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Belfast was ready for war at the end of the 1930s. Indeed, many people positively welcomed it.

Weapons were needed. As an industrial city, Belfast could provide ships and aircraft.

The war also provided the city and the province with the opportunity to show the rest of Britain where it stood.

As Stormont had told Westminster in 1938: "This house ... assures the Prime Minister ... that should any crisis arise, he can confidently rely upon the people of loyal Ulster to share the responsibilities and burdens with their kith and kin in other parts of the United Kingdom and the Empire..."

And the other strong motivating factor, not so much political as practical, was the beneficial effect a wartime economy would have on Northern Ireland's unemployment problem, which, at the time, was a serious one.

But if Belfast entered the war with a will, it also entered it, through no fault of its citizens, with its eyes closed.

And it was the ordinary people of Belfast who bore the brunt of this official lack of foresight. More than 1,000 paid with their lives.

Never was a city more ill-prepared for war.

This state of unreadiness is shown in a reprinted edition of Bombs On Belfast, a pictorial record of the effects of the German Blitz on the city in the months of April and May 1941.

The photographs, reproduced from those taken at the time by Belfast Telegraph staff, tell their own story of the human misery and horrific damage caused by the tons of German bombs which fell 70 years ago.

The book (£7.99) is available from Easons, WH Smith, Waterstones, Bookshop @ Queen's, and online at www.booksNI.com.

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