An air raid, a car crash, and a day in court

A traffic collision in Belfast during the Blitz of 1941 lead to a member of the Ulster Home Guard and a Civil Defence Volunteer appearing in court in Belfast.

On 8th January 1942, a hearing took place at Belfast Quarter Sessions before Judge McGonigal. Samuel McIlwrath, a volunteer in the Ulster Home Guard, of Parkmount Terrace, Whitehouse, Co. Antrim claimed for damages caused to his car during April of the previous year.

On the night of 15th-16th April 1941, McIlwrath took his car to dive his mother and two children to safety as air raid sirens sounded across Belfast. At around 0045hrs, he was nearing a relative’s house on Carnmoney Road. He was in a hurry as he was on the way to report for duty at his local Home Guard post.

A second car driven by a Civil Defence Rescue Squad Leader collided with McIlwrath’s vehicle at the junction of Carnmoney Road and Mill Road. Eugene McLaughlin, also of Whitehouse, was on his way to leave his car at his brother’s house before reporting for duty.

The incident took place as panicked locals began to fill the roads while Luftwaffe planes attacked the city. McLaughlin swerved across the road, startled by the flash of nearby Anti-Aircraft guns before the collision.

Mr. G.B. Hannah instructed by Mr. H.J. Catchpole appeared for the defendant, while Mr. R.M. McBurney instructed by Mr. Eric Morrow appeared for the plaintiff. The compensation claim was for £14 15s to cover damage caused to the car as a result of the incident.

Judge McGonigal dismissed the claim, believing the accidental collision took place as a result of the large number of people walking on the roads at the time.

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