30 April 2009

Voyage 257

From CunardQueens.com, the Chief Engineer's report on this day in 1956:

R.M.S. Queen Mary, Southampton, 30th April 1956

To: T. McLaren Esq., The Superintendant Engineer,


I wish to report the safe arrival of this vessel at Southampton on completion of Voyage 257, Southampton to New York and return. 


The vessel departed Cherbourg at 1.06 p.m. on the 19th April 1956 and revolutions were gradually increased to 172 r.p.m. increasing to 174 r.p.m. at 8.00 p.m. the same day. 

These revolutions were maintained until noon on the 23rd of April when revolutions were reduced to 170 r.p.m., further reducing to 126 r.p.m. at 4.46 p.m. the same day. 

Further reductions then followed to the Master's orders to arrive at A.C.L.V. on schedule.

New York:

2279 tons of oil fuel were shipped in New York and the vessel departed Pier 90 with 6336 tons on board.

Two (2) water tube boilers were cleaned externally and the usual centre funnel uptakes were cleaned by the Harbor Marine Corp.

A complete water pump unit for the Promenade Deck York Ice Cube Machine was supplied and installed byt the Bailey Refridgeration C. Inc.

The following store Items were recieved: One (1) bottle screen cleaning fluid.


The vessel departed the Company's berth at 9.59 a.m. on the 25th April 1956 and cleared A.C.L.V. at 12.08 p.m. the same day, when revolutions were gradually increased to 172 r.p.m., increasing to 174 r.p.m. at 5.40 p.m. the same day, further increasing to 175 r.p.m. at 10.00 a.m. the following day, 26th April.

These revolutions were maintained until noon on 29th April when revolutions were reduced to 172 r.p.m.

Further reductions then followed to the Master's orders to arrive at Cherbourg on schedule.

With reference to your memorandum TK/IM of April 13th 1956. I regret that we found the new hardness test chemicls had run out, but samples have been taken using Wanklyn's Test and are available for tests on arrival.

Only five gallon bottles were taken as this test does not seem to give the same check at the same rate of flow of water and C.O.2.

These bottles have therefore been numbered and the actual hardness not stated on the Labels. I am arranging with the Chief Steward to leave about half a pint in each bottle, which, having obtained our chemicals, can be checked for accurate hardness in Southampton.

Emergency and fire drills were carried out in the Department during the Westbound and Eastbound Passages. 

Ventilation: Dust has entered rooms "B" 101 - 121 and "C" 332 - 362 through the louvres. Precautions were taken to prevent a repitition of this.

Steering Gear: Has been satisfactory. Steering by Gyro satisfactory. Trials from the after steering position satisfactory.

Engine & Boiler Rooms: New compensating resistances have been fitted in the Crockatt system for Nos. 2 and 3 Generators and the system is now working satisfactory. All oil fuel tank alarms have been tested and are working correctly.

Deck Machinery, Capstans & Windlasses: Just previous to our arrival in New York, the water pump unit for the Prom. Deck Ice Cube machine became faulty. During our stay in Port a new unti was fitted. The machine has since worked satisfactory.

"M"7 vent fan motor, comm. resurfaced, cleaned and brushes checked, and is now working satisfactory. Remainder of plant, satisfactory.

P.A. System: 1st. Class Main Lounge and Tourist Smokeroom microphones repaired during the voyage.

Kitchen Announcing System: A fault was located and removed from the "reply" push in the Confectioner's shop, otherwise the system has be satisfactory.

The following are particulars of the Westbound and Eastbound Passages:

Oil Fuel Per Hour: WB- 45.35 EB- 46.49 tons.
Oil Fuel Per 24 Hours: WB- 1088.40 EB- 1115.76 tons.
Oil Fuel Per Mile: WB- 1.6274 EB- 1.5937 tons.
Oil Fuel Per 3000 Miles: WB- 4882.20 EB- 4781.10 tons.

All Engineer and Electrical Officers have carried out their duties to my satisfaction. The general health of the department has been food throughout the voyage with the exception of Mr. H. J. Everett, Engineer Officer, Article No. L 212, who paid off on medical grounds on the vessel's arrival in Southampton.

I am, Yours faithully, Chief Engineer


29 April 2009

Hollywood Royalty

After two months in France, Marlon Brando returned to the United States on this day in 1952 aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Brando had arrived on the Hollywood scene the previous year, playing Stanley Kowalski (Stella!!!) in A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received an Academy Award. He also was nominated for his performance in Viva Zapata, released shortly before his departure for Europe. 

New York Daily News

28 April 2009

Ghost Sighting

New York Times headline on this day in 1940:

BIG LINERS AT CAPE TOWN; Queen Mary and Aquitania Seen Off South African Port


27 April 2009

Birth of Britten

The RMS Queen Mary's first captain, Commodore Sir Edgar Britten, was born on this day in 1874. Cunard White Star bestowed on Britten the privilege of piloting the ship on her maiden voyage in May 1936.

This British Pathe newsreel from October 29 of the same year includes a tribute to the commodore after his untimely death shortly before sailing time aboard the Mary.

Anything Goes

On this day in 1938, Max Gordon sailed for England aboard the RMS Queen Mary. A producer of the original The Jazz Singer in the mid-1920s, he went on to become one of Broadway's most successful producers during the Depression era. His name may be recognizable to some from the lyrics of Cole Porter's, Anything Goes:

When Rockefeller still can hoard enough
money to let Max Gordon
produce his shows--
anything goes!

While in England, Gordon intended to make arrangements for a London production of Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 play, The Women.

New York Times

26 April 2009

In the Black

On this day in 1938, Cunard White Star rejected a £250,000 government loan arranged the previous year in order to make the final payment on the Queen Mary and to begin construction on the Queen Elizabeth. The company's finances had greatly improved since the beginning of the decade when it was forced to suspend work on the Mary and to merge with its competitor, White Star, in order to finish the ship. 

New York Times

25 April 2009

Mary, Mary

On this day in 1938, Mary Pickford and Samuel Goldwyn arrived in New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. While in England, the two had met with Douglas Fairbanks and Alexander Korda regarding the reorganization of United Artists, the motion picture production company all of them, as well as Charlie Chaplin, owned, and which was founded in 1919 by Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks [pictured] and D.W. Griffith. 

New York Times

24 April 2009

A Last Voyage

On this day in 1986, one of the Queen Mary's most loyal and illustrious passengers, Wallis Simpson--better known as the Duchess of Windsor--passed away in Paris at age 89. She survived her husband, Edward, Duke of Windsor, by sixteen years. 

The couple traveled often on the Mary, calling it their ship, always booking suite M58 on main deck. The ship's chief steward welcomed the couple by replacing the room's usual curtains and bedlinens with those in colors favored by the Duchess--electric blue and green. The Duke and Duchess are pictured here on the ship with their nattily attired canine friends.

New York Times

23 April 2009

Hello, Goodbye

On this day in 1958, the RMS Queen Mary departed for Southampton after making her quickest turnaround in New York Harbor; approximately 18 hours from her arrival at pier 90, she sailed for Europe with 1,622 happy passengers.

New York Times

Getty Images

22 April 2009

Il Passeggero

Among other notables aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1939 was Italian symphony conductor, Arturo Toscanini, along with his wife and their two grandchildren. At this time, the maestro was conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, created especially for him by David Sarnoff. Not only did it serve as the house orchestra for NBC, concerts conducted by Toscanini, as well as some of his peers, could be heard weekly on the radio between 1937 and 1954.

New York Daily News Archives

21 April 2009

Hollywood Royalty

On this day in 1939, Spencer Tracy and wife, Louise Treadwell (he wouldn't meet Kate until three years later on Woman of the Year), departed for England aboard the RMS Queen Mary. In late August, Tracy's Stanley and Livingstone, in which he played Henry M. Stanley, would be released in the United States, the only film in which he starred that year. 

20 April 2009

The Count and the Queen

On his way to Hollywood, Bela Lugosi returned from Europe on this day in 1939 aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Ninotchka was set to be released later in the year, in which he starred alongside Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. 

While in Europe, Mr. Lugosi visited Transylvania in order to drink in the local color and get a taste of its medieval beauty. 

(Not really).

New York Times

19 April 2009

Le Passager

On this day in 1948, "New Look" creator Christian Dior was on his way to New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. TrĂ©s Chic.


18 April 2009

Making Waves

On this day in 1936, the RMS Queen Mary was undergoing speed trials off the Scottish coast, causing twelve-foot waves to break on the Isle of Arran, a mile away. Traversing a measured course five different times, the giant liner reached varying speeds, the fastest being 32.84 knots, or 35 miles-per-hour.

Here is an account from a shipworker aboard the Mary at the time.

New York Times
The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida)

17 April 2009

On the Radio

Headline in the New York Times on this day in 1936:

NEW LINER HEARD ON AIR; First Rebroadcast From the Queen Mary Is Made Here.

Here you can hear a relay from Dutch radio broadcaster AVRO from the same year. Anyone care to translate?

Also, this website contains a .pdf file of a book created by the Royal Naval Barracks at Portsmouth about the Queen Mary's wireless telegraphy equipment.

16 April 2009

Anchors Aweigh!

Headline in the New York Times on this day in 1936:

QUEEN MARY GOES TO SEA; Liner to Undergo Trials Off the Coast of Scotland

A ship worker speaks here about leaving the Clyde.

15 April 2009

Just in Case

Headline from the Chicago Daily Tribune on this day in 1936:


14 April 2009

Ahoy, Captain Blood

On this day in 1937, Errol Flynn departed Southampton aboard the RMS Queen Mary. The swashbuckling actor was at the height of his popularity; of the four pictures he starred in that year, Green Light had been released the previous month, and The Prince and the Pauper was due to be released three weeks after his arrival in New York.

13 April 2009

Here Comes the Son

On this day in 1939, first son James Roosevelt arrived in Southampton aboard the RMS Queen Mary. "My little boy, Jimmy," as Frank D. liked to call him, was the eldest of the Roosevelt children, and his father's White House secretary. 

             Roosevelt was a marine during WWII

New York Times

12 April 2009

Silver Bells and Cockell Shells

On this day in 1955, British heavyweight champion, Don Cockell, arrived in New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. He would soon head to the West Coast where he was slated to fight Rocky Marciano for the world heavyweight title. The bout would go nine rounds, with Marciano winning by a technical knock-out--which would be contested by the British Boxing Board of Control who thought Rocky didn't fight fair. Cockell himself, however, never made any complaints. His opponent said of him, "He's got a lot of guts. I don't think I ever hit anyone any more often or harder." Ouch.


10 April 2009


On this day in 1938, the RMS Queen Mary was in the midst of a 24-hour gale in the Atlantic that caused injury to 40 passengers, among them a prominent banker who suffered a broken arm, and the opera singer, Lily Pons, who hurt her finger when it was caught in a cabin door. Despite waves crashing over the decks, propelled by the 70-mile-per-hour winds, passengers who were willing could see Ms. Pons keep her promise to perform, singing selected songs in her well-known colotura soprano.  

When the liner reached port four hours late the following day, the New York Times reported that "Many passengers limp[ed] down gangplank." 

The Billings Gazette
Hartford Courant
New York Times

09 April 2009

Afloat Again

Headline in the New York Times on this day in 1936:

QUEEN MARY GOES TO PIER; Liner Leaves English Drydock to Prepare for New York Voyage

08 April 2009

Last of the Red Hot Mamas

On this day in 1959, singer and comedienne, Sophie Tucker,departed New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Sophie, who had been born to a Jewish family in tsarist Russia, was on her way to Isreal, where a  youth center had been named in her honor.

New York Daily News

Public domain

07 April 2009


On this day in 1937, the eldest brother of Japan's Emperor Hirohito, Prince Chichibu, departed New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary with his consort, Princess Chichibu, and attendents. The couple had arrived from Montreal the previous day, taking part in a reception, as well as a hosted luncheon and dinner. Despite their busy schedule, they also managed to fit in a bit of sightseeing. 

The prince was on his way to England to represent Japan at the coronation of King George VI, who was succeeding his brother, King Edward VIII, after his abdication in December to marry the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. 

New York Times

06 April 2009

Give My Regards to Broadway

On this day in 1939, Yankee Doodle Dandy George M. Cohan arrived home on the RMS Queen Mary after a stay in England, during which, according to him, he saw "twenty six plays in twenty days." The best of the lot? Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw's, Geneva. He ought to know.

New York Times


05 April 2009

Ultra Modern

New York Times headline on this day in 1936:

THE 'QUEEN MARY' HAILED AS RADIO UTOPIA; Superliner's Ultra-Modern Equipment Can Talk Across the Seven Seas

Here is an account from a former Queen Mary "telephonist" who worked aboard the ship in 1955. 

04 April 2009

Bronze Medallist

On this day in 1872, Gilbert Bayes was born in London, England. Bayes, the son of a painter and etcher, created the carved gesso panel, Unicorns in Battle,* above the main fireplace in the Queen Mary's first class lounge. He also created The Sea King's Daughter, one of four bronze statuettes that occupied a niche in each corner of the room. Today, the statuette may be seen in the Queen Mary's art gallery on R deck. 

*Executed with fellow artist Alfred J. Oakley

The Sea King's Daughter by Gilbert Bayes

03 April 2009

Sailing Symbol

Winston Churchill, with his wife, Clementine, departed for England aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1949 after a stay in the States that included Sir Winston's appointment to Honorary Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--where, during the ceremony, he was cited as "the twentieth century symbol of resistence to oppression." 

Unfortunately, the Churchills would arrive back in British waters 24 hours late, as gale force winds in the English Channel delayed the liner and wreaked havoc in parts of Europe, killing 12 people. Upon arriving home, the former prime minister left the Mary by tender at Cowes, a town on the Isle of Wight near Southampton.

New York Times

02 April 2009

A Familiar Name

Aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1938 were Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor III*. The pair, after having spent several months in Europe, which included passing part of the winter in Switzerland, intended to stay at the St. Regis Hotel upon their arrival in New York City. 

The elder John Jacob Astor [pictured with Mrs. Astor around 1912] perished on the Titanic; his wife, the former Madeleine Talmadge Force, pregnant with their son, survived the sinking. 

*Though in the 1930s press he was referred to as John Jacob Astor III, in reality, because of other relations with the same name, he was the J.J.A. VI and his father was J.J.A. IV. (The true John Jacob Astor III was born in 1822 and died in 1890)

New York Times

01 April 2009


The Queen Mary on her way to Sydney, Australia, April 12, 1940. 

From Time on April 1, 1940:

The City of New York was notified that water connections would not be required after a certain hour. The attendance at West Side waterfront pubs diminished, as employes of Cunard White Star Line went seriously to work in the Mauretania and Queen Mary* which had been tied up at the company's Manhattan piers since the war was a pup. New York's Finest (police) were relieved to hear that "The Maureen" and "The Queen" (Mary), which had caused them enough worry without having Queen Elizabeth piled in on top of them (TIME, March 18), were going to leave.

In the cold, rainswept evening of one day and the brave, bright morning of the next, first the 35,739-ton Mauretania and then the 81,235-ton Queen Mary, both in grim war-grey, moved down the Hudson estuary and out on the seas for war service—somewhere.

Everyone and his aunt speculated: where? For the Mauretania's, crew, new white uniforms had been bought. Did that argue trans-equator service? Any British crew signed on for more than six months is customarily provided with whites. So The Maureen was ready for a six-month hitch at least. Five days after leaving New York, the Mauretania had reached the Panama Canal.

About Mary there were no clues except that she needs her bottom scraped and cannot get through the Panama Canal. Chances were Canada had some men & munitions to be carried before another Australian contingent would be ready or needed, so Halifax seemed a likely spot to send the swift* Mary first. Germany might be launching another U-boat wave (see col. 1), but nothing last week would have better suited the fighting British heart, as well as Mr. Chamberlain's political necessities, than a gesture of defiance.

*To fill out the two ships' skeleton crews, 770 officers and men were imported in the Antonia but did not set foot in the U. S. 

*Queen Mary is capable of 32 knots, Mauretania of 22. Maximum for a submarine, on the surface, is 19 knots.