HMS Belfast 1950-1952


HMS Belfast

Lest anyone, having reading this, should come to the conclusion that I won the Korean War all on my own, I hasten to disabuse them of the idea right away. I had help. I admit it.

There was the U.S. Navy which did quite a bit. There were the Armies on the mainland. There were one or two ships of my own Navy hanging around, and some of the other United Nations. So, you see, I had assistance-and I would not dream of saying otherwise. Remember, I didn't write this: it was those who have the honour to inhabit me did that. And I've been impertinently informed that I'm lucky to get a word in.

If you have seen me at the Tower of London, you must admit that I'm still a nice-looking girl. It has been suggested, by destroyers and things like that, that I'm getting on in years. All I can say is that there are not many who can keep their figures the way I have.

But forgetting my own superb egotism for a moment, it has been a great honour and pleasure to meet and work with my own and other ships of the United Nations.

It's an impressive list, ranging from battleships and carriers, to things I could almost put on my boat-deck; and consisting of Americans, Canadians, Dutchmen, New Zea-landers, Australians and South Koreans.

Most of war is boring; and the few moments of excitement, too intense for recognition. I was bored many times.

I paraded up and down that "West Coast so often that I knew it by heart, and I sometimes felt, I didn't need the master touch of the Navigator.

Waiting and watching I mostly was: for the enemy to make a move at our "beloved" Chodo or Sokto or Paengyangdo or one of the others on the West Coast of Korea, then I would be called upon to speak severely to them in my own peculiar way.

I had one or two jaunts to do a " wardance " with the Americans; and one to meet the big girls of the U.S. 7th Fleet, who tried immediately to give me an inferiority-but, bless you, I've played that game so often on frigates and destroyers that I recognised it and wasn't having any.

On the whole I liked the bombardment business, except when they fired twelve or nine broadsides which used to shake me up a bit.

I don't think there are many spots on the stretch between Inchon and Amgak on the west Coast of Korea that I didn't have a go at some time or another.

And I became quite good at it too: there were even occasions when the Gunnery Officer forgot to throw his usual apoplectic fit when he heard the correction to his first salvo-and that's ignoring Whale Island training if anything is.

You'll read on another page about a nasty piece of work I met called Ruth. I don't like the sort of people who try to upend you, and when later I heard of another of her ilk around, I'm not ashamed to say that I lifted my skirts and ran.

Of course I've had my lighter moments. I've had my runnas-to Hong Kong, Yokosuka, Kure, Pusan and Kobe. I liked that: and probably nothing better than nestling comfortably against the West Wall in Hong Kong, with all those who have the honour to inhabit me off ashore on their unlawful occasions.

Perhaps best of all I liked my run to Kobe. I was made a fuss of there, and being a woman I can stand lots of that. I know I'm pretty photogenic, but in Kobe I was quite exhausted. I was photographed from every possible angle, and in two days the best part of the Japanese population came on board, climbing and crawling all over me.

And what of those who have the honour to inhabit me? Well, they're a queer bunch- all sailors and things like that. Often they roar and rave and say things about me. But I don't pay any attention, and more than occasionally I get my own back.

I laughed the morning my capstan broke down. There they were, pulling up the anchor like the old sea-dogs they're not. But then in my time I've seen many of them and I'm used to their ways.

Of course I've been Flag Ship throughout, but I hear they're going to give that to someone else. Well, if the Admiral gets as good looking and as hard-working a girl as I've been, he'll do well.

And they're going to send me home-to pension me off. In my opinion-which wasn't asked-there's plenty of good stuff in me yet, and I'm quite willing to take on some of these young ones. However, they'll have their way-they always do. All I can say is that if they ever need me again, which they well may, I'll be waiting-and ready.