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Belfast Blitz: the dead and wounded honoured in 75th anniversary service

Staff Reporter

Published 17/04/2016

Congregation members light one of the thousand lights lit to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz held at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Congregation members light one of the thousand lights lit to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz held at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Some of the 1,000 lights at St Anne's Cathedral commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
St Anne's Cathedral commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016 Belfast. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Councillor Brian Kingston at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Dean John Mann at St Anne's Cathedral commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Dean John Mann and Father Michael Sheehan at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
The 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz at St Anne's Cathedral was commemorated on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Belfast City's deputy mayor, Alderman Guy Spence pictured at St Anne's Cathedral commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz on April 17, 2016. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
George Fleming beside one of the original Merry Weather fire engines from the Blitz. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

The dead and wounded in the Belfast Blitz were remembered on Sunday in a poignant service of commemoration to mark the 75th anniversary of the WW2 bombings.

More than 900 people died on the night of April 15, 1942, and another 1,500 were injured when German Luftwaffe bombers staged the  biggest of four raids on Belfast city.

Another 150 people were killed in a subsequent raid on the night of May 4-5, 1941,

The ecumenical service was led by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Reverend John Mann and Fr Michael Sheehan, the administrator of St Patrick's Chruch, Donegall Street on Sunday afternoon.

One thousand candles burned during the service in St Anne's and candles were also carried in procession to the altar.

Fr Sheehan recalled the "darkness" of that fateful night in his sermon.

He told the congregation that the night had "a darkness which brought its own horror, suffering, heartbreak and pain; a darkness which brought degradation, torture and death... a darkness which in so many places across the continent destroyed innocence."

He speaking of the brave and compassionate actions of those who emerged to help the dying or wounded, he said: "We give thanks for those lights which demonstrated courage, care, kindness and honour. 

"The ambulance service, fire and rescue, wardens and defence units as well as ordinary good neighbours from across our divide."

Dean Mann said that the indiscriminate bombing of the people of Belfast in 1941 was commemorated with "an anguish that is still real".

He added: "The image of St Anne's amidst the smouldering ruins after a night of destruction from the air is more powerful than many words for me."

Attending the commemoration were Belfast's Lord Mayor Arder Carson and the Queen's Lord Lieutenant of Belfast Fionnuala Jay-O-Boyle CBE, along with representatives of the fire service from Dublin and Drogheda which sent engines during the Blitz.

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