In the Belfast Telegraph, a naval officer who had been posted to Belfast for a year gave an anonymous ‘unsolicited testimonial’ about his experience in the city.

The article provides an interesting view of life in the city and how outsiders experienced the people and the town.[1]

The officer said that when he arrived he was greeted with an ‘unusually wet slap in the face’ but his farewell was ‘some moist but friendly pats on the back’.

On meeting Belfast citizens he thought that the ‘soft Ulster speech’ was people ‘trying to be funny by giving an excellent imitation of an Irishman’. His ‘most vivid impression’ on arriving was the ‘friendliness’ of the city.

It was a ‘delight’ to have a baker ‘produce biscuits, and even cakes’, probably reflecting the rationing situation in Britain. He noted that there was no 30 mph speed limit and it was ‘live and let live’ on the roads.

He concluded that ‘life apart from blitzes is happy in Belfast because you live happily’.

The naval officer’s most negative comments were for the trams. He said that ‘this may seem like a hard knock, but we have often wondered why some of your trams are not arrested for loitering, especially when a number loiter together, which reminds us of the main who told us that since the tramways had adopted the convoy system they had not lost a single tram’.

He felt that Belfast was a city of contradictions. Among one of these was ‘the enthusiasm of your ARP organisation, and the rudeness householders accord your hard working wardens’. He concluded that Belfast’s ‘contradictions’ were its ‘charm’.


[1] Belfast Telegraph, 30 April 1941, p.4.