The schemes for the evacuation of children from the city were finally getting underway. An avert for ‘Evacuation of Children’ in the Northern Whig set out the plans. Children of school age could go unaccompanied but those under school aged needed a guardian or other ‘responsible female relative’. In July 1940, John MacDermott had started a voluntary scheme to register children for evacuation to the countryside. The scheme was a failure with only 10% of the children in the city coming forward. Two more schemes were tried that had little further success.
In February 1940, a Stormont civil servant said children were not registering for the evacuation scheme because of the ‘disbelief of parents in the possibility of raids’ and their ‘lack of imagination as to the conditions if raids took place’. James Doherty, an air raid warden in the Carlisle Circus area thought that many refused to evacuate their children as it was ‘akin to a bereavement where families were totally unused to separation’. The other issue was that many working class people had rarely left Belfast. Winifred Campbell, who grew up on the Shankill, said that children sometimes had a ‘a tram ride to Bellvue or an occasional day trip to Bangor. The annual Sunday school excursion was a tremendous treat’. People were tied to their family and community and did not want to leave.
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).
 Northern Whig, 9 April 1941.
 Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.60.
 Stephen Douds, The Belfast Blitz, The People’s Story (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 2011), p.3. Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.158.
 Cited in Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.79.
 James Doherty, Post 381, The memoirs of a Belfast air raid warden (Belfast: Friar’s Bush Press, 1989), p.ix.
 Cited in Brian Barton, Belfast in the War Years, Belfast in the War Years (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1989), p.60.