HMS Belfast is a museum ship moored on the River Thames, which warrants a fascinating family day out. The ship was launched in 1938 and this year marks its 75th anniversary, making it an even more special time to visit the impressive HMS Belfast.
The ship saw plenty of action in WWII and later in the Korean War. The initial job of the Belfast was to work in the blockade of the German Navy at the outset of WWII but she got herself severely damaged by a German mine early in its service. It took more than two full years to refurbish the ship, although when the HMS Belfast reported back for duty in 1942, she was a much improved and even mightier vessel.
Firepower, radar and armour had all been beefed up and the Belfast had become Britain’s most powerful fighting ship.
The Belfast helped escort arctic convoys to the Soviet Union and played a major part in the destruction of the German ship, ‘The Scharnhorst’ at the battle of the North Cape. Operation Overlord on the Normandy beaches was supported by firepower from HMS Belfast and other ships. Belfast’s job was to support British and Canadian troops as they charged up the beaches of Juno and Gold in Normandy.
It is said that the guns of HMS Belfast were the first to fire upon the German fortifications behind Juno Beach.
The last time HMS Belfast fired its guns in anger was in the early 1950s as it shelled dense concentrations of North Korean troops in the Korean War. It was put in reserve in 1963 and for a while nobody could make their minds up as to what they should do with the legendary British warship. In the end it was the voice of preservation that triumphed and that is why you can visit the ship today.
HMS Belfast is now moored permanently on the Thames, not far from Tower Bridge, and is operated by the Imperial War Museum. Exploring this mighty ship’s nine decks to discover what life was like on board the warship during WWII and later the Korean War, never fails to capture and invoke the imaginations of all the family.
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