29 July 2009

Another One Crosses the Bar

On this day in 1951, A.J. Lee, a trimmer aboard the RMS Queen Mary, was lost overboard.

Source: Queen Mary Isolation Ward exhibit

28 July 2009

Close Call!

Headline from the Los Angeles Times on this day in 1976:

Proposal to Scrap Queen Mary Fails
Long Beach Council Decides to Buy Out Lessees' Interests

27 July 2009

She's Back...

From the Eugene Register-Guard on this day in 1947:

The Queen Mary to Sail As Luxury Liner Once More
AP Newsfeatures

SOUTHAMPTON, England - The Queen Mary - "lovely lady," the sailors call her - is being restored to her pre-war elegance as a luxury liner after a distinguished war-time career and will resume her weekly runs across the Atlantic Ocean July 31.

Along a deck where thousands of American and Canadian soldiers stood in blacked-out war-time crossings, workmen are putting down the last of new deck planking. Along the alleyways highly polished white sycamore paneling is refitted.

War Role Forgotten

Some three-quarters of a million soldiers who were her passengers during seven years as an ocean-going greyhound wouldn't know their Mary now. Nor would thousands of soldiers' brides and children the Mary brought to new homes in America.

Thousands of feet of serviceable, unlovely plaster board have been ripped out. In drab quarters which housed 80 GIs a crossing there is a luxurious cocktail bar, gay in red and soft gray curtains. The main restaurants have been redecorated; what was the brides' movie theater has been turned into a supper club with flourescent lighting and tinted mirrors.

Luxury Quarters

The wartime sickbay, with its wooden partitions, has disappeared and in its place is the rich, luxurious first class smoking room. The main lounge again is a massive room with lofty maple wood pillars, paneling and a thick carpet of russet and gold.

When the 81,235-ton Cunard liner went to war, she left behind her in various parts of the world some 10,000 pieces of furniture and fittings. New York held a couple of hundred boxes and cases and in Australia stored quantities of furniture and 2,500 cabin and stateroom doors. All were shipped back to England before the reconversion started.

Hundreds of miles of wiring were removed and renewed, decks scraped, rugs laid, pumps, generators and other equipment were torn down and worn parts replaced. The whole ship underwent a gigantic face-lighting.

She's undergoing trial runs now and, at the end of the month, will be off for New York to the cheers of the crowd and the music of the bands.

26 July 2009

Deluxe Accommodations

On this day in 1933, the largest dry dock in the world at the time opened in Southampton to accommodate the RMS Queen Mary - then projected to be a 73,000-ton liner. King George V, for whom it was named, would do the honors of opening the giant berth.

New York Times

25 July 2009

The Final Bid

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, on this day in 1967:

Interest High in Queen Mary

London (AP) - Sixteen firm cash bids for the 81,237-ton liner Queen Mary will be considered Wednesday at a board meeting of the Cunard Steamship line in London.

The deadline for bids expired at midnight Monday. The final one, four hours before deadline, was from Long Beach, Calif., to use the liner as a floating hotel.

Seven of the bids are from groups or individuals who want the liner for scrap. These came from Italy, the United States, Japan, Britain, and Hong Kong. Her scrap value is estimated at $2.7 million.

The group of Hong Kong Chinese also put in a second bid to use the ship as a floating hotel.
There were nine bids for further use of the vessel including one by Mayor John Lindsay of New York of $2.25 million ot use her as a floating high school.

Henry McMahan of Export Consultant Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., wants it for a floating trade exhibition.

Most of the other six bids proposed a floating hotel.

24 July 2009

Portrait of the Artist

On this day in 1947, Lady Hilton Young (Kathleen, Lady Scott), died in London. A scultpor of portrait busts and figures, she created the plaque of Her Majesty Queen Mary, which was hung at the head of the main cabin class (1st class) staircase of the RMS Queen Mary.

Lady Young studied in Paris under Auguste Rodin before marrying Captain Scott of the Antarctic and then later, Sir Edward Hilton Young (later Baron Kennet of the Dene). She also authored her autobiography, Self-Portrait of an Artist, which was published posthumously in 1949.

Tate Online
The Art of the RMS Queen Mary by Douglas M. Hinkey

23 July 2009

Motoring Across the Pond

On this day in 1936, the Junior Car Club of Great Britain departed for the United States aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Its 85 members would drive 35 cars--including Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Humbers, Wolselys, Talbots, and English-built Ford V8s--1,500 miles across America and Canada, in a rally that would end up in Montreal. The itinerary included prolonged stops in New York, Washington, D.C., and Detroit, where they would be guests of Henry Ford.

Movietone News
The Sydney Morning Herald

21 July 2009

Bon Voyage

On this day in 1955, Richard Burton and first wife, Sybil Williams, left England aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Burton's picture, The Rains of Ranchipur, in which he starred alongside Lana Turner would be released in the coming fall.

The couple is shown here catching the Queen Mary boat train at Waterloo Station.

20 July 2009

Star Crossing

On this day in 1938, Sylvia Sidney sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary for a month's vacation in Europe. Upon her return to the States, she would begin filming, ...One Third of a Nation..., in Astoria, New York, for Paramount Studios.

New York Times

19 July 2009

Just a Number

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1931:


Special Board Meeting to Find One for 73,000-Ton Ship.

18 July 2009

Wishful Thinking

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1967:

City Hopes to Buy Queen Mary For Use as a School in Brooklyn

The city is preparing a bid of about $2-million in an effort to purchase the liner Queen Mary for use as a floating high school anchored at the old Brooklyn Navy Yard.

17 July 2009


On this day in 1957, the RMS Queen Mary changed course east of Montauk Point to go to the rescue of four sailors injured by an explosion that killed three on a Navy escort patrol craft. Among those watching the rescue were United States Attorney General Herbert Brownell and three supreme court justices, all on their way to England for a U.S.-British bar session in London.

New York Times

16 July 2009

A Short Odyssey

On this day in 1935, the newly merged Cunard White Star line was represented by Homeric at the Spithead merchant fleet review for King George V's silver jubilee. The ship had been launched in 1913 for Norddeutscher Lloyd under the name Columbus, but was given up unfinished six years later as part of war reparations to Great Britain. She was then sold to White Star, and, under the watchful eyes of British shipbuilders, was finished in Germany. After the ship was officially delivered to White Star in 1921, she was re-christened Homeric, and set off for her maiden voyage on February 21, 1922.

Homeric was known for being an unusually stable ship, earning passenger loyalty for--without stabilizers--her complete lack of rolling. Designed for the steerage trade, decreased immigration to the United States and White Star's ongoing financial difficulties--culminating in its evenutal merger with Cunard--meant the end of Homeric's career, and she made her final transatlantic crossing in June 1932. After a mere ten years at sea, she was retired in 1935 and sold for scrap in 1936, following the maiden voyage of Cunard White Star's new superliner, Queen Mary.


15 July 2009

Family Reunion

On this day in 1951, young Pia Lindstrom [shown here in a stateroom with her father, Dr. Petter Lindstrom] was on her way to Europe aboard the RMS Queen Mary to meet her mother, Ingrid Bergman, in Sweden. When Ingrid's affair with Roberto Rossellini while shooting Stromboli in Italy the previous year produced a son, she was denounced on the floor of the United States Senate; a floor vote made her "persona non grata" in the U.S., which led to her self-exile in Europe and her eventual divorce from Lindstrom. In 1952, two years after she married Rossellini, Bergman gave birth to twins, Isotta and Isabella Rossellini.

Looking at Hollywood column by Hedda Hopper, Los Angeles Times

14 July 2009

Tune Up

On this day in 1936, ten tug boats pushed the Queen Mary into dry dock where she would undergo an extensive overhaul, from propellers to funnels. Trouble with her turbines meant the ship was consuming too much oil, but there were other problems as well.

According to Time magazine: "The Queen Mary will now go out of service for ten days while "structural alterations" and "mechanical overhaul" are proceeded with, object being to reduce the sweep of smut from her funnels, which has been soiling the clothes of passengers on her afterdecks, and to try to get out of her the 34-knot speed officially claimed before she made her maiden voyage with a maximum speed of less than 31 knots."

Additional source:
New York Times

13 July 2009

Bon Voyage, Monsieur

On this day in 1952, Charles Boyer was on his way to America aboard the RMS Queen Mary. He is shown here at Waterloo Station on the day of his departure, catching the boat train for Southampton. His film Happy Time, set to be released in October, would win him a Golden Globe nomination. He also was appearing at the time in the televison anthology, Four Star Playhouse, for which he was nominated for an Emmy.

Getty Images

12 July 2009

Bette Davis Ayes

On this day in 1958, Bette Davis and daughter, B.D., were on their way home from England aboard the RMS Queen Mary. They are pictured here in Southampton on the day of their departure.


11 July 2009

Ameche in Jolly Old England

On this day in 1938, Don Ameche and his wife, Honore, arrived in Europe aboard the RMS Queen Mary. His current film at the time, Alexander's Ragtime Band, had been released in May. Ameche could also be heard on the radio as the announcer on The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show.

Getty Images

10 July 2009

Unlucky Number

On this day in 1966, J. Pedder, a fireman in the #3 boiler room aboard the RMS Queen Mary, was killed by a watertight door on D deck during a routine drill. Some have speculated that the young man, only 18 years old, was playing a game of "chicken" at the time and didn't get through the door quickly enough before it automatically slammed shut.

Several people have reported seeing a ghost resembling Mr. Pedder near door #13, where he died in Shaft Alley.

Queen Mary Tour

09 July 2009

The Long Goodbye

On this day in 1948, Clark Gable delayed the Queen Mary's departure by 18 minutes while he said adieu to his current love interest, the ex-Mrs. Howard Hawks [pictured with Gable as they say their goodbyes]. According to the L.A. Times, it "threw pier officials in[to] a dither." He was headed for a six-week vacation in France and Italy. While aboard, Gable took the honors in the skeet-shooting contest. He may have also run into another notable--Kay Kyser, orchestra leader, was on his way to England.

Los Angeles Times
Chicago Daily Tribune

08 July 2009

Home at Last

On this day in 1945, Commodore Robert Irving was piloting 8,551 American (and some Canadian) troops home aboard the RMS Queen Mary, still in her war paint. They are shown here upon their arrival in New York Harbor, safe and sound.

Gray Ghost: The RMS Queen Mary at War by Steve Harding

07 July 2009

American Eagle

On this day in 1938, Colonel Hubert Julian, an American aviator known as "The Black Eagle" set sail for England on the RMS Queen Mary. After an unsuccessful attempt at a transatlantic flight in 1924 left him in the hospital, the Trinidad-born Julian tried again five years later. This time, two years after Lindbergh, he made it, gaining attention for aviation and recognition for himself as an expert pilot, particulary among the African-American community. In Ethiopa, Emperor Haile Selassie awarded him Abyssinian citizenship and the rank of colonel.

Julian was the first African-American aviator to fly coast to coast in the United States. He is pictured here aboard the ship.


06 July 2009

Star Crossed

On this day in 1954, James Stewart and his wife, Gloria, arrived in New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. His picture, Rear Window, was set to be released in the U.S. on August 1.

The Stewarts are shown here in the customs line at Pier 90, awaiting their turn for inspection.

New York Times

05 July 2009

Your Bawth is Ready

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, on this day in 1950:

Aboard the Queen Mary
Homesickness Unknown Among Sea Travelers
Cruising Reporter Meets Many From Home Town
by Priscilla Hendryx
Post-Gazette Staff Writer
THERE is no such thing as a homesick Pittsburgher aboard the Queen Mary. If anyone feels a desire to discuss the progress of the new United States Steel building or the summer operas, he doesn't have to look far for a comprehending ear. I am traveling with Carol Thorne of Wightman Street and Marian McAdams of South Linden Avenue. And the first people we ran into on sailing day were Mr. and Mrs. I.W. Wilson and their daughter Peggy, of Murrayhill Avenue, and Mr. and Mrs. Errett M. Grable and daughter Patsy, of Edgerton Avenue.
John Humphrey of Greensburg and the Pike Run Country Club is aboard with the Kent School racing team. The boys will compete in the Henley races in England and they work out on rowing machines on deck every day. They all look very sporty in their white sweaters with blue "K's" and their navy blue blazers.
Ted Griggs of Waterbury, Conn., whose mother is the former Harriet Aiken of Pittsburgh, was one of the first people I met. Ted graduated from Yale last month and is touring with a professor and other students this summer.
Mixed with French, German and English accents, Pittsburgh voices sound good once in awhile. And no doubt we will continue to hear them occasionally as we cross the continent.
* * *
At home, when you want to take a bath, you walk into the bathroom, turn on the water, and hop in. Or easier still, you pull the shower curtain and surround yourself with clean water.
Aboard the Queen Mary, a bath is a ritual, and there is nothing simple about it. The bath stewardess, dressed and capped in white, approaches you the first day to find out at which hour you wish your bath to be scheduled. And for the remainder of the voyage, then, and only then, are you allowed to enter the sacred precincts labeled "Bath 1" and "Bath 2." When your time arrives, and for one woman in our cabin that means 7:00 a.m., you are roused by the English stewardess who escorts you with much ceremony to your private bawth. The water is steaming hot so that the walls perspire and you likewise, and if you are unfortunate enough to have a pre-breakfast bathing hour, you are likely to get out feeling a little faint.
* * *
One boy finds that the best sleep-inducer is to read a paragraph of the "Ocean Times," a small daily printed on board. Yesterday afternoon he read three paragraphs because his mid-day snooze was interrupted not once, but three times, by the bath steward who wanted to know who in room C-27 wanted a bath.
The food is marvelous and the only thing I don't like on the Queen is the class distinction. Every time you turn around there is one of those blasted "1st class only" signs. We have taken a swim in the A deck pool [sic], but they'd probably put us in steerage if they knew it.

04 July 2009

Happy Birthday

On this day 169 years ago, the Cunard Line was founded by Samuel Cunard of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first vessel put to sea by the company, the steamboat side-wheeler, Britannia, ended its maiden voyage on July 4, 1840--which also happened to be sixty fourth anniversary of American independence--inaugurating the new line.

02 July 2009

What's in a Name

RMS Queen Elizabeth

From the Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA on this day in 1936:

Bigger Sister Ship to Queen Mary Seen

Glasgow, July 2. -AP-Preparations for constructing a bigger and faster companion to the S.S. Queen Mary were begun tentatively today on the Clydebank.
In shipping circles it was said the liner, if constructed, would probably be christened the King George V, in honor of the late monarch.
An official order for the construction still is awaited. It was suggested the projected liner would have a tonnage of about 85,000 as compared to the 80,773 of the Queen Mary.

01 July 2009

Joining the Fray

On this day in 1944, Captain James Bisset was at the helm of the gray-camouflaged RMS Queen Mary as she headed for Gourock, Scotland, with 14,553 American troops aboard. The ship traveled 3,434 miles at 26.85 knots, arriving six days later on July 7.

Gray Ghost: The RMS Queen Mary at War by Steve Harding

William Cosh