Evacuees and refugees


As a result of the war, many children and indeed entire families from Belfast were either evacuated from the city or left for their own safety in the aftermath of the Blitz. Wilma McVittie remembers that ‘the roads were black with people’ leaving Belfast on account of the air raids.

Mary Moore’s father went into Belfast after the Easter Tuesday air raid and brought out an old aunt and her family who stayed with them until winter. Leith Burgess’ parents were among the thousands of people who simply walked out of Belfast after the Blitz seeking refuge in the surrounding countryside. Edmund O’Donnell remembers evacuees from Belfast being sent to any vacant house around Toome and that on one night 200 evacuees were put up in Gortgill School, with straw thrown on the floor for them. In looking back on the evacuees, Frankie Dale comments: ‘They were different. The women fought – the countrywomen didn’t fight. … They were always ready for battle’.

Mary Ann Higgins remembers the evacuees

‘There were a lot of them around. We thought it was great fun to get these new Belfast people. Oh, they were interested in the farm you see, and out to get the cows and to see the milk. Some of them then asked which one gave the buttermilk! They were quite good fun.’
South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: