery will reopen on Wednesday the third of April at 10.30 am.

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Gallery Closed

The gallery will be closed on Monday 18th March 2013.

The gallery will  re open on Tuesday 19th March at 10.30.

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75th anniversary of the launch of HMS Belfast

The 75th anniversary of the launch of HMS Belfast was marked by a ceremony in the War Memorial Gallery on March 17. The cruiser was launched at Harland and Wolff on St Patricks Day 1938 by Mrs Chamberlain, the wife of the Prime Minister.

Present for the occasion were 24 members of the HMS Belfast Association from London. Welcoming the the visitors, the Chairman of the War Memorial, Lieutenant Colonel C T Hogg, said: “HMS Belfast was the first Royal Navy ship to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland. Her record of service to the nation is one of which the people of Northern Ireland are justly proud.”

The Chairman of the HMS Belfast Association, Mr Fred Wooding, laid a wreath on the war memorial in memory of the sailors who died while serving with the ship.

Presenting a ship’s plaque to mark the occasion, Mr Wooding said: “HMS Belfast has strong connections with Belfast, having been built at Harland and Wolff and adopting the city’s motto Pro Tanto Quid, Retribuamus.

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Ship’s bell from HMS Egilsay in War Memorial Gallery

B is for Bell

Ship’s bell from HMS Egilsay in War Memorial Gallery

An original ship’s bell is the latest addition to the collection at the War Memorial Gallery.  The bell belonged to HMS Egilsay, one of 118 Isles-class naval trawlers commissioned during the Second World War for minesweeping duties with the Royal Naval Patrol Service.  The ships took their names from islands in the Western Isles of Scotland.

HMS Egilsay was built at Hull and launched in 1942.  The trawler was used for minesweeping duties and harbour defence in the Mediterranean.  The vessel was sold to Italy in 1946 and scrapped on being decommissioned.

The bell has been loaned to the gallery by the Black family, whose father, Jim Black, served on the ship during WW2.  It is now on permanent display.

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See what our new Education Officer Jenny has been up to …

Northern Ireland War Memorial is working in partnership with the Belfast Education and Library Board Parent Support Programme to offer parent and child workshops in February, March and April 2013.

Participating groups visit our Home Front exhibition, inspect the weekly food rations and try on some World War II uniforms to learn about life in Northern Ireland during World War II.

Parent and child work together to learn how to make a wartime woollen rug with scraps of wool, taking a break to play some wartime board games in a fun and enjoyable session for both parent and child.

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ARP helmet

A is for ARP

The government set up a national ARP organisation, encouraging ordinary members of the public to volunteer. ARP stood for Air Raid Precautions. Men and women were encouraged to become Air Raid Wardens, members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Civil Defence Nursing Service, Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance.

There were around 1.4 million ARP wardens in Britain during World War 2, mostly unpaid with day time jobs. Their uniform consisted of overalls, an armlet and a steel helmet with ARP or A written across the helmet .It was a an extremely important job and some were awarded the George Cross.

Air Raid Wardens were allocated blocks of streets. Their tasks were to direct people into the shelters when the air raid warning sounded, making sure that no outside lights were showing and rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings. Thirty four wardens, both men and women were killed in the Belfast raids.

The ARP helmet that we have selected as our object of the month for February 2013 was worn during the Belfast Blitz. It will be on display later in March at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in a small temporary display in the gallery of our Recent Acquisitions.

Photo: courtesy of Bryan Ruledge.

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NIWM re-opens in New Year

The NIWM Gallery and Office re-opened on Tuesday 1st January 2013 and is now operating as normal. We look forward to welcoming new and return visitors throughout 2013.

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NIWM Gallery Christmas closure

The NIWM Gallery and Office will be closed on the following dates over the Christmas period

Monday 24th December – Tuesday 1st January 2013

The Gallery and office will re open at 10.30 on Wednesday 2nd January 2013 at 10.00
We thank all our visitors for their support over this busy year, and we look forward to welcoming you again in 2013.
Should you have any enquiries please send then to info@niwarmemorial.org and they will be dealt with on our return

Thank you and good wishes from us all for Christmas and the New Year

Curator

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