On the night of 31 May 1941, four high-explosive bombs were dropped by German aircraft on the North Strand area of Dublin City. The casualties were many: 28 dead and 90 injured, with 300 houses damaged or destroyed. This bombing was interpreted either as a deliberate ploy by Hitler’s government to force neutral Ireland into the war or as a reprisal for the assistance given by Dublin Fire Brigade during the Belfast Blitz. On 19 June 1941, the Irish government announced that the Nazi government had expressed regret for the North Strand bombing and had promised compensation. The North Strand bombings were the last to occur in Ireland during the Second World War.
Subsequent to the North Strand bombing, some British sources were to express the view that aircraft may have mistaken Dublin for Belfast as a result of the beam bending techniques of the RAF. The Germans were using an array of signal beams for their bombing accuracy – a radio technique that proved extremely accurate after the war, as a navigational aid both for aircraft and shipping.
The British found a way of cueing in on the frequencies and bending the beams, thus conveying erroneous information to the bombers; unfortunately the side effect was that they could not predict where, precisely, the beams would bend; in other words there was no deliberate attempt on their part to divert the German bombers towards Dublin – in any event a city whose lights were on while the blackout existed in Belfast.
Even though the lights were on in Irish towns and cities, they could often be obscured by cloud, but the sky was not that cloudy on the night of the North Strand bombing.
What became West Germany accepted blame for the raid and by 1958 it had paid compensation of £327,000. Over 2,000 claims for compensation were processed by the Irish government, eventually costing £344,000. East Germany and Austria, which were both part of Nazi Germany in 1941, made no contribution. The amounts were fixed after the 1953 Agreement on German External Debts, allowing maximum compensation.
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