Whether your kids are peerless photographers, mad for mechanics or budding buglers, come on board HMS Belfast this summer and assign them their rank!

We’re giving away a limited number of Ship Stickers to families who come on board HMS Belfast.

As well as being cool and colourful, these stickers are based on some of the roles carried out on HMS Belfast during the Second World War.

There are four historical badges to choose from; Leading Photographer, Motor Mechanic, Submarine Detector and Bugler. Or choose our very own badges for the roles of Captain and Crew.

Why did the sailors need badges in the Navy?

A_08190 sailors

Why did the sailors need badges in the Navy?

The Second World War Royal Navy was complex. There was a wide variety of specialist trades, skills and specialities among the seamen and sailors.

Therefore, in order to identify what skill a sailor had they would sow a special, fabric-made badge to the upper right arm of their uniform. 

This helped the crew to easily work out what a sailor specialised in and whether or not they were a senior rank.  

During the Second World War sailors would have to earn their trade and rank, however this summer you get to pick whatever role you’d like to be.

Read on below to discover what each role would have involved:

What role can I be?

  • HMSB Leading Photographer sticker
    © IWM
    Leading Photographer

    Your role on HMS Belfast is to work with the Fleet Air Arm. This is one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. You will fly in aeroplanes and use your excellent photography skills to record enemy movements from above. The photos you take can help spot signs of a future surprise attack.





    Fun Fact: stars or crowns could be added to badges to show a higher skill level or seniority.

  • HMSB Motor Mechanic sticker
    © IWM
    Motor Mechanic

    You are responsible for the maintenance of HMS Belfast’s engines. Always busy, you make sure that the ship can power itself across the seas. You also keep smaller on-board boats in tip top condition so they can be used at short notice or in an emergency.






    Activity: There’s a sailor on board wearing this badge – can you find him?

  • HMSB Submarine Detector sticker
    © IWM
    Submarine Detector

    Your job is to keep HMS Belfast safe by searching for nearby enemy submarines. As Submarine Detector you will use the ASDIC machine created by the secret Anti-Submarine Division. Using the ASDIC you will listen for the sound of ‘pings’ and watch the pulse of a beam on screen. This is how you can track submarine locations.




    Did you know? The ASDIC set helped British and American researchers invent the better known acoustic locating device SONAR (Sound Navigating and Ranging).

  • HMSB  Bugler sticker
    © IWM

    A bugle is a very simple horn instrument. It was used, along with the ship’s bells as instruction calls. This would keep the crew organised and working well together. As Bugler you are responsible for sounding these important instructions to your crewmates. Bugle calls signal the time of day and communicate important announcements on-board.


    Did you know? A bugle has no buttons or keys. The only way to control the pitch of a bugle is with your lips.

  • HMSB  Crew sticker
    © IWM

    You are one of the 950 people who work on board. Whether working in the engine rooms in the bowels of the ship, in the Sick Bay to help the wounded, in the Kitchen making meals or elsewhere, you are the HMS Belfast.


    Did you know? Though "crew" is widely known as the name for the group of people who work on a ship, the official name is the "company".

  • HMSB  Captain sticker
    © IWM

    You are in charge of HMS Belfast. You are responsible for overseeing the course the ship sails and the wellbeing of the entire company. As highest rank you would have your own quarters on board.


    Activity: Search for the Captain’s chair and take the helm!

There’s only a limited amount of Ship Stickers so come on board today to collect yours.

Send us a selfie with your sticker and tag us:

Facebook: HMS Belfast
Instagram: ImperialWarMuseums 
Twitter @I_W_M 

Return to Families at HMS Belfast page.