Northern Ireland news

Belfast Blitz: Plaque unveiled to mark 75th anniversary

Belfast Lord Mayor Arder Carson with sisters Bridget Pegnam (left), Peggy O'Callaghan (right) and Philomena Henry (centre) from Dublin, who lost their sister Susan Henry in the Blitz. Picture by Bill Smyth
John Monaghan

A SERIES of plaques are being erected across Belfast as the city marks the 75th anniversary of the Blitz.

More than 900 people lost their lives on the night of Tuesday April 15 1941, when almost 200 Luftwaffe bombers descended on the city.

Around 1,500 people were left injured during the air raids.

Lord Mayor Arder Carson unveiled the first plaque yesterday at St George's Market, which was used as a temporary mortuary for the victims.

Plaques are also to be erected at the site of the Falls and Peter's Hill Baths, which also operated as mortuaries.

April 15 saw the biggest loss of life in any night raid outside of London, with a further 150 people killed in a second attack on the night of May 4-5.

Other plaques, with detail the loss of life at each location, are set for more than a dozen areas of Belfast which suffered the greatest casualties.

Following the unveiling at St George's Market, a commemoration ceremony took place at the Northern Ireland War Memorial gallery in Talbot Street.

The gallery is due to hold a family open day on the Blitz between 10.30am and 2.30pm today.

Dr Brian Barton, the author of a book on the Belfast Blitz, last night gave a lecture in the City Hall examining the extent to which the city was prepared for the attacks, and their overall impact.

Afterwards there was a display of spotlights and sounding of sirens in the grounds of the council headquarters, with the names of all those who perished displayed on its big screen.

The formal commemorations are set to draw to a close tomorrow, with a joint non-denominational church service at St Anne's Cathedral at 3.30pm.

Belfast City Council also said all tickets have now been allocated for a special themed tea dance in the Ulster Hall on Monday May 2, which will feature music and dances from the 1940s.

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