The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Belfast Blitz Then & Now

Shown here are some photographs which are designed so that you can look at a location as it is now and hopefully see who it was left following the blitz by German bombers.

Please be aware that this is an ongoing project and more pictures will be added. (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Map showing areas of Belfast which were subjected to the Blitz on dates shown. (PRONI Picture)


This Bomb Shrapnel from the Belfast Blitz is on display in Bagnals Castle Museum in Newry.

This is a piece of Bomb Shrapnel from the Belfast Blitz (Thanks to Steven McCrea)

People were shocked at the extent of the damage whilst the Home Secretary sent a Telegram of Sympathy and Support from London. (Above picture from Belfast Telegraph)

The "Carry On Belfast" comment was printed in the Belfast Telegraph Newspaper which itself had suffered during the Bombing.

The building is shown here with considerable damage.

Another photograph of the extensive damage at the front of the Belfast Telegraph Building (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

How the location above looks now.

Blitz damage to York Street Area of Belfast with an Air Raid Shelter to the left of the picture (NMNI Photo)

Belfast Telegraph announces the Normandy Invasion

(Thanks very much to Gordon McCrea for the photographs of the Belfast Telegraph)

William Patton and his Memories of Belfast in WW2.

(Thanks very much to  Paul Patton)

German Aerial Camera and Aircraft Bomb Sight as used in the Raids

The Camera is shown on the Left with the Bomb Sight on the Right.

Fighting an Incendiary Bomb Fire

This Exercise in fighting an Incendiary Bomb Fire took place on 1st December 1942 and was photographed by Bonar Holmes. (Thanks very much to  Bonar Holmes)

A.R.P. Warning Form.

(Pictures above from Ebay)

Barrage Balloons over Belfast

These photographs of Barrage Balloons over Belfast were taken on 1st April 1941. (Thanks to Bonar Holmes)

The photograph above shows the junction of Newtownards Road and Newcastle Street on the left. This area has changed completely and there is now a small culdesac called St Leonards Crescent.

This is the Newtownards Road following the Air Raid on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941. Note the Air Raid Shelters. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

Below is the Tamar Street / Dee Street area after being cleared up.

Destruction at Newtownards Road Methodist Church.

Air Raid Siren

The Second World War Air Raid Siren shown here used to sit on top of a Fire Station however it has been restored and is now on display at the Ulster Aviation Society building at Long Kesh.

The A.R.P. Belfast Hand Crake and Belfast Civil Defence I.D. Card shown above can be seen in the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building. (Thanks to Alan Freeburn)

Protection for A.R.P. Wardens and A.F.S. Firefighters. (Thanks very much to Matt Magee)

This is a 'Whippet' Motorised Fire Pump. Purchased by Belfast Fire Brigade in 1932 it served for over 30 years.

During the Belfast Blitz this Pump was fighting fires in the York Street area.

It is now on display at the Ulster Transport Museum.

Newtownards Road near Townsley Street

The most obvious remaining feature is the large electricity pylon in the background however the old building that can be seen behind the rubble and has 2 chimneys still remains but is obstructed by the newer buildings.

The original picture was taken on 13th July 1941. (From Belfast Telegraph)


This is how Ballyhackamore looked in 1944. Note the white rings painted around street furniture to help drivers after blackout. (Origin unknown)

Auxiliary Fire Service Fatalities During Belfast Blitz

I have deliberately started this section with a picture of the Headstone of a member of the Belfast Fire Brigade who was killed during the Belfast Blitz and is buried at Dundonald.

On the night of 7th/8th April 1941 German Bombers arrived over Belfast and after illuminating the city with Flares they dropped a mixture of both High Explosive and Incendiary Bombs which mainly landed within the Docks area.

One of the largest fires on the night was at the McCue Dick Timber Yard in Duncrue Street and it was while fighting this fire that Archibald (Archie) McDonald and another Auxilliary Fire Service member - Brice Harkness, who was from Cookstown, died.- (He was buried at Forthill Cemetery, Cookstown and his Headstone is shown here thanks to Chris Hunter)

Both men were killed when a Parachute Mine exploded.

The wording on Archie McDonalds headstone says "Killed by enemy action attending a fire in Belfast Dock Area with Belfast Fire Brigade 8th April 1941"

Shown above is a Coventry Climax Water Pump being used in North Belfast and the other two photographs show a restored Coventry Climax Water Pump.

Men of the Auxiliary Fire Service posing with some of their equipment (Ulster Museum photo top and immediately above from Robert Andrew Bryce)

Strand Public Elementary School, Strandburn Street.

Mersey Street Primary School

Extensive Damage to Mersey Street Primary School (Photograph from Sam Robinson)

Westbourne Street

(Old picture from Belfast Telegraph)

(The old photograph here is from Old Belfast Photographs)

Ravenscroft Avenue

Approximately 30 people were killed in an Air raid Shelter in Ravenscroft Avenue which received a direct hit by a bomb. (Old picture from Ulster Museum as shown in "The Blitz" Belfast in the War Years)

This photograph was taken from from Chobham Street across Ravenscroft Avenue and along Westcott Street towards Bloomfield Avenue.

There have been some changes however the chimneys show the position.

Crystal Street junction with Ravenscroft Avenue

It took me a little while to find the correct location for this one but here we have Crystal Street at the junction with Ravenscroft Avenue. (Belfast Telegraph Picture) Below is another view of Ravenscroft Avenue and you can see the Air Raid Shelters clearly. (From PRONI)

Thorndyke Street

This photograph shows Thorndyke Street and the men would be standing in the area where an Air Raid Shelter had stood and was completely destroyed. 

Shown below is the same area when the rubble has been cleared away.

(Belfast Telegraph photo)

Avondale Street / Bloomfield Avenue Junction

This is the scene in Avondale Street on 13th July 1941 and as it looks today.

View of Abetta Parade and Hyndford Street at Beersbridge Road from the old Mill.

My two photographs here show the Bomb Damage scene at the old Mill from the opposite side of the road. 

The first picture shows the entrance gate with the Mill to the right whilst the second picture shows the building which sustained considerable roof damage.

Wytham Street, Belfast

Extensive damage in Wytham Street, East Belfast (Thanks to Sam Robinson)

Anti-Aircraft Home Guard

(Thanks very much to John Gallagher for this Card which belonged to Lieutenant W.J. Hanlon)

Newtownards Road.

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers clearing rubble at Newtownards Road. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)

York Crescent

(Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

York Street / Great Patrick Street

(Belfast Telegraph photograph)

York Street

The large red bricked building on the right was part of the large Co-Operative store for many years and is now part of a University complex. 

(Old picture from Imperial War Museum)

York Street / Donegal Street

(Thanks very much to Adam Surrey with assistance from Peter Graham for this ghost picture)

These photographs of the same building are from the Belfast Telegraph.

The photograph above shows the same area after the Blitz Damage had been removed.

York Road

In this picture you can see where the house which was destroyed by bombing has been replaced.

The photographs below were taken at York Road following the raid on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941. (Belfast Telegraph Pictures)

Veryan Gardens

Destruction at Veryan Gardens. All of the housing on the bottom left side of the road was destroyed and has been replaced. (Picture from Belfast Telegraph)

Whitewell Road

Unknown Location - The precise location of the two photographs of the Belfast Blitz shown below is not known.

Chichester Street

This is Chichester Street in the City Centre looking towards Donegal Square. In the original picture an Auxiliary Water Main has been laid out in the centre of the roadway to assist in fire fighting. (Old picture from "Bombs on Belfast)

In todays photograph all that remains are the towers of the background building.

Castleton Avenue

Time for a well earned cup of tea.

Castleton Presbyterian Church on York Road

These pictures show how slight changes have been made to the church during restoration after suffering Bomb Damage during a raid. (Old picture from "Bombs on Belfast")

Glasgow Street / Ritchie Street Junction off York Road

(Picture from Northern Ireland Historical Photographical Society)

York Street Railway Station

Thankfully the old red bricked Mill complete with tall chimney and the church in the background remain to ensure a good comparison here.

In the lower 2 pictures the building on the left side of the first picture is now on the right side of the second picture. All further evidence of the old railway station has gone from the right of this photograph. (Old pictures from Belfast Telegraph)

York Street / Great Patrick Street

This is the junction of York Street and Great Patrick Street after the Air Raid of the night of 4th / 5th May 1941. (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Gallagher Factory Letter of Appreciation to Employee

Firewatcher William Howie.

This letter of appreciation was given by the Management of Gallaghers to William Howie for his "Magnificent Work" at Gallaghers Factory, York Street, on the night of the Easter Tuesday Raid. (Thanks very much to Sharon Blair)

Donegal Place

(Upper photograph from Belfast Telegraph)

Waring Street / Donegal Street Junction

Easily recognisable location which has the Northern Whig Building on the right. - I would direct your attention to the large new building which has been constructed in the waste ground. (Belfast Telegraph picture on left from "Bombs on Belfast)

This is where the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum is located and I would recommend a visit!

Rosemary Street / Bridge Street from Waring Street

Virtually unrecognisable from the first picture. All that is clearly identifiable is the railing around the Northern Whig building on the left side.

The large old building on the right is the one which is shown in flames in the Rosemary Street / Lower North Street picture below.

Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church. (Belfast telegraph Photographs)

The stone shown above can be seen in Rosemary Street Church. (Thanks very much to Jeffrey Dudgeon)

Lower North Street

(Belfast Telegraph Picture)

Bridge Street from Lower North Street

The Northern Whig Building above is seen on the left below. (NMNI Picture)

Due to the considerable destruction in this area only the Northern Whig building on the left of the pictures remains following the raid. 

The following pictures show the view from the opposite end of the street. (Pictures above from Belfast Telegraph and Google Comparrison)

This is the Belfast Bank at the junction of North Street and Waring Street. It can be seen in the background of the 3 photographs below. This photograph was taken on 22nd September 1942. You can see the "S" Sign directing towards an Air Raid Shelter. (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Victoria Street / Waring Street

The scene following the Air Raid on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

Victoria Street in 1942. (PRONI)

Blythe Street

High Street

This photograph shows High Street as it looked on 24th February 1939 before the bombers flew over. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

The photographs below show the same Street before and after the Bombers as well as how it looks now.

Shown above is Hugh Street looking towards the City Centre (Belfast Telegraph Picture)

The photograph above shows the devastation in High Street as seen from the roof of the Woolworths Building. The same scene is also below. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

(Thanks very much to Adam Surrey for this fantastic Ghost Picture)

Looking across Bridge street towards High Street

The pictures above are looking towards High Street from Victoria Street.

It is easy to see the building I have used in my comparrison photograph.

Below is the view from the other end of High Street, (Belfast Telegraph Photographs)

Sugarhouse Entry

St Annes Cathedral, Donegal Street

Total destruction all around however St Annes Cathedral survived! (Belfast telegraph photograph)

A.R.P. Helmet

A.R.P. Wardens Helmen with his name and address - P. Hegan 7 or 9 Harberton Drive, (Belfast) written on the inside.

Royal Ulster Constabulary Helmets.

R.U.C. Helmet produced by the Teddy Toy Company, Dagenham in 1940. Size 7 1/4

This Helmet was made by Briggs Motor Bodies Limited of Dagenham in 1941 however it has a raw edge without a covering around the rim.
Is there a reason for this? Any information would be much appreciated.
(Thanks to Allistair Kitson)

Water Tank at Albert Clock

In front of the Albert Clock can be seen one of the large Water Tanks which could be seen distributed around the City of Belfast to assist in fire fighting following any Bombing Raids.

Another view of Queens Square with an Air Raid Shelter centre left of picture and a Sailor on the left.  I believe this dates from 20th October 1943. The Google picture shows how the same area looks today.

The same Water Tank from a different angle. (Above pictures from Ulster Folk Museum and Belfast Telegraph as shown in "The Blitz" and "Bombs on Belfast")

Shown above is the Northern Bank Head Office on Victoria Street. Part of the Albert Clock can be seen to the right of the picture which was taken on 13th June 1942 

(NMNI Picture)

Atlantic Avenue junction with Ponsonby Avenue

The houses in Ponsonby Avenue remain however there the destruction took place is now a row of low level shops. (Picture from Belfast Telegraph)

Cavehill Castle Bar, Antrim Road

Thankfully the old chimney of "The Phoenix Bar" ramains to assist in locating this position. On looking at the picture I believe one of the Cavehill Castle Bar chimneys remains. (Picture on left from Ulster Museum)

Cliftonville Road

Sorry for the glare in the picture. - The Bomb Crater is on Cliftonville Road with the junction in the background being with Cliftonville Drive. (First picture from B.T. in "Bombs on Belfast")

Antrim Road / Hillman Street

This is the junction of Antrim Road and Hillman Street. The complete destruction gives no comparison to how the same location looks today. (Belfast Telegraph picture)

(Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Hillman Street

(Origin of photograph unknown)

Annadale Street

Antrim Road looking towards Eia Street

(Original photograph on left is from Imperial War Museum.)

Clearing Bomb Damage on Antrim Road

In the photograph above you can clearly see the Parachute of an Aerial Mine which has detonated here. (Imperial War Museum photographs)

Lower North Street

Clifton Street

Damage in Clifton Street following the Blitz

Shandarragh Park

Shandarragh Park off Cavehill Road showing serious damage and as it looks today. (Picture on left from Belfast Telegraph)

Halidays Road

(Belfast Telegraph Picture)

Considerable damage in Halidays Road following the Raid on the night of 15th / 16th April 1941.(Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

Burke Street

Every house in Burke Street off the Antrim Road was destroyed. (Belfast telegraph Picture)

Salisbury Avenue Tram Depot

This is how the Tram Depot looked after the Raid on the night of 15th / 16th April 1941. (Belfast Telegraph Picture)

Sunningdale Park

Serious damage to houses in Sunningdale Park however they have been repaired. (Picture from Belfast Telegraph)

The Bombing of Sunningdale Park, Befast.

Robert Gordon Henderson lived in number 5 Sunningdale Park, Belfast.
His Wife Ethel had passed away in January 1941 and he lived there with his Son, Roy.
On Easter Tuesday, 1941 at about 11PM the Air Raid Sirens wailed throughout Belfast as the Luftwaffe flew over the city.
Bombs began to fall from the German Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft fire responded from the ground.
The Family sheltered in the safest part of their home being under the stairs however about every 20 minutes Roy went upstairs and looked out of the Attic window seeing Parachute Flares which had been dropped by the Aircraft. There were Anti-Aircraft shells bursting and he could hear the whistle of bombs as they fell. Some exploding instantly whilst others, which may have been fitted with a Timer fuse, simply coming to rest where they landed.
At around 01:00 both were under the stairs in the Cloakroom when their house was blasted.
No sound was heard however as soon as the dust had settled they went to investigate and saw that the Neighbours house, number 7, had collapsed completely into a pile of rubble.
Mr Henry Simon along with his wife Florence and their Son Geoffrey who had lived there had all been killed.
The upper floor and attic of Number 5, the Henderson home, were reduced to rubble with the three ground floor rooms very badly damaged and partially demolished.
A considerable number of houses in the immediate area were subsequently demolished.
With their home in ruins Roy and his Father went for a walk and eventually reached the local Park where they slept under a tree for a few hours.
The following Sunday they had returned to the ruins of their home in an attempt to salvage what they could. Some furniture was gathered and sent to a local Warehouse for storage however it was destroyed when the Warehouse was bombed on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941 which was known as “The Fire Raid”
When at the remains of their home they heard noises from the ruins of what had been the Garage and on investigation with the help of some neighbours they were able to find their little Terrier “Mac” who had been trapped inside the remains of his Kennel which was in the Garage.
After a short while alternative Accommodation was located with an old Family Friend.
Robert joined the Royal Air Force in April 1941 and was called up on 31st May serving until the end of the war.
(Thanks very much to Dorothy Bruce without whom this post would not have been possible)

Roy Henderson from 5 Sunningdale Park, Belfast.

Roy Henderson was born on 11th December 1918 and at the beginning of the Second World War he was an Apprentice to George Corry in Corry and Henderson Chartered Accountants at 17 Castle Place, Belfast.

Mr Corry lived in 5 Sunningdale Park off the Cavehill Road and had joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve immediately prior to the War and was therefore immediately called up.

Mr Roy Henderson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve following the Belfast Blitz on the night of Easter Tuesday, 15/16 April 1941.

During the Air Raid by the Luftwaffe Roy and his Father Robert stayed under the stairs which was believed to be the safest part of the house and this turned out to be correct because a direct hit of their neighbours house killed the three occupants however, although their house was seriously damaged, they survived.

Roy went to the Recruiting Office in Clifton Street in central Belfast and joined the Royal Air Force Reserve.

Following about a year in training in the United Kingdom he was qualified as a Fitter Armourer and was sent to Glasgow to join the American Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Wasp and sail from Glasgow to Malta to deliver Spitfire aircraft.

Having done so the ship returned to Scapa Flow where Roy disembarked and was given a Railway Pass to the Isle of Man.

After about three days travelling he arrived on the Island and promptly was put on an aircraft and flown to Glasgow where he found himself walking up the gangplank of U.S.S. Wasp again!

This trip was the same as the previous one with the Airmen delivering more Spitfires to Malta.

During the return journey on this occasion the Ship had passed through the Straights of Gibraltar when Roy received orders to go to Gibraltar.

Some Fairey Swordfish aircraft landed on the U.S.S. Wasp to collect him and about half a dozen of his colleagues. Each aircraft took one man and the plan was that he would be in Gibraltar for five weeks temporary duty however this became over two years before someone decided that he was needed in North Africa.

Roy served on U.S.S. Wasp and also H.M.S. Eagle of the Royal Navy. About a week after his departure from H.M.S. Eagle it was sunk in the Mediterranean about 20 miles from Gibraltar.

Many hundreds of Spanish men were employed in the Gibraltar Dockyards with many of their Wives and Children having been evacuated to Northern Ireland .

Being a Fitter / Armourer it was Roy’s job to ensure that all weapons operated correctly and his skills were now needed in North Africa so he had a Half-Hour Flight across the sea and was there until April 1945 when he was able to avail of some Leave.

Having arrived in Naples , Italy he was expecting to be in Rome for a couple of weeks however on learning of a seat being available in an aircraft which was returning to the United Kingdom. Roy was able to avail of that seat and was in Belfast on V.E. Day!

He was officially Discharged from the R.A.F. in March 1947 and returned to work as a trainee Chartered Accountant.

These photographs show USS Wasp with Spitfires aboard. (Thanks to Roy Henderson)

Wilton's Funeral Parlour, Crumlin Road

This is Wilton's Fineral Parlour on Crumlin Road which was destroyed during the Blitz. Sadly a number of Black Horses which were kept by the Company died in the Bombing.

My photograph shows the archway which is all that remains.

(The first two photographs are from the excellent ISSUU Glenravel Historical Society)

Shown above are the coffins of American Airmen lying in Wiltons Funeral Home before burial at Lisnabreeny.  

 You can see the photograph above in the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building in Belfast. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY MY PHOTOGRAPHS)

The Mater Hospital, Crumlin Road on 15th September 1942. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

Crumlin Road / Ardoyne Road Junction

This Tram can be seen travelling down the Crumlin Road approaching the Ardoyne Road Junction as it makes its way to the city centre.

An Air Raid Shelter can be seen on the right. 

(Belfast Telegraph Picture)

Help From Newcastle

Shown here are Volunteers from the Newcastle area who helped in Belfast following the Blitz.
(Thanks very much to Mark Smith whose Grandfather is standing to the right of the man wearing a suit and no helmet.)

Manor Street / Southport Street

Salvaging Furniture (Belfast Telegraph picture)

Hughenden Avenue

The picture on the left is from the Belfast Telegraph.

Ballyclare Street off Oldpark Road

Destruction of houses in Ballyclare Street. (Thanks to Walter Macauley)

Oldpark Presbyterian Church

(Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Eglinton Street

A Soldier surveys the damage in Eglinton Public Elementary School which had been used as a Billet by soldiers from 173 Pioneer Company while below shows the devastation in Eglinton Street in May 1941. 

No comparison picture can be taken as Eglinton Street was demolished as can be seen below (I.W.M.)

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester inspecting Air Raid damage at Percy Street, Shankill Road, Belfast on 21st April 1941.
(Local Press photograph)

Photograph showing destruction in Percy Street Area (Thanks to George Laverty)

Falls Road Swimming Baths

The Baths on Falls Road were used as a temporary Morgue. (Photograph from

Photographs of Soldiers trying to make the most of things and enjoying a Cup of Tea.

(These Photographs above and below are from the Belfast Telegraph and Imperial War Museum)

A Soldier stands guard in the Blitzed City of Belfast on 7th May 1941.

The Sinking of the S.S. Fair Head

The S.S. Fair Head had been in Belfast Harbour on the night of 4th - 5th May 1941 when the Luftwaffe Blitzed Belfast.

The S.S. Fair Head was a military Transport ship which was loaded with supplies. 

It was in Dufferin Dock and was seriously damaged by a Parachute Mine which exploded breaking the ships back and causing her to sink.

One man, Robert kane, who was the ships Second Engineer was killed and the wreckage blocked the Dock for several months before it was finally removed.

The process of removal can be seen in these photographs. (IWM Pictures)

Newspaper Report of Damage during Belfast Blitz

Children Being Evacuated

Great Northern Railway Company Instructions regarding the Evacuation of Children is shown in the 1940 Document below (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)

(Many Thanks to Selwyn Johnston for this rare document) ***PLEASE DO NOT COPY***

Ours or Theirs? - You Need an Aircraft Recognition Chart!

There are lots of variations however you NEED to know if it is time to wave or shoot! ***PLEASE DO NOT COPY***

Produced in the early years of the war. (Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston) *****PLEASE DO NOT COPY*****

Anti-Aircraft Gun

Anti-Aircraft Gun on Ormeau Embankment  (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Shown on the left is a Belfast Civil Defence Authority Return dated 17th April 1941 with a Civil Defence Notice relating to unidentified victims of the Blitz (PRONI Documents)

Letters of Support from the Neutral Republic of Ireland.

The figures shown above can be seen in the Overloon War Museum in The Netherlands.

Debris from buildings destroyed in Belfast Blitz being sorted at Shore Road, Belfast.

(Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Shaftesbury Square Airraid Shelter

An Airraid Shelter can be seen on the left of this picture.

The location is Shaftesbury Square however the area had been completely redeveloped.