Veterans remember HMS Belfast as she turns 80.
Rare documents and stories revealing what life was like serving on board HMS Belfast are being shared to mark the 80th anniversary of the historic warship’s launch.
Among one of the peculiar stories to be retold include the first ‘certificate for wounds and hurts’ issued on the warship, which has been revealed by the Imperial War Museums, who own and run the vessel as a museum near Tower Bridge on the River Thames in London.
The document cites the ‘accidental traumatic amputation’ of Boy John Campbell’s ‘first two phalanges’ while carrying out a gun-drill on HMS Belfast. The incident is dated August 18, 1939 – the same month the warship was commissioned by the Royal Navy.
Visitors will have the chance to meet some of the surviving veterans from HMS Belfast next weekend to mark the 80th anniversary and to explore the ship.
John Harrison, the oldest surviving World War Two veteran who served on HMS Belfast, described the dangers of serving at sea, facing German magnetic mines and treacherous Arctic conditions.
Mr Harrison described HMS Belfast as ‘a lovely ship, there’s some ships that are warm, and that was, it was a lovely ship, it still is’.
The 104-year-old served as an ordinance artificer on HMS Belfast in the Second World War. He recalled some of the dangerous conditions he and his crew had to endure in the Arctic, including narrowly avoiding being swept overboard while trying to get to his gun turret.