Belfast Telegraph

Urgent appeal as Belfast monument to Blitz dead falls into disrepair

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

An appeal has been made for a monument in memory of more than 150 victims of the Belfast Blitz to be better maintained.

Almost 1,000 people were killed during two Luftwaffe bombing raids in April and May 1941; however, there is still no civic memorial dedicated to those who died, and a monument for 154 unidentified bodies buried in a mass grave in west Belfast has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

During a full meeting of Belfast City Council, Sinn Fein’s Tom Hartley made an urgent appeal for the City Cemetery stone tribute to be cleaned up.

“There is a memorial to over 150 Belfast citizens — unknown citizens who perished in the Blitz in April and May 1941,” he said.

“The stone was erected in 1953 and there used to be a very nice hedge and the monument was maintained to a very high standard. But over the last few years the hedge has disappeared.

“Could I ask that a report be brought back to the parks (committee) on the state of the monument to the Blitz dead in the Belfast City Cemetery and that action is taken to actually maintain and look after that site?”

Hundreds of Blitz victims were laid out in temporary mortuaries at St George’s Market and the Falls swimming baths.

However, bodies and parts of bodies that were never identified were buried in mass graves in the City and Milltown cemeteries.

Cllr Hartley’s appeal comes after the Blitz grave at Milltown cemetery, which holds 30 nameless bodies, was restored by the Northern Ireland War Memorial.

A short ceremony is to be held tomorrow on the 71st anniversary of the second major bombing raid on Belfast in 1941.

War Memorial chairman CT Hogg, who is to lay a wreath on the mass grave, said: “The Blitz was the single greatest disaster in the history of the city of Belfast.”

DUP man William Humphrey said: “Those of us who have loved ones in war graves know only too well the hurt that can be caused to (visiting) families when graves are damaged or not looked after.

“I also support the issue around the Blitz monument. It is important to remember the sacrifice that this city made.”

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