On this day, the concerns of many Belfast citizens and their leaders were anywhere but the war. In the House of Commons, Reverend Dr James Little, MP for Down, opposed a government regulation that opened cinemas and places of entertainment for soldiers on Sundays. He claimed that the ‘electors who have sent the representatives of Northern Ireland to this House are most determined and uncompromising in their opposition to this proposed Regulation for the opening of theatres and music-halls on Sundays, as they feel that what is being attempted in England to-day will be attempted in Ulster to-morrow, and this degradation of the Lord’s Day our people in Ulster will not have at any cost…The sanctioning of such a proposal, even as a war measure, is an open defiance of God, and a distinct breach of divine law. Do not let us forget the Old Testament. This is a direct challenge to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and to the claim that the Church of Christ should have one day in seven on which to try to bring redemption to our people. Theatres and music-halls have a run of six days; surely it is not too much to ask hon. Members to give God his unchallenged right to one day in seven’.[1] Concern over this issue was shared in churches across Belfast. The Fitzroy Avenue Presbyterian Church session passed a resolution opposing ‘further secularization of the Lords’s day’.[2] The YMCA at MountPottinger in East Belfast passed a similar motion opposing anything that would ‘desecrate the Sabbath Day’.[3]

Elsewhere, the newspapers sought to give reassurance against possible German aerial attack. In an article in the Northern Whig, Air Force Officer Commanding NI, Air Commodore Carr, told readers ‘I am entrusted with protecting your homes against air attack…If I fail to take every precaution for your safety you would be entitled to censure me’. He called on people to help maintain the blackout of the city during night by having heavy curtains and not carrying touches at night. He warned that ‘an unshaded light gives a point of aim for the German bomb aimers, so that careless black-out not only affects the house concerned, but also those of your neighbours’.[4] Much of this was in vain. See Moya Woodside’s thoughts in the post yesterday (30.3.1941). The Minister of Public Security, John MacDermott, thought that Belfast had the worst compliance with blackout regulations in the UK.[5]


Between 7th April and 6th May 1941, four aerial bombing raids on Belfast killed over 900 people, injured 1,500 and damaged about half of the city’s homes. Thousands were made homeless and over 100,000 residents fled to the country. This period in Belfast’s history has become known as the Belfast Blitz. To mark the 81st anniversary, key events each day over the Blitz period are being retold here on this website and also on Twitter (@drtomstours).

[1] EMERGENCY POWERS (DEFENCE) ACTS, 1939 AND 1940. (Hansard, 1 April 1941) (parliament.uk)

[2] Norther Whig, 30 March 1941.

[3] Belfast Newsletter, 1 April 1941.

[4] Norther Whig, 1 April 1941.

[5] Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.79.