Noel Brady was standing with his father at the hall  door of their family home on St. Ignatius Road in Dublin’s North Strand area when they heard the drone of a Nazi Luftwaffe bomber flying overhead.

“I saw flashes in the sky. My father shoved me onto the ground and down on top of me he went. There was a very loud explosion,” he said.

(Left: A Heinkel He 111, the type of aircraft that bombed Dublin.)

It was May 31, 1941, Noel was 21 at the time and a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade. He grabbed his bicycle and raced to the scene and was soon treating the injured in rubble-strewn streets. He would continue to do so for the next 12 hours.

To this day, the death toll is still a little sketchy – at least 28 were killed, and a hundred injured. Three hundred homes were damaged, and all this from one 500 lb. bomb, which was dropped at 2 a.m.

The memories of that night are still with Noel 75 years later. The first person he treated was a man with a gash across his forehead.

“A lot of people were bleeding. I bandaged many people that night. Those that were seriously injured were taken immediately to hospital,” he recalled in an interview with The Herald newspaper.

“A lot of people were frightened, but there was no panic.”

The sight of children’s toys and dolls lying among the rubble was particularly hard to take, though.

As bad as things were, they could have been a lot worse, because it wasn’t just one bomb that had been dropped, there were four in total.

North Strand1

Damaged homes caused by the bomb dropped on the North Strand, in Dublin.

The first bomb fell on the suburb of Ballybough, destroying two houses. The second dropped near the President’s residence in the Phoenix Park, shattering some windows, while the third fell on the North Circular Road. Miraculously, nobody was injured.

Reports later described how the German aircraft that dropped the deadly cargo had circled the city for some time, making low passes across what is now Connolly railway station “as if awaiting instructions of some sort.”

On that day – May 31, 1941 – the Mayor of Baghdad was surrendering that city to British forces, thereby ending the Anglo-Iraqi War. In another theater, British troops were busy evacuating from Crete in the face of German attacks.

Those two events are blips in terms of the history of World War II, as is what happened in Dublin that morning 75 years ago.

I look at the images of North Strand on the day of that tragedy and I shake my head. My heart goes out to those families, but my head thinks of Londoners during the Blitz, and I can’t help but wonder how they coped when bombs rained down on Britain for 57 consecutive days.

German authorities later claimed the bombing to be due to a navigational error – that the real target had been Belfast (British territory, for those unsure of the Irish geo-political map). However, some speculated that it may actually have been a warning to the neutral Irish government, which had sent fire fighters into Belfast to tackle blazes caused by German air raids.

The West German Government later paid £344,000 in compensation for the death and damage that had been caused – but, of course, you can’t put a price on loved one’s lives.

Thankfully, for Ireland, the North Strand bombing would be the closest we would come to enduring the horror of World War II – a blessing for the country, but scant consolation for the families of those who died.

Views: 1151

Tags: The Emergency, War, World War 2

Comment by David Lawlor on June 6, 2016 at 5:23am

Yes, I've been there a few times. I used to stay in a cabin nearby when I was a scout and we would frequently visit the graveyard. It's very peaceful. The body of the spy Hermann Goertz lies there, as do the bodies of the victims of a refugee ship that sunk off the coast, but the name escapes me. 

Comment by Gerry Regan on June 6, 2016 at 4:02pm

This is a compelling story of the Irish during World War 2:

Comment by michael dunne on September 24, 2016 at 10:43am
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Interesting article that may help explain the following three accidental German bombings in Dublin and one in Wexford in 1941. The Dublin bombings were North Strand, killing 29 people, Donore Avenue, no fatalities but the Jewish Synagogue was only narrowly missed. This was Dublin's principal Jewish settlement at the time. The train station in the North Strand (now Connolly) was the main transport system bringing Irish workers to Belfast and on to the UK, and therefore may have been a strategic target. Many Irish also enlisted in the British Army.The third was in or near the Phoenix Park perhaps intended to take out the "unidentified voice" mentioned in this article. These bombings were said to be accidental and meant for Belfast.
The bombing of a butter factory in a small village of Campile, Co Wexford could hardly have been mistaken for a city. This butter factory owned by a British businessman was exporting his produce directly to the Allies. There were two fatalities here.
While we were neutral, it is hard to believe that a young army officer would be stupid enough to ask if these prisoners of war who crash landed in Brandon in 1940, were to be shot because the Curragh was not developed at that time for the detention of prisoners of war.  (Another incident)
Many Irish men and women, despite de Valeras pleadings, headed to Birmingham and Coventry to work in the munitions factories for treble the rate of pay to be had at home. (Farm labourers were abandoning the farm work as there was more money to be had snaring rabbits, as in Lanes poultry shop of Sullivans Lane and Rock Street Tralee, may attest.)  In 1941 an American B17 crash landed in the mountains of Sligo. The survivors were taken across the border to be reunited with their allies there.(National Museum of Ireland)
It is reasonable therefore to assume that intelligence on the ground was in cahoots with the Germans supplying co ordinates etc. Germany may have been giving our Irish neutrality government a subtle reminder of the obligations or strict observance of our "Neutrality" Were these bombings a quid pro quo given the hairy military aircraft incidents of 1941? Those Germans interred in the Curragh had a reasonable amount of freedom there and were billeted beside the Anti Treatites also interned at the time. Much of what is referred to above can be seen in the National Museum Collins Barracks Dublin 7 in its wonderful "Soldiers and Chiefs" exhibition. Its Free and open every day except Monday.
Wing debris from Luftwaffe Focke Wulf 200 Condor air crash site. Mount Brandon, Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry Ireland.Believe it or not...
Sorry but photos did not come out...
"Here's a photo of what is today accepted as being the FW 200C Condor F8+KH Werke Nr. 00015, that crashed on Faha ridge, Mt.Brandon. This was deduced by a couple of data plates recovered in recent years and the fact that no trace of F8+KH can be found in records after August 20th 1940."
Historical Tralee and surounding areas's photo.
"Some luftwaffe and kriegsmarine soldiers in an Irish Internment camp. These soldiers were given £2-£3 a week to buy things like clothes."
Historical Tralee and surounding areas added 5 new photos to the album German plane crashes on Mt Brandon.
23 November 2014 ·
'Luftwaffe Focke Wulf 200 ''Condor'' of KG40 departed Bordeaux in Western France on the morning of the 20th of August, 1940, to carry out weather reconnaissance...
Comment by michael dunne on September 26, 2016 at 7:43pm

There is an exhibit of a Swedish Bophurs anti aircraft gun (commonly known as AK AK) in the National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks. It is part of the wonderful 'Soldiers and Chiefs' exhibition. What makes this gun unique is that it is said to have been the only one that fired at an enemy aircraft in defense of the nation. The gun was in Collinstown at the time of the bombing of the North Strand in which 29 people were killed. Collinstown is only a couple of minutes flying time from North Strand. So the reports that this crew were circling for some time around the skies of Dublin at night suggests they were looking for a precise target so much so that the crew of the Bophurs Ak ak gun was able to get in position and did fire off a few rounds of anti aircraft.


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