The Belfast Blitz: Build up to the Docks Raid

On 5th April 1941, Field Marshal Kesselring attended a meeting in northern France. There, officers discussed possible Luftwaffe objectives including Belfast.

By April 1941, the Luftwaffe had been carrying out aerial attacks against the United Kingdom for over 6 months. Bomber crews faced exhaustion but there were still new potential targets to hit.

On 5th April 1941, Oberleutnant Walther von Siber – who was then a young Pilot – attended a meeting near an airfield in Cambrai, France. Luftflotte Commander Field Marshal Albert Kesselring was also in attendance. The aim of such meetings was to decide on the Luftwaffe’s next targets in the United Kingdom. Officers constructed crude models of cities in sandpits, showing Pathfinder crews their objectives.

According to post-war recollections by Von Siber, Belfast was among the targets named for the period of the next full moon.

The Luftwaffe planned a large-scale raid for the night of 7th-8th April 1941. Bomber crews based near Paris made their way to airfields in northern France, others gathered along the Dutch coast. The entire north of the United Kingdom was within reach of the Luftwaffe… including Belfast.