HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast Come on board this iconic London landmark and discover its amazing globe-trotting history. Follow us on Facebook and join our growing community of fans.
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This festive season, join us on board HMS Belfast for a special trail. Explore the ship and learn from the eye-witness a...
23/12/2023

This festive season, join us on board HMS Belfast for a special trail. Explore the ship and learn from the eye-witness accounts of sailors who served aboard in the Arctic Convoys missions, during the dangerous and freezing winters of 1943-1944.

You can also help us mark exactly 80 years since Christmas Day was delayed in 1943, by creating your own nautical inspired Christmas decorations to hang on the ship's tree.

Running every day from 27 Dec 2023 to 6 Jan 2024: https://bit.ly/3GSGMqM

22/12/2023

What was it like to serve on board HMS Belfast at Christmas?

Ron ‘Norman’ Yardley was a wireless telegraphist on the ship during the Korean War. He was just 18 years old in 1950 and serving far from home that Christmas. In this video Ron remembers how his parents sent a traditional treat to him.

Learn more about Christmas onboard HMS Belfast: https://bit.ly/3PEMzE6

Life for the sailors on board HMS Belfast during the Arctic Convoys consisted of endless time at sea in foul weather, co...
11/12/2023

Life for the sailors on board HMS Belfast during the Arctic Convoys consisted of endless time at sea in foul weather, constant daylight in the height of summer and unbroken darkness in mid-winter.

For 18 months HMS Belfast operated in these conditions as an es**rt ship. These convoys were full of ships carrying essential supplies to the Soviet Union and were a vital lifeline in the fight against Hi**er on Germany’s eastern front.

Pictured, sailors and Royal Marines take a break from their ice breaking duties, November 1943.

© IWM HU 8799

Putting up your Christmas tree? This photo from our collections shows the crew of the  HMS Turquoise making the most of ...
08/12/2023

Putting up your Christmas tree? This photo from our collections shows the crew of the HMS Turquoise making the most of Christmas on board in 1943 by fitting a Christmas tree to the mast-head.

© IWM (A 21070)

Visit the mess decks on board HMS Belfast to see what the everyday living quarters would have been like for the crew mem...
27/11/2023

Visit the mess decks on board HMS Belfast to see what the everyday living quarters would have been like for the crew members. These crowded areas would have been where they ate, slept, and relaxed off duty.

Learn more about the life of HMS Belfast: https://bit.ly/3cB8Bsp

Pictured, the crew on board HMS Rodney in their mess deck. © IWM A 2233

John Harrison joined HMS Belfast in 1939 and served on the ship during the early months of its service off the coast of ...
24/11/2023

John Harrison joined HMS Belfast in 1939 and served on the ship during the early months of its service off the coast of Britain and in the Atlantic. He was on board the ship when it was hit with a German magnetic mine on 21 November 1939.

Harrisons recalled, “A terrific thud and I felt my spine going into my skull and everything went dark… Dead silence. Followed by a shaking up and down as though you were shaking a doll and then it went very quiet.”

HMS Belfast is pictured here being towed by two tugs after being severely damaged by the magnetic mine. The damage to the ship was so severe that Belfast was out of action for three years.

© IWM HU 16013

A gentle breeze and blue skies greeted HMS Belfast as the ship headed out for gunnery exercises on the morning of 21 Nov...
21/11/2023

A gentle breeze and blue skies greeted HMS Belfast as the ship headed out for gunnery exercises on the morning of 21 November 1939. Then, at 10:52, there was a violent explosion.

The ship had fallen victim to one of Hi**er’s secret new weapons. The 'magnetic mine' was a submerged explosive device activated by the steel hull of any passing ship. The convulsion of the mine broke Belfast's back, put the engines out of action and injured 21 men, one fatally. Belfast would be out of the war for almost three years.

Pictured, a photograph taken in dry dock shows the shockwave damage caused by the mine. A German magnetic mine, recovered in 1939 is also pictured with a rule alongside to show it size.

©IWM MH23670, IWM A 30292

On Sunday 12 November, HMS Belfast will mark Remembrance Sunday in a private service. HMS Belfast will be open at the la...
11/11/2023

On Sunday 12 November, HMS Belfast will mark Remembrance Sunday in a private service.
HMS Belfast will be open at the later time of 11.30am for those wishing to visit the ship.

© IWM (Art.IWM ART 2884)

At 11am on the 11 November, we commemorate the signing of the armistice and remember all those who have suffered and die...
06/11/2023

At 11am on the 11 November, we commemorate the signing of the armistice and remember all those who have suffered and died as a result of conflict.

Learn how peace was finally achieved: https://bit.ly/3FuUuji

Pictured, the arrival of the gun carriage bearing the Unknown Warrior at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, for the unveiling ceremony by King George V, 11 November 1920. © IWM Q 31513

‘The sea was grey-black… forty-foot waves, sea temperatures below zero, ice forming[...] three and four inches thick tha...
03/11/2023

‘The sea was grey-black… forty-foot waves, sea temperatures below zero, ice forming[...] three and four inches thick that would have to be chipped by hand’, were the words of Larry Fursland, recounting the conditions the crew of HMS Belfast faced during the 18 months the ship spent operating in support of the Arctic Convoys.

Sailors and Royal Marines are pictured here taking a break from their ice clearing duties on HMS Belfast. Such duties were vital as apart from putting the guns and fire control systems out of action, a build-up of ice could make the ship top-heavy, unstable and in extreme cases, put her at risk of capsizing and sinking.

© IWM HU 8799

Able Seaman Edward Lawler is pictured with his arms full of pumpkins on board HMS London, which sailed for home in Octob...
31/10/2023

Able Seaman Edward Lawler is pictured with his arms full of pumpkins on board HMS London, which sailed for home in October 1945.

Before HMS London sailed from Colombo to the UK, members of the ship’s company who were not due for release or repatriation were replaced by men due for return to Britain. It's not difficult to tell that Lawler was one of the lucky ones!

© IWM A 30869

On 25 June 1950, Communist North Korean forces invaded independent South Korea, beginning the Korean War and UN-mandated...
26/10/2023

On 25 June 1950, Communist North Korean forces invaded independent South Korea, beginning the Korean War and UN-mandated forces were sent to defend South Korea.

From June to October 1950, HMS Belfast was sent to patrol the waters of the Yellow Sea, providing bombardment support for UN troops on land. In all, Belfast put in 404 days of active service during the war, operating close into the enemy-occupied shoreline. Pictured, an American helicopter flies over HMS Belfast in the Yellow Sea, 1951.

© IWM A 31985

Have you tried out our new family trail on board HMS Belfast? This October half term, pick up a family trail guide and s...
23/10/2023

Have you tried out our new family trail on board HMS Belfast? This October half term, pick up a family trail guide and see if you can find all ten of the crafty cat and mouse crew hiding in the ship!

Every day until Friday 22 Dec. Find out more: https://bit.ly/3RRMUGM

Join us on the 27 October for a We Were There Family Day on board HMS Belfast. Meet IWM’s veterans and eyewitnesses of c...
20/10/2023

Join us on the 27 October for a We Were There Family Day on board HMS Belfast. Meet IWM’s veterans and eyewitnesses of conflict to gain a unique insight into the impact of war on people’s lives.

You'll hear an array of personal stories, recollections, and powerful memories from those who have experienced conflict first-hand. From Bridge to Bakery, veterans will share their memories of life at sea on board HMS Belfast.

Part of Imperial War Museums remarkable We Were There: Family Day programme. Find out more: https://bit.ly/3Q6ve9j

Look out shipmates!  Some mischievous mice and crafty cats have snuck on board HMS Belfast and are after the sailors’ jo...
14/10/2023

Look out shipmates! Some mischievous mice and crafty cats have snuck on board HMS Belfast and are after the sailors’ jobs. This October half-term pick up our brand new free family trail guide and see if you can find all ten of the crafty cat and mouse crew hiding in the ship!

Every day from Sat 21 Oct to Friday 22 Dec. Find out more: https://bit.ly/3RRMUGM

During HMS Belfast’s first weeks on patrol in October 1939, Lieutenant Alan Seale noticed something suspicious about a s...
12/10/2023

During HMS Belfast’s first weeks on patrol in October 1939, Lieutenant Alan Seale noticed something suspicious about a ship sailing in the North Atlantic - the name on the stern 'Ancona', had been painted over another name, 'Cap Norte'.

Sailing under the guise of a neutral Swedish vessel, the German merchant ship 'Cap Norte' had attempted to disguise itself whilst carrying cargo back to Germany. The Cap Norte was captured and taken into Kirkwall in Orkney under es**rt by HMS Belfast. Cap Norte was then renamed Empire Trooper, and served Britain as a supply ship throughout the rest of the war.

In this painting, Cap Norte is pictured on the left with HMS Belfast on the right. © IWM Art.IWM ART 16801

Whilst at sea post from home would often provide the only link between the crew and their friends and family. Crew membe...
30/09/2023

Whilst at sea post from home would often provide the only link between the crew and their friends and family.

Crew members on board the submarine HMS Sibyl can be seen receiving a parcel from the on board postman. HMS Sibyl served one of the Second World War’s longest commissions lasting 20 months.

Explore the ship today and see the mail room where all the letters and packages would have been sorted: https://bit.ly/3cB8Bsp

© IWM A 23124

Sleeping in close quarters: Throughout most of HMS Belfast’s lifetime the sailors slept in hammocks slung just 52 cm apa...
29/09/2023

Sleeping in close quarters: Throughout most of HMS Belfast’s lifetime the sailors slept in hammocks slung just 52 cm apart, but during the Second World War when the crew size increased, some had to get creative.

Some slept beneath mess tables or shared use of their hammocks, while others such as Radio Operator Arthur Ledbury, found spots on top of lockers after a particularly tiring spell on duty.

Here, members of the Polish Navy can be seen catching some much-needed rest in their hammocks in late 1940. © IWM A 2487

Tonight HMS Belfast lights up blue for  ! If you're walking along the Thames this evening, be sure to look out. During t...
28/09/2023

Tonight HMS Belfast lights up blue for !

If you're walking along the Thames this evening, be sure to look out. During the Second World War, Belfast es**rted merchant convoys in the Atlantic and, more famously, the Arctic.

Learn more here: https://bit.ly/48HobuOTon

On the 3 September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany following the German invasion of Poland. The first fe...
03/09/2023

On the 3 September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany following the German invasion of Poland. The first few months of the Second World War were dubbed the ‘Phoney War’ by a press surprised by the lack of action on land. But there was nothing phoney about the war at sea.

Just hours after hostilities began, a British liner was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the Atlantic, and HMS Belfast would face the same threat every time the ship was put to sea.

Plan your visit today to learn more: https://bit.ly/3cB8Bsp

A newspaper seller is pictured carrying a placard announcing that Britain had declared war on Germany. © IWM (HU36171)

Royal Marines are pictured here removing the tampions from the 14-inch guns abroad HMS Howe, prior to the test shoot.On ...
28/08/2023

Royal Marines are pictured here removing the tampions from the 14-inch guns abroad HMS Howe, prior to the test shoot.

On board HMS Belfast a white metal badge in the shape of a seahorse could be seen on the 6-inch gun tampions during the ships duties as a flagship. In August 1944 HMS Belfast began a major refit and the tampions were removed.

© IWM A 12329 / © IWM MAR 573

It’s the last few weeks for your chance to take part in the Lost Laundry Challenge on board HMS Belfast! Pick up a trail...
25/08/2023

It’s the last few weeks for your chance to take part in the Lost Laundry Challenge on board HMS Belfast! Pick up a trail guide and explore the ship to see if you and your family can find all 10 lost items.

Runs everyday until 3 September: https://bit.ly/3r9v2f8

The detonation of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki heralded the start of the atomic age. In this new atomi...
15/08/2023

The detonation of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki heralded the start of the atomic age. In this new atomic age the Navy were faced with the question- what good were the guns of a warship against an ever-proliferating arsenal of nuclear missiles?

Between 1956 and 1959 HMS Belfast was rebuilt –gaining a fully enclosed bridge and a modern air conditioning system, so that the entire ship could be sealed against atomic, biological or chemical attack. Ships like HMS Belfast would also carry out a “pre-wetting” method which involved the continual washing of the surfaces of the ship as a preventative to atomic, biological or chemical contaminants.

Trials of the "Pre-wetting" system are pictured here on HMS Cumberland.

Learn more about the life of HMS Belfast: https://bit.ly/3cB8Bsp

© IWM A 33008

On board HMS Belfast you can find the NAAFI canteen. NAAFI stands for the Navy Army and Air Force Institute, which has p...
14/08/2023

On board HMS Belfast you can find the NAAFI canteen. NAAFI stands for the Navy Army and Air Force Institute, which has provided canteen, entertainment and provision services to the armed forces since 1921. The NAAFI staff were the only civilians to serve in ships such as HMS Belfast.

The crew on board HMS Implacable are pictured here lining up at the well-stocked NAAFI canteen, October 1944.

Plan your visit to HMS Belfast today: https://bit.ly/3cB8Bsp

© IWM A 25955

Join us on the 4 August to learn about the vital role of HMS Belfast during the Korean War and hear first-hand stories f...
01/08/2023

Join us on the 4 August to learn about the vital role of HMS Belfast during the Korean War and hear first-hand stories from veterans.

Discover the incredible experiences of the ship's crew who faced intense activity, enemy bombardment, and challenging weather conditions during HMS Belfast’s 404 days on patrol.

Part of Imperial War Museums We Were There: Family Day programme, a unique opportunity to meet real-life veterans and gain insight into the impact of war on people's lives.

Find out more: https://bit.ly/3Q6ve9j

The Korean War saw HMS Belfast spend 404 days on patrol. Belfast was hit once during that time on the 29 July 1952, when...
29/07/2023

The Korean War saw HMS Belfast spend 404 days on patrol. Belfast was hit once during that time on the 29 July 1952, when a 76mm shell from a battery on the island of Wolsa-ri punched through her side killing Lau Sau, a Hongkonger rating and wounding four others. The damage is pictured here, and the small patched-up section of the hull can still be seen on Belfast ’s side today.

Fancy learning more about HMS Belfast’s vital role in the Korean War? Join us on the 4 August and hear stories from veterans who experienced the war first hand whilst serving on the ship.

Find out more: https://bit.ly/3Q6ve9j

© IWM HU 36642

Join us on board HMS Belfast on the 31 July to celebrate ‘Black Tot Day’ with two special We Were There Family Day volun...
28/07/2023

Join us on board HMS Belfast on the 31 July to celebrate ‘Black Tot Day’ with two special We Were There Family Day volunteer talks.

It was on this day in 1970 that the tradition of issuing a daily ‘tot’ of rum to sailors of the Royal Navy came to an end. The day was marked by sailors wearing a black armband and holding a ceremonial burial of rum barrels at sea and on land.

Volunteers will be discussing the history of the Rum Ration and Black Tot Day from 11.30 am and 2pm.

Part of Imperial War Museums remarkable We Were There: Family Day programme where you can meet real life veterans and eyewitnesses of conflict to gain a unique insight into the impact of war of people’s lives. Find out more: https://bit.ly/3Q6ve9j

© IWM A 746, © IWM A 1278, © IWM A 4903

Can you find the hammock of Frankenstein, HMS Belfast’s wartime cat on board the ship?Ships like HMS Belfast kept cats o...
26/07/2023

Can you find the hammock of Frankenstein, HMS Belfast’s wartime cat on board the ship?

Ships like HMS Belfast kept cats on board to protect food stores from rats and mice. Frankenstein had his own hammock on the Mess Deck where many of the ship’s ratings ate and slept. Unlike some of the men in wartime, it did not have to take it in turns to use it!

HMS Kelvin’s resident kitten (who was born in a wardrobe of an officer’s cabin) is pictured here looking out at sea in March 1941.

© IWM A 3569

26/07/2023

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The Queen's Walk
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SE12JH

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Monday 10am - 6pm
Tuesday 10am - 6pm
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Thursday 10am - 6pm
Friday 10am - 6pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm
Sunday 10am - 6pm

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+442074165000

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