Object of the Month – March 2019 (NIWM:2016.2129.01)
Minute Book of A.R.P. Post 457 (Cherryvalley)
This minute book records the meetings of A.R.P. Post 457 in Cherryvalley between December 1940 and November 1944.
In what turned out to be the month before the Belfast Blitz, life went on as normal for the Air Raid Wardens of Post 457 during March 1941. At the meeting on 5th March 1941, it was agreed that ‘those members addicted to tea drinking be required to deposit the sum of 2 pence in a box to be provided for that purpose’ and that it was ‘considered advisable to place in reserve a tin of biscuits for use in the event of a major incident’.
Thankfully, in the event of a real ‘major incident’ the wardens of Post 457 had more to rely on than a box of biscuits. It was reported at the meeting on 19th March 1941 that a number of stirrup hand pumps had been delivered. Additionally, over the month of March the Wardens attended numerous practical exercises and tests such as one at Fortwilliam Park with ‘G’ District and respirator tests at Strand Public Elementary School. These also included a firefighting demonstration of incendiary and oil bombs with the Auxiliary Fire Service at Kyles’ Field on the Gilnahirk Road.
Unbeknown to the wardens and residents of Cherryvalley, the tests, exercises and demonstrations of March 1941 would give way to the real thing in the following months of April and May. Approx. 1,000 people were killed as a result of the Belfast Blitz including 34 Air Raid Wardens who are commemorated on a plaque in Belfast City Hall. Luckily for the wardens and residents of Cherryvalley, they remained relatively unscathed compared to the rest of Belfast, most notably north Belfast.
Items such as the Minute book of A.R.P. Post 457 held by NIWM are viewable to researchers and the public by appointment.