4th May in wartime Northern Ireland

On 4th May 1941, Luftwaffe bombers made their way from mainland Europe to Northern Ireland, wreaking havoc across Belfast in what became known as The Fire Raid.

Squadron Leader John William Charles Simpson D.F.C. at Aldergrove

On 4th May 1941, Flight Lieutenant Bertrand John Henry Daventry – a photographer with the Royal Air Force – captured a smiling Squadron Leader John William Charles Simpson D.F.C. at R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim. Simpson sat in his Hawker Hurricane I W9145 DX-L with the customised door panel showing his trademark jester painting. Also visible are 11 Swastika markings showing his victories over the Luftwaffe. The 11th came on 8th April 1941 as the Luftwaffe attacked Belfast. A 12th victory would follow in the early hours of 5th May 1941.

Simpson downed a Heinkel HE-111 at 0139hrs on 8th April 1941. This was his first night-time kill, destroying the plane and bringing it down in the Irish Sea around 10 miles east of Downpatrick, Co. Down. The bomb load on the Heinkel exploded on impact.

His final claim during the Belfast Blitz came during the Fire Raid. Simpson took off from Aldergrove Airfield at 0030hrs on 5th May 1941, engaging the enemy, and bringing a Junkers JU-88 down over Ardglass, Co. Down.

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