HMS Belfast: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the HMS Belfast.

  • She was launched in 1938 and was originally part of the British Naval blockade against Germany during World War II. Towards the end of the war she saw service in the Far East.
  • The ship was 187 metres long, had a width of 19 metres and could travel at about 60 kmh. She carried over 12 large guns, as well as torpedoes and depth charges.
  • During World War II, she was the most powerful Navy cruiser. She intercepted a German battleship disguised as a neutral ship, and sunk the German battleship Scharnhorst in the freezing Arctic.
  • HMS Belfast is one of only three surviving bombardment ships which supported the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944. The two other ships are museum ships in the United States.

HMS Belfast

  • During the D-day Landings, she spent a month in the area, firing over 5,000 shells. The vibrations from firing the guns cracked some of the toilets on board the ship.
  • The ship carried two Supermarine Walrus biplanes. They were launched from the deck by a large catapult and picked up out of the water with a large crane.
  • HMS Belfast became part of the United Nations naval forces during the Korean War. During this time she sailed over 130,000 km and was hit by enemy fire only once.
  • In 1956 HMS Belfast was modernized, including added defenses against nuclear or chemical weapons. In 1961 she took part in independence celebrations for the African country of Tanganyika.
  • HMS Belfast opened as a museum in 1971 and over one and a half million people had visited by 1975. She became part of the Imperial War Museum in 1978.
  • Controversially, the HMS Belfast was airbrushed out of a 2012 London Olympics poster. The poster showed an aerial view of the River Thames, but the famous battleship was missing.

D-Day: Facts About the Normandy Landings of WW2

Here are some facts about D-Day, the first day of the invasion of Normandy by Allied troops during World War 2.

  • The Allied invasion of north-west Europe was codenamed Operation Overlord. The landing operations were codenamed Operation Neptune and the actual day of the landings was referred to as D-Day.

  • In preparing for the assault, the actual day of the landings was not known in advance because it depended on the weather conditions.
  • Over 150,000 Allied troops were involved. They came from the United States, the UK, France, Norway and Canada.
  • The landing operation had two parts to it. First, more than 20,000 Allied troops would be parachuted into Normandy, then an amphibious landing would take place.
  • About 5000 ships and more then 10,000 planes were used.
  • Surprise was key to the success of the attack. The weather helped to conceal the assault, as did decoy missions called Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to make the Germans believe that the landing was going to take place on a different stretch of coastline.
  • Operation Neptune began on 6th June 1944 (D-Day). It ended on 30th June 1944. It was a success and the Allied forces to take control of five key beachheads, allowing a massive invasion force (300,000+ troops) to be landed. Paris was liberated from Nazi control on August 25 1944.
  • There were 5 key beaches along a 50 mile stretch of Normnady’s coastline. The Allies gave these code names: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The fighting was fiercest on Omaha beach and many troops lost their lives trying to secure that stretch of coast.
  • The Omaha beach landings are featured in the film Saving Private Ryan.

D-Day