HMS Belfast airbrushed out of Olympic Posters

Preserved Royal Navy cruiser HMS Belfast in th...

HMS Belfast - airbrushed (Image via Wikipedia)

This is a pretty strange one – its transpired today that HMS Belfast, moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge, has been airbrushed out of an official poster for the London 2012 Olympics.

We’ve had the usual ‘it was a mistake, blah blah’ statements from un-named spokesperson. But lets look at the facts. At some point, someone somewhere, made a conscious and deliberate decision that it would be a good idea to remove a historic warship from a scene of London. This isn’t something that you do accidentally – as anyone with design experience knows, doctoring a landscape is not something that ‘just happens’. I could understand some spotty young designer maybe brushing it out, but for it to pass so many levels up until publication without being halted, is pretty alarming.

What we need to think about, wider than the fact that it happened, is the thought process that led to it being acceptable? HMS Belfast has been moored on the Thames for over 40 years now, and has been visited by millions of people. If it wasn’t for the role of HMS Belfast in the war, we would have had plenty more Olympics like those in Berlin in 1936 – ie, a farce. Or football teams having to give the Nazi salute, like the teams who played in the World Cup in Germany in 1938. It’s not just ‘a ship’, it represents all of the ships of the British Royal Navy that have fought in bloody conflicts over hundreds of years.

Is it that military history is not thought appropriate for the Olympics? Well, in that case you can also airbrush out the Tower of London. Oh, and the Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial. And can anyone remember the spectacle of the Chinese Army soldiers goose-stepping with the Olympic flag in Beijing in 2008? That was hardly subtle, yet somehow that was overlooked. Don’t expect to see Grenadier Guards at the 2012 opening ceremony, or the Red Arrows flying overhead (although after recent events that might not be possible in any case).

I do wonder if it is down to a modern, lefty kind of school of thought, that would like to try and airbrush wars and anything military out of history. No doubt with the sobriquet that we ‘need to look to the future’. Well, without those who secured our past, there wouldn’t be much of a future to look forward to. I guess its the problem with having elected and appointed leaders with no sense of history.

It’s yet another example of just how blind this country and its institutions can be about our naval heritage. And if we’re that blase about the past, is it any wonder that the Royal Navy is struggling for attention in the present?



Filed under Navy, News, Uncategorized

12 responses to “HMS Belfast airbrushed out of Olympic Posters

  1. John Erickson

    If the ship is a tourist attraction, then it’s a landmark, and any attempt to remove ANY landmark is asinine. “Political correctness” just makes it a highly infuriating and frustrating example of asinine behaviour. I hope it was just carelessness – the thought that it was a deliberate decision, across several layers of hierarchy, would be FAR too insulting to the memory of the vets who protected your country and mine!

    • James Daly

      what disturbs me is not just that it happened, but that at least one – probably more – people in responsibility thought that it would be an acceptable thing to do. I think that it is indicative of a broader, patronising attutide amongst policy makers and decision makers, who would seek to airbrush history.

  2. One of the ironies here is that without the military, the last London Olympic Games – those of 1948 – could not have happened. The services provided most of the accommodation for the competitors, in places like RAF Northolt, the Army’s convalescent camp in Richmond Park, and Sandhurst. Aldershot hosted the Modern Pentathlon, with the fencing in Fox’s Gymnasium and the equestrian events on Tweseldown Racecourse. And, of course, the Royal Navy provided HMS Bicester to carry the Olympic torch relay from Calais to Dover.

    One tiny corerction – the 1938 World Cup was held in France, not Germany. The Nazi salute you refer to here was given by the England team at the start of their friendly against Germany in Berlin in May 1938. England went on to win 6-3.

  3. The Olympics is a wasteful demonstration of hypocrisy anyway.

  4. x

    My father and mother have just returned from a tour with the British Legion of WW1 cemeteries in Belgian. During the visit they took part in a parade for Armistice. Their contingent had to follow a party from the British Olympic Committee. And oddly most of the British “speech” talked about the 2012 games and not the reason why everybody was really gathered. Most odd.

    London 2012 is yet another example of the city state that is supposedly our capital forgetting the rest of the UK.

    For the last few weeks I have had Belfast resplendent in Arctic camouflage as my desktop wallpaper………….

    • James Daly

      The 2012 Olymnpics are one of those things in life that are completely surrounded by BS. Athletics are one sport that I really admire, but I’m more interested in wondering why most of our young people are unfit and unhealthy than watching athletes from elsewhere burning up the track. Will 2012 have a legacy? I doubt it.

      • x

        I have some odd views about sedentary youth and sports. In a nutshell I think its bunkum. I think if you took sports of the school curriculum it wouldn’t make one iota to fitness levels of the youth. There are lots of kids who eat badly, play video games, etc. and they can still run around all day. Genes dictate how we turn out. Some kids are obese because of their lifestyle. But many thin kids and many fat kids are that way because of their genetic make-up.

        As for athletics I don’t think it is popular. It is television friendly. And it is cheap sport for TV companies to “buy.”

        • James Daly

          I think you’ve got a point to an extent, but I also think Baden-Powell had a point when he wrote about sport in Scouting for Boys. Even when he was writing pre-WW1, he said that although watching a football match was a great chance to see 22 fine specimens competing, what concerned him more was that there could be thousands of young people stood watching them doing bugger all. Thats a metaphor for modern society, we’ve become very passive and sedentary. One of my lecturers hit the nail on the head when trying to get us to think of how different life was years ago. When was the last time any of us walked ten miles in a day, and not for fun, but because we had to?

          I’m not sure athletics is such a TV sport, except save for the Olympics. No-one knows who the hell Mo Farah is in this country yet we worship footballers who’ve never won anything remarkable.

          • x

            I often walk back from town, a distance of about 8 miles…. 🙂

            Off on a tangent but you have to remember when old people said they walked everywhere as most of the places they walked to were, well, in walking distance! When I was in primary school the village where I live had 3 shops and a small Co-op. In between my village and the village at the centre of the parish there is a hamlet/small village which had 3 shops and a small Co-op the roof of which I can see from my lounge window. The main village had 2 supermarkets, more than 2 dozen other shops, 3 banks, and a least 10 other retail business (coal merchants, dairies.) On top of this there were other shops scattered all over the parish. My grandfather who worked as a farm labourer as a teen and then went down the pit. He was born, schooled, and worked in a radius of about 3 miles.

            Always be careful when lecturers try to make you think. Especially Medievalists………… 🙂

  5. pompeydoomcrew

    I’ve only just noticed this, you’d like to think that it was a genuine oversight on the part of those involved but quite clearly unfortunately this will not be the case. There in no way that anything which has gone through that level of people is anything over than a delibrate ploy to airbrush over the history of this nation no doubt in some kind of hidden agenda. It is a major show of disrespect to all those that served to preserve the nation from tyranny and as if i needed it another reason for me to begrudge the sheer ammount of british money being wasted on the Olympics!

    • James Daly

      What really worries me is that in the public sectory – central government, quangos, local authorities etc – there genuinely are a majority of people in authority who have these kind of airbrushing attitudes to history, but are happy to use it when it suits them. You have to be ‘on message’, and if a WW2 cruiser doesn’t suit the image we want to ‘project’, then hey ho its got to go. Yet the same people will schmooze on her deck if invited to a private function where the press are present.

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