Blythe Street, Belfast

On the night of 15th April 1941, Luftwaffe bombs wreaked havoc in Blythe Street in South Belfast. The blasts destroyed more than 30 homes and left 15 dead.

On the night of 15th April 1941, a High Explosive Bomb detonated outside the Harper family home at No. 176 Blythe Street, Belfast. Firewatcher Louis Gilbert observed the destruction from the roof of Murray, Sons, and Co. Ltd. tobacco manufacturers on Linfield Road.

The Luftwaffe attack on Easter Tuesday 1941 destroyed at least 30 houses on Blythe Street. In No. 176, James Harper and Margaret T. Harper lived with their 8 children. The house collapsed around all those inside and 16-year-old Anne Jane Harper was among the dead. A chain gang of A.R.P. Wardens formed outside in the street, helping rescue the younger members of the family and pass them to the safety of the street.

Ernest Cooke, his wife Mary Jane Cooke and sons Ernest Victor Cooke, John Cooke, and David McKee Cooke lived at No. 184 Blythe Street. Following the Belfast Blitz, Ernest gave evidence to the Coroner’s Court. He and his immediate family had left their house to shelter with members of the extended family at No. 95 Blythe Street, the home of David McKee, during the air raid.

His wife suggested he should light the fire in their own home, and Ernest returned to do so. On his way back to No. 95, he witnessed as a bomb fell, destroying No. 95, killing all those inside including his wife and 3 sons. A further 5 people died while sheltering at No. 95. They were David McKee, Sarah Jane Thompson, Violet Todd, Ella Elizabeth Todd, and Vera Todd. Cooke’s home at No. 184 remained undamaged throughout the Easter Raid.

A little further down the street, at No. 91, husband and wife Henry John Millar and Rebecca Millar died while sheltering in their home. Next door, at No. 93, 36-year-old Robert Craig sustained serious injuries resulting in his death on 18th April 1941 at City Hospital. A 7-year-old Rebecca Craig listed as living in No. 94 also died at City Hospital the day after the raid. Georgina McGarry died at No. 87 taking the total number of fatalities on Blythe Street, Belfast to 15.

Casualties of the Belfast Blitz