Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The British Cruiser Convoy on D-Day

The Allied invasion fleet crossing from England to Normandy on D-Day kept to twelve narrow lanes in order to avoid minefields. From the starboard bridge wing of HMS Belfast, flagship of Force E, a line of three Royal Navy cruisers can be seen in the morning gloom. The picture was taken by George Stevens. Construction of Belfast, the first Royal Navy ship to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland, and one of ten Town-class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1938. Commissioned in early August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Belfast was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany. In November 1939 Belfast struck a German mine and spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Belfast returned to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour. Belfast saw action escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943, and in December 1943 played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In June 1944 Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. In June 1945 Belfast was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet, arriving shortly before the end of the Second World War. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. A number of further overseas commissions followed before Belfast entered reserve in 1963.

Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens

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