The Belfast Blitz: Life in Northern Ireland before the Bombs

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, life remained much the same for residents of Northern Ireland. That would change in April and May of 1941.

After reading a letter in the Manchester Guardian, describing the horrors experienced by the Jewish People transported from Soviet Poland to labour camps in the Ural Mountains, I feel ashamed and smitten of my petty complaints and discontent with my own comfortable existence.

Here in Ireland is probably the pleasantest place in Europe at the present time - we are unbombed, we have no conscription, there is still plenty to eat, life is reasonably normal. Sufferings such as those described in the letter - of hunger, disease, separation, appalling conditions and inhumanity - are unknown to anyone, in fact, they are inconceivable. Yet, for the greater part of the time, one is conscious of positive inconveniences or drawbacks, and only remembers intermittently and with a sense of guilt the negative blessings - the things which are not happening.

In the evening, two of us went up to Lough Neagh. It was lovely there, peace and quiet. Just the lapping of the waves on the shore, and the fishermen had their nets drying in the sun. There were purple mountains standing out far beyond the lough, and the fishermen were talking away.

Then a motorboat came chugging across from nowhere and the noise of its engine seemed very strange. The men steered her with oars across the shallow water.

“Och yes,” they said, “it’s funny to think we’re at war.”

“And Hitler is a troublesome bhoy,” said another.

And so, we left them and drove back to Belfast.

Arrival of ‘Stay Where You Are Leaflet’ which seems better worded and more to the point than previous efforts. I doubt though if mere words and exhortations will be enough to conquer panic, if, and when, invasion occurs.

Belfast is still dreaming pretty successfully of the idyllic days of peace: there seems to be no more than a smudge of the war-stain on her countenance yet.