Gribbin, Nancy Simms (Nancy)
Civilian War Dead
Died as a result of enemy action on Wednesday 16 April 1941 (aged 74)
Holywood Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 479)
Nancy Simms Gribbin was born on 24 July 1866 in Belfast and she was a daughter of the late James and Sarah Gribbin (nee Simms) who lived in Percy Street, Belfast and before that, in Christopher Street, Belfast.
James Gribbin was a National School teacher and he and Sarah Simms were married on 25 August 1858 in Belfast Registrar’s Office. They had at least four children:
Ellen Mary (born around 1859)
John (born around 1863)
Nancy Simms (born 24 July 1866 in Belfast)
James (born 16 October 1868 in Belfast)
Nancy Gribbin worked as a linen winder and she was 74 when she died on 16 April 1941 at 25 Percy Street, Belfast.
Between 10.45 pm on Easter Tuesday 15 April and 4.30 am on Wednesday 16 April 1941 there was a large-scale German Luftwaffe air raid on the City of Belfast. Other nearby towns and villages, including Bangor and Newtownards, were also attacked. Areas of Bangor where bombs fell included Ashley Gardens, Bangor Golf Clubhouse, Baylands, Farnham Road, Hazeldene Gardens and Ranfurly Avenue. Fires blazed on Scrabo Hill, Newtownards and bombs fell on Green Road, Conlig and Comber Road, Newtownards. At least 29 people with North Down and Ards connections were killed, including the following 15 civilians.
- Matilda Grattan together with her daughters Angeline Grattan and Shelagh Grattan who died at 40 Ashley Gardens in Bangor.
- Margaret Byers Watt who died at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor.
- Robert Wright of 32 Baylands, Bangor who died of his injuries in Bangor Hospital.
- Edith, Henry, Isabella and William Dunwoody; Nancy Simms Gribbin; Thomas Morton; Bessie and Ellen Ogle; William Henry Taggart and Evelyn Tate who all died in Belfast.
That night the aerodrome at Newtownards, which was the Headquarters of 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force was attacked. The aerodrome was guarded by soldiers of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, some of whom were too young for front line service and were deployed instead on the home front. Newtownards aerodrome was attacked with a considerable number of incendiary bombs and some high explosive bombs. One high explosive bomb that fell on the hutments of ‘A’ Company Headquarters killed 13 men, all of whom served with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Most were killed instantly, and the remainder died the following day as a result of their injuries:
- Fusilier William Bellamy (aged 28)
- Fusilier Samuel Burke (aged 18)
- Lance Corporal Alexander Carlisle
- Fusilier Andrew Copling (aged 16)
- Fusilier Hugh Fulton (aged 17)
- Fusilier George Graham
- Fusilier Daniel Higgins
- Fusilier Leslie Love (aged 34)
- Fusilier Samuel McFarland (aged 19)
- Company Quartermaster Sergeant William McMurray (aged 27)
- Fusilier Ernest McNeill (aged 17)
- Warrant Officer Class II Alfred Penfold (aged 36)
- Fusilier Matthew Wright (aged 18)
The casualties were all taken to Ards District Hospital in Newtownards.
There was another casualty with an Ards connection who died during the night of 15/16 April 1941. Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes (aged 23) of 231 Squadron who was in Belfast at the time was killed during the air raid.
During the Blitz an air raid shelter in Percy Street received a direct hit and around 70 people were killed when it collapsed.
Nancy Gribbin was buried on 23 April 1941 in Holywood Cemetery. At the time of writing, the grave is unmarked.
Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the Second World War, the names of some 67,092 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.