If you visit H.M.S Belfast keep your complimentary map handy; I managed to get lost more than once! You start off in the salmon pink Life On Board section, before making your way down into the yellow How It Works section and somehow you end up on top of the superstructure in the green Where It All Happens section; simple! Perhaps if I’d followed my audio guide…
Navigational issues aside; H.M.S Belfast is a very interesting ship and worth remembering. Before my visit I always thought of “London’s Floating Naval Museum” as being synonymous with the World War Two, but almost as soon as you board you realise the ship was extensively refitted in 1956 to equip the ship for the “atomic age”. The ship’s laundry, galley, bakery and quite a few other parts of the ship date from this period and offer an interesting insight into life in the Royal Navy of the late 1950s – early 1960s.
I also remember the statistics relating to the ship’s service in the Korean War coming as a complete surprise to me, for example, H.M.S Belfast travelled “97,035 miles ” during the conflict, it’s gunners fired “7,816 rounds of 6-inch ammunition” and got through “625 tons of potatoes”.
If I had to mention only one more thing these souvenirs bring to mind, it would have to be H.M.S Belfast’s service with the “Arctic Convoys“, taking supplies to the Soviet Union during World War Two, because the white beret of The Russian Convoy Club isn’t an uncommon sight in my home town on Remembrance Sunday. It was good to see that the Convoys are remembered right in the heart of London, on board a ship that once ploughed the same Arctic waters between 1942 and 1943.