'Oh blimey, that's some ship'

Launch of HMS Belfast - AP/Movietone, Far East Commission and arrival into the Pool of London IWM

John Harrison: “Oh, blimey. That’s some ship.” 

Ron Yardley: “My, my, my.” 

John Harrison: “When I first joined the Belfast it was like going into a house which had just been built, renovated, everything was sparkling new, and you were just like, well, heaven to a gunnery man, which I was.”

Mike Matthews: “There we are jumping in. Wasn't me, I went feet first. Every now and then, we'd stop the ship if the, the chance was there and have a hands to bathe. Bit disconcerting the first time you jump in, and you know that there's a few thousand fathoms underneath you instead of a few feet. But a nice way of cooling down if it's a hot day.”

Ron Yardley: “Oh my goodness me. Coming home again. I could have been one of these here. There's Morgan, Morgan Charles what a proud man he must have been. Without his efforts she will be long gone. And all the joy and happiness that she's brought since then is a very proud old lady. And I think we're even more proud of her. Been a very special day for me this has, very special.”

John Harrison, Ron Yardley and Mike Matthews served on board HMS Belfast.

We asked them to watch archive footage of the ship and share some of their memories of this special ship. 

This is what happened next....

Archive footage: Launch of HMS Belfast - AP/Movietone - Far East Commission and arrival into the Pool of London IWM

Hear more from the veterans

  • HMS Belfast veteran John Harrison

    John Harrison

    John Harrison was among the first sailors to serve aboard HMS Belfast and could recall the moment she hit a magnetic mine in 1939. 

  • HMS Belfast veteran Ron Yardley

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    Ron Yardley served on HMS Belfast during the Korean War and remembers being thrown around in his hammock when her guns fired.

  • HMS Belfast veteran Mike Matthews

    Mike Matthews

    Mike Matthews was an engineer on HMS Belfast between 1961 and 1962. 50 years later, he says he still gets a tingle when he steps on board. 

Discover HMS Belfast

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D-Day Remembered: Ted Cordery, HMS Belfast

Ted Cordery served on board the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Belfast from 1943-1944 as a Leading Seaman Torpedoman. It was a period in which the ship and her crew would take part in some of their most intense and dangerous operations including the Arctic Convoys and the Battle of North Cape.

HMS Belfast
© IWM
Museum

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Step on board this iconic London landmark. Navigate your way around the rooms of this floating city, climbing up and down ladders to visit all nine decks.

HMS Belfast
IWM
HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast and the Arctic Convoys

For 18 months, HMS Belfast and her crew endured punishing conditions supporting the vital Arctic Convoys delivering supplies to the Soviet Union.