Life at War

While on board, you can discover what it was like to serve in the far-flung places HMS Belfast visited during her years in active service. From convoy duties in icy Arctic conditions during the Second World War to patrolling waters in support of retreating troops during the Korean War, delve beneath the surface of the ship’s history to explore her adventures at sea.

Don’t miss our thrilling Gun Turret Experience: A Sailor’s Story, 1943, which transports you back in time to the Battle of North Cape on Boxing Day 1943, in which the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst was sunk by Royal Navy warships, HMS Belfast among them. You can experience what it would have been like to be in the heart of the action on the day of the battle as lights, imagery, smoke effects, vibrations, sounds and smells recreate the intense atmosphere inside a cramped gun turret.

You can also see a life jacket from the Scharnhorst in the War and Peace exhibition. War and Peace explores the Battle of North Cape and HMS Belfast’s other engagements in greater depth, taking you through her life story since the 1930s. For first-hand experiences of being in action, the Life at Sea exhibition features oral histories from veterans, including John Harrison who was on board when HMS Belfast was struck by a mine in November 1939.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the battle stories of those who served on board HMS Belfast, speak to one of our Yeomen or volunteers during your visit.

Collections in Context

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast was launched in March 1938, at a time when navies were competing to build powerful cruisers to protect shipping routes.


The Merchant Navy
In wartime, Britain depended on civilian cargo ships to import food and raw materials...


Arctic Convoys
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union (Russia) on 22 June 1941...

Sign up to eNews

Join the IWM community and receive our email newsletters.

Sign up today

Support Us

Image of Every Shilling Counts, Second World War propaganda poster

IWM is a charity, and we depend on supporters like you to help us care for and display our exceptional Collections. Please consider making a donation today.

Find out how you can support IWM