This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: ADM 2129).


The story of HMS Belfast's 1961-1962 Far East commission.

The World's Fair at Seattle holds no surprises for the men of HMS Belfast - since they were flown out to their ship at Singapore in March, 1961, they have visited many of the nations represented there. Belfast is Flagship of the Far East Fleet but life onboard is far from quiet. The arrival of Captain Giles - lowered from a USN Kaman liaison helicopter onto the quarterdeck of Belfast - heralds weeks of "backache and blisters" for the crew. The 4-inch guns conduct a practice shoot - bringing to mind the ship's famous engagement with the Scharnhorst at North Cape. Belfast enters Sydney after exercises with the Australian Fleet. At sea again she rendezvous with HMS Tactician (S.74) for a transfer of mail to the submarine. At Hong Kong for HRH Princess Alexandra's review of the Far East Fleet, the crew take part in Remembrance Day parade and meet the legendary laundrywoman Sampan Jenny. Replenishment at sea. A Shackleton MR.1A of 205 Squadron RAF drops mail. The Captain awards long service and good conduct medals to some of the Chinese cooks and stewards. Belfast visits Dar-es-Salaam for the celebrations of Tanganyikan Independence on 8 December, 1961. (Belfast provided the guard at the hauling down of the Union Jack and the first hoisting of the Tanzanian flag.) Belfast begins the journey home, touching at Japan, San Francisco and Vancouver. At sea again she is in company with the destroyer HMS Cassandra. Routine test of pre-wetting equipment. Belfast works up to full speed to go to the rescue of a crashed Sea Vixen (from Ark Royal's 890 Squadron) - the carrier's SAR Whirlwind is there before them, but the ship's boats rescue the aircraft's observer and recover debris for later analysis. The constant training has paid off in an emergency. Pleasant memories of the commission include swimming off the ship's side in the Pacific, a fleet regatta at Trincomalee (HMS Yarmouth is just distinguishable in the background), the day the Electrical Division was invited to lower a whaler and managed to sink the boat. Belfast passes through the Panama Canal, and heads for home. Back at Plymouth, after a trip that would have cost a civilian vacationer three or four thousand pounds. Next time the men leave Britain it could be in a destroyer, a carrier or a frigate, headed for any of the five foreign stations. "And you could come and see the world with us if you want to."


Summary: a straightforward appeal to join the Navy and see the world. There is therefore a certain irony in the fact that this was Belfast's last foreign commission, and that after a brief spell on Home Seas Service she was to pay off into reserve. The "backache and blisters" mentioned is presumably a reference to the large scale SEATO exercises JET '61 and PONY EXPRESS which took up the early spring of 1961. None of this is featured in the film. Exercise TUCKER BOX, which is mentioned as the occasion for Belfast's visit to Sydney, was in August 1961, six months into the commission. The final homecoming was not quite as intended - during her final passage from the West Indies, one of Belfast's company developed acute appendicitis and despite a successful operation by the PMO, the ship was diverted to the nearest hospital ashore at Plymouth rather than proceeding to Portsmouth. This dramatic incident was perhaps excluded as unsuitable recruiting material

The opening caption notes "Photographed by Personnel of HMS Belfast" - probably shot by Lieutenant Moss (see film ref MGH 4488).



Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
13 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
466 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
cameraman (?)
Moss (Lieutenant)
Production company
Personnel of HMS Belfast