HMS Belfast 1950-1952 Commission

Ex_Matelot

Midshipman
]I was 20 years old when I was drafted to HMS BELFAST which was berthed in Chatham Dockyard, England. This was on 20 October 1950 and I served aboard her until 22 January 1953, the end of the commission. My rate was an Able Seaman/Radar Controller, and my ships Action Station was in the AIO.
I was in 36 mess, which was below the Sick Bay Flat, and if my memory is correct there were 20 other shipmates in that one mess. There was also another five like 36 mess on the same deck.
Having a war complement of over 950 men, living conditions were cramped. Many of us slept in hammocks and if one could find the space, in camp beds.
HMS BELFAST also operated a catering system known as broadside messing.
Each mess would daily appoint two cooks who would collect the basic meal for his messmates from the galley, return to his mess, serve it, and wash up after the meal was finished, then return the empty and clean containers back to the galley.
Naval food was stodgy and unimaginative and many times during the hottest of weather, we would be served up as sweet a very heavy date steamed pudding with custard, which would if in harbour, finish up not being eaten and being disposed of in the Gash bins, or if at sea over the side.

Statistics state: That we steamed a total of 97,035 miles from 1950 to the end of 1952.
We had steamed on main engines 455 days (I year 3 months in 2 years,
including Singapore).
We used 60,000 tons of fuel and fuelled 96 times.
We fired: 7816 rounds of 6-inch, 538 rounds of 4-inch. Number of rounds
fired at the radio controlled aircraft - Many.

We ate ,and drank as a matter of interest: Rum - 56,000 pints, Tea -10- ¾
tons, Bread - 250 tons, Milk - 20,8000 tins, Potatoes - 625 tons ,
Meat- 134 tons.

UP SPIRITS was piped at II o’clock each forenoon, and one member of each mess would go to the canteen flat to collect the daily issue of rum. The ratings were not allowed to be I have neat rum and their rations which was called “GROG†was made up of 2 tots of water to 1 part rum. This issue of Rum or “GROG†was one of the great traditions of British Naval life and went on until as late as 1970 when it was discontinued.
The 2 years that I served aboard the BELFAST was one of the most interesting and exciting times of my young service life. We had two good Captains, and a good selection Officers, and as for the crew, the Captain said it all.

‘That he would treasure the memory of the year in command of the loveliest ship in our Navy, served by as fine a body of officers and men as any Captain could wish for.
Good luck to you all in the future.†HMS BELFAST on patrol, West Coast of
Korea. 8th August 1952. A.C. Duckworth, Captain. [/b]
 
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