Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

Fear and Loathing in Liverpool: The IRA’s 1939 Bombing Campaign on Merseyside

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2012), 161, (1), 25–45.


The Second World War is a staple of popular historical memory and the German bombing campaigns of that conflict have come to overshadow a lesser-known explosive assault on Britain in 1939: that of the dissident Irish Republican Army. There was an IRA bomb incident in or around a major British city almost every other day in the first nine months of 1939. Yet there is a relative paucity of literature on the subject and no microstudies of the campaign’s local impact. The Lancashire cities of Liverpool and Manchester were on the IRA’s list of the five key urban centres to be targeted. In particular Liverpool, with the highest concentration of Irish immigrants, witnessed a series of attacks that elicited strong reaction. This article details the Liverpool IRA’s campaign of 1939 and explores the noirish atmosphere of fear and loathing that it excited.

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Author details

Evans, Bryce