Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Poignant date for Belfast as it remembers lives lost in two tragedies

Brigid Henry with a posy and a photo of her sister Suzie at the 73rd anniversary of the Belfast Blitz at the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building.
Brigid Henry with a posy and a photo of her sister Suzie at the 73rd anniversary of the Belfast Blitz at the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building.
Reese Chisolm (7) remembers his great-great-great-grandfather, Roderick Chisolm
Reese Chisolm (7) remembers his great-great-great-grandfather, Roderick Chisolm
The four surviving Henry sisters travelled to Belfast from Dublin for the ceremony
The four surviving Henry sisters travelled to Belfast from Dublin for the ceremony

It's a date tinged with sadness from two different eras in Belfast's history.

Yesterday two poignant ceremonies were held to remember those who died on April 15 in separate tragic episodes to hit the city decades apart.

The first saw people come together to remember more than 1,000 victims when the horrors of the Blitz came to Belfast. On the night of Easter Tuesday, April 15 1941, 200 German bombers attacked the city.

Yesterday's commemorative event was held at the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building and was attended by the Henry sisters from Dublin.

Mary, Brigid, Philomena, Peggy and Patricia lost their 15-year-old sister Suzie in the attack.

Mary Byrne (87) told the Belfast Telegraph it was comforting to have the War Memorial Building in Talbot Street to visit.

The Henry family were originally from Belfast but had moved to Dublin. Suzie was in Belfast on the day of the Blitz, however, for work.

"We were in Dublin on holiday at Easter and Suzie came back to Belfast on the Tuesday night," Mary said.

"She was going back to work on Wednesday morning.

"We didn't know that Belfast was bombed because it was late and you didn't get word as quickly as you do now through the radio and news.

"It was the next morning when we got a telegram to say that my sister and my aunt were killed, and a friend."

Belfast was unprepared for Nazi air attacks, with insufficient anti-aircraft guns and shelters, and subsequently half of the housing stock in the city was destroyed.

Meanwhile, a wreath-laying ceremony and a minute's silence were observed at the Titanic Memorial Garden in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to mark 102 years since the ill-fated liner sank in the Atlantic.

The sinking of the Belfast-built vessel with the loss of more than 1,500 people remains one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

Relations of those who died gathered for the service, including president of the Belfast Titanic Society John Martin, whose great uncle Dr John Edward Simpson lost his life.

"Some with a direct family connection to people on board are here today, some who were perhaps related to people who built the ship, and then there are others who are more interested in why she sank, so it's important for a lot of people," he said.

"But the importance of today – the anniversary – is very much about the people who died that day, and that's what we are here for."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz