Veteran sailors back on HMS Belfast
Published 15/03/2013 | 15:16
Veterans from one of the most significant surviving ships from the Second World War have been back on board to help celebrate the vessel's 75th birthday.
Former ordnance officer John Harrison, 99, and Arctic Convoy survivor Frank Bond, 89, joined other guests to toast HMS Belfast with champagne.
Permanently moored on the River Thames by Tower Bridge and a symbol of London, the light cruiser is now a museum following its sterling service in the 1939-45 conflict.
Mr Harrison was on board when the ship was hit by a magnetic mine in the early days of the war. There were few casualties but the vessel was out of action for three years.
After that HMS Belfast protected the Russia supply route Arctic Convoys and also spent five weeks supporting the D-Day landings of summer 1944.
Belfast also served in the Korean War from 1950-52 before it was retired from service in 1963.
Brought later to London, the ship opened to the public on Trafalgar Day, October 21, 1971.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "HMS Belfast is an iconic monument to Britain's naval history, which sits proudly on the Thames.
"Here's to many more years of this great ship watching over our city."