31 December 2008

A New Skipper

On this day in 1948, Commodore Harry Grattidge took command of the Queen Mary, replacing Captain John D. Snow. For trivia's sake, in the Royal Navy the rank of Captain is below Commodore but above Commander. It's the equivalent of Colonel in the British Army (as opposed to Captain in the army, with would be below that of Captain in the Royal Navy. Got that?). Commodore ranks above Captain but below Rear Admiral, has a one-star rank, and is equivalent to Brigadier General in the British Army. (Wikipedia is my source on this, so if it's wrong I apologize. Please feel free to correct me and them). In 31 years of service, the Mary had 33 captains (and/or commodores). I was lucky enough to get my hands on an autograph book from the 1940s containing the signature of Commodore Sir James Bisset--he served during World War II and is pictured here with Winston Churchill.

Sources:
Queen Mary by James Steele
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_(RN)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_(Royal_Navy)

29 December 2008

Grey Ghost

On this day in 1945, the Mary set off from Southampton, England, for a five day journey across the Atlantic with 11,346 American troops and 846 crew onboard. The men were going home after seeing action in places like Normandy, Bastogne, and Hagenau. Some were coming home in one piece, others with battle scars and wounds that might never heal. It's not hard to imagine how happy they must have been to see Lady Liberty holding her torch high in New York Harbor. No doubt each one of them had wondered if they'd ever see her again when they made the outward bound journey for Europe and for war.
Data source: www.ww2troopships.com