Continuing the naval theme of the previous post on the Mary Rose, here is something far more recent! A time capsule from World War II and a reminder of the debt we owe to servicemen – as well as a great adventure for kids. Being in central London and with elevated views over the City make it one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.
In October 1971, HMS Belfast was berthed in the ‘Pool of London’ on the River Thames, just upstream of Tower Bridge. Her new role was as a floating museum in commemoration of sailors from all branches of military service.
HMS Belfast is a cruiser class ship built at Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1938. She was the sister ship of HMS Edinburgh (lost at sea in 1942). As a cruiser her primary role was as an escort and support to larger battleships; using her speed (max 35 mph) and radius (max 7350 miles range) to quickly get to the trouble spots.
During World War II, the ship and her crew of 766 men, she saw action in the Arctic convoys (keeping supply lines open to Russia), the destruction of the German battleship; Scharnhorst, at the Battle of North Cape and the D-Day landings in 1945. She also played a key role in the Korean War from 1950-52.
HMS was a flagship, meaning an Admiral would also be on-board to take charge of the fleet. On board, you can visit both the Admiral’s Bridge and the separate Captain’s Bridge (the Compass Platform), along with many other areas of the ship; from the engine rooms, to kitchens to the hospital. An awakening insight into life at sea on-board a vessel of the Royal Navy during World War 2.
HMS Belfast is managed today by the Imperial War Museum. It makes for a great visit that is of equal interest to young and old although, naturally, parts of the ship are not fully accessible to the elderly or disabled.
For more information please visit the official website: