Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HMS Belfast

Commander K. with HMS Belfast on Thames
From Tower Bridge, London
The American Conservative tour of London continues with a stop at the HMS Belfast ( on the South Side of the Thames near the London Bridge tube stop on the Jubilee line.  The HMS Belfast was a cruiser that served in the Royal Navy from its launch on St. Patrick's Day 1938 until her retirement from the active fleet in 1963.  She displaced 10,000 tons, making her a medium-sized Cruiser.  She served in the Arctic convoys escorting vital supplies to the Soviet Union during World War II.  She participated in the battle of the North Cape where she fired on and helped sink the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst on Boxing Day 1943.

6 Inch Gun, Shard in background, London
The HMS Belfast provided naval gunfire with her 6-inch guns in support of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.  She had responsibilty for supporting the British and Canadian landings on "Gold" and "Juno" beaches.

HMS Belfast Ship's Bell
Presented by the people of Belfast 1948
She later saw duty during the Korean war where she again provided shore bombardments in support of South Korean and UN ground forces.  She spent 404 days on active patrol during the Korean War.

Union Jack, HMS Belfast
She opened to visitors on Trafalgar Day 1971 at her present location on the Thames.  She now forms part of the Imperial War Museum that also includes The Churchill War rooms (see earlier post, Churchill War Rooms, 2/1/12) and The IWM Duxford (see earlier post, Duxford and...George Carlin, 4/30/12).

Touring the HMS Belfast today gives one an appreciation for the difficulties of naval service.  Sailors slept in hammocks often in crowded conditions.

Measuring out the Daily Grog Ration
"Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!"
Royal Navy personnel were issued a daily rum ration of grog (3 parts water to one part rum) each day right up until the 1970's.
HMS Belfast, London
The HMS Belfast was ordered by His Majesty's government in 1936 and built by a Corporation -- Harland and Wolff of Belfast (see earlier post, Corporations that Won World War II, 7/20/12) -- the same Corporation that built the ill-fated Titanic.  Her crew was made up of men who had a strong sense of duty and self-sacrifice.  This ship and her crew did their part to end the scourge of Nazism and preserve freedom in South Korea.  She is a constant reminder of the days when Britain really did rule the waves.

Commander Kelly says, "If in London, go check out the HMS Belfast!  Remember all those who served aboard her and think of those who serve us and keep us safe today.  Go Royal Navy!"

PS:  Here is my friend Scott Cummins link on camouflage that features the HMS Belfast...

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P Scott Cummins said...

People always want to know why naval camouflage is, well, not-so-camouflagy. A short course on Razzle Dazzle and the Royal Navy...

Commander Kelly said...

Thanks for that comment and link, Scott. The most interesting information that I have seen on camouflage is Nicholas Rankin's book "Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914 -1945". He discusses the use of artists in the war effort and camouflage in nature at some length.

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