15 June 2009

Unlucky Strike

Five hundred Queen Mary crew members left the ship on this day in 1955 to join a strike of wildcat seaman along Southampton's waterfront who were demanding shorter working hours. The crew left the ship only 10 minutes before departure, forcing Cunard to cancel the sailing. Strikers viewed this as a victory, believing that if the Mary had proceeded on her transatlantic journey, their walkout would have failed. The Mauretania, along with five other liners, remained tied up at their docks as well, though the Queen Elizabeth, Cunard's flagship, had managed to sail the previous week.

The Mary's 1,100 passengers were advised to depart the ship by an announcement over the loudspeaker; among them were members of the D'Oyley Carte Opera Company, on their way to the States for a Gilbert and Sullivan tour. Cunard provided two trains to take the stranded passengers back to London, promising them alternative transatlantic transportation as soon as possible. However, many passengers took the opportunity to fly home instead.

New York Times
Prescott Evening Courier, Prescott, Arizona USA

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