[Press release put out today, 28.3.22]

As Belfast commemorates the 81st anniversary of the Blitz, a local historian uncovers previously little-known stories behind the air raids. The bombing is arguably the biggest single disaster in the city’s 400-year history.

But the German bombing of Belfast in the spring of 1941 is largely absent from popular memory and consciousness.

Between 7th April and 6th May 1941, four aerial bombing raids killed over 900 people, injured 1,500 and damaged about half of the city’s homes. Thousands were made homeless and around 140,000 residents fled to the country (a third of the city’s population).

The bombing levelled large sections of the city, some of which remains waste ground to this day.

However, despite public memorials and several books, most Belfast residents hardly know that their city was bombed.

Dr Tom’s Tours is a tour guide company run by Tom Thorpe PhD, a local historian, podcaster and Belfast Green Badge Tour guide. Tom is bringing the story of the Belfast Blitz to life, leading guided city centre walking tours, delivering a free online talk on the Blitz and tweeting daily on important events as they happened over the period of the 1941 Belfast Blitz.

Tom is available for media interview to talk on the Blitz and can offer journalists preview tours for print, television and radio. He can talk about:

  • The complacent Stormont government and local authority officials who did not think a raid was likely and whose civil defence measures (e.g. air raid shelters) were too little, too late.
  • The ‘trekkers’ and ‘ditchers’, Belfast residents who left the city after the raids to sleep in the fields, ditches and barns of the surrounding countryside, only returning during the day to work.
  • The human stories from the raids including the experiences of a Catholic air raid warden, a pregnant tax official involved in an adulterous affair and a Protestant school girl.

NOTES

  1. 1941 BELFAST BLITZ TOURS. Four guided walks around central Belfast to explore the human stories from the Blitz that will be held on the days of the four raids: Thursday, 7 April 2022, start at 18.00, Friday, 15 April 2022, start at 11.00 (Good Friday), Wednesday, 4 May 2022, start at 18.30 and Thursday, 5 May 2022, start at 18.30. More information is here:
  2. FREE ONLINE TALK. On 13 April 2022 (19.00), Tom will speak on ‘A Blitz Spirit in Blitzed Belfast? An exploration into the response of the Belfast populace to the German bombing of Belfast in 1941’. This talk is hosted by the Public Record of Northern Ireland and the Antrim and Down branch of the Western Front Association. It is free but registration is required:
  3. TWEETING THE BLITZ. He will tweet daily events as they happened over the course of the Belfast Blitz, starting on 29 March 2022 until 7 May 2022. He can be followed @drtomstours.
  4. DR TOM’S TOURS: www.drtomstours.com, @drtomstours, contact@admin