Thomas William Bleakley

Civilian Thomas William Bleakley was a joiner from Thorndyke Street, East Belfast, Co. Down. He died in an air raid shelter on the night of 15th April 1941.

Thomas William Bleakley died during the Belfast Blitz on 15th April 1941. Born on 18th December 1890, he was the son of Thomas William Bleakley and Agnes Bleakley (née McLean) of Ashton Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

Thomas had an older brother Robert Bleakley born on 2nd October 1888. Younger siblings followed; Lilian Bleakley born on 4th November 1892, Mary Johnston Bleakley born on 28th September 1894, Edmund Bleakley born on 19th April 1897, Oscar Dallas Bleakley born on 28th August 1899, Cecil Joseph Bleakley born on 14th May 1902, Albert Bleakley born on 23rd August 1905. During this time, the family moved from Ashton Street to Lawther Place to Tamar Street to Witham Street to Laburnum Street to Crystal Street and to East Bread Street.

Belfast Blitz - Thorndyke Street

Belfast Telegraph Photo: AR 175 (Part of the Belfast Telegraph Collection). Rescue teams, Air Raid Precaution Wardens and Vicars amongst the remains of Thorndyke Street, Belfast. 16th April 1941.

By April 1941, Thomas lived at 8 Thorndyke Street, Belfast, Co. Down with his wife Matilda Violet Bleakley (née Crotty). Thomas and Matilda married on Christmas Day 25th December 1913 at Newtownards Road Methodist Church, Belfast, Co. Down. The couple shared their small terraced house with Matilda’s sister Mary Ann Crotty. Thomas and Matilda had 3 children, William Thomas Bleakley born on 17th December 1914, Marion Crotty Bleakley born in September 1916, and Edmund Bleakley born in 1918.

Thomas William Bleakley died when the roof of the Thorndyke Street public air raid shelter collapsed. Many of those inside the shelter died in The Easter Raid of 15th April 1941. He was 51 years old. His funeral took place on 21st April 1941 at Dundonald Cemetery, Dundonald, Co. Down.