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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
Market Harborough Royal British Legion
People in story: 
Ray Tyler
Location of story: 
Gosport, Hampshire; London, The Thames
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 January 2006

HMS Belfast in retirement on the Thames prior to moving to Greenwich.

This story by Ray Tyler is submitted to the People’s War site by a member of Market Harborough Branch, Royal British Legion on behalf of his widow, Mrs Peggy Tyler and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Tyler fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
On the Briny
By Ray Tyler
When I was a youngster I lived very close to Southampton Water and regularly watched the large liners, such as the Queens, heading for Southampton or out to sea. My great joy was to cycle along to Gosport and watch the Navy Ships coming and going. Ships like the Rodney, Nelson, Hood, Illustrious, the Exeter, the Belfast, and so many more would come and go, and I knew them all by sight.
The other day I was wondering just what had happened to them. I know that some went to the bottom of the briny and I supposed the rest to the scrap yards. I have now discovered that our old friend the Cruiser H.M.S. Belfast is still afloat.
She was launched in 1938 and had enjoyed a wonderful career until 1963 when she was sent to the scrap yard, but was saved by a group of people, and since 1971 has been open to the public on the Thames near Greenwich. She is now owned by the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum.
She was damaged in 1939 by a magnetic mine and was out of service for about two years. In 1943 the Belfast was part of the fleet that sank the German Battleship Scharnhorst, and later helped to cripple the Tirpitz. When Japan surrendered the Belfast was heading for the East and ferried many survivors of Japanese P.O.W., and civilian internment camps between Shanghai and Hong Kong. She bombed shore targets between 1950 and 1952 in the Korean War.
It is good to hear that this old Navy ship is still afloat on the briny (or at least on the Thames!).

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