NWHS students on board HMS Belfast 1

North Walsham Students Experience Life On A World War Two Battleship

Posted on: 13th November 2017

Forty Norfolk teenagers got a hands-on taste of wartime navy life when they got the chance to spend a night on one of the most famous World War Two battleships.

The North Walsham High School Year 8 students had the renowned HMS Belfast to themselves for the night when they took part in the ‘Kip on a Ship’ initiative, designed to give young people an insight into what life on board a wartime battleship was like.

The group of 40 history students also visited the Imperial War Museum’ Holocaust exhibition and Tate Modern, as well as taking part in a Jack the Ripper tour in east London.

HMS Belfast, which is moored on the south bank of the river Thames in London near Tower Bridge, is the only surviving British warship that formed part of the bombardment fleet supporting the D-Day Normandy landings. 

It was one of the very first ships to open fire at the start of the invasion, and fired over 5,000 shells towards the beaches in total.  The ship also played a big part in protecting the Arctic convoys, and later saw service during the Korean war.

“The opportunity to have such a historic battleship to ourselves for a whole night was amazing,” said NWHS history teacher Tim Whiteman, who led the trip.  “It really gave the students a flavour of what life on board must have been like.

“It is really important to bring what we study in the classroom to life, and experiences like this one stay in the minds of young people for a long time, and inspire them to want to learn more about our history.”

The group spent the night in the ship’s mess, although they were not sleeping in hammocks as many of the vessel’s wartime crew were required to do.  Supper was also less basic than the average World War two sailor’s would have been; being moored in central London, the group was able to have pizza delivered to the ship.

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