Hattie caused devastating damage to the city with its high winds which flattened the mostly wooden buildings, and a 4m tall storm surge which caused severe flooding. A total death toll of 307 people was reported, with more than 100 of these being from Belize City, but this was much lower than expected due to early warnings which allowed people to evacuate further inland or into shelters. Hattie caused widespread flooding and tore off roofs and knocked down entire buildings. An estimated 70% of Belize City buildings were damaged, and 10,000 people were left homeless.

Z Company, being based 9 miles from Belize City, also received the full brunt of the hurricane, with both soldiers and families seeking shelter in the few hurricane proof buildings on camp, including the NAAFI. All other buildings were destroyed. When the wind abated they got to work, first relaying that the airfield could still land planes (albeit with no air control) to receive relief supplies, and the Company started making their way to Belize City to see the damage.

The Hampshires were involved in many capacities in the following days, organising and supervising clean up crews, hosting feeding centres as food was now rationed, co-ordinating relief supplies, and as security against looting amongst many other things.

The Governor of British Honduras sent the below letter to the Battalion following the emergency, and it was published in the Regimental Journal.


Government House,
14th February, 1962.

Dear Colonel Warren,

I am writing on behalf of the Government and people of British Honduras to thank you officially for the splendid services of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment, during the emergency following Hurricane ” Hattie”.
I have seen for myself since December the contribution made in maintaining law and order and I have heard about the notable exploits at the height of the emergency, such as Major Matthews’s dash into Belize City and Lt. Tillard’s dash to relieve Stann Creek.
You must be very proud of the Battalion’s achievements which, if I may say so, were in the best traditions of the British Army.
With my very best wishes for the future to you and the Battalion.

Yours sincerely,


The below photographs were taken by one of these Hampshire men, Maj S.G.B. Matthews, on the 31st October and 1st November 1961.

Aerial view of Belize City after the hurricane.

Two men stand knee deep in a flooded street. Wrecked wooden buildings are visible in the background.

A man and a woman walk across girders laid to bridge the gap on a ruined bridge.

Locals surveying the wreckage in the Barclays Bank Ornamental garden. Note the Buoy in the middle!

One building standing amongst destroyed trees.