The Belfast Blitz: The City In The War Years

Date: 07/05/2015 10:12

On 12 May, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - in association with the Ulster Historical Foundation - will host the launch of The Belfast Blitz: The City In The War Years. Brian Barton's new book provides a compelling account of the events of April and May 1941, when Belfast was subject to two devastating air-raids that resulted in terrible loss of life and catastophic damage to large swathes of the city.

The Second World War was a titanic struggle against totalitarianism where civilians suffered as never before. During the War, Belfast played an increasingly important role: the more it became vital to the war effort, the greater was the risk that it would be subjected to a blitz from the Luftwaffe. In spite of that, it remained woefully unprepared for attack. When the Luftwaffe squadrons first struck, on Easter Tuesday night 1941, the sudden and sustained bombardments devastated the city. Equally seriously, civilian morale was shattered.

The book examines the reasons for the authorities’ lack of preparation and describes the full terror of the blitz. It also details how the raids exposed extreme poverty in Belfast. It assesses the effect on sectarian relations within the city, on North/South relations and on the relationship between Stormont and Westminster.

Drawing on a rich range of primary and secondary sources, including interviews with first-hand witnesses and the compilation of documentary material assembled from some thirty archive centres. Vividly illustrated with almost two hundred original photographs, many previously unpublished, the book also contains for the first time the full list of civilian dead – almost nine hundred names – compiled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It will thus serve as a timely memorial, on the seventy-fifth anniversary in 2016, of one of the most devastating periods in Belfast’s history.

The Belfast Blitz: The City In The War Years is launched 12 May 2015 at 2pm, at  PRONI, with a talk by guest speaker Dr Michael Foy.

To reserve a place, please contact PRONI.

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