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Bombs over Britain

James Durney

In the dark days of 1940, following the surrender of France, Belgium and Holland, Britain stood alone in her fight against Nazi Germany. At the beginning of September, after an accidental bombing of south-east London and RAF retaliatory attacks against Berlin, Adolf Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to begin a reprisal campaign against British cities. The examples of Warsaw and Rotterdam, which had produced sudden collapses in Polish and Dutch resistance, were a clear inspiration in this new policy. The difference was that the British population soon proved to be made of sterner stuff than Hitler and his generals believed. For seventy-six consecutive days the Germans bombed London. The London Blitz began on 7 September and soon German bombs were being dropped on other major cities, including Belfast and Derry.
The bombing campaign, designed to break the spirit of the British public, continued until May 1941 and resulted in over 30,000 deaths. Air-raids continued throughout the war, culminating in V1 and V2 rocket attacks in the summer of 1944. Hundreds of Kildare people were living and working in Britain and at least eleven people from the county were killed in air-raids in Britain:
30 August 1940. Miss Kathleen Whelan (24), Curragh Camp, was killed in an air raid on Liverpool.
October 1940. Henry (28) and Simon (26) Rose, Ballyfair, The Curragh, were killed in an air raid on London.
2 November 1940. Thomas Behan, a WWI veteran and winner of the Military Medal and Croix de Guerre, was killed in a raid on Coventry. He was the son of Patrick and Mary Behan, Derrymullen, Robertstown.
Miss E. Pierce, Athy, was killed in London during an air-raid in December.
Dr Edward J. O’Kelly, Maynooth, was killed in an air-raid at his residence, 30 Oakley Square, London, in April 1941.
Mr Thomas J. O’Farrell, son of Mr Daniel O’Farrell and the late Mrs O’Farrell, Main St, Naas, was killed in an air raid on London, in October 1941, while on A.R.P. duty.
October 1941. Miss Kathleen Crosby (24), daughter of Mr. Daniel Crosby, Sallins, was killed in an air raid on Liverpool.
Patrick Barnwell (29), son of Patrick and Julia Barnwell, Lough Brown, Newbridge, died of injuries received on 4 May 1942 in an air raid on Ryde.
Josephine O’Connor (34), whose parents were from Rathangan, died in a raid on Wansworth on 19 February 1944.
On August 2 1944 Bridget Nevin (73), daughter of James Nevin, Sallins, was killed in a V1 rocket attack.

Leinster Leader 21 September 1940
Victim of Liverpool Air Raid
Popular Kildare Girl Killed
One of the victims of a recent German air raid on Liverpool was Miss Kathleen Whelan, who was killed when a bomb struck the house in the Knotty Ash district of the city where Miss Whelan resided with her aunt and other members of the family. The news caused sincere regret in Co. Kildare where the deceased young lady (she was 24) was well-known and very popular. She was a noted camogie player and some seasons back represented Co. Kildare in many a hard-fought game. Deceased was a daughter of Corporal Murtagh, Mechanical Transport, Curragh Camp, and sister-in-law of Coy Sergt. Dan Douglas, the brilliant Laoighis Co. and Army footballer. Widespread and very sincere sympathy goes out to the bereaved family and relatives of the deceased.

Leinster Leader 2 November 1940
Killed in London Air Raid
Members of Curragh Family
A bomb which struck a block of flats in the West London area brought grievous sorrow to Mrs H. Rose, Ballyfair, The Curragh, as it killed two of her sons and a son-in-law. The dead are Henry Rose (28), Simon Rose (26), and Mr de Bonis. The last-named was the husband of Emily, a sister of the deceased brothers. Mrs Emily de Bonis and other members of family were also in the house when the fatal bomb wrecked it, but they escaped with their lives. Reports published in Irish papers stated, erroneously, that Mrs Emily de Bonis was killed.
The dead brothers, Henry and Simon Rose, were Curragh born but, with other brothers and sisters, have been living and working in London for some years. The family is well-known and highly respected in the Curragh area. In London, five of the Rose boys, including the two deceased young men, were popular and prominent members of Round Tower GAA Club. The mother of the family, Mrs H. Rose (who has been widowed for over twelve years) is greatly esteemed and respected in the Curragh area. Mrs rose is a valued and most popular member of the Women’s Section of the Brownstown Branch of the British Legion. The most sincere sympathy is expressed with Mrs Rose and the surviving members of her family in their tragic loss.

Link with Athy
The daily report that a Mrs. Treacy of London, who has lost a son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter in the air raids on London, is a native of near Athy and aged over 80 years, has aroused considerable interest in Athy. Exhaustive inquiries made this week failed to associate her with Athy or discover any of her relatives in the district.

Leinster Leader 21 December 1940
London Air Raid Victims
News had reached Athy that Miss E. Pierce, who, until two years ago, was employed as an assistant in Mr Shaw’s drapery establishment at Athy, was killed in London during an air-raid last week.
A bomb struck a London house in which Miss M. Dunne, grand-daughter of Mrs. Margaret Dunne, Nelson Street, Athy, was residing. She escaped with slight injuries. Her employers were badly hurt.

Leinster Leader 26 April 1941
Killed in Air Raid
Irish Doctor’s Death
Sincere sympathy has been aroused in Co. Kildare by the tragic death of Dr. Edward J. O’Kelly, in an air-raid at his residence, 30 Oakley Square, London.
Deceased was a son of the late Dr. Thos. O’Kelly, of Maynooth, who was a sterling Nationalist in the old Parnellite days, and was also an enthusiastic supporter of the GAA at its initiation.
The late Dr. Edwd. O’Kelly was a medical student of University College, and during the stirring times prior to 1916 organised the Volunteers in Kildare. He held the rank of Commandant of the 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade, IRA, and led the Maynooth and Kildare men to Dublin in Easter Week.
He was married to Miss Maisie Stallard, second daughter of the late George Stallard of Dunville House, Kilkenny, who survives him. Deceased was related to the late Cardinal Cullen. His many old friends of the National Cause in Maynooth and other parts of the country will deeply regret to learn of the tragic occurrence, and will extend their heartfelt sympathy to his widow. The funeral took place on Friday after 10 o’clock Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Hal, London NW 1.

Leinster Leader 1 November 1941
Naas Man’s Death in London on A.R.P. Duty

The announcement of the death in London of Mr. Thomas J. O’Farrell, son of Mr Daniel O’Farrell and the late Mrs. O’Farrell, Main St, Naas has aroused feelings of the deepest sympathy in the town and district. No definite details are available as to the circumstances of deceased’s death, but it is known at the time he was engaged in A.R.P. (Air Raid Prevention) work.
The late Mr. O’Farrell had an important position in a chemical works in Croydon, and had been only recently promoted manager of the concern. He had always taken the keenest interest in chemistry, and research work in this industry was both his hobby and his profession. Prior to going to London he was employed in Coventry and was there when that city received its terrific aerial bombardment. Deceased had also worked in Salisbury. A laboratory technician of outstanding ability, he was for three years in Philadelphia, USA, where he assisted in one of the laboratories under the direction of the eminent pathologist, Dr. Browne. In Naas, deceased was a popular favourite with all sections of the community.
Of a very happy disposition, he took a prominent part in social activities in the town, and was noted for his great organising capabilities in the initiation and carrying out of dances and other functions. His unexpected and very sad death will be deeply mourned by his many old friends, and sincere sympathy will be extended to his bereaved father, brother and sister in their irreparable loss. The interment took place in London on Tuesday.
The chief mourners are Mr. Daniel O’Farrell (father), Mr. Donald O’Farrell (brother), Mrs. J. A. Purcell (sister).

Killed in Air-Raid
News has been received of the death which took place in an air raid on Liverpool, of Miss Kathleen Crosby (24), daughter of Mr. Daniel Crosby, Sallins, Co. Kildare. Deep sympathy is expressed with the bereaved father and other members of the family in their tragic loss.

Leinster Leader  4 March 1944
Rathangan girl killed in London
Miss Josephine O’Connor, daughter of Mrs. and the late Mr. J. O’Connor, Coolegagen, who was killed in an air raid on London, was a domestic nurse who had been working in London for a number of years.

An article by James Durney to mark the 70th anniversary of the London Blitz from the archives of the Leinster Leader. Our thanks to James.

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