Bombing of Dublin in World War II

Discussion in 'Others' started by Bob Wilton, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. Bob Wilton

    Bob Wilton Junior Member

    What do our members know about the bombing of the Irish Republic which was neutral in WWII?
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Bob some info below

    The first bombing of Dublin in World War II occurred early on the morning of 2 January 1941, when German bombs were dropped on the Terenure area of south Dublin.[1] This was followed, early on the following morning of 3 January 1941, by further German bombing of houses on Donore Terrace in the South Circular Road area of south Dublin.[2][3] A number of people were injured, but no one was killed in these bombings. Later that year, on 31 May 1941, four German bombs fell in north Dublin, killing 28 people, with the greatest damage in the North Strand area. [4][8]

    Why the Nazis bombed Dublin

    One of the great mysteries of the Second World War is a step nearer being solved, reports Robert Fisk

    Robert Fisk [​IMG]

    Sunday 24 January 1999


    THE GUILT-STRICKEN confession of an ex-Luftwaffe pilot, the schoolboy memories of an Irish-born British army officer and a pile of 50-year-old intelligence files have conspired to re-open the great mystery of Irish neutrality in the Second World War: why did Germany bomb the "open" city of Dublin on the night of 31 May 1941?
    The attack on the North Strand in Dublin killed 34 Irish civilians and wounded 90, prompting apologies from Nazi Germany and claims by the British that de Valera's neutral Ireland was at last paying the price for "sitting on the fence" during the war against the Third Reich. After the war, Germany paid compensation to the Irish Republic for what it described as a military error, while British intelligence officers suggested that the German aircraft - en route to a target in the United Kingdom - had been deliberately steered towards Dublin by RAF experts who had "bent" the Luftwaffe direction-finding radio beams.
    Now an elderly German - living in Canada and calling himself only Heinrich, but insisting he was one of the Luftwaffe pathfinder pilots on the night of the Dublin bombing - has broadcast an appeal for forgiveness over RTE, Irish state radio. He was asked to bomb Belfast, he said, but his two squadrons of 30 aircraft approached Dublin by mistake. "Please forgive me for this mistake which was beyond our control," Heinrich told reporter Micheal Holmes. "There was no wrongdoing on our side. Everybody was upset, not only the members of the [German] air force, but politically as well."
    Heinrich, however, muddied the moral waters by expressing admiration for Hitler - "I thought him quite a guy," he said. "I was impressed because he let me criticise my boss [Air Minister] Goering. I thought he was a very kind man. I say he was a weakling because he was too kind." And Heinrich did not express any sorrow for the people of Belfast, supposedly the real target that night, who endured two terrible nights of Luftwaffe raids the previous month in which almost 1,000 Protestant and Catholic civilians were slaughtered by hundreds of Luftwaffe bombers.
    Enter, then, Colonel Edward Flynn, second cousin of neutral Ireland's Minister for Coordination of Defensive Measures, one-time British army officer and former special adviser to the Bahraini government. "I was home in Ireland from my boarding school in England and I remember hearing a broadcast by William Joyce [Lord Haw Haw] in which he warned that Amiens Street railway station in Dublin might be bombed," he said. According to Colonel Flynn, Joyce took exception to the large number of Belfast bombing refugees arriving by the hundred at Amiens Street. The station, now called Connolly after one of the the executed leaders of the 1916 rising, was only a few hundred yards from North Strand, where the German bombs exploded.
    "I also remember Joyce complaining that the Irish were shipping cattle to Britain from the docks at Dundalk and threatened that it would be bombed if this continued," Colonel Flynn said. "And my father and I were in Dundalk the night a German aircraft bombed the quayside there a few days later. It was a clear night and we actually saw the plane coming in from the north." Dundalk, a tiny port on the Irish east coast, was indeed shipping cattle to Britain during the war.
    A contemporary issue of the Irish Independent reported, under heavy censorship, that the aircraft's origins were "unknown", but a spokesman for the Irish army's Archives in Dublin explained last week that intelligence files compiled after the attack on George's Quay, Dundalk, in the early hours of 4 July 1941, noted that the aircraft had approached from the north (as Flynn described it) and that a bomb fragment bore "the imprint of the German eagle".
    Histories of the Luftwaffe's Blitz on Britain later suggested that in their efforts to deflect the bombers, British scientists had "bent" the German radio direction beams - the Knickebein or "crooked leg" system of navigation - and sent German aircraft in the direction of neutral Ireland. In fact, the British could not "bend" the beams, which were sent out from occupied France and Norway. But they could interfere with the radio signals and force aircraft to lose their way.
    An intriguing series of reports from the once secret intelligence files of the Irish army suggest that this had already happened on 28 May 1941 - two days before the Dublin bombing - when large numbers of aircraft, almost certainly German, flew up the Irish coast and then became confused when they reached the Irish capital. Many of them were then heard to drop their bombs over the sea after presumably realising they were not over a UK target.
    Irish neutrality has thrown up many myths. Churchill, outraged that the Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera refused to loan Britain three former Royal Navy ports which the pre-war British government had handed back to Ireland, believed that de Valera was secretly allowing U-boats to refuel in west of Ireland ports and their crews to come ashore - a claim later proved to be false. The British were obsessed that the German legation in Dublin would radio prior information about the D-Day landings to Germany, even though Irish army intelligence had already removed the Germans' radio set. Almost every German spy parachuted into Ireland was captured at once.
    But the bombing of Dublin remains one of the great mysteries. Did Berlin wish to punish de Valera for sending his fire brigades north to help Belfast after the April bombings in Northern Ireland? Did Germany wish to warn Ireland against sympathising too greatly with Belfast victims of the Blitz? Or were the Germans angry at Ireland's trade with Britain?
    Oddly, a German broadcast three weeks before the Dublin bombings warned that "to gain their ends, the British intend to bomb Eire and then declare that this crime was carried out by Germany". But the bomb fragments, Germany's apology and now Heinrich's admission make it clear that the Luftwaffe was to blame. Had the bombers been misled by the British? Quite probably, although they would not have been able to redirect the planes. But given Churchill's state of suppressed fury with de Valera, the British would probably not have been upset if they had sent the Luftwaffe off to bomb Dublin.
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery



    North Strand Bombings - 31 May 1941

    [​IMG]Select Language[​IMG][​IMG]

    On Saturday May 31st, 1941 between 1.55am - 2.10 am, German bombs fell on Dublin centred in the North Strand area of the City which resulted in many casualties and damage to property. Since then, Historians have offered various analysis as to the reasons surrounding the North Strand Bombing by German aircraft. Likely causes from bending of radio beams by British intelligence to accidental or no accident have been proffered. To date no evidence has been adduced to corroborate either theory. However surviving Luftwaffe aerial photographs show that Nazi Germany had acquired detailed knowledge of Dublin City and County extracted from images taken in July, August and December 1940, which pinpointed with great accuracy the exact locations of military and commercial locations within the Dublin area. Of particular interest was the minute detail in photographs showing Dublin Port and the Liffey Dockyard. In December 1940, when several of these pictures were taken Desmond Mulvany was employed in the Liffey Dockyard as an electrician degaussing British and Allied vessels. He had previously worked in the Cammell Laird Shipyard See also: Cammell Laird: The Shipyard That Won The Atlantic in Birkenhead as an electrician and was brought to Dublin on secondment with a Royal Navy intelligence officer to advise the Liffey Dockyard staff on the methodology of routing an electric charge through cables that had been encircled around the hull of ships to demagnetise vessels in order to prevent activation of magnetic mines. During WWII all sorts of mines were developed and used, sometimes complete minefields were created. A particularly deadly variety was the magnetic mine which was engineered by German naval research into torpedo and mine fuses and they successfully developed a magnetic proximity fuse. The magnetic mine was based on the principle that when the residual magnetism of a ship distorted the local geomagnetic field of the sensor, it activated the mine's magnetic needle of the trigger. One of the countermeasures was the installation of wiping stations which degaussed or demagnetised the ship's natural magnetic field. There is also anecdotal family evidence which suggests the German Ambassador to Ireland Eduard Hempel had become aware of what was going on in the Liffey Dockyard and had been seen in the Dockyard warning staff of the consequences of breaching Irish neutrality. These aerial photographs prove beyond doubt that Hitler was targeting Irish military locations to explore vulnerabilities. A view has been expressed that there is no extant evidence which indicates that a German invasion was being planned or imminent and that these images are only surveillance photographs which could be expected from belligerents engaged in military operations against each other. That opinion is naive in many respects. The Luftwaffe on their flights over Ireland were not taking snaps as souvenirs for some photo archive back in Germany. Surveillance images which show the precise locations of military installations and commercial targets have only one purpose in a time of war and that is to seek out and identify the weaknesses and strengths of a predetermined target to overcome defences. The multiple targeting of various Irish military installations and commercial locations within Dublin City and County by the Nazis had military objectives and it was not only just for surveillance. Indeed the amount of detail and precise knowledge that had been accumulated on each location within the Dublin area is very revealing and would suggest that the Nazis had already acquired eyes on the ground intelligence from their agents or collaborators operating in Ireland. It is also instructive to note that by the end of December 1940 Irish flagged neutral vessels had already been attacked and sunk by German aircraft and U-Boats with the loss of merchant seamen from Ireland, the UK, Norway and Argentina. The North Strand Bombing of the 31st May 1941 was a plausible deniable Luftwaffe military incursion into Irish sovereign territory, and but for the sacrifice of UK and allied forces which includes many Irishmen and Irishwomen and former students of Trinity College Dublin, Nazi jackboots would have been marching on Dublin streets. Lest We Forget. Photo Slideshow link HERE - Pathe News/Germans Bomb Dublin Link HERE : Pathe News/Eire Bombed 1941 Link HERE : Pathe News/London's Biggest Blitz Link HERE:
  5. Bob Wilton

    Bob Wilton Junior Member

    When I was in the Army I had a civilian married quarter flat in a village called Heidenoldendorf.The next door neighbour was bomber crew who had bombed Liverpool.He told me that they flew from his base in Norway and approached Liverpool from the west coast of Ireland.He told me that Northern Ireland had not lights on but the whole of Southern Ireland had its lights on,so they kept the lights on the right.I wonder if the date that Dublin was bombed was the same night they bombed Belfast because my dad was on duty that night with the South Staffords.
  6. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day of dublin in ww2.thank you for your informative thread.i was not aware of the bombing of ireland.i never heard it discust during the war,they must have thought it was best not to make it public at the time.regards bernard85
  7. Bob Wilton

    Bob Wilton Junior Member

    Looking at the bomb damage to Dublin it looks like it was bombed by many aircraft.I wonder if they had a blackout after they were bombed.Does anyone know?
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    I cannot confirm your question.

    However my late mother always said that the Germans used the Lights of Dublin as a guide to bomb the Liverpool area.

    I have no idea how she came by this reasoning.

  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Bob
    scant info but
    Blitz Then and Now volume 3

    States 90 enemy aircraft dropped bombs on the Merseyside/Bristol Channel.Bombs also fell on Dublin where 40 fatal casualties occurred .

  10. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member

    Hello Bob
    scant info but
    Blitz Then and Now volume 3

    States 90 enemy aircraft dropped bombs on the Merseyside/Bristol Channel.Bombs also fell on Dublin where 40 fatal casualties occurred .


    After the Battle covered the incident in issue 156


    I have a copy somewhere, I'll try and find it.
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Can other members see a glitch on this thread from post #5 onwards?
    Everything seems to have moved over to the right .
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    yes shift right it has
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Yes it has shifted right, starting at Post No 5.

  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD
    From The Times, Wed 28th August, 1940
    Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 18.53.55.png
  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    There were raids on the Republic on three seperate days. On Jan 1 1941 three bombs were dropped between Drogheda and Julianstown. On Jan 2nd 1941 a bomb killed three people at Boris County Carlow, that evening three bombs fell on Wexford, four on Dublin and three on the Curragh race course and over twenty people were killed. On 30th May 1941 North Strand Dublin was bombed and 34 killed and several hundred injured. Attempts were made to blame the RAF for the January bombings but enough bomb fragments were recovered to identify the bombs as German

    Source Clair Wills, That Neutral Island a Cultural History of Ireland during the Second World War, Faber and Faber 2007 Pages 208 212

    Although Fisk is almost correct in saying that every German agent was quickly arrested by the Irish authorities they were not so diligent at keeping hold of them and two broke out of Mountjoy prison. This event caused something of a hooha with the Garda running around arresting passers by (including my Uncle who was a divinity student at Trinity College Dublin).

    The story about the lights of Dublin being used as a navigation aid was quite widespread (which of course has no bearing on its accuracy) my maternal Grandmother who was then living in Omagh had heard it and repeated it many times during my childhood.

    The humorous writer Patrick Campbell had a story of how he nearly got Ireland into the war. During the Emergency he had volunteered for the Irish Marine Service and his job was to use a launch to intercept and inspect unexpected merchant shipping heading for Dublin and check their papers etc if they were valid he would then fire a Very light signal. If no signal was fired and the ship continued to head for the port a battery of Irish Army field guns would open fire on it. One December night he boarded a strange ship. It turned out to be a Japanese passenger vessel that had just picked up a wireless broadcast about Pearl Harbour etc and had diverted course to the nearest neutral harbour - Dublin. At this point Campbell realised that he had left his flare pistol behind. The ship did not carry a flare pistol and her captain was determined to keep heading for port. If the Irish Army sank a Japanese passenger ship war was a distinct possibility. As it happened the lookout at the battery was derelict in his duty and no shots were fird.
  16. Graham D

    Graham D New Member

    I have found myself here whilst looking for any mention of a relative, who, when I was at junior school in the 50s my family would often visit. He was my late uncle Tim, my father's half brother who told me a story I've never forgotten. Finding this forum thread and the talk of folk not knowing why Dublin was bombed got me posting my story.

    My uncle Tim was an electronics engineer in WW2 and did his best to teach me about thermionic valve technology in the 50s, when I was about 8 or 9 years old. (Electronic later became a subject of great interest in my life.) He once talked about his time during WW2 when he was working on the early British radar development in some special assignment team. I remember him talking about his team being responsible for a surprise nighttime bombing of Dublin by the German air force. He explained those bombs should have been dropped into the Irish Sea. He explained that the German aircraft were navigating at night by cunningly flying along a radar beam being transmitted by the Germans and would drop their bombs when they encountered a second radar beam that crossed their flight path as this was when they were over their target city. He talked of his team knowing the target location method being used by the German pilots. The team was tasked with transmitting a different radar beam that would cross the German flight path's radar beam before the bombers got to the German's crossing beam. Tim's team's beam was meant to cross the bomber's flight path over the Irish sea, but they got the crossing point wrong and so he told me Dublin was bombed unintentionally !!

    Maybe he was operating under the official secrets act and shouldn't have told me, but he did! I do not know what city the German pilots were expecting to bomb, or what their navigational flight path would have been, and I don't even know where my uncle was posted on this radar development mission. I'd certainly be interested to learn anything that throws light on the story my uncle Tim told me.
  17. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard. I had a quick look searching for threads that contain 'beams' and this thread explains the RAF beam navigation system (especially the last post): The challenge of getting home after WW2 | Royal British Legion

    Then: Lancashire Air Raids Which cites Professor R.V. Jones book 'Most Secret War' on scientific warfare, which I would recommend - it covers many more subjects than radar / navigation. See Post 12 on the author: Boffins

    Yikes still more: Luftwaffe Navigation Radio Beams and Greetings from Ireland - which may have stimulated this thread?
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

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