THE historic bell from the submarine which sank the General Belgrano during the Falklands war has taken pride of place in a museum’s display.
Staff at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, in Haslar Road, Gosport, are celebrating after making a successful bid for the bell last week when it suddenly came up for auction.
A group of submariners have set about raising funds to help cover the cost to the museum of winning the bell, which was bought for £1,600.
It now sits alongside other artefacts from HMS Conqueror including her Jolly Roger, working periscopes and the Captain’s cabin.
Colin Way, 63, was a Petty Officer Writer on HMS Conqueror and works at the submarine museum.
He said: ‘It’s brilliant that it is at the museum.
‘Things like the bell we used to call the boat’s jewellery.
‘It’s quite a special thing.’
Ex-submariners who had served on HMS Conqueror heard about the auction and told the submarine museum staff.
The museum then set about trying to win the bell.
Vince Cane, another former crew member of HMS Conqueror, said: ‘The crew of HMS Conqueror remain a tight-knit unit more than 20 years after the boat was decommissioned. We meet regularly at reunions and maintain close contact with one another.
‘A shipmate, Steve Johnson, became aware of the impending auction and informed us all via the HMS Conqueror Facebook page.
‘Conqueror has a unique heritage and the crew remain very proud of their affiliation with the boat.
‘The news provoked a strong response from members, all expressing the view that the bell belonged in the museum along with other Conqueror memorabilia.’
HMS Conqueror’s bell has several names inscribed on the inside.
These names are of children who were baptised on board the submarine.
The bell is forming part of the museum’s Falklands 30: War Patrols exhibition.
Bob Mealings, the curator at the museum, said: ‘As soon as the word got out about the auction the e-mails started coming in from former crew members urging us to make sure we got the bell for the museum.
‘When maritime artefacts like the Conqueror bell come to auction, it is notoriously difficult to say how much they will go for, however thankfully we were successful.’