Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The IRA in the 2nd World War

The Irish News runs a daily column entitled 'On This Day' in which historian Eamon Phoenix looks at events that happened 'on this day' some years ago and today he looked back to 1 November 1942.

Britain and her allies were at war with Germany but back in Ulster  the IRA saw this as their opportunity and during the course of the war they staged many terrorist attacks.  Today the newspaper reported that 69 years ago 'ten people - eight civilians and two policemen - were injured by a violent bomb explosion in Herbert Street, off the Crumlin Road' in North Belfast.

Five of the injured were children ranging from seven to fifteen years and six people were detailed in hospital.  A police patrol in Herbert Street had challenged two men, both of whom ran away, dropping a Mills grenade and a loaded revolver.  The grenade exploded injuring eight civilians, one of whom was a seven-year-old boy named Patrick Scullion, from Butler Street.  Most, if not all, of the civilians were Roman Catholics from Ardoyne.  The two policemen were also injured and all the injuries were caused by bomb splinters.

As we approach Remembrance Sunday and remember those who served and those who died in two World Wars and other conflicts, it is helpful to recall incidents such as that in Herbert Street.  Such incidents help to explain why the Sinn Fein lord mayor of Belfast will once again refuse to take part in the offical remembrance ceremonies.

At a time when many Ulstermen and Irishmen, Protestant and Roman Catholic, were fighting on the battlefields of Europe and beyond, fighting to thwart Hitler's evil plans, the IRA was mounting a squalid little terrorist campaign.  I have posted about the links between the IRA and the Nazis on previous occasions but today's newspaper was a timely reminder of those links. 

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