70th anniversary of VJ Day

The date 15 August 1945, the surrender of Japan, following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was celebrated round the world as the end of World War Two – although the surrender document was not signed till 2 September. This date is sometimes quoted as the official end of the war. The Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, warned that atomic warfare would see the end of civilisation, but did not mention that Japan had earlier received an ultimatum to surrender. Two-day holidays were declared in the USA, UK and Australia, and cheering crowds filled the streets and public places, like VE Day the previous May. At midnight on 15 August, Prime Minister Clement Attlee (who had shortly before replaced wartime leader Winston Churchill) broadcast to the UK, and King George VI later addressed the country. Atlee declared ‘the last of our enemies is laid low’. However, it was well into 1946 before all the servicemen who had been in the Far East returned home, as well, of course, as the POWs, some 13,000 of whom had died in Japanese captivity.

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Wartime Scrapbook

The wartime scrapbook of Mrs Betty Porter will be on display in the gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial throughout its commemoration of VJ Day. This scrapbook allows its readers to see VJ Day through the eyes of a young girl who witnessed the end of war celebrations in Ulster first-hand. A replica will be available to handle.

The Scrapbook includes newspaper clippings and images of Japanese Prisoners Of War being released on VJ Day, and soldiers returning to their families. In one newspaper clipping entitled ‘World at Peace’ Clement Attlee makes the statement that the Japanese have surrendered, proclaiming peace at 12pm on Tuesday 14th August 1945.

In a handwritten note Betty Porter writes about her personal experience of VJ Day:

‘VJ day was greeted with flags, and happy holiday makers. Once again two days holidays were granted. On VJ Day the fellowship went to Castle Espie on Strangford Lough. We had a lovely day. Home in time for the King’s broadcast, and then we all met and went around town. We just went wild with everyone else and followed bands etc. We had a light in our garden for decoration. Once again there were bonfires, and many parties, dancing in the open air.’

Scrapbook with POW press clippings

Scrapbook with POW press clippings

How Ulster celebrated Japanese surrender

How Ulster celebrated Japanese surrender

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Craft Open Day

Thursday 13th August 10.30-4pm
Free admission
No booking necessary

The Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum is reviving the spirit of WW2, the Blitz, the Blackout and rationing with a special 1940’s style Craft Open Day on Thursday 13th August.

The Open Day, organised as part of August Craft Month, will launch a series of ‘Make Do and Mend’ workshops taking place in the gallery throughout 2015 and 2016.

It comes just two days before the 70th Anniversary of VJ Day, which marked the end of the war against Japan.

The event has been organised by the museum’s Education Officer Jenny Haslett, who will be dressing up in vintage clothing, demonstrating needlework and playing music to give the day an authentic feel of those austere wartime years.

During the war, the government had to reduce the production of civilian clothes to prioritise the making of ammunition, parachutes and uniforms. Clothing rationing was announced on June 1, 1941 and shoppers had to present coupons to buy clothing, fabric, footwear etc. until rationing ended in 1949.

The Make Do and Mend campaign was launched to encourage people to make their clothes last longer. The ability to repair, darn and make your own clothes became increasingly important.

Come along to our Craft Open Day to see what you can make in the War Memorial gallery as we launch our 2015/2016 Craft Calendar,  re-introducing the public to the wartime skills their grandparents and great grandparents possessed as second nature.

Download our Craft Days Calendar to see what we are making .

The NI War Memorial Museum monthly workshops run from October 2015 to June 2016 and will teach people to make everything from their own woollen rugs, hats, children’s toys, a poppy brooch for Armistice Day, and a recycled paper gift box for Christmas.

Workshops run from October 2015 to June 2016.
Spaces are limited and booking is necessary.

For more information, and to download our Craft Calendar, go to

Craft Open Day

Craft Open Day



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Launch of “From Ulster to the Dardanelles”

Northern Ireland War Memorial is to host a private evening event to launch From Ulster to the Dardanelles by Philip Orr and Nigel Henderson, with accompanying music by violinist Ciaran Mulholland.


About the book

From Ulster to the Dardanelles focuses on several individuals from the nine-county province of Ulster, who served in the Gallipoli Campaign during the First World War.  The book explains why so many Irish soldiers fought there, what happened to them, and why their involvement in the Gallipoli campaign came to be almost forgotten.

The book is available to purchase from the NIWM gallery (open Monday-Friday 10am – 4pm) and on priced at £8.00.


Who is the book for?

From Ulster to the Dardanelles is published to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign.  This book is written not for the specialist but for the general reader who would like to know more about the role this corner of Ireland played in that conflict.  Teachers wanting to inform their pupils about the war and its connections with a specific locality should find this volume especially useful.


6th August 2015 – 100 years on

‘On the night of 6th August 1915, the men of the 10th Irish Division boarded boats that would take them to the shores of Suvla Bay.

100 years ago, to this very day and hour, soldiers from every county in Ireland were about to fight at Gallipoli and many of these men would not return.

They landed in the dawn of the following day, facing the gunfire of a formidable Turkish enemy.

We owe it to the memory of the 10th Division to acknowledge these men, so many years after the event.’

Philip Orr speaking about the significance of launching the book on this anniversary

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Visitor Notice July Closure

Please note that the NI War Memorial gallery will be closed from 10th July to 15th July. The gallery will reopen as normal on Thursday 16th July.

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Amended gallery hours this Friday

Visitors please note that the NIWM gallery will open at the earlier time of 9.00 am on Friday 26 June, with last admission at 3.00 pm.

RAF clock

RAF clock

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Today is the 75th anniversary of Churchill’s finest hour speech

75 years ago today, 18 June 1940 House of Commons.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) became Prime Minister in 1940, leading an all-party war coalition.

He was to lead the country throughout the war years, until after victory in Europe had been secured.

Churchill was a master at both writing and delivering speeches. The many memorable ones he made during the war ‘blood, sweat and tears’, ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’, ‘their finest hour’, ‘the few’ have been credited with galvanising national spirit and helping to inspire eventual victory.

Churchill had only recently become Prime Minister when he made this speech on 18 June 1940. In it he prepares the nation for the Battle of Britain to come.

Churchill's Greatest Speeches

Churchill’s Greatest Speeches


‘What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over: the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: This was their finest hour ‘.

Information kindly provided by BBC Learning

To view more information relating to this please visit:

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Don’t be Alarmed!

On Saturday 4th July 2015 you may hear an Air Raid Siren sounding in East Belfast at about 11am. Don’t run to the Air Raid shelters! Instead, run to Bloomfield Railway Station, because it will simply be the start of a commemoration of the Evacuations from Belfast in 1940 – 75 years ago!

Come along and join us for a Great Day Out. Everyone is Welcome.

The Belfast & County Down Railway Museum Trust in association with the B.& C.D.R. Co. Ltd.

Don't be alarmed!

Don’t be alarmed!

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Opening times on Thursday 11 June 2015

Visitors should note that the museum will only be open later to the public from 3.00pm to 6.00pm on Thursday 11 June. The normal operating hours of 10.00am to 4.00pm will recommence as normal on Friday 12 June.

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Bank Holiday closure

The Northern Ireland War Memorial will be closed on Monday 25 May 2015 for the Spring Bank Holiday, but will reopen on Tuesday 26 May as normal.

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