German aircraft first bombed neutral Ireland during the Second World War on August 26, 1940. Three people died. In January, 1941, German bombs fell on several locations along the east coast of Ireland, but without loss of life. The Nazi government said the bombings occurred because German aircraft mistook the Ireland’s east coast for the west coast of Britain.
In the aftermath of the German bombing of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on the night of April 15-16, 1941, the Dublin Fire Brigade traveled to Belfast to assist.
Seventy-five years ago, on the night of May 31, 1941, four bombs were dropped by German aircraft on Dublin, resulting in 34 dead and 90 injured, with hundreds of houses damaged or destroyed.
Some interpreted the bombing as a reprisal for the assistance given to Belfast. William Joyce, known as Lord Haw Haw, had broadcast a warning that Amiens Street railway station in Dublin might be bombed because of the large number of Belfast bombing refugees arriving at Amiens Street. The rail station lay only a few hundred yards from where the German bombs exploded.
One German pilot later said he was asked to bomb Belfast, but his two squadrons of thirty planes approached Dublin by mistake.
The German minister in Dublin suspected the British had dropped the bombs to force Ireland into the war.
Some in Britain felt that neutral Ireland was paying the price for “sitting on the fence” during the war against the Third Reich.
The idea has been suggested that British scientists bent the German radio beam to lure Luftwaffe bombers away from Britain and towards Dublin. In fact, the British could not bend the German beams; however, they could “smother” the German radio navigation signals so that the aircraft would wander around the sky searching for the genuine signals. Two days before the Dublin bombing, many aircraft had flown up the Irish coast. They were heard to drop their bombs over the sea after presumably realizing they were not over their intended target.
|Funeral of the Dublin victims.|
Churchill, furious that Ireland refused to allow Britain the use of three former Royal Navy ports, would not have been upset if British interference caused the Luftwaffe to bomb Dublin. Had the bombers been misled by the British?
The German government apologized for the bombing and, after the war, West Germany paid compensation.