Belfast woke to find that it was now under aerial attack like so many British cities. For many it was quiet a novelty. The Belfast Telegraph reported that it was a ‘night of thrills’. It claimed there had been ‘hundreds’ of attackers when there were only six and that five planes were shot down when there was only one.[1]

The people of Belfast were not overly worried. Moya Woodside, Belfast housewife and Mass Observation Reporter, noted in her diary that ‘we have had so many false alarms that, in my drowsy state, I muttered something about it being only anti-aircraft fire, and stayed where I was…’[2] Doreen Bates, the tax official engaged in an affair with an older man in London, noted that ‘the AA [anti aircraft fire] sounded very popperty and shallow after the heavy London barrage…[the raid was worse than London] because it is a smaller place. One feels more conspicuous, more part of the target.’[3] In East Belfast, Elizabeth McCullough wrote that she ‘had an awful time with air raid and could not get to sleep’.[4]

The area affected of Belfast hit in the raid is detailed below.

The German crews returning to German reported that the cities defences were ‘inferior in quality, scanty and insufficient’.[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] Belfast Telegraph, 8. April 1941, p.5.

[2] Cited in Stephen Douds, The Belfast Blitz, The People’s Story (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 2011), p.21.

[3] Doreen Bates, Diary of a Wartime Affair, The true story of a surprisingly modern romance (London: Penguin Random House, 2017), pp.261-262.

[4] Elizabeth McCullough, A Square Peg (Dublin: Marino Books, 1997), p.139.

[5] Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.81.