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Final Commission
Final Commission

HMS Belfast sailed for the Far East and spent the years 1959-62 performing the usual duties of HM ships abroad in peacetime - carrying out exercises and generally "showing the flag".

HMS Belfast leaving Singapore on 26 March 1962 (IWM neg HU 4646)
HMS Belfast leaving Singapore on 26 March 1962 at the end of her final foreign service commission.  (IWM neg HU 4646)

One notable event occurred in December 1961 when HMS Belfast entered Dar-es-Salaam to take part in the granting of independence to Tanganyika. She had the honour of providing the guard for the final hauling-down of the Union Flag and the first hoisting of the Tanganyikan flag. Thousands thronged the foreshore as HMS Belfast steamed out of Dar-es-Salaam harbour.

Awaiting her fate at Fareham Creek

Awaiting her fate at Fareham Creek...

HMS Belfast returned to the UK and made a final visit to the City of Belfast. Following one last exercise in the Mediterranean, she finally paid off in Devonport on 24 August 1963 and her Admiral's flag was hauled down for the last time. She had earned her rest, having steamed nearly half a million miles during her operational life.

In the normal course of events, her next destination would very probably have been the scrapyard. However, behind the scenes, a determined group of men led by her former captain, now Rear Admiral, Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles DSO OBE GM, decided to save her. She was brought to London and opened to the public on 21 October 1971 - Trafalgar Day.

Arriving at the Pool of London on 14 October 1971 (IWM neg MH 15063)
HMS Belfast arriving at the Pool of London on 14 October 1971 (IWM neg MH 15063)