Northern Ireland

Belfast Blitz anniversary marked at commemoration service

St Anne's Cathedral Blitz commemoration Image copyright Pacemaker

The 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz has been marked at a commemoration service at St Anne's Cathedral.

About 1,000 people were killed and 100,000 people made homeless after 200 Luftwaffe planes bombed the city on 15 April 1941 during World War Two.

It was the worst wartime raid outside of London in the UK.

The service featured 1,000 burning candles to represent those who died.

Image caption Two fire engines that helped during the aftermath of the Blitz returned to Belfast for the service

Lord Mayor Arder Carson and Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, the Lord Lieutenant for Belfast, were among those who attended the service led by the Very Reverend John Mann, the Dean of Belfast.

Representatives from the fire service in Dublin and Drogheda were also represented at the service in recognition of engines sent from those areas to Belfast during the Blitz.

A pair of Merryweather fire engines, which attended in the wake of the bombings in 1941, also returned to Belfast and were parked outside the cathedral during the service.

Image copyright other
Image caption On 15 April 1941, 200 Luftwaffe planes bombed the city leaving 1,000 people dead

Rev Mann said there was "sadness" around the event but also "a recognition of courage, a recognition of support".

"One of the key features is that we've lit 1,000 candles to represent the number of people that died," he said.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The service marked the culmination of a weekend of commemoration events

"I laid out quite a lot of those and it took ages to lay them. That really brought home to me how it was for each single life.

"So even though it looks like a massive light at the moment, it does represent a lot of people that died and, of course, there were many, many injured as well."

One of those who attended the event was Gerry Gribben, who experienced the Blitz as a child.

"It was hard times, sad times, even when you were only a child you knew there was something terrible happening.

Image caption Gerry Gribben, who lived through the Blitz, was one of those who attended the service

"The biggest devastation of all was seeing parts of streets that you knew, houses all lying in rubble.

"People lived there and they lost their homes. They were very meaningful things to us then.

"They were sad days for us but it's beautiful to have a ceremony here to commemorate it and remember those who lost their lives," he said.

The service marked the culmination of a weekend of commemoration events around Belfast.

Image caption Rev John Mann said the service was a recognition of both sadness and courage

On Saturday, families from across Northern Ireland gathered at the War Memorial gallery for a Blitz-themed open day.

Organisers said it was important to preserve the memories of those who lived through the Blitz for future generations.

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