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HMS Belfast 1945-1947
HMS Belfast 1945 - 1947


Although the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 hastened the surrender of Imperial Japan before HMS Belfast's arrival in the Far East, she was still able to perform much useful work in helping to evacuate the emaciated survivors of Japanese prisoner of war and civilian internment camps from China, and until the autumn of 1947 she was fully occupied with peace-keeping duties in the Far East.

At Shanghai, 28 September 1948 (IWM neg A30854)
Ratings providing the entertainment for young internees at Shanghai, 28 September 1948 (IWM neg A30854)

Following her first peacetime refit, HMS Belfast returned to the Far East in December 1948 as flagship of the Fifth Cruiser Squadron.

By this time, China was in turmoil as the struggle between the Nationalist government and the Chinese Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong, moved towards its conclusion. In April 1949, the British sloop HMS Amethyst was disabled and blockaded in the Yangste River by Communist shore batteries. An attempt to rescue the stricken vessel failed with heavy loss of life and the Amethyst was trapped in the Yangste for six weeks until she managed to escape on the night of 30 July.

Although HMS Belfast was not actively involved in the crisis, the Commander-in-Chief Far Eastern Station, Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, was wearing his flag on board in Hong Kong and all orders given to Amethyst's temporary commander, Lieutenant Commander J S Kerans, emanated from Belfast.